Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Little More on Truffaut

Yesterday, while reseeing François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 for the first time in years at the Gene Siskel Film Center, just before doing a Skype interview with Ray Bradbury in California along with Bradbury’s biographer, Sam Weller, I was struck for the first time how different Truffaut’s and Bradbury’s historical groundings were. Bradbury’s novel, first published in the early 50s, clearly reflected the Cold War, whereas Truffaut’s English-language film (his only one) of 1966, two years before his secret discovery via detectives that his father had been a Jewish dentist, seems largely informed by his childhood experience of the German occupation of France, which he would only depict directly 14 years later, in The Last Metro.

The most surprising aspect of this for me is that I never thought of it earlier — but it becomes especially clear during the scene in which Montag (Oskar Werner) and Clarisse (Julie Christie) in a cafe secretly spy through a window an informer pause before mailing his malicious report on a neighbor to the police/fire department (which in the world of Fahrenheit 451 is the same thing), meanwhile making comments on his behavior (some of which are reproduced below in the subtitles). It also seems evident in the number of old, early-40s books that one sees being burned in the many book-burning sequences, as well as in the dingy scenes set in old-fashioned basements, attics, etc.… Read more »

PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN on DVD and the Irretrievable Past

It’s delightful to have Kino’s new “deluxe” edition of Albert Lewin’s Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, one of my all-time favorite examples of Hollywood romanticism, glamor, and lushness (as well as Technicolor), based on the film’s 2009 restoration, which I saw and Bologna and wrote about a little over a year ago. But while watching this edition’s extended comparison of the original with the restored version, I’m somewhat taken aback by the fact that the film I remember seeing in 1951, when I was still in grammar school, is closer to the unrestored version:

It’s obvious that the restored version is superior in terms of definition, lighting, and color. But rightly or wrongly, I remember the film in 1951 as being darker, at least in my mind’s eye — a film bathed in black more than auburn hues.

Could this be a matter of Proustian self-deception? Or could it point to a significant change in the film that I originally saw? I wish I knew. [7/8/10]

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IL CINEMA RITROVATO DVD AWARDS 2010

IL CINEMA RITROVATO

DVD AWARDS 2010

VII edizione

Jurors: Lorenzo Codelli, Mark McElhatten, Paolo Mereghetti, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Peter Von Bagh.

BEST DVD 2009 / 2010

BY BRAKHAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY, VOLUME ONE AND TWO di Stan Brakhage – The Criterion Collection (USA)

Released by Criterion in a stunning Blu-ray edition this discerning selection of 56 films made by avant-garde visionary Stan Brakhage between 1954 and 2003 received painstaking transfers from preservations conducted by Mark Toscano at the Academy Film Archive.

Our special award of distinction goes to this unprecedented project, which also includes documentation of Brakhage lectures and film salons and, in an accompanying book, concise essays and descriptions of the films.

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BEST SPECIAL FEATURES (BONUS)

Our BEST SPECIAL FEATURES  (BONUS) award goes jointly to:

(a) three recent Ruscico releases of classic Russian films (two previously unavailable films by Lev Kuleshov, ENGINEER PRITE’S PROJECT and THE GREAT CONSOLER, and Sergey Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov’s OCTOBER)—both for their innovative handling of printed and illustrated commentaries by scholars and for their subtitles in many languages, despite the unfortunate fact that all three releases are identified on their covers only by their Russian titles and (b) the Filmmuseum with Filmmuseum München and Goethe Institut Deutschland release of G.W.… Read more »