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Film & Spirituality Conversation: powell & pressburger

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-11-02 03:30 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
I have been following the goings-on at the Pacific Cinematheque for just over seven years now, ever since they hosted an exhaustive series of Buster Keaton films, and since then, I have sampled their various series devoted to Kubrick, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Herzog, Dreyer, Hitchcock, Makhmalbaf, Chaplin, and even Marilyn Monroe. Now, for the first time since I became a member, they are hosting a retrospective for the second time (sort of). In late 1995, they hosted a series of films by the British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and this year, they are doing it again, but with some slightly different emphases.

Alas, my memory isn't all that good, and I realized, while looking at the program last week, that although I remember a few things about a few of these films quite vividly, there were others I had virtually forgotten. Thus, for example, I missed my chance to see The Edge of the World (1937), because I skimmed the summary (something about a remote part of Scotland) and mistook it for I Know Where I'm Going (1945), which I had seen during the last retrospective; had I not made that mistake, I might have placed a higher priority on getting to the theatre those nights.

Anyway, the only other film I've missed so far is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), which I saw in 1995 and loved, but couldn't see now because I got too bogged down in work the one day they showed it.

The rest of the films have been quite enjoyable, for the most part. I had never seen The Thief of Bagdad (1940) before, but it's an entertaining, effects-laden production, with flying robotic horses and giant genies granting wishes and all sorts of things that movies like Disney's Aladdin imitated years later. (The film even stars Conrad Veidt as a villainous grand vizier with magical powers named Jafar; Veidt went on to play the Nazi officer that Humphrey Bogart shoots in Casablanca, and, because of his starring role in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, he was also the original inspiration for Batman's nemesis The Joker.)

I also saw The Red Shoes (1948) for the first time, and wow! I'm not a ballet fan in the least, but this film is known for a 14-minute ballet sequence which is one of the more mesmerizing, haunting, dreamlike sequences ever committed to film; it's *supposed* to be the ballet that makes two of the film's main characters (the composer and the dancer) famous, but what we see in the film is something that could never be produced on-stage; the sequence makes use of double exposures and jump cuts and nightmarish dancer's-point-of-view shots, and it's quite a sight to behold. The love triangle between the composer, the dancer, and the impresario who runs the theatre company is also quite striking; this was one of those all-too-rare films where the characters came sufficiently alive, to me, that I got emotionally involved in their story and didn't think of them as mere archetypes, the way that, say, I thought of the characters in Moulin Rouge!. I think my only complaint is that this film packs a few too many plot twists into its last few minutes.

The next two films would make an interesting double-bill for their rather different approaches to the role of Christianity in British culture. (I saw them on separate nights.) A Canterbury Tale (1944) was produced during the war, and it's a very odd film about an American soldier who accidentally spends his leave in a small British town where a mysterious character known only as "the glueman" has been attacking women at night -- by pouring glue into their hair! The American teams up with a British sergeant and a "land girl" to try to solve this mystery, and along the way, the American and the local Brits learn a bit about each other's cultures, and there is a fair bit of talk about the fact that this town sits on a road that pilgrims used to take on their pilgrimages to Canterbury. In fact, the film begins with images of medieval people travelling along this road, and it jumps ahead in time by cutting from a shot of one man's falcon to a shot of a British fighter plane, with the actor who played the falconer now standing there in a World War II uniform; it's somewhat reminiscent of the bone-to-satellite cut in 2001. Memorable dialogue: One character criticizes those who learn about the world through movies and not by engaging in real life, and there is a bizarre exchange, which I don't remember precisely, where the American and one of his buddies allude in passing to the relative merits of coffee and marijuana. The film is a bit too long and structurally awkward, for my liking, but it's worth checking out; it climaxes with a visit to the Canterbury cathedral, where penance is done and blessings are received.

The other film is Black Narcissus (1947), in which Deborah Kerr heads a group of nuns who are trying to start a convent in a building that once housed a general's harem in the Himalayas. Naturally, the nuns all begin to go a little mad, or they at least begin to feel their grip on their faith beginning to slip. Not only are the walls of this building covered with pictures of concubines bathing, and not only are the mirrors shaped rather, um, vaginally, but the tallest mountain in the area is called "the bare goddess", the nuns are entrusted with the care of a rather lusty Indian girl (played by Jean Simmons!), and at least one of the nuns may be developing a most unhealthy crush on the cynical and all-too-masculine local British agent played by David Farrar. Some people might want to dismiss this as one of those movies in which uptight European Christians are undone by the irresistible pleasures of exotic pagan sensuality, but it's not as simple as that. One of the characters we see is a "holy man" who sits on the mountain and stares at the other mountains -- never speaking, never moving, just staring, staring, staring -- and one of the nuns remarks later on that there may be something about that part of the world that drives people to go to extremes; you either "ignore" your physical environment, including the impulses of the flesh, as the holy man does, or you "give yourself up to it", as the sensualist, drinking, womanizing Farrar character does. Thanks to that line in particular, I came out of this film appreciating how my own faith, as a Christian, tries to bring the spirit and the flesh into some sort of balance, rather than veer fully to one extreme or the other. In that light, I also thought it was interesting how one of the main Hindu characters, played by Thief of Bagdad's Sabu, says innocently, "Jesus was a man", and is "corrected" by Kerr's character, who says, "He took the *shape* of a man." Which of these two statements is closer to orthodox Christian belief? The latter sounds rather docetic, to me; it does not sound quite so incarnational. I am also struck by how one of the other nuns, when she begins to feel her discipline slipping, plants flowers instead of vegetables, and how she ultimately presents a bouquet of these flowers to an image of Jesus -- is she rediscovering her affection for Christ, and turning what could be a symbol of her failure as a nun into a symbol of her devotion?

The only other film I've caught so far this time around is I Know Where I'm Going (1945), which is a delightful little romance that fits squarely within that genre wherein women who are about to marry into money find their plans interrupted by fate, the weather, and/or a chance encounter with a charming but not-so-wealthy stranger. The film makes good use of its setting in the Scottish Hebrides (I love the phone booth that was placed right by a noisy waterfall), and it has some nifty visuals (check the opening credits, or the dream that the protagonist has on her train ride), and the characters will absolutely win you over. (I particularly loved the old colonel, a supporting character who wears slightly tattered clothes and has to defend his falcon against the accusations of local villagers that it's been stealing the sheep.) See it, see it, see it.

Still to come: A Matter of Life and Death (a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven) (1946), 49th Parallel (a.k.a. The Invaders) (1941), and Peeping Tom (1960), which I have seen before, and The Spy in Black (1939), The Battle of the River Plate (1956), and Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), which I have not.

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 06-11-02 03:37 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post

I don't have time to answer in depth, but it sounds like you're having a blast. P&P are Christian's favorite filmmakers, I believe, so I'm sure he'll have much to contribute to this thread. "The Red Shoes" is indeed marvelous and now that you've seen "Black Narcissus," can you believe it was shot almost entirely in a studio? (All those mountainous exteriors were effects or backdrops.) Don't miss "A Matter of Life and Death," whatever you do.

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-11-02 10:40 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: . . . now that you've seen "Black Narcissus," can you
: believe it was shot almost entirely in a studio?

Actually, I can, given the obvious matte paintings used to suggest things like the sheer drop at the edge of the cliff, where the bell is rung. (If the people who designed that place were going to put a bell there, shouldn't they also have put a railing around it or something?) But there's only a few telltale shots like that -- most of the time, you don't notice how studio-bound the film is.

: Don't miss "A Matter of Life and Death," whatever you do.

I caught it during the last retrospective, but plan to see it again this weekend. My parents are planning on joining me, too, which is kind of funny, because I've only gone to the Cinematheque a couple times with them, and on one of those occasions, we saw Noel Coward and David Lean's In Which We Serve -- which, like A Matter of Life and Death, is a British war-themed 1940s movie in which a young Richard Attenborough appears briefly in uniform. I know coincidences like this are supposed to "mean" something, but I'm darned if I know what. (BTW, having interviewed Attenborough personally three years ago, when he was promoting the Canadian release of Grey Owl, I find it very strange now to see movies in which he appears so young -- especially when I see these movies with my parents, and I consider that at least one of these movies was made before either of my parents were born!)

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Christian
Board Addict


 Posted 06-12-02 08:09 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
I don't know what to add, Peter. You'll have seen several more Powell & Pressburger titles by the end of the retrospective than I have. The only one I've seen that isn't part of the series is "Tales of Hoffman," a strange but beautiful film that I can't take my eyes off of, even though I don't follow the story very well.

Nice comments on "Black Narcissus." That was the very first film I showed for church "Movie Night," when various folks from my congregation gather at my place to watch and discuss a movie. I mentioned the spirit/flesh dichotomy, which Scorcese elaborates on in the laserdisc (and DVD?) audio commentary, only to be hooted off the "stage" by one of the participants. "It's *just* a movie!" he howled.

A rough spot to the inaugural "movie night," but we got past it.

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Nick Alexander
Member
 Posted 06-12-02 08:33 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
Of these films, I caught Black Narcissus and Matter of Life & Death. Took me the longest time to realize that P&P were responsible for both, and am looking forward to catching some other films.

What's tricky about Black Narcissus is that it really can go either way--it can be a film which can be a not-so-subtle attack on faithfulness and celibacy in religious life, or a warnings against the slippery slope in temptation and isolation. Beautifully photographed nonetheless.

I really enjoyed Matter of Life & Death, but my wife, alas, didn't. She thought the whole court scene was tacky. I've heard that the court scene (particularly the American influence) was the sole reason for the film, as P&P were told to make a film that strengthened post-war English/American relations.

Nick

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Nick Alexander


The Catholic Weird Al

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-12-02 03:11 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: The only one I've seen that isn't part of the series is
: "Tales of Hoffman," a strange but beautiful film that I
: can't take my eyes off of, even though I don't follow the
: story very well.

Hmmm, I haven't seen that one. I caught two other P&P films at the 1995 retro that are not showing this year, namely One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) and The Small Back Room (1949), but I couldn't tell you a thing about them, now.

: Nice comments on "Black Narcissus."

Thanks. This is one of those films I think I could stand to see again in a few months or years. It's definitely worth mulling over. One of the things I like about this film is that there's no one character who seems to speak for the filmmakers -- each character seems to have a piece of the truth, and I find it draws me into the film, trying to figure out who has which truth and who struggles with which untruths, etc.

: I mentioned the spirit/flesh dichotomy, which Scorcese
: elaborates on in the laserdisc (and DVD?) audio commentary . . .

Oh, that would be interesting to hear! And yes, it seems the DVD has a commentary track featuring Scorsese -- and featuring Powell, too! Since Powell died in 1990, I assume his section of the commentary is compiled from various audio recordings, kind of like the Walt Disney commentary track on the Fantasia DVD?

Hmmm, I see that I Know Where I'm Going and The Red Shoes are also available through the Criterion Collection. Alas, none of the other films seem to be out on DVD yet, except Peeping Tom, which was a Powell-only affair.

: . . . only to be hooted off the "stage" by one of the
: participants. "It's *just* a movie!" he howled.

Yikes.

: A rough spot to the inaugural "movie night," but we got past it.

Glad to hear it!

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-12-02 03:24 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: What's tricky about Black Narcissus is that it really can
: go either way--it can be a film which can be a
: not-so-subtle attack on faithfulness and celibacy in
: religious life, or a warnings against the slippery slope
: in temptation and isolation.

I think the film tilts more towards "a warning against the slippery slope in temptation", though it does question the degree to which the nuns' piety and spirituality may have hindered their appreciation of the flesh (see my comments re: the scene in which Sabu and Deborah Kerr discuss whether Jesus "was" a man or merely "took the shape of" a man). Personally, I think it's significant that there's only one nun who actually tries to abandon her vows and give herself up to sexual sin, and the film doesn't exactly try to encourage us to identify with that character.

: Beautifully photographed nonetheless.

Absolutely.

: I really enjoyed Matter of Life & Death, but my wife,
: alas, didn't. She thought the whole court scene was tacky.

I remember having mixed feelings about the court scene -- I'll let you know what I think when I see it again this weekend.

: I've heard that the court scene (particularly the American
: influence) was the sole reason for the film, as P&P were
: told to make a film that strengthened post-war
: English/American relations.

It wouldn't surprise me -- a number of their films *were* made with definite political intentions. Forty-Ninth Parallel, in which a Nazi U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay and the Germans try to cross Canada so they can claim sanctuary in the then-neutral United States, is a classic example of that sort of film. It was designed to shore up support for the war effort in Quebec, and to convince the Americans that they should join the war, too.

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Christian
Board Addict


 Posted 06-13-02 03:46 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
[quote]Peter T Chattaway wrote:
Oh, that would be interesting to hear! And yes, it seems the DVD has a commentary track featuring Scorsese -- and featuring Powell, too! Since Powell died in 1990, I assume his section of the commentary is compiled from various audio recordings, kind of like the Walt Disney commentary track on the Fantasia DVD?


--No, I think the laserdisc was produced shortly before Powell's death. If I recall, Powell and Scorcese take turns commenting on various scenes, with Powell doing the bulk of the talking. He sounds frail.

Hmmm, I see that I Know Where I'm Going and The Red Shoes are also available through the Criterion Collection. Alas, none of the other films seem to be out on DVD yet, except Peeping Tom, which was a Powell-only affair.

--I have both titles. I recently showed my wife "I Know Where I'm Going," which she enjoyed. That one has audio commentary from Ian Christie, but it also has clips from "The Edge of the World" and 1978's "Return to the Edge of the World," where Powell revisits the film locations. I'd say more about the extras, but I haven't watched those for a couple of years. In fact, I don't think I've listened to the audio track on that one. This thread has me wanting to go back and explore these films in more depth!

We have a separate thread on summer reading lists, but this might be a good place to ask whether anyone has read either volume of Powell's autobiography. The first volume is titled, "Million Dollar Movie," or something like that. I remember pawing through it at Borders before I knew anything about Powell/Pressburger. I think it may have stimulated my interest in them.

The first film of theirs that I saw was "The Red Shoes," which I bought sight-unseen, based on its reputation. That's a gorgeous disc, although I'm sure I'll probably replace my beloved 3-disc LD with the DVD, assuming the extras are the same.

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 06-13-02 07:31 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
quote:
Christian wrote:
--No, I think the laserdisc was produced shortly before Powell's death. If I recall, Powell and Scorcese take turns commenting on various scenes, with Powell doing the bulk of the talking. He sounds frail.
Yes, this is what they did. The Criterion DVD is superb. And Powell does sound quite aged. Criterion has also benefitted from a good working relation with Jack Cardiff, the cinematographer and has included several features with him. He actually personally supervised the DVD transfers.

quote:

Hmmm, I see that I Know Where I'm Going and The Red Shoes are also available through the Criterion Collection. Alas, none of the other films seem to be out on DVD yet, except Peeping Tom, which was a Powell-only affair.
Criterion has also released "Black Narcissus." and "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is currently in the works.


quote:
The first film of theirs that I saw was "The Red Shoes," which I bought sight-unseen, based on its reputation. That's a gorgeous disc, although I'm sure I'll probably replace my beloved 3-disc LD with the DVD, assuming the extras are the same.

I'm pretty certain it is, if the DVD doesn't have even more extras. What's sad is that Criterion doesn't initially own any of its films, of course, but purchases the rights to distribute other studio's films on laserdisc (in the past) and now DVD. As a result, there are many films they distributed on laserdic which they cannot get the rights to on DVD, and as a result, all of their extras (commentaries, documentaries, etc.) of old are simply unusable. I really wish they'd sell some of their old commentaries on CD... we could simply cue them up and watch the DVDs with the sound off!

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-13-02 01:33 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: : Hmmm, I see that I Know Where I'm Going and The Red
: : Shoes are also available through the Criterion
: : Collection. Alas, none of the other films seem to be out
: : on DVD yet, except Peeping Tom, which was a Powell-only
: : affair.
:
: Criterion has also released "Black Narcissus."

Well, yeah, that was the DVD we were talking about in the first place.

: and "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is currently in
: the works.

Groovy!

: As a result, there are many films they distributed on
: laserdic which they cannot get the rights to on DVD, and
: as a result, all of their extras (commentaries,
: documentaries, etc.) of old are simply unusable. I really
: wish they'd sell some of their old commentaries on CD...
: we could simply cue them up and watch the DVDs with the
: sound off!

Hey, that's a great idea! And it kind of ties into what Ebert said about people being able to record their own commentaries and distribute them as mp3s. Perhaps they could even include some of these documentaries as MPEGs or something, on a bonus CD-ROM track.

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-16-02 01:17 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
This is turning out to be an unusually busy weekend for me, but my parents and I had agreed to see the double bill of A Matter of Life and Death and The Spy in Black tonight, and so we did. Deadlines be darned.

I found myself taking notes during Life and Death, just because there were so many odd little things I wanted to remember, but I can't say it's the sort of film I have any urge to see again. This is definitely one of those films where character and drama take a back seat to political symbolism and plot mechanics, and I don't think the film benefits all that much from the script's evident need to explain away David Niven's visions of the afterlife in concrete, materialistic, scientific terms. Still, as is often the case in Powell-Pressburger films, there are some striking visuals here, from the courtroom perched on a cliff at the centre of the galaxy to the windows in the sky looking down at the great bureaucracy where every living person on Earth can be found in the files ("You see? There are millions of people on Earth who think it would be heaven to be a clerk"). I also liked one other shot that begins black-and-white, and then shows one character becoming colour while the people in the background remain monochromatic -- very Pleasantville, and done without the benefit of computers.

The Spy in Black is a more straightforward sort of war movie, and considering it was released just a few weeks before or after Germany and England went to war in 1939, it's quite interesting to see how sympathetic the film's portrayal of its German protagonist is. Definitely worth seeing, and hey, Star Wars fans may be interested to know that one of the three main characters -- a British officer turned traitor -- is played by Sebastian Shaw, who, 44 years later, would go on to become the first actor to play Anakin Skywalker; it's his face you see when Luke removes Darth Vader's helmet in Return of the Jedi. And no, he doesn't look a thing like Hayden Christensen.

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 06-16-02 08:36 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
quote:
Peter T Chattaway wrote:
I found myself taking notes during Life and Death, just because there were so many odd little things I wanted to remember, but I can't say it's the sort of film I have any urge to see again. This is definitely one of those films where character and drama take a back seat to political symbolism and plot mechanics, and I don't think the film benefits all that much from the script's evident need to explain away David Niven's visions of the afterlife in concrete, materialistic, scientific terms.

It has been years since I've seen it (on video) and I have to admit, what stuck with me were the visuals rather than the plot, of which I can remember very little. Still, some of those visuals and techniques are quite impressive, as you've noted, and as I recall the movie has quite a bit of undeniable charm.

I've been meaning to order the UK Region 2 of this title for some time.

Also, this is one of the movies featured in Diane Keaton's comic documentary, "Heaven," which I also saw years ago and enjoyed. It was just released on DVD last week or so.

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-16-02 09:20 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: Also, this is one of the movies featured in Diane Keaton's
: comic documentary, "Heaven," which I also saw years ago
: and enjoyed. It was just released on DVD last week or so.

Hmmm, I have a VHS copy of this, but I haven't seen it in years. I remember thinking it was an odd jumble of things, but I don't recall it being all that coherent, and I don't recall being all that impressed by it; perhaps I should see it again.

I remember one of the earlier reviews of that film compared it unfavorably to Errol Morris's Gates of Heaven, but then, it may not be entirely fair to compare *any* movie to Gates of Heaven. Specifically -- and keeping in mind that I'm retrieving some old memories here -- the review I'm thinking of said there was nothing in Keaton's film that cut to the chase or laid things out as simply as that moment in Morris's film where one woman says something along the lines of, "The dog used to move, and then it didn't -- there had to be something there that's not there any more, right?"

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 06-16-02 12:26 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post

I wouldn't compare the two films at all -- Morris' is a documentary about a particular group of people in a particular time and place, their eccentricities revealing universal human behaviors and metaphysical preoccupations; Keton's film is a jokey pastiche of film clips, unknown personalities and flashy montage techniques. Very different works on the subject of the afterlife.... I'm not even sure how one might compare them.

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-19-02 11:01 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
Caught 49th Parallel two nights ago, but fell asleep for the last 15 minutes or so. Argh. Still, I guess I shouldn't be surprised -- I've been getting by on very little sleep, lately. Three nights ago, I stayed up late to finish a story and got to bed at about 5:30am; then I had to wake up around 9:00am to catch the press screening of Minority Report. Then I had to work at StatsCan until 9:00pm. Then I caught the 9:30pm screening of 49th Parallel at the Cinematheque on the way home, because it was my one chance to see the film ... and then I fell asleep. It was pretty sudden; I hadn't felt remotely tired or sleepy during most of the film -- I didn't have to force myself to stay awake or anything, and I vividly remember everything up to the end of the Leslie Howard sequence in the Rockies -- but then, the next thing I knew, I was waking up, the lights were on, and the manager was collecting the garbage as the last few people wandered out the back of the theatre.

Ah well. As for the film, which I have seen a couple times before (once at the 1995 film festival, and at least once on video), I greatly enjoyed the chance to get a look at my country's past, even though I often feel somewhat removed from that past. Alas, the film never visits Vancouver, but it does have some nice footage of Banff and the Rockies. The film was produced a couple of years before either of my parents were born, and both of them were born in Europe and didn't move to Canada until some years later, so I've always been rather conscious of the fact that I'm the child of immigrants, and that I don't have the deep roots here that many others have. I *do* feel some connection to the film, though, inasmuch as my father was born in England and my mother was born in a Mennonite village in the Ukraine, and the film is a British production in which a significant subplot takes place in a Hutterite colony in Manitoba; the prairies are teeming with Anabaptists, and I myself attended a Mennonite Bible school in Saskatchewan.

The politics of the film are relatively sophisticated, considering it is essentially wartime propaganda. I was particularly struck by the references the film made to the German internment camps, and to the fact that presumably innocent people, including the Hutterites, were being detained there, apparently just because of their ethnicity. This is presented as something of a tragic necessity, and as something that can be blamed on the Nazis for starting the war and arousing racial animosity, but still, it is presented. It was also interesting to see how the film underscores the religious element in this country -- not just in the Hutterite subplot, but in its depiction of the Nazis who proclaim their atheism, and the Quebecois fur trapper (played by Laurence Olivier!) who holds his rosary and defiantly tells the Nazis that Canada will send some missionaries to Germany when the war is over.

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 06-20-02 12:01 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
Geez, I was wondering how you were faring wih all of your deadlines... hope you're finally getting some sleep!

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 06-20-02 12:42 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: . . . hope you're finally getting some sleep!

Not yet -- except when I sleep through my alarm clock! -- but I hope to get some rest on Saturday.

Oh, wait, that's the day they're screening Hey Arnold! in the morning -- and at a theatre in the suburbs, to boot (meaning I can't walk there, like I can for most screenings -- I'll have to allow time for transit).

Hmmmm.

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"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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Doug Cummings
Administrator


 Posted 07-26-02 09:31 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
quote:
Peter T Chattaway wrote:
Anyway, the only other film I've missed so far is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), which I saw in 1995 and loved, but couldn't see now because I got too bogged down in work the one day they showed it.

Criterion has announced the "Colonel Blimp" DVD for October 22 along with an audio commentary with Powell and Scorsese and a making-of featurette.

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Chiaroscuro: spirituality in the cinema

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Christian
Board Addict


 Posted 07-26-02 09:36 AM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
I watched Colonel Blimp a few months ago with my wife -- her first viewing, my third. The film is masterful, and the Criteion laserdisc print is beautiful. I expect the DVD will look even better.

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Peter T Chattaway
Cineaste


 Posted 08-06-02 07:07 PM              Reply with quote Edit Post Delete post
: Criterion has announced the "Colonel Blimp" DVD for
: October 22 along with an audio commentary with Powell and
: Scorsese and a making-of featurette.

Oh, tempting. Tempting. As are a few of Criterion's other Powell/Pressburger sets. If only they didn't cost so much ...

-----------------------------
"Happiness happens, but I want joy." -- Marjorie Cardwell
"If true love never did exist, how could we know its name?" -- Sam Phillips

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