Monday, December 30, 2013

Barravento

Designer of the film: José Júlio de Calasans Neto
BR 1962. PC: Iglu Filmes. EX: Roberto Pires. P: Braga Netto, Rex Schindler. Ass. P: David Singer. D: Glauber Rocha. SC: Luiz Paulino Dos Santos, Glauber Rocha, Jose Teles. DP: Tony Rabatoni - 35 mm - b&w - 1,37:1. PD: Elio Moreno Lima. Cost: Lúcia Rocha. Title design: José Júlio de Calasans Neto. M: Canjiquinha. Song, in French translation "Je pars à Bahia". S: Geraldo José, Oscar Santana. ED: Nelson Pereira dos Santos. C: Antonio Pitanga = Antonio Sampaio (Firmino), Luiza Maranhão (Cota), Lucy de Carvalho (Naína), Aldo Teixeira (Aruã), Lidio Silva. Loc: Bahia, including the Itapuã lighthouse. 78 min. In Portuguese. A Films sans Frontières 2006 re-release print, VOSTF = with French subtitles viewed at Salle Langlois, La Cinémathèque française (Histoire permanente du cinéma), Paris, 30 Dec 2013

There is an explanation of the title Barravento in the opening credits. It is a storm wind of the worst kind, an instant violent clash of the ocean and the earth.

English Wikipedia synopsis: "In a village of xaréu (Kingfish) fishermen, whose ancestors came as slaves from Africa, persist old mystic cults connected to candomblé. The arrival of Firmino, a former inhabitant who moved to Salvador, running away from poverty, transforms the peaceable panorama of the place, and polarizes tensions. Firmino is attracted to Quota, but he is not able to forget Naína who, on her part, likes Aruã. Firmino orders dispatch against Aruã, that isn’t attained, in opposite to the village that sees the cut net, impeding the fishing. Firmino stirs up the fishermen to revolt against the owner of the net, coming to destroy it. Policemen arrive at the village to control the equipment. In his fight against exploitation, Firmino argues against the master, mediator between the fishermen and the owner of the net. A fisherman convinces Aruã of fishing without the net, since his chastity would make him a protected man of Iemanjá [/ Yemanja]. The fishermen are successful in their piecework, under the leadership of Aruã. Naína reveals her impossible love for Aruã to an old black woman. In his defeat against mysticism, Firmino convinces Quota of taking away Aruã’s virginity, and consequently breaking the religious enchantment that makes him a protected man of Iemanjá. Aruã takes the bait. A storm announces the “barravento”, the violent moment. The fishermen leave for the sea, two of them die, Vicente and Chico. Firmino denounces Aruã’s loss of chastity. The Master reneges. The dead bodies are guarded, and Naína accepts to make the ritual, so she can marry Aruã. He promises the marriage, but before he decides to leave for the city to work and to earn money for the purchase of a new net. In the same place where Firmino arrived at the village, Aruã leaves for the city."

I saw Glauber Rocha's debut feature film for the first time. It is already an assured piece, clearly inspired by Luchino Visconti (La terra trema), but completely original, setting the "revolt of the fishermen" story into Bahia among African-Brazilians.

Strengths of the film include a powerful documentary approach to the life of the fishermen, their hard work on the rough sea, risking their lives constantly on their wooden jangada rafts where precise coordination is necessary to negotiate the high waves. In this sense Barravento belongs to the Flahertyan tradition of the cinema. It is a celebration of the physical skills of the fishermen in their battle with the elements.

The fishing is based on a huge dragnet which is dragged to the land by some fifteen fishermen.

Tony Rabatoni's cinematography, based on a moving camera, is excellent, and if Rocha and Rabatoni have been watching G. R. Aldo (La terra trema), Eduard Tissé (¡Que viva Mexico!), and Gabriel Figueroa (his Mexican style inspired by Eisenstein and Tissé), they use their sources of inspiration as a springboard to an original vision. The cinematography is ambitious and successful with a rich and expressive use of field sizes from bird's eye shots to extreme close-ups. Shot on location, Barravento has an intensive sense of the ocean and the jungle.

Orson Welles also filmed a jangada story (Four Men on a Raft) in his unfinished It's All True, but probably Rocha and his friends cannot have seen its footage; nor would they have needed to. But they are in the same league.

The title design by José Júlio de Calasans Neto is original.

The editing is powerful. The rhythm of the montage is based on the rhythm of sea. It is also based the rhythm of the work of the fishermen. Further it is based on the rhythm of the fights between the men; I believe they may be capoeira. There are climaxes of music, dancing, and the ceremonies of candomblé. The music by Canjiquinha is exciting.

Barravento is not a work of psychological complexity, but the characters are impressive in the same way as in films by Flaherty, Eisenstein, and La terra trema. Barravento is a celebration of survival, fight, and sensuality. Finland is a country where every now and then during the studio era there was an unforgettable extended al fresco swimming sequence by the leading lady. Barravento offers a particularly charming Afrodite sequence like that, haunting, voluptuous, nocturnal.

After the barravento storm there is a moving funeral sequence of two drowned fishermen, but the film ends on a note of a new beginning, and never giving up.

A strong poetic movie. The Itapuã lighthouse is a key image.

The sound has apparently been post-synchronized, and a studio echo slightly weakens the impact. The visual quality is often enough great to do justice to the beauty of the definition of light; at times (for example in the beginning) in this print there is a low contrast / slightly out of focus / slightly duped quality. The print is complete.

I look forward to revisiting Barravento.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Montmartre in the movies


Studio 28 exterior on 29 Dec 2013

Studio 28 interior
Studio 28 (10 rue Tholozé), founded in 1928, decorated by Jean Cocteau, house of the infamous premiere of Luis Buñuel's L'Âge d'or, is still going strong as an art et essai cinema. "La salle des chefs d'oeuvres, le chef d'oeuvre des salles" (Jean Cocteau).

Samples of the hundreds of Montmartre films that have been shot on location and recreated in studios:

Montmartre / Die Flamme (Ernst Lubitsch, 1923) (studio reconstruction)
Le Fantôme du Moulin-Rouge (René Clair, 1925)
Moulin Rouge (E. A. Dupont, 1928) (studio reconstruction)
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 / L'Assassin habite... au 21 (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1942)
Garou Garou le Passe-muraille (Jean Boyer, 1951)
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) (studio reconstruction)
Moulin Rouge (John Huston, 1952)
French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954)
Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954)
La Traversée de Paris (Claude Autant-Lara, 1956)
Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956)
The 400 Blows / Les quatre cents coups (François Truffaut, 1959)
Boulevard (Julien Duvivier, 1960)
Stolen Kisses / Baisers volés (François Truffaut, 1968)
Dernier domicile connu (José Giovanni, 1970)
Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
Love on the Run / L'Amour en fuite (François Truffaut, 1979)
Les Rendez-vous en Paris (Éric Rohmer, 1995)
Everybody Says I Love You (Woody Allen, 1996)
Amélie / Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry, 2006)
Paris je t'aime: Montmartre episode directed by Bruno Podalydès (2006)
La Vie en rose / La Môme (Olivier Dahan, 2007)
La Rafle (Roselyne Bosch, 2010)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

In 1926 Bernard Natan and Rapid Films moved to 6 rue Francoeur. In 1929, Natan merged with Pathé, and he built two studios at rue Francoeur. Film production there was discontinued in 1990. The former Pathé Montmartre studios are since 1999 the house of the legendary French state film school La Femis (Fondation européenne des métiers de l'image et du son).

Musée de Montmartre: Impressions à Montmartre - Delâtre, Müller

Alfredo Müller: Place Blanche (Quatre femmes) (1900). [Marthe Mellot et à droite, Suzanne Desprès.] Photographie Les Amis d'Alfredo Müller. By permission of Heymann, Renoult Associées.

Musée de Montmartre, 12, rue Cortot, 75018 Paris, Tél: + 33 (0)1 49 25 89 39, www.museedemontmartre.fr . Visited on 29 Dec 2013

IMPRESSIONS À MONTMARTRE - DELÂTRE, MÜLLER
Du 14 septembre 2013 au 12 janvier 2014
Le commissariat: Phillip Dennis Cate
Le scénographe: Hubert Le Gall
Commissariat scientifique: Nicholas-Henri Zmelty et Hélène Koehl.
Le catalogue de l'exposition: Phillip Dennis Cate, Nicholas-Henri Zmelty, Hélène Koehl: Impressions à Montmartre. Eugène Delâtre & Alfredo Müller. Éditions Silvana Editoriale, 2013.

OFFICIAL INTRODUCTION: "Le Musée de Montmartre vous invite à découvrir l’âge d’or de la gravure à Montmartre vers 1900. Eugène Delâtre (1864-1938), grand maître de l’eau-forte, collabora avec de nombreux artistes de la Butte dont Müller, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec et Steinlen. L’exposition présente ses œuvres majeures : vues de Montmartre et de sa vie nocturne, portraits. Les gravures d’Alfredo Müller (1869-1939) représentent notamment ses actrices de prédilection : Sarah Bernhardt, Suzanne Desprès, Marthe Mellot et Cléo de Mérode. L’exposition mettra à l’honneur ses grandes compositions, ainsi que des illustrations de la Vita Nuova de Dante."

LONGER INTRODUCTION: "Le Musée de Montmartre vous invite à découvrir l’âge d’or de la gravure à l’eau-forte à Montmartre. Réunissant pour la première fois à Paris près d’une centaine d’œuvres d’Eugène Delâtre et Alfredo Müller, l’exposition Impressions à Montmartre replace ces artistes dans le contexte de la «révolution de la couleur» qui bouleverse l’art sur papier autour de 1900."

"Montmartre est alors le cœur de l’Europe artistique et littéraire et le théâtre d’une effervescence créatrice qui essaimera dans tout le continent. Il y émerge une génération d’artistes qui s’inscrit entre les grands maîtres impressionnistes des années 1875 et la première génération d’avant-garde du début du vingtième siècle. Cette génération sera fortement et durablement marquée par le japonisme et l’expérimentation technique, notamment en matière de gravures."

"Le parcours de visite fait valoir le rôle fondamental d’Eugène Delâtre dans cette expérimentation. Il se déploie sur deux salles:
"

Eugène Delâtre (1864-1938)
"Dans son atelier de la rue Lepic, véritable centre névralgique du Montmartre artiste, Eugène Delâtre fédère un groupe de peintres-graveurs. Maître de l’impression, Delâtre est aussi un innovateur. Ayant commencé ses recherches sur la gravure au début des années 1890, il joue rôle décisif dans le développement de l'eau-forte en couleurs. Conseiller influent et initiateur, il a collaboré avec de nombreux jeunes artistes de la Butte dont Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, Steinlen, Müller et Valadon. L’exposition présente ses œuvres majeures: vues de Montmartre et de sa vie nocturne, portraits et scènes de genre."

Alfredo Müller (1869-1939)
"Après avoir étudié la peinture académique auprès du Maestro Michele Gordigiani à Florence, Alfredo Müller émigre à Paris en 1895. Il y rencontre rapidement les graveurs de Montmartre et est accueilli dans l’atelier d’Eugène Delâtre. Durant la décennie suivante, il produit plus de deux cents gravures, en noir et en couleurs. Alliant les nuances de l’eau-forte à des tons très doux, elles reflètent le goût de l’époque pour les effets picturaux riches. Müller représente notamment ses actrices de prédilection: Sarah Bernhardt, Jane Avril, Marthe Mellot, ou encore la danseuse Cléo de Mérode."

"L’exposition, dont le commissariat a été confié à Phillip Dennis Cate, rassemble des œuvres de la Bibliothèque nationale ainsi que de collections privées.
"

PARCOURS DE L’EXPOSITION

SALLE 1: Eugène Delâtre (1864-1938)

Cette première salle comporte une quarantaine de gravures et dessins de Delâtre, dont une belle sélection d’eaux-fortes en couleurs. Les œuvres exposées représentent notamment des vues de la Butte avec ses rues étroites et ses établissements nocturnes, tels que le Divan Japonais, le Moulin Rouge et le Bal du Moulin de la Galette. L’exposition «Impressions à Montmartre» réunit également un ensemble de portraits: autoportrait, père et fils de l’artiste, portrait de Huysmans, parisiennes élégantes, prostituées, ainsi qu’une représentation saisissante de la mort en fourrures. La presse du studio de Delâtre au 87, rue Lepic est aussi présentée. Elle lui servait à imprimer ses propres gravures ainsi que celles de nombreux artistes post-impressionnistes dont Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec et Picasso. Quelques-unes des œuvres présentées:
La Montmartroise, eau-forte et aquatinte en couleurs, 28,5 x 42,5 cm
Autoportrait, eau-forte et aquatinte en couleurs, 23,2 x 29 cm
Femme à l’ombrelle, eau-forte, pointe sèche et aquatinte en couleurs, 24 x 32 cm
Le Divan Japonais, 1895, eau-forte et aquatinte, 61,9 x 29,5 cm
Couverture de « Balades dans Paris », pointe sèche et aquatinte en couleurs, 25,3 x 42 cm
La Mort en fourrures, vers 1897, eau-forte et aquatinte en couleurs, 32,5 x 50,5 cm

SALLE 2: Alfredo Müller (1869-1939)

La salle consacrée à l’œuvre d’Alfredo Müller présente une vingtaine d’eaux-fortes, un pastel préparatoire et quatre lithographies en couleurs, dont deux grandes frises: Les Paons et Les Cygnes. Parmi les vues de Montmartre exposées, on trouve notamment le pavillon du 73 rue Caulaincourt. Alfredo Müller y eut, au-dessus de l’appartement de Steinlen, un atelier qu’il laissa en 1902 à Auguste Renoir. L’exposition rassemble aussi des portraits d’actrices et des planches de l’album sur la Vita Nuova de Dante, édité par Ambroise Vollard. Une série d’épreuves montre la technique de l’eau-forte en couleurs. Quelques-unes des œuvres présentées:
Notre chère maison de la rue Caulaincourt, 1897, eau-forte en couleurs, 16,3 x 16,2 cm, collection particulière, photographie Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller
Devant la rampe, 1897, eau-forte et aquatinte en couleurs, 39 x 29 cm, BnF, département des Estampes et de la Photographie
La Mort de Béatrice, 1897-1898, eau-forte en bistre, 45 x 37 cm, épreuve d’essai sur vélin pour la suite Vollard 1898, collection particulière, photographie Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller
Verlaine au Procope, 1896, 45 x 50 cm, collection particulière, photographie Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller
Place Blanche (Quatre femmes), 1900-1901, eau-forte en couleurs 65,5 x 41,5 cm, collection particulière, photographie Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller. Les deux femmes en pied sont Marthe Mellot et Suzanne Desprès
Frise Les Paons, 1903, lithographie en couleurs, 57 x 148 cm, collection particulière, photographie Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller

A refined collection of engravings, drawings, etchings, and lithographies, some of them produced with sophisticated multi-colour techniques. Certain images are on display in different versions with interesting subtle differences.

These works represent the highest art of etching. The superb technique is in the service of an artistic view.

In the Eugène Delâtre section there are tender and delicate portraits and macabre fin-de-siècle views of mortality. The design patterns are original variations of art nouveau images such as plants and butterflies.

Alfredo Müller's images impress with their approach to the world of the dancing women. There is also a series on Dante's Divina commedia. The swan images belong to the art nouveau context. The picture of a rainy evening at Place Blanche is my favourite.

Musée de Montmartre et Jardins Renoir

Musée de Montmartre, 12, rue Cortot, 75018 Paris, Tél: + 33 (0)1 49 25 89 39, www.museedemontmartre.fr . Visited on 29 Dec 2013

Official introduction:
MUSÉE DE MONTMARTRE ET JARDINS RENOIR
Le plus charmant des musées parisiens

Le Musée de Montmartre comprend un ensemble de bâtiments des XVIIème et XVIIIème siècles, derniers souvenirs de la vie de campagne, quand Montmartre était hors des murs de Paris. Le porche, construit en 1740, ouvre sur un vaste ensemble de jardi ns. Au centre, la maison du Bel Air, datant de 1660, abrite l'exposition. Elle domine les vignes et ouvre sur une vue qui laisse deviner la vallée de la Seine, avant de se perdre dans la forêt de Montmorency.

Lieu de rencontre et de résidence, le 12 rue Cortot attira de nombreux artistes. Auguste Renoir y eut son atelier en 1876 et 1877. Il réalisa pendant son séjour des toiles majeures, parmi lesquelles le Bal du Moulin de la Galette. Au début du XXème siècle, de nouveaux ateliers en firent une résidence d'artistes. Après Émile Bernard, compagnon de Gauguin, les «fauves» Émile-Othon Friesz et Raoul Dufy y vécurent, ainsi que Suzanne Valadon et son fils Maurice Utrillo. Des écrivains, comme Léon Bloy et le poète Pierre Reverdy, s’y installèrent également. Le Musée de Montmartre est resté imprégné de l’âme de ces personnalités
.

Les Jardins Renoir

La visite du Musée est l’occasion d’une promenade dans des jardins, reconstitués en 2012 à partir des tableaux que Renoir a peints sur place. Les nouveaux aménagements sont composés d’arbres fruitiers – poiriers, amandiers – et d’arbustes – lilas, rosiers et hortensias grimpants. Les teintes rouge, orange et jaune des parterres fleuris de tulipes, coquelicots et pivoines font écho à la palette des impressionnistes. Les Jardins Renoir offrent une vue exceptionnelle sur les vignes du Clos Montmartre.

Les jardins Renoir, jardins des peintres

A deux pas de la place du Tertre, les trois jardins Renoir entourent le Musée de Montmartre et dominent les vignes. Partie intégrante des collections, ils permettent une plongée dans les tableaux de Renoir et la palette des impressionnistes.

En 1876, Renoir cherche un local proche du moulin de la Galette, qu’il va peindre. Selon Pierre Courthion, Renoir souhaite « mettre la grande toile et si possible y coucher ». Son ami Georges Rivière rappelle également ce souvenir. « Un matin de mai 1876, nous partîmes de la rue Saint-Georges (où vivait le peintre), Renoir et moi, dans l’espoir de trouver un local désiré. » Plus loin, au 12, rue Cortot : « Le logement qu’elle proposait à Renoir était situé au premier étage, au dessous du toit, et se composait de deux pièces assez grandes, suffisamment meublées pour un homme qui n’attachait au luxe du mobilier aucune importance. Les fenêtres donnaient sur le jardin. Enfin, il y avait au rez-de-chaussée une ancienne écurie où le peintre pouvait abriter toiles et chevalet ».

Inspiré par les trois jardins qui composent le site, Renoir peint durant son séjour au 12, rue Cortot :

Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
La Balançoire, 1876, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Le Jardin de la rue Cortot, 1876, Pittsburgh

Aujourd’hui, le visiteur peut admirer l’ensemble paysager des trois jardins qui rappellent celui de la fin du XIXème siècle. Les nouveaux aménagements sont composés d’arbres fruitiers, poiriers et amandiers, d’arbustes, lilas, rosiers et d’hortensias grimpants. Les teintes rouge, orange et jaune des parterres fleuris de tulipes, coquelicots et pivoines font écho à la palette des impressionnistes
.

La constitution des collections

En 1886, une poignée d’artistes, amoureux du Montmartre d’antan et révoltés par les dérives architecturales de l’époque, se réunissent dans un bistrot du haut de la rue Lamarck avec pour volonté de protéger et de voir perdurer la culture, l’histoire et le site de la butte Montmartre. Ils constituent la Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie « Le Vieux Montmartre », dont la vocation est de rechercher et de conserver tous les témoignages artistiques et historiques attachés à Montmartre. Les collections de la société «Le Vieux Montmartre» sont exposées dans le Musée. Elles comprennent un fonds remarquable de tableaux, d'affiches, d'illustrations, de partitions musicales, qui illustrent notamment l'effervescence artistique autour des cabarets de Montmartre.

Le gestionnaire

En 2011, le Musée de Montmartre et l’ensemble des bâtiments du 8 au 14 rue Cortot ont été confiés par la Ville de Paris à la société Kléber Rossillon. Une extension du musée est prévue en 2014.

Two well-fed black cats guard benevolently the Renoir gardens and their visitors, and the Renoir swing is available for children guests.

This particularly charming museum is on top of Paris, just behind Sacré-Cœur, in the oldest house of Montmartre. The permanent exhibition is about the artist community who lived there during la Belle Époque, before Modernism. There is also a huge miniature of the entire Montmartre with the artists' residences clearly marked.

One of the most touching sections is about Suzanne Valadon and her son Maurice Utrillo who was born in Montmartre. Utrillo is also buried nearby; we happened to pass by his grave on our way to the museum. Marcel Carné, Arthur Honegger and Harry Baur are also buried in the same little cemetery.

Le Lapin Agile, Moulin Rouge, and Le Chat Noir are well represented. On a video monitor is a key sequence from Jean Renoir's masterpiece French Cancan, but unfortunately the clip does not do justice to the beautiful colour of the film. Both Jean Renoir and Jean Gabin were born in Montmartre.

More about the temporary exhibition "Impressions à Montmartre: Eugène Delâtre & Alfredo Müller" in a separate entry.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

La Cinémathèque française: La Rome de Pasolini (exposition)

La Cinémathèque française - Musée du cinéma. 51, rue de Bercy, 75012 Paris. http://www.cinematheque.fr/. Visited on 28 Dec, 2013.

The exhibition website
http://www.pasoliniroma.com/#!/en/index

"La culture est une résistance à la distraction"
- Pier Paolo Pasolini

PASOLINI ROMA
LA ROME DE PASOLINI
L'exposition, du 16 octobre 2013 – 26 janvier 2014
Commissariat: Gianni Borgna, Alain Bergala, Jordi Balló
16 octobre 2013 – 26 janvier 2014

Une coproduction du
Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Barcelone: 22 mai -15 septembre 2013
La Cinémathèque française, Paris: 16 octobre 2013- 26 janvier 2014
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome: 15 avril-20 juillet 2014
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin: 11 septembre 2014-5 janvier 2015

ALAIN BERGALA: "Pasolini, qui n'était pas romain, est arrivé dans la capitale en 1950 à l'âge de 28 ans, pauvre, déshonoré, en exil involontaire du Frioul maternel. À sa mort dramatique sur un terrain vague d'Ostie, 25 ans plus tard, en 1975, il était devenu une figure majeure du monde intellectuel et artistique romain. 38 ans après sa mort, la vision qu'il a eue de son pays est toujours la plus actuelle pour les Italiens, et éclaire plus largement le devenir de nos sociétés européennes. Rome a été le principal combustible de cette incroyable énergie de création et d'interventions que Pasolini a déployée pendant ces 25 années de vie artistique et publique. Approcher Pasolini dans ses rapports avec la ville de Rome, c'est entrer de plain-pied dans tout ce qui le constitue et le définit : l'amitié, la littérature, la politique, l'amour, le sexe, le cinéma."

25 ANS DE PASSION

"Pour lui, Rome n'a pas été un décor ni un simple lieu de vie. Il a connu avec cette ville une relation passionnelle, avec des sentiments mêlés de haine et d'amour, des phases d'attraction et de rejet, des tentations d'éloignement et les plaisirs du retour. Les circonstances difficiles de son arrivée à Rome l'ont immergé dans un monde et un langage qui n'étaient pas les siens, ceux des sous-prolétaires des « borgate », des banlieues pauvres et populaires où la précarité de sa situation le contraint d'habiter. Cette rencontre avec l'altérité, comme cela arrive parfois en amour, va être un puissant moteur de création. De cet univers dont il ne savait rien, va naître une puissante inspiration et il va y trouver, sans avoir eu à les chercher, les sujets constitutifs de ses premiers romans et de ses premiers films."

"Plus tard, Rome va devenir pour l'homme public qu'a été aussi Pasolini, analyste infatigable du devenir de la société italienne, le principal espace d'observation, son champ permanent d'étude, de réflexion et de combat. Ce sera aussi le théâtre des persécutions dont il ne va jamais cesser de faire l'objet, de la part des pouvoirs de tous ordres et de l'acharnement des médias pour lesquels il sera pendant vingt ans le bouc-émissaire, l'homme à abattre, à cause de sa différence et de ses prises de position."

"C'est à partir des transformations de cette ville qu'il a tant aimée, qu'il analyse la mutation de son pays au tournant des années 60-70, d'où est issue pour l'essentiel l'Italie d'aujourd'hui. Mutations qui l'éloignent de plus en plus de cette Rome où il assiste, les poings serrés, au triomphe de la société de consommation et à la montée en puissance d'une télévision nationale qui impose le même modèle petit-bourgeois à une population ayant perdu toute innocence et tout sens du sacré. Paris, New York, mais surtout le Tiers-Monde – l'Inde, l'Afrique – vont devenir ses lignes de fuite, même si son centre de gravité reste toujours la capitale désaimée. Rome a constitué Pasolini romancier et cinéaste, mais la rencontre de cet homme et de cette ville a agi, comme en amour, dans les deux sens. Il y a une Rome d'avant et une Rome d'après Pasolini. Ses écrits et ses films en ont créé un nouvel imaginaire, en ont déplacé les lignes symboliques, en ont refondé la géographie, lui ont rendu une langue jusque-là trop minoritaire pour être audible, en ont prévu l'avenir. Petrolio, sa dernière grande œuvre littéraire, inachevée du fait de son assassinat, est l'ultime écriture, terriblement désillusionnée, de ce mythe."

PASOLINI DECOUVRE ET REINVENTE LE CINEMA

"L'écrivain Pasolini naît au cinéma à presque 40 ans, inspiré par ces quartiers périphériques de Rome et par leur population marginale, avec son propre langage, sa propre vision de la vie, jusque-là ignorés, invisibles. Il va inventer pour eux une nouvelle langue cinématographique qu'il définit comme la langue même de la réalité. C'est le succès et le scandale de son premier roman, Ragazzi di vita, et ses travaux alimentaires de scénariste qui vont le sortir de la quasi-misère et lui ouvrir le chemin du cinéma: des cinéastes comme Fellini ou Bolognini lui passent commande de scènes de maquereaux, de prostituées, de marginaux. Ses films vont suivre les mêmes étapes que celles de son amour et de ses désillusions pour Rome et la jeunesse romaine."

"Une première époque (Accattone, Mamma Roma, La ricotta) est celle d'un cinéma réaliste-lyrique, ancré dans la réalité des faubourgs de la ville, suivie de L'Évangile selon Saint Matthieu qu'il veut accessible à tous, croyants ou non croyants. Il tient à se démarquer du néo-réalisme rossellinien comme du cinéma de la Nouvelle Vague qui lui est contemporain, pour trouver ses propres modèles de représentation. Quand il commence son premier film, Accattone, il ne connaît à peu près rien à la technique du cinéma mais il sait exactement ce qu'il en attend : isoler et sacraliser des morceaux du réel, un visage, un coin de mur, un geste énigmatique. Son modèle de représentation, c'est celui de Masaccio, de Giotto : sacralité, frontalité, séparation du fond et du personnage. Puis, avec le temps des déceptions et du désamour de Rome, il manifestera un rejet radical de la culture de masse et de toute récupération consumériste de ses œuvres. Il choisit, par réaction, une forme de cinéma plus cryptée, aristocratique, travaillant la métaphore et le mythe (Œdipe Roi, Porcherie, Théorème, Médée)."

"Dans les années 70, dans sa Trilogie (Le Décaméron, Les Contes de Canterbury, Les Mille et une Nuits), il tente avec l'énergie du désespoir d'échapper à ce qu'il a appelé le « génocide culturel » de l'Italie, en filmant des corps qu'il voudrait encore innocents et un érotisme libre, joyeux et païen. Mais il va abjurer rapidement cette tentative volontariste et réactive dont il juge qu'elle a perdu son sens devant la fausse tolérance sexuelle du pouvoir consumériste. Il tourne alors son dernier film, Salò ou les cent vingt journées de Sodome, objet unique dans l'histoire du cinéma, d'une absolue radicalité, intraitable, une mise à l'épreuve permanente du spectateur à qui l'écran renvoie sans cesse son propre regard auquel il refuse toute entrée empathique. Cette mise à mort du dispositif de l'identification au cinéma coïncide avec le massacre de son auteur, qui n'assistera pas à la première de son film."

C'EST PASOLINI QUI NOUS GUIDE

"L'exposition Pasolini Roma s'organise de façon chronologique en six sections, qui vont du jour de l'arrivée à Rome de Pasolini et de sa mère, à la nuit de son massacre aux confins de la plage d'Ostie, avec un petit flash-back sur ses années frioulanes. On y retrouve, d'étape en étape, quelques fils rouges qui permettent de suivre à la trace la traversée d'un quart de siècle (1950-1975) par cet homme d'une incroyable vitalité : les lieux de vie, les lieux des romans et des films, la poésie, le cinéma, les amis, les amours, les persécutions, les combats et les engagements dans la cité, les abjurations. On y trouve des dessins et des tableaux de Pasolini, dont certains autoportraits, mais aussi la galerie idéale des peintres contemporains qu'il a décrite avec précision dans un poème: Morandi, Mafai, De Pisis, Rosai, Guttuso. Jamais exposition sur Pasolini n'a été riche d'autant de matériaux de toutes natures, éclairant toutes les facettes de ses multiples activités, dont certains sont inédits à ce jour. Tous ces matériaux sont de première main : tout Pasolini mais rien que Pasolini. Des murs-écrans scandent le parcours de section en section, où le visiteur est immergé dans la Rome d'aujourd'hui, dans des lieux pasoliniens qui permettent de mesurer la justesse de ses analyses sur le devenir de la ville."

"Nous avons voulu que cette exposition accompagne au plus près les années romaines de cette vie foisonnante, en tension permanente, celle d'un homme créant et luttant sur tous les fronts. Nous avons voulu que le visiteur ait l'impression que c'est Pasolini lui-même qui lui parle, le guide, et l'autorise avec bienveillance à le suivre et à découvrir en même temps que lui un cheminement imprévisible, sans cesse ouverte aux rencontres, aux doutes, aux revirements, aux abjurations, aux départs nouveaux. Le visiteur y découvrira un homme à la fois exceptionnel (par sa puissance de création, son incroyable vitalité, ses combats permanents, sa passion pour tout ce qu'il entreprend), et un homme comme tous les autres, avec ses moments d'exaltation, de croyance, d'enthousiasme, de joie, mais aussi ses moments de doute et d'angoisses. Nous aimerions qu'en sortant de l'exposition, le visiteur ait partagé ses émotions et emporte avec lui le sentiment que Pasolini est plus que jamais actuel, que ses films et ses livres nous parlent de nous, que ses analyses nous aident à comprendre le monde dans lequel nous vivons aujourd'hui." ALAIN BERGALA

Like Jean Cocteau, Pier Paolo Pasolini was a multi-talent, and although this exhibition focuses on the city of Rome, there are flashbacks and reflections of many other important locations all over Italy and extending to the Middle East and India.

But "all roads lead to Rome".

The scope is epic, covering decades of social change during Pasolini's lifetime, fascinating circles and friendships, and many fields of cultural activity.

Divided chronologically into six sections, each introduced by a huge contemporary map of Rome, marked with spots of special importance.

I paid special attention to the self-portraits painted by Pasolini.

There was a presence of the death drive in Pasolini's life since the days of youth. Pasolini had to suppress his sexual orientation, and all his life he battled in dozens of trials, illustrated in a huge wall-to-wall diagram in the exhibition.

The exhibition's résumé about the circumstances of Pasolini's death includes much unsettling information that I had not been aware of. The official investigations are still going on.

One of the most memorable and substantial exhibitions of a film artist I have visited. Indispensable.

La Cinémathèque française: Jean Cocteau et le cinématographe (exposition)

Jean Cocteau filming La Belle et la Bête
La Cinémathèque française - Musée du cinéma. 51, rue de Bercy, 75012 Paris. http://www.cinematheque.fr/. Jean Cocteau et le cinématographe exposition du 2 oct 2013 au 23 février 2014. Visited on 28 Dec, 2013.

"L'exposition, au Musée du Cinéma, est l'occasion de montrer des fonds exceptionnels collectés par La Cinémathèque française et grâce à la générosité de donateurs. Elle dévoile affiches, scénarios, correspondances, ouvrages précieux, dessins, photographies de plateau et de tournage, ou encore des costumes et objets, dont le célèbre costume d'homme-cheval imaginé par Cocteau pour Le Testament d'Orphée et la robe dessinée par Marcel Escoffier pour La Belle et la Bête."

"Les collections témoignent aussi des activités de critique de Cocteau, et de son implication dans diverses manifestations d'importance, notamment le Festival de Cannes dont il fut à plusieurs reprises Président du jury avant d'en être nommé Président d'honneur."

"Evénement à l'occasion du cinquantenaire de la mort de Jean Cocteau, avec le soutien du Comité Cocteau et de la Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent."

An affectionate and intimate exhibition of Jean Cocteau as a film-maker based on the collections of the Cinémathèque and new precious donations. Many rare images and objects have never been on display before. The mise-en-scène, the art of the display is of the highest level. It was interesting to discover Cocteau's personal contribution to the beautiful posters.

This exhibition fits very well my "self-portraits of artists" emphasis of today's visit in the Musée du cinéma. Le Testament d'Orphée may be the cinema's most beautiful self-portrait of an artist.

The Cocteau spirit was present. I could imagine the hands extending from the walls and feel the invisible wind from beyond.

La Cinématheque française: Le Musée de la Cinémathèque

Asta Nielsen: Self-portrait. Oil, cloth, gauze. Self-photographed at Le Musée de la Cinémathèque.
La Cinémathèque française - Musée du cinéma. 51, rue de Bercy, 75012 Paris. http://www.cinematheque.fr/ Visited on 28 Dec, 2013.

"Dans le magnifique bâtiment de l’architecte Frank O. Gehry, parcourez l’histoire et la préhistoire du cinéma et découvrez les trésors des collections de la Cinémathèque française: instruments d’optique, caméras, lanternes magiques, costumes mythiques, affiches, documents de tournage et objets cultes... Au cours de ce parcours, accompagné de nombreux extraits de films, vous retrouverez les plus grands noms du cinéma, de Charlie Chaplin à Alfred Hitchcock, de Fritz Lang à Luis Buñuel."

The permanent exhibition of La Cinématheque française based on the original Henri Langlois concept is always worth re-visiting. This time I paid attention to the huge Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre poster whose significance I now realize better, having seen the impressive reconstruction of the Paris Exposition Universelle 1900 show in Pordenone last year.

I also paid attention to the self-portraits of artists, including those by Charles Chaplin and Asta Nielsen.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Georges Braque (exhibition) (Grand Palais, Paris)

Georges Braque, L’oiseau noir et l’oiseau blanc, 1960, Huile sur toile, 134 x 167,5 cm, Paris © Leiris SAS Paris © Adagp, Paris 2013.
Georges Braque, L’oiseau noir et l’oiseau blanc,1960, Huile sur toile, 134 x 167,5 cm, Paris © Leiris SAS Paris © Adagp, Paris 2013 - See more at: http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/georges-braque#sthash.4vVUSQlo.dpuf
Exposition Georges Braque. 18 Septembre 2013 - 6 Janvier 2014. Grand Palais, Galeries nationales, Paris. Viewed on 27 Dec 2013.

Commissaire: Brigitte Leal. Scénographes: Didier Blin, assisté d'Alice Sabatier. Graphistes: Noémie Lelièbre, Arnaud Sergent.

"Le Grand Palais présente la première rétrospective consacrée à Georges Braque (1882-1963) depuis près de quarante ans. Initiateur du cubisme et inventeur des papiers collés, il fut l’une des figures d’avant-garde du début du XXe siècle, avant de recentrer son œuvre sur l’exploration méthodique de la nature morte et du paysage. L’exposition propose un nouveau regard porté sur l’œuvre de l’artiste et une mise en perspective de son travail avec la peinture, la littérature ou la musique de son temps. Exposition organisée par la Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais en partenariat avec le Centre Pompidou. Exposition réalisée grâce au soutien de Nexity."
See more at: http://www.grandpalais.fr/fr/evenement/georges-braque#sthash.fmQYk5vs.dpuf

"This retrospective, dedicated to the major 20th century artist Georges Braque, will survey all the periods of his artistic creation, from Fauvism to his final works culminating in the magnificent art studios and birds series. The exhibition will focus on highlights in his career, such as Cubism, the Canéphores (Basket Carriers) of the 1920’s, and his final landscapes. Exhibition organized by the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais and the Centre Pompidou. The exhibition is sponsored by Nexity."

An epic journey into 20th century art via a key figure, Georges Braque.

Condensing key data from the handbill of the exhibition:
1905: discovery of Fauvism.
1906: Cercle de l'Art Moderne in Le Havre.
1907: in L'Estaque and La Ciotat, landscapes reflecting the influence of Cézanne. Apollinaire introduces him to Picasso.
1908: first solo exhibition at the Galerie Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, featuring geometric landscapes now credited as the official beginnings of Cubism.
1909: at La Roche-Guyon, painting the first Analytic Cubist landscapes.
1911: adding stencilled letters and numbers to his paintings
1912: his first collage, Compotier et verre, introducing a foreign element to the work, creating a distinction between colour and form.
1913: Synthetic Cubist period, incorporating pre-existing objects into paintings: pasted papers, imitations of materials, printed symbols.
1914: enlisted in the French Army, sent to the front line on the Somme.
1915: receives a serious head wound, losing eyesight temporarily.
1919: second solo exhibition, including still-lifes. Friendship with Erik Satie.
1922: Les Canéphores, a new classical inspiration.
1924: collaboration with Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. First exhibition at the gallery of his new dealer, Paul Rosenberg.
1925: Studio designed by Auguste Perret near the Parc Montsouris in Paris.
1930: Studio designed by Paul Nelson, in Varengeville-sur-Mer, where the artists makes his home for part of the year.
1932: illustrates an edition of Hesiod's Theogony for Ambroise Vollard. Cycle of paintings, engravings and sculptures inspired by mythological subjects.
1933: retrospective at the Basel Kunsthalle. Carl Einstein writes the first monograph on the artist.
1939: moves to Varengeville on the outbreak of war. Experiments with sculpture, paints a series of symbolic vanitas still-lifes.
1944-1949: Les Billards series.
1947: First exhibition at the gallery owned by Aimé Maeght, his last dealer. Meets poet René Char.
1949-1956: Les Ateliers series.
1953-1962: Les Oiseaux.
1955-1963: final landscapes at Varengeville. (My résumé of the chronology on the handbill.)

The Georges Braque exhibition is epic not only in the scope of the artworks on display, but also as a social phenomenon. There was a mass movement to the exhibition, and the spacious rooms were crowded.

In such circumstances I found it impossible to meditate, and took a cinematic approach, instead. I walked slowly, without stopping, from the beginning to the end. Then I watched the entire run of the artworks in reverse, and finally, once more, from the beginning to the end. The exhibition is chronological, and there is an inner story. It would be easy to make a Georges Braque movie in the style of Luciano Emmer and Alain Resnais, showing only paintings, tracking the inner development of the artist only via them.

Witnessing the birth of Cubism (1908) and the collage and montage approaches to painting (1912) are the most unique rewards of such a retrospective. It is also a record of an inner journey of never standing still, always evolving. Richly rewarding.

As a sociologist I was also struck by the huge demand for such an exhibition. Avant-garde art from a hundred years ago is now embraced by the general audience. The enthusiastic reception also proves that when you do a thing like this with passion and loving care, people will respond.

The art of the display is impeccable, and the subtle, non-reflecting glasses are almost unnoticeable.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Musée de l'érotisme (Paris, Place Blanche) (eight exhibitions)

Musée de l'érotisme. 72 boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris. Métro: Blanche ou Pigalle. Jours d'ouverture: tous les jours, y compris les jours fériés. Horaires d'ouverture: de 10H00 à 02H00 du matin.

"Dans l'art, il n'y a pas d'immoralité.
L'art est toujours sacré."

-Auguste Rodin

Art sacré (exposition permanente)
De la préhistoire à nos jours, un grand nombre d’objets et symboles témoignent de la vénération de l’homme pour le miracle de la vie. La fécondité et la fertilité qui la perpétuent ont donné lieu, sur tous les continents à des cultes voués aux forces génératrices. Modelés, sculptés, peints ou gravés ces idoles, amulettes, masques et autres objets de cérémonies constituent un patrimoine précieux et bouleversant...
   Si de nombreuses religions modernes voient dans le sexe la raison de tous les maux, les religions primitives croyaient au contraire à un lien naturel entre l’élément religieux et l’élément sexuel, constitutif de l’équilibre entre le corps et l’âme
. A.P.

Art populaire (exposition permanente)
Si la frontière est parfois ténue du sacré au profane, l’art érotique populaire, au-delà des tabous et totems, appréhende, lui, la sexualité dans son aspect récréatif. Cet artisanat licencieux, dénommé Curiosa, à donné naissance à une profusion de réalisations singulières : satiriques, humoristiques, empreintes de joie et de santé...
    Expression d’une libre pensée, peut-on dire de l’art érotique qu’il contribue à la démocratie ? Il a pour le moins la vertu de dédramatiser une fonction trop souvent mal vécue et figure au Musée pour la plus grande joie du public
. A.P.

Art contemporain (exposition permanente) 
Le XXeme siècle plus qu’un autre a libéré une conscience de soi qui fait place au sexe et au corps, les artistes contemporains ont largement pris en compte notre fonction amoureuse. Libre de toute pression officielle, le Musée des arts érotiques de Paris a depuis son inauguration (1997) présenté les œuvres érotiques de plus de 150 artistes plasticiens.
    La sexualité sublimée serait-elle l’essence même de l’art ? Les expositions temporaires du Musée offrent à ses visiteurs un vaste panorama international de cette créativité foisonnante, parfois trouble, toujours émouvante
. A.P.

Maisons closes (exposition permanente) 
Au second étage du Musée qui en compte sept, est exposée une collection mythique, réalisée par Romi – écrivain et journaliste...
    Cet ensemble spectaculaire de documents rares, de photos et œuvres graphiques, tous relatifs à la prostitution en maisons closes, couvre une période qui s’étend de la fin du XIXe siècle à l’année 1946 (date de la fermeture de ces établissements en France). Un univers fantasmatique par excellence, source d’inspiration pour de nombreux artistes
.

Stephane Blanquet: Novembre 2013 à Mai 2014
Rendez vous moi en toi. Dessins porn d'après archives porn
. Né en 1973 en région parisienne, Stéphane Blanquet agite la scène artistique française depuis le début des années 90. Il a commencé sur la scène graphique par tordre les bulles, supprimer dialogues et couleurs et s’affranchir des règles. Aujourd’hui, il imagine des projets toujours plus ambitieux et place au cœur de sa réflexion l’interaction avec les différents publics et crée une œuvre forte, personnelle et accessible.  

Luz et Sarah Constantin: Novembre 2013 à Mai 2014
Kinkiness
. «Kinkiness» désigne en anglais un comportement à la fois farfelu, excentrique, exhibitionniste et vicieux. Sous cet intitulé, Luz, dessinateur à Charlie Hebdo et Sarah Constantin, chanteuse, journaliste et scénariste de BD, cassent les barrières entre artiste et modèle, érotisme et pornographie, fantasme et quotidienneté, modernité et classicisme. Le Musée de l’Érotisme montre, pour la toute première fois, une cinquantaine de croquis et dessins réalisés sur des bibles écrites en latin par ces deux artistes briseurs de norme.

Daiane Soares: Novembre 2013 à Mai 2014
Io Donna
. Daiane Soares, mannequin et artiste brésilienne, a choisi la photographie comme langage pour exprimer à la fois l' union et le contraste: vérité et mensonge, peur et courage, plaisir et obligation, force et fragilité... dépassant alors les seuls canons de la beauté immortalisés par des sujets non conventionnels comme ses expositions "la Carne" ou "moi et mes amies". La fusion de la maîtrise et de sa sensibilité s' est exprimée par un travail spécifique sur l' "être femme".  

Myrtille Chartuss: Novembre 2013 à Mai 2014
Myrtille vous fait: Exposition vidéo plan de couple: Exposition photo
. Myrtille mi-mique, mi-femme, mi-cartoon, métisse de Joséphine Baker et de Benny Hill, pleine d'énergie, attachante, plouc et sexy, cette bille de clown sur un corps de rêve, cet avatar d'elle-même, cette créature virtu-elle avec des défauts, cette DRÔLE de fille... ben c'est Myrtille!

Last night we were at the Christmas Midnight Mass at the basilique Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre, the sacred hill of the martyrs.

Before Christmas dinner at la brasserie Wepler there is still time, and the famous Musée de l'érotisme is nearby. The idea to visit it on Christmas day may seem blasphemous or at least disrespectful.

From a cinematic tourist's viewpoint even the way to the place is full of legendary / infamous names. Place Pigalle, where many French gangster movies take place. Place Blanche, immortalized by Fréhel's haunting song "Où est-il donc" in Pépé le Moko. Place de Clichy, where Henry Miller spent some "quiet" days.

I like the all-encompassing approach of the Musée de l'érotisme. Indeed, the most atavistic dimension is sacred: the primordial worship of fertility and potency in cultures around the world, the adoration of Venus and Adonis.

But even in the most mundane and base cultural expressions of sexuality one can at least consider the possibility of Auguste Rodin's dictum about the sacred dimension in all art.

Perhaps merely naturalistic records of sexuality are not art. They are artefacts produced for a limited practical use with no further value.

Was it Georges Bataille who formulated that exaggeration is central for artistic value in erotic art and that it is especially prone to caricature and parody. Indeed, the most impressive atavistic cult objects are based on the hyperbole principle. For me, a symbol of the entire place is a dwarfed man transporting his mighty tool, bigger than himself, on a wheelbarrow.

The sacred objects are the most unforgettable in this museum, and all others shine in their benevolent spiritual field. Some objects are beautiful, some are humoristic, some are macabre.

There are four modern exhibitions at the museum. In their livres d'or guests have created uninhibited hommages of their own, often in the form of exaggerated parodies of sex organs.

There is also a non stop screening of vintage hard core pornography, completely different from the contemporary one. The performers are not photomodels, and there are no production values.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Mies, joka tiesi liikaa / Mannen som visste för mycket. GB 1934. PC: Gaumont-British Pictures. P: [Michael Balcon], Ivor Montagu (assoc.). D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: Charles Bennett, D. B. Wyndham Lewis - scenario: Edwin Greenwood, A. R. Rawlinson - additional dialogue: Emlyn Williams - based on the story by Bennett & Wyndham Lewis. DP: Curt Courant. AD: Alfred Junge, Peter Proud. [VFX: Albert Whitlock, n.c.]. M: Arthur Benjamin, including "Storm Cloud Cantata" commissioned for this film. S: F. McNally. ED: H. St. C. Stewart / Hugh Stewart. C: Leslie Banks (Bob Lawrence), Edna Best (Jill Lawrence), Peter Lorre (Abbott), Frank Vosper (Ramon Levine), Hugh Wakefield (Clive), Nova Pilbeam (Betty Lawrence), Pierre Fresnay (Louis Bernard), Cicely Oates (Nurse Agnes), George Curzon (Gibson), B. A. Clarke Smith (Binstead). 75 min. The film was not theatrically released in Finland. Finnish classification number 18965 (1934). Vhs release 1995: Castle Communications. Telecast: 7.12.2008 Yle Teema, 5.5.2010 Yle Teema. A SFI-FA print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Alfred Hitchcock)

Wikipedia: "The film has nothing except the title in common with G. K. Chesterton's 1922 book of detective stories of the same name. Hitchcock decided to use the title as he had the rights for some of the stories in the novel."

Revisited the first film in the "classic thriller sextet" (Raymond Durgnat) which consolidated Alfred Hitchcock's international reputation. Charles Barr states (in English Hitchcock, 1999) that the six films came into being in a conjunction of four forces, represented by four names: Balcon, Bennett, Buchan, and Hitler. All save one were set in contemporary Britain and/or Europe. All films save one were based on novels. All save one were co-written by Bennett. All save one have a strong political dimension. All save one introduce to each other the male and the female protagonist and end on an image of their union. "To get a full sextet of films in each category, then, one needs another title and this is neatly provided by Foreign Correspondent."

Charles Barr points out that the films before the classic thriller sextet "can be taken seriously both in themselves and for what Hitchcock learned from them; indeed, the thrillers that follow represent a narrowing down and in some ways even an impoverishment. Some of his profoundest Hollywood works will seem to reach back to the early English films, and to rework both formal and thematic elements from them that are not present in the thrillers. While it is not a case of Hitchcock, after unproductive years, suddenly finding himself and reaching maturity when he joins Gaumont-British, the films that follow do, however, still constitute a remarkable series."

Heikki Nyman, in Hitchcockin kosketus: Alfred Hitchcockin elokuvat, osa 1: Englannin kausi / [The Hitchcock Touch: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, Part 1: The English Period, 1994], writes that Hitchcock found in the thriller sextet a new characteristic balance between obsession and freedom (and a sense of humour). Hitchcock also discovered a new tempo, a new pace of storytelling with little regard for logic, although that tempo was not adopted in all films. Nyman reminds us that Hitchcock nevertheless kept making very different films even inside the thriller genre.

For Nyman, the division of Hitchcock's films into espionage thrillers and psychopathological thrillers is not essential. The Hitchcock touch related to seeing and looking had already emerged in the director's earliest films. The 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much is also essentially a film of looks. Seeing, and especially unclear seeing, are present in the 1934 version but not as centrally and not as fully integrated as in the remake. Generally the thematic of seeing is more important in Hitchcock's psychopathological thrillers than in his espionage thrillers.

Nyman observes that the homogeneity of the thriller sextet has often been emphasized, but it should not be exaggerated. A voyage structure is common to all save one. Espionage is common to all save one. Sexuality is central to two; a family theme is central to another two; a father-daughter relationship dominates one; a child is central to three. A political perspective is present in all save one.

Nyman suggests that Hitchcock benefits from a relative vagueness of the political perspective in the thriller sextet (Hitler is named in none of them) as well as in North by Northwest. They have much in common as studies in the closeness of "order" and "chaos", and Sabotage is in this sense a central work. They are also studies about how an "everyman" can get caught into a vortex of chaos. In three of the films there is a breakdown of the order of a family. Besides, two further films have a family theme.

Nyman emphasizes that essential suspense is based on the concept of knowledge and on the privileged position of the viewer, his privileged knowledge. The privileged knowledge of the viewer would from here on become an increasingly central factor in the Hitchcock touch.

Nyman, like Barr, does not see quite The Man Who Knew Too Much to represent such a dramatic recovery in Hitchcock's work as some reviewers have found, as Hitchcock had been making outstanding films all the time.

AA: A suspense thriller plot has been successfully seasoned with a Hitchcock family flavour: a passion for travel, a special love for Switzerland and St. Moritz, and a penchant for practical jokes. There is a new, more personal dimension in the thriller.

In the series of Hitchcock's masterpieces of the 1950s and the 1960s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) is an exception in that the protagonist/s (the identification figure/s) is/are not feeling anxiety about her/himself but for another (the child).

The same special structure of identification and anxiety is already on display in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). This structure evidently also has a personal background in the Hitchcock family situation. The personal story is no longer about "me" or the parents but about the child.

The original The Man Knew Too Much (1934) is rewarding to revisit. It is full of rich and carefully developed detail.

The casting is its weakness. The actors are good, but the performances are not as compelling and engaging as they are in the remake.

A major difference is that the mother plays a more important part in the original film. Her scream thwarts the assassination at Albert Hall here as in the remake. But, unlike in the remake, it is her prowess at the rifle that saves the daughter from certain death.

I belong to those who take Hitchcock's political commitment seriously. The Man Who Knew Too Much was released one year after Hitler's rise to power. In many of his films from this work until Strangers on the Train Hitchcock reflected Hitler and his Übermensch concept ("some people deserve to die") in one way or other. In the cast and the crew of The Man Who Knew Too Much one may detect several people who would have had Berufsverbot in das Dritte Reich.

The print is clean and complete, not brilliant, but often enough good or ok to do justice to Curt Courant's cinematography, sometimes slightly soft or duped looking. (Courant and Peter Lorre had been forced to exile in 1933. Alfred Junge had emigrated a year earlier).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Number Seventeen


No. 17 / Numero 17 / Talo numero 17. GB © 1932 British International Pictures Ltd. P: John Maxwell. D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: Alma Reville, Alfred Hitchcock, Rodney Ackland – based on the play (1925) and the novel (1926) by J. Jefferson Farjeon. DP: John J. Cox / Jack E. Cox, Bryan Langley - early sound aperture 1,2:1. AD: Wilfred Arnold / C. Wilfred Arnold. M: A. Hallis / Adolph Hallis. S+ED: A. C. Hammond. S recordist: A. D. Valentine. C: Léon M. Lion (Ben), Anne Grey (Nora - the "deaf-mute" girl), John Stuart (Barton - the detective), Donald Calthrop (Brant - Nora's escort), Barry Jones (Henry Doyle), Ann Casson (Rose Ackroyd), Henry Caine (Mr. Ackroyd), Garry Marsh (Sheldrake). Studio: Elstree. 64 min. The film had no theatrical release in Finland. First telecast by MTV Finland on 17.5.1978. Finnish classification 81063 (SEA) - K12. A SFI-FA print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Alfred Hitchcock), 20 Dec 2013

Main credit title shot: "British International Pictures Ltd. presents Number Seventeen by J. Jefferson Farjeon from the play Number Seventeen produced by Leon M. Lion".

Revisited a film which Alfred Hitchcock, himself, referred to as "a disaster".

Wikipedia synopsis: "The film is about a group of criminals who committed a jewel robbery and put their money in an old house over a railway leading to the English Channel, the film's title being derived from the house's street number. An outsider stumbles onto this plot and intervenes with the help of a neighbour, a police officer's daughter." Wikipedia also claims that the film had only been available in poor quality prints for decades.

Charles Barr, in English Hitchcock (1999), makes a case for Number Seventeen. Hitchcock and his screenwriter Rodney Ackland claimed that a) Number Seventeen was a ponderous and conventional stage thriller, b) resenting BIP's assignment they transformed it by exaggeration and parody which nobody realized, and c) Hitchcock gratefully put the experience behind him, making a fresh start soon afterwards with Balcon. "All of these claims are wrong". a) The play, billed during its long West End run as a "joyous melodrama", was already an inventive and sophisticated comedy-thriller; b) the film remains closer to the original, in substance and in spirit, than Hitchcock liked people to believe; if nobody recognized it as a parody, it really wasn't one at all; c) it provided two new central structural elements that Hitchcock would adopt and make his own.

Barr compares the piece with Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, and evokes Vladimir Propp's taxonomy of basic roles in The Morphology of the Folk-Tale. He reminds us that simultaneously in Hollywood James Whale was directing The Old Dark House, based on a novel by J. B. Priestley, and scripted by Benn Levy. Number Seventeen was a move by Hitchcock towards Universal's brand of horror film.

Barr points out that Number Seventeen was the film in which Hitchcock streamlined his boy-meets-girl structure: a boy meets a girl for the first time, with initial antagonism, they go through an intense ordeal, and come together, tentatively or definitively, in the ending, all this in a short period of time. "Number Seventeen is the most intense distillation of this oneiric quality, all 'realism' squeezed out of it, creating the very template for the Hitchcock thriller."

Secondly, according to Barr, Number Seventeen is the film which introduces the MacGuffin. Everybody is after the hidden diamond necklace, which is finally offered as a wedding present. As Hitchcock loved to tell, a MacGuffin is the item, the details of which are unimportant for us the viewers, which motivates and structures the entire thriller plot.

Heikki Nyman, in Hitchcockin kosketus: Alfred Hitchcockin elokuvat, osa 1: Englannin kausi / [The Hitchcock Touch: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, Part 1: The English Period, 1994], reminds us that Number Seventeen was a play which J. Jefferson Farjeon wrote for the actor Léon M. Lion, who produced it and starred in it. The play was so successful that Farjeon novelized it afterwards.

Nyman comments that Number Seventeen is a film that wears thin with repeated viewings. The characters do not particularly move us since they are marionettes to which we cannot help reacting indifferently. In this respect Number Seventeen is an empty film. John Stuart is wooden as the detective Barton, and Léon M. Lion overacts theatrically. Also in Hitchcock's greatest films his characters may be more or less "synthetic", but there is also something essentially universal in them, they are also about us.

For Nyman, the opening of the film retains its value in repeated viewings. He enjoys the comic escalation, the wildly mistaken identities (the detective turns out to be a villain, a passer-by turns out to be a detective, the "deaf-mute" woman starts to talk), the "resurrection" theme, the most extended spiral staircase scenes in a Hitchcock film, the centrality of the jewel, and the very Hitchcockian vertiginous scene of the man and the woman hanging from the ceiling, roped together by their hands on a broken banister about to crash down.

AA: The opening of the film is very well made with a moving camera and long takes. It is still a display of the mastery of the cinematography of the golden age of the silent cinema.

There is an Expressionistic inspiration, and there are affinities with German classics of the 1920s such as Schatten. Number Seventeen is a film full of strange shadows.

Number Seventeen is clearly linked with the cycle of the haunted house mystery thrillers / horror films popular in the late 1920s, films such as The Cat and the Canary. There was also often a spoof aspect in them. We cannot take them very seriously. Yet there is a sense of the absurd, a sense of the uncanny, and even a sense of horror.

I was very disappointed when I saw Number Seventeen for the first time. Now I liked Number Seventeen more than before because I did not expect much from the characters and the plot. A deep, compelling personal commitment is missing. The film fails to engage, but it has its more superficial and external rewards.

The melodramatic music also adds to the silent cinema ambience. The sound recording is not very successful. The sound seems hollow, and it is sometimes difficult to follow the dialogue.

The cinematography by John J. Cox and Bryan Langley is fine, and the miniatures in the final desperate train chase sequences are effective. Although Number Seventeen is a filmed play, it does not look like it.

The visual quality of this print is good.

EFG1914: a giant film collection on the First World War online

EFG1914 Press release 16/12/2013

THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN MOVING IMAGES
European Project Making Film from 1914-1918 Available Online for the First Time

The year 2014 will be characterised by numerous commemorations for the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. These tributes will also take place in moving images thanks to a unique project co-ordinated by the German Film Institute in Frankfurt am Main. Since February 2012 the European project ‘The European Film Gateway 1914’ (EFG1914) has digitised over 650 hours of historical film material from the war and has made this footage available online for the first time. The films can be viewed via the European film heritage internet platform ‘The European Film Gateway’.
 

The catastrophe that was the First World War coincided with the rise of film as a powerful, modern medium. The surviving films from 1914-1918 are eloquent representations of political, social and aesthetic positions. They reproduce and document every day life as well as the state of emergency, and provide information about the technological and narrative development of the cinema.

The EFG – European Film Gateway also offers a comprehensive insight into film production from the time. Approximately 1,500 weekly news programmes, documentaries, animations and feature films have been digitised for the EFG 1914 and can be seen online. A further 1,000 titles will be added between now and the conclusion of the project in February 2014. The German Film Institute in Frankfurt am Main co-ordinated the collaboration of 26 partner institutions from 15 different countries. A unique body of work; featuring not only all of the phases and locations from the First World War but also all genres and sub-genres (from propaganda films to anti-war films), has resulted from contributions from film archives across Europe. The contents have been thoroughly prepared for the user so it is possible to search particular topics such as ‘the western front’, ‘mountain warfare’ and ‘civilians’ next to the usual search engine.


During the First World War, film was used as a propaganda medium for the first time. Film production was subjected to strict censorship on military authority, therefore there are hardly any examples from the battles at the front, most of the pictures are shot behind the front or during exercises. Two films, that focus on the Alp Front, show how different the aesthetic access to the reality of war can still be.


An example of which is the news reel EIN HELDENKAMPF IN SCHNEE UND EIS / A HEROIC STRUGGLE IN SNOW AND ICE (Austria-Hungary, 1917) from the Austrian Film Archive’s collection, which impresses with beautified, hand-coloured images of the Alpine mountains. In contrast, the documentary GUERRA SULLE ALPI / THE WAR IN THE ALPS (ITALY 1916) from the Italian filmpioneer and camera man Luca Comerio, shows the struggle of the Italian mountain troops as they transport heavy war machinery 3,000 meters high through snow and ice. GUERRA SULLE ALPI comes from the collection at the Cineteca Italiana in Milan.


Location Belgium: the suffering of the civilians due to the atrocities of the German troops is a recurring theme in films made shortly after the end of the war, which come from the Royal Belgian Film Archive in Brussels. The feature film BELGIQUE MARTYRE (Belgium 1919) conjures up the image of the ‘poor little Belgium’, which the allies also used for their propaganda against Germany. This can be seen in the British war bond advertisement STAND BY THE MEN WHO HAVE STOOD BY YOU (Great Britain 1917) from the Imperial War Museum’s collection, which, with over 1,000 titles, is the largest contribution to the EFG1914.


Whilst selecting films for EFG1914 the archivists were able to discover new things along the way. For example, HUNGER BLOCKADE GERMANY (Deutschland/USA ca. 1919) from the collections of the German Film Institute. The film is made William Held, an American doctor and documentary film-maker, and focuses on the health of the German population in the year following the war. The film shows an American audience with dramatic form, in the style of a German news reel, the effects of malnourished and deformed children.


Aside from the German Film Institute other German partners include the Deutsche Kinemathek and the Federal German Film Archive (Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv) in Berlin. Parts of the material is copyright owned by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation and the DEFA Foundation. The German entries, which currently consist of more than 200 titles, can also be found at filmportal.de, the central internet platform for German film and can soon be researched and viewed on the German Digital Library portal.


According to estimates, approx. only 20% of the films produced in Europe between 1914 and 1918 still survive. Thanks to the EFG1914, a considerable part of the existing films are now available online. Thousands of photos, posters and other historical documents will also be available via the European Film Gateway and Europeana websites until the start of 2014. “A peerless European project for film with an immense importance for academic and journalistic research” said Claudia Dillmann, the director of the German Film Institute, of the EFG1914
.

EFG1914 Project partners: Arhiva Nationala de Filme, Bukarest | Association des Cinémathèques Européennes, Frankfurt/Brüssel | Athena Research and Innovation Center in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies, Athen | Centre National du Cinéma et de l´Image Animée-Archives françaises du film, Bois d´Arcy| Cinecittà Luce S.p.A, Rom | Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, Brüssel | Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna | CNR-ISTI, Pisa | Det Danske Filminstitut, Kopenhagen | Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin | Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF e.V., Frankfurt | Estonian Film Archive, Tallinn | EYE Film Institut Netherlands, Amsterdam | Filmarchiv Austria, Wien | Filmoteca Española, Madrid | Fondazione Cineteca Italiana, Mailand| Fraunhofer IIS, Erlangen | Imperial War Museums, London | IVAC, Valencia | Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, Belgrad| La Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona| | Magyar Nemzeti Digitalís Archivum És Filmintezét, Budapest | Národní filmový archiv, Prag | Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo | Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Wien | reelport GmbH, Köln

Facts about EFG1914 and the European Film Gateway

EFG1914 is co-ordinated by the German Film Institute (DIF) with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. The project is co-financed with 2,1 Million Euros by the ICT PSP Programme of the European Commission.

The digitized films and accompanying materials are held locally on the websites and portals of the participating archive partners. The ‘European Film Gateway’ (EFG) offers a central research and access point to all of the digitalised materials.

The EFG collects the development and access information (metadata) and makes it available via the ‘Europeana’ platform, which was developed by the EU-Commission for European cultural heritage. Therefore, these collections will be connected to those of 2,000 other cultural institutions. Currently, the EFG offers access to more than 600,000 photos, posters, films and historical film documents and therefore provides important information to film archives, academics, students and interested members of the public.

Links mentioned in text (in order of their appearance):
EFG1914: http://www.europeanfilmgateway.eu/content/efg1914-project
EFG1914 Topics: http://www.europeanfilmgateway.eu/content/wwi-topics
Ein Heldenkampf in Schnee und Eis / A heroic struggle in snow and ice: http://tinyurl.com/ohpa6zw
Guerra sulle Alpi / The War in the Alps http://tinyurl.com/nh3vtuv
Belgique martyre : http://tinyurl.com/pyhuckr
Stand by the men who have stood by you : http://tinyurl.com/loxpmog
Hunger Blockade Germany: http://tinyurl.com/ny9h4om
http://www.filmportal.de
https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/
http://www.europeana.eu

Thursday, December 19, 2013

National Film Registry 2013


Martha Graham Dance Film: Lamentation. Martha Graham in a pose. (Courtesy Martha Graham Company). Library of Congress. National Film Registry 2013.
Yet another inspired selection of 25 titles for the U.S. National Film Registry, again an intriguing mix of classics and discoveries. Gilda, Mary Poppins, Pulp Fiction, The Quiet Man, The Right Stuff, Roger & Me, and Wild Boys of the Road belong to my all-time favourites. Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry, 1984), Brandy in the Wilderness (Stanton Kaye, 1969), The Hole (an animation by John Hubley and Faith Hubley, 1962), and Martha Graham Early Dance films (1931-1944) are among the ones I look forward to see.

Worth reading: the news bulletin from the Library of Congress, December 18, 2013:

"Heroes of the space race, a pop cult classic; the age-old battle between the sexes; and a record of Native-American traditions are among a cadre of films being recognized as works of great cultural, historic or aesthetic significance to the nation’s cinematic heritage. The Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced today the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. They will be preserved as cinematic treasures for generations to come."

""The National Film Registry stands among the finest summations of more than a century of extraordinary American cinema," said Billington. "This key component of American cultural history, however, is endangered, so we must protect the nation’s matchless film heritage and cinematic creativity.""

"Spanning the period 1919-2002, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, silent films, independent and experimental motion pictures. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 625, a small part of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of 1.2 million items."

"The 2013 registry list includes such movie classics as "Mary Poppins," featuring Julie Andrews’ Academy Award-winning performance, and John Ford’s "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Films that catapulted the cinematic careers of their directors include Quentin Tarantino’s "Pulp Fiction," a fusion of film noir and hardboiled crime storytelling; and Mike Nichols’ "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, then married, as an explosively espoused couple."

"The list also includes "Forbidden Planet," one of the seminal science-fiction films of the 1950s; "The Right Stuff," an epic tribute to the pioneers of the space program; and "Judgment at Nuremberg," which earned actor Maximilian Schell and screenwriter Abby Mann Academy Awards."

"Among the documentaries named to the registry are "Roger and Me," Michael Moore’s advocacy film about the human effects of the failing auto industry; "Cicero March," the confrontation between blacks and whites on the streets of an Illinois town in 1966; "Decasia," which was created from scraps of decades-old, decomposing film; and female filmmaker Lee Dick’s "Men and Dust.""

"The silent films tapped for preservation are "Daughter of Dawn," featuring an all-Native-American cast of Comanches and Kiowas; "A Virtuous Vamp," starring Constance Talmadge, from 1919; and the 1926 Cinderella story, "Ella Cinders." The Library of Congress recently released a report that conclusively determined that 70 percent of the nation’s silent feature films have been lost forever and only 14 percent exist in their original 35 mm format."

"Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB). The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at the NFPB’s website (www.loc.gov/film)."

"For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation)."

"The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound."

"Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its vast collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
2013 National Film Registry

Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Renaissance. Woodberry crafted his UCLA thesis film, "Bless Their Little Hearts," which was theatrically released in 1984. The film features a script and cinematography by Charles Burnett. This spare, emotionally resonant portrait of family life during times of struggle blends grinding, daily-life sadness with scenes of deft humor. Jim Ridley of the "Village Voice" aptly summed up the film’s understated-but- real virtues: "Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail.""

Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
This introspective "contrived diary" film by Stanton Kaye features vignettes from the relationship of a real-life couple, in this case the director and his girlfriend. An evocative 1960s time capsule—reminiscent of Jim McBride’s "David Holzman’s Diary"—this simulated autobiography, as in many experimental films, often blurs the lines between reality and illusion, moving in non-linear arcs through the ever-evolving and unpredictable interactions of relationships, time and place. As Paul Schrader notes, "it is probably quite impossible (and useless) to make a distinction between the point at which the film reflects their lives, and the point at which their lives reflect the film." "Brandy in the Wilderness" remains a little-known yet key work of American indie filmmaking.

Cicero March (1966)
During the summer of 1966, the Chicago Freedom Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., targeted Chicago in a drive to end de facto segregation in northern cities and ensure better housing, education and job opportunities for African Americans. After violent rioting and a month of demonstrations, the city reached an agreement with King, in part to avoid a threatened march for open housing in the neighboring all-white town of Cicero, Ill., the scene of a riot 15 years earlier when a black couple tried to move into an apartment there. King called off further demonstrations, but other activists marched in Cicero on Sept. 4, an event preserved on film in this eight-minute, cinema-vérité-styled documentary. Using lightweight, handheld equipment, the Chicago-based Film Group, Inc. filmmakers situated themselves in the midst of confrontations and captured for posterity the viciousness of northern reactions to civil-rights reforms.

Daughter of Dawn (1920)
A fascinating example of the daringly unexpected topics and scope showcased by the best regional, independent filmmaking during the silent era, "Daughter of Dawn" features an all-Native-American cast of Comanches and Kiowas. Although it offers a fictional love-story narrative, the film presents a priceless record of Native-American customs, traditions and artifacts of the time. The Oklahoma Historical Society recently rediscovered and restored this film with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Decasia (2002)
Errol Morris, the director of such highly acclaimed documentary features as "The Thin Blue Line," "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" and "Mr. Death," is noted to have sat drop-jawed watching "Decasia" and stammering, "This may be the greatest movie ever made." Created from scraps of decades-old decomposing "found film," "Decasia" hypnotizes and teases with images that fade and transform themselves right before the viewer’s eyes. Culling footage from archives across the country, filmmaker Bill Morrison collected nitrate film stock on the very brink of disappearance and distilled it into a new art form capable of provoking "transports of sublime reverie amid pangs of wistful sorrow," according to New York Times writer Lawrence Weschler. Morrison wedded images to the discordant music of composer Michael Gordon—a founding member of the Bang on a Can Collective—into a fusion of sight and sound that Weschler called "ravishingly, achingly beautiful."

Ella Cinders (1926)
With her trendsetting Dutch bob haircut and short skirts, Colleen Moore brought insouciance and innocence to the flapper image, character and aesthetic. By 1926, however, when she appeared in "Ella Cinders," Moore’s interpretation of the flapper had been eclipsed by the more overtly sexual version popularized by Clara Bow or Joan Crawford. In "Ella Cinders," Ella (Colleen Moore) wins a beauty contest sponsored by a movie magazine and is awarded a studio contract. New York Times reviewer Mordaunt Hall observed that the film was "filled with those wild incidents which are seldom heard of in ordinary society," and noted "Miss Moore is energetic and vivacious." The film is an archetype of 1920s comedy, featuring a star whose air of emancipation inspired her generation.

Forbidden Planet (1956)
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox, MGM’s "Forbidden Planet" is one of the seminal science-fiction films of the 1950s, a genre that found itself revitalized and empowered after World War II and within America’s newly created post-nuclear age. Loosely based upon William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest," "Forbidden Planet" is both sci-fi saga and allegory, a timely parable about the dangers of unlimited power and unrestrained technology. Since its production, the movie has proved inspirational to generations of speculative fiction visionaries, including Gene Roddenberry. Along with its literary influence, highly influential special effects and visual style, the film also pushed the boundaries of cinematic science fiction. For the first time, all action happened intergalatically (not on Earth) and humans are depicted as space travelers, regularly jetting off to the far reaches of the cosmos. Additionally, "Forbidden Planet" is remembered for its innovative score—or lack thereof. No music exists on the film’s soundtrack; instead, all ambient sounds are "electronic tonalities" created by Louis and Bebe Barren. Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis and, in his debut, Robbie the Robot make up the film’s cast.

Gilda (1946)
With the end of World War II came a dark edge in the American psyche and a change in the films it produced. Film noir defined the 1940s and "Gilda" defined the Hollywood glamorization of film noir—long on sex appeal but short on substance. Director Charles Vidor capitalizes on the voyeuristic and sadomasochistic angles of film noir—and who better to fetishize than Rita Hayworth, poured into a strapless black satin evening gown and elbow-length gloves, sashaying to "Put the Blame on Mame." George Macready and Glenn Ford round out the tempestuous triangle, but "Gilda" was and, more than 65 years later, still is all about Hayworth.

The Hole (1962)
With "The Hole," legendary animators John and Faith Hubley created an "observation," as the opening title credits state, a chilling Academy Award-winning meditation on the possibility of an accidental nuclear catastrophe. Jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and actor George Mathews improvised a lively dialogue that the Hubleys and their animators used as the voices of two New York construction workers laboring under Third Avenue. Earlier in his career, while he worked as an animator in the Disney studios, John Hubley viewed a highly stylized Russian animated film—brought to his attention by Frank Lloyd Wright—that radically influenced his ideas about the possibilities of animation. With his new vision realized in this film, the Hubleys ominously, yet humorously, commented on the fears of nuclear devastation ever-present in cold war American culture during the year that the Cuban Missile crisis unfolded.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Selecting as its focus the "Justices Trial" of the post-World War II Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, rather than the more publicized trials of major Nazi war criminals, "Judgment at Nuremberg" broadened its scope beyond the condemnation of German perpetrators to interrogate the concept of justice within any modern society. Conceived by screenwriter Abby Mann during the period of McCarthyism, the film argues passionately that those responsible for administering justice also have the duty to ensure that human-rights norms are preserved even if they conflict with national imperatives. Mann’s screenplay, originally produced as a Playhouse 90 teleplay, makes "the value of a single human being" the defining societal value that legal systems must respect. "Judgment at Nuremberg" startled audiences by including in the midst of its narrative seven minutes of film footage documenting concentration camp victims, thus using motion-picture evidence to make its point both in the courtroom and in movie theaters. Mann and actor Maximilian Schell received Academy Awards and the film boasted fine performances from its all-star cast.

King of Jazz (1930)
A sparkling example of a musical in the earliest days of two-color Technicolor, "The King of Jazz" is a fanciful revue of short skits, sight gags and musical numbers, all with orchestra leader Paul Whiteman—the self-proclaimed "King of Jazz" — at the center. Directed by John Murray Anderson and an uncredited Paul Fejos, it attempted to deliver "something for everyone" from a Walter Lantz cartoon for children to scantily-clad leggy dancers and contortionists for the male audience to the crooning of heartthrob Bing Crosby in his earliest screen appearance. "King of Jazz" also featured an opulent production number of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

The Lunch Date (1989)
Adam Davidson’s 10-minute Columbia University student film examines the partial erosion of haughty self-confidence when stranded outside one’s personal comfort zone. A woman has a slice-of-life, train-station chance encounter with a homeless man, and stumbles through several off-key reactions when they share a salad she believes is hers. Winner of a 1990 Student Academy Award, "The Lunch Date" stands out as a simple, yet effective, parable on the vicissitudes and pervasiveness of perception, race and stereotypes.

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The popularity of this Western, based on Akira Kurosawa’s "Seven Samurai" (1954), has continued to grow since its release due in part to its role as a springboard for several young actors on the verge of successful careers: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Horst Buchholz. The film also gave a new twist to the career of Yul Brynner. Brynner bought the rights to Kurosawa’s original story and hand-picked John Sturges as its director. Sturges had earned a reputation as a solid director of Westerns such as "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955) and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957). Transporting the action from Japan to Mexico, where it was filmed on location, the story portrays a gang of paid gunslingers hired by farmers to rout the bandits pillaging their town. Contributing to the film’s popular appeal through the decades is Elmer Bernstein’s vibrant score, which would go on to become the theme music for Marlboro cigarette commercials from 1962 until cigarette advertising on television was banned in 1971.

Martha Graham Early Dance Films (1931-1944)
("Heretic," 1931; "Frontier," 1936; "Lamentation," 1943; "Appalachian Spring," 1944)
Universally acknowledged as the preeminent figure in the development of modern dance and one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Martha Graham formed her own dance company in 1926. It became the longest continuously operating school of dance in America. With her company’s creation, Graham codified her revolutionary new dance language soon to be dubbed the "Graham Technique." Her innovations would go on to influence generations of future dancers and choreographers, including Twyla Tharp and Merce Cunningham. This quartet of films, all silent and all starring Graham herself, document four of the artist’s most important early works. They are "Heretic," with Graham as an outcast denounced by Puritans; "Frontier," a solo piece celebrating western expansion and the American spirit; "Lamentation," a solo piece about death and mourning; and "Appalachian Spring," a multi-character dance drama, the lyrical beauty of which is retained even without the aid of Aaron Copland’s famous and beloved music.

Mary Poppins (1964)
Alleged to be Walt Disney’s personal favorite from all of his many classic films, "Mary Poppins" is based upon a book by P.L. Travers. With Travers’ original tale as a framework, screenwriters Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, with the aid of songwriters the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. and Robert B.), fashioned an original movie musical about a most unusual nanny. Weaving together a witty script, an inventive visual style and a slate of classic songs (including "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee"), "Mary Poppins" is a film that has enchanted generations. Equal parts innocent fun and savvy sophistication, the artistic and commercial success of the film solidified Disney’s knack for big-screen, non-cartoon storytelling and invention. With its seamless integration of animation with live action, the film prefigured thousands of later digital and CGI-aided effects. With its pitch-perfect cast, including Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Jane Darwell, Glynis Johns and Ed Wynn, "Mary Poppins" has remained a "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" achievement.

Men and Dust (1940)
Produced and directed by Lee Dick—a woman pioneer in the field of documentary filmmaking—and written and shot by her husband Sheldon, this labor advocacy film is about diseases plaguing miners in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Tri-State Survey Committee, "Men and Dust" is a stylistically innovative documentary and a valuable ecological record of landscapes radically transformed by extractive industry.

Midnight (1939)
Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and John Barrymore light up the screen in this Mitchell Leisen romantic comedy. Liesen is often described as a "studio contract" director—a craftsman with no particular aesthetic vision or social agenda who is efficient, consistent, controlled, with occasional flashes of panache. Leisen’s strength lay in his timing. He claimed he established the pace of a scene by varying the tone and cadence of his voice as he called "ready…right…action!" This technique served to give the actors a proper "beat" for the individual shot. In addition to Leisen’s timing, "Midnight" also boasts a screenplay by the dynamic duo of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Hilarity ensues when penniless showgirl Colbert impersonates a Hungarian countess, aided by the aristocratic Barrymore, until, despite her best efforts, she falls for a lowly taxi driver (Ameche) —all this amidst a Continental sumptuousness abundant in Paramount pictures of that era. The staggering number of exceptional films released in 1939 has caused this little gem to be overlooked. However, in its day, the New York Times called "Midnight" "one of the liveliest, gayest, wittiest and naughtiest comedies of a long hard season." Reportedly unhappy with Leisen’s script changes, Wilder found the motivation to assert more creative control by becoming a director himself.

Notes on the Port of St. Francis (1951)
When Frank Stauffacher introduced the Art in Cinema film series at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1947, he was on his way to becoming a significant influence on a generation of West Coast filmmakers. Through the series, he cultivated his knowledge of San Francisco surrealist films of the 1940s as well as the "city symphonies" produced by European filmmakers in the 1920s and 1930s. "Notes on the Port of St. Francis" is the natural progression of Stauffacher’s appreciation for the abstract synthesis of film and place. Impressionistic and evocative, the film is shaped by the director’s organization of iconic imagery, such as seascapes and city scenes, and by the juxtaposition of these visuals and the soundtrack comprised both of music and narration by Vincent Price of excerpts from Robert Louis Stevenson's 1882 essay on San Francisco. Independent film scholar Scott MacDonald speculated that the "notes" in the film’s title may refer to "both the informality of his visuals and his care with sound that may have been a subtle way of connecting his film with the European city symphonies of the twenties." Throughout the film, Macdonald observed, Stauffacher echoes Stevenson’s theme of the "City of Contrasts" by shooting from both San Francisco Bay and from the hills.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
By turns utterly derivative and audaciously original, Quentin Tarantino’s mordantly wicked Möbius strip of a movie influenced a generation of filmmakers and stands as a milestone in the evolution of independent cinema in the United States, making it one of the few films on the National Film Registry as notable for its lasting impact on the film industry as its considerable artistic merits. Directed by Tarantino from his profane and poetic script, "Pulp Fiction" is a beautifully composed tour-de-force, combining narrative elements of hardboiled crime novels and film noir with the bright widescreen visuals of Sergio Leone. The impact is profound and unforgettable.

The Quiet Man (1952)
Never one to shy away from sentiment, director John Ford used "The Quiet Man" with unadulterated adulation to pay tribute to his Irish heritage and the grandeur of the Emerald Isle. With her red hair ablaze against the enveloping lush green landscapes, Maureen O’Hara embodies the mystique of Ireland, as John Wayne personifies the indefatigable American searching for his ancestral roots, with Victor Young’s jovial score punctuating their escapades. The film and the locale are populated with characters bordering on caricature. Sly, whiskey-loving matchmaker Michaleen O’Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald), the burly town bully Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) and the put-upon but patient Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick) are the most vivid. Beautifully photographed in rich, saturated Technicolor by Winton C. Hoch, with picturesque art direction by Frank Hotaling, "The Quiet Man" has become a perennial St. Patrick’s Day television favorite.

The Right Stuff (1983)
At three hours and 13 minutes, Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s novel is an epic right out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but thanks to its assortment of characters and human drama, it rarely drags. Director/screenwriter Kaufman ambitiously attempts to boldly go where few epics had gone before as he recounts the nascent Space Age. He takes elements of the traditional Western, mashes them up with sophisticated satire and peppers the concoction with the occasional subversive joke. As a result, Kaufman (inspired by Wolfe) creates his own history, debunking a few myths as he creates new ones. At its heart, "The Right Stuff" is a tribute to the space program’s role in generating national pride and an indictment of media-fed hero worship. Remarkable aerial sequences (created before the advent of CGI) and spot-on editing team up to deliver a movie that pushes the envelope.

Roger & Me (1989)
After decades of product ascendancy, American automakers began facing stiff commercial and design challenges in the late 1970s and 1980s from foreign automakers, especially the Japanese. Michael Moore’s controversial documentary chronicles the human toll and hemorrhaging of jobs caused by these upheavals, in this case the firing of 30,000 autoworkers by General Motors in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. As a narrative structure, Moore uses a comic device sometimes found in political campaign commercials, weaving a message around trying to find the person responsible for a wrong, in this case General Motors Chairman Roger Smith. "Roger & Me" is take-no-prisoners, advocacy documentary filmmaking, and Moore makes no apologies for his brazen, in-your-face style—he would argue the situation demands it. The themes of unfairness, inequality and the unrealized attainment of the American Dream resonate to this day, while the consequences of ferocious auto-sector competition continue, playing a key long-term role in the city of Detroit’s recent filing for bankruptcy protection.

A Virtuous Vamp (1919)
Employing a title suggested by Irving Berlin, screenwriter Anita Loos, working with husband John Emerson, crafted this charming spoof on romance in the workplace that catapulted Constance Talmadge, the object of Berlin’s unrequited affection, into stardom. During the silent era, women screenwriters, directors and producers often modified and poked fun at stereotypes of women that male filmmakers had drawn in harsher tones. The smiles of Loos’ "virtuous vamp"—as embodied by Talmadge—lead to havoc in the office, but are not life-threatening, as were the hypnotizing stares of Theda Bara’s iconic caricature that defined an earlier era. In this satire of male frailties, the knowing innocence of Loos’ character captured the imagination of poet Vachel Lindsay, who deemed the film "a gem" and called Talmadge "a new sweetheart for America."

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Edward Albee’s 1962 stage triumph made a successful transfer to the screen in this adaption written by Ernest Lehman. The story of two warring couples and their alcohol-soaked evening of anger and exposed resentments stunned audiences with its frank, code-busting language and depictions of middle-class malaise-cum-rage. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton—who were both Academy Award nominees for their work (with Taylor winning)—each achieved career high-points in their respective roles as Martha and George, an older couple who share their explosive evening opposite a younger husband and wife, portrayed by George Segal and Sandy Dennis. "Woolf’s" claustrophobic staging and stark black-and-white cinematography, created by Haskell Wexler, echoed its characters’ rawness and emotionalism. Mike Nichols began his auspicious screen directing career with this film, in which he was already examining the absurdities and brutality of modern life, themes that would become two of his career hallmarks.

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Historians estimate that more than 250,000 American teens were living on the road at the height of the Great Depression, criss-crossing the country risking life, limb and incarceration while hopping freight trains. William Wellman’s "Wild Boys of the Road" portrays these young adults as determined kids matching wits and strength in numbers with railroad detectives as they shuttle from city to city unable to find work. Wellman’s "Wild Bill" persona is most evident in the action-packed train sequences. Strong performances by the young actors, particularly Frankie Darrow, round out this exemplary model of the gritty "social conscience" dramas popularized by Warner Bros. in the early 1930s.

Films Selected for the 2013 National Film Registry

    Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
    Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
    Cicero March (1966)
    Daughter of Dawn (1920)
    Decasia (2002)
    Ella Cinders (1926)
    Forbidden Planet (1956)
    Gilda (1946)
    The Hole (1962)
    Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
    King of Jazz (1930)
    The Lunch Date (1989)
    The Magnificent Seven (1960)
    Martha Graham Early Dance film (1931-44)
    Mary Poppins (1964)
    Men & Dust (1940)
    Midnight (1939)
    Notes on the Port of St. Francis (1951)
    Pulp Fiction (1994)
    The Quiet Man (1952)
    The Right Stuff (1983)
    Roger & Me (1989)
    A Virtuous Vamp (1919)
    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
    Wild Boys of the Road (1933)