Nagisa Oshima’s A Cruel Story of Youth is a film that illustrates the disconnection between youthful rebellion, and the unwitting influences that helped to shape Japanese culture in the early 60’s. This was a time of postwar rebuilding and a generation of young people that were out to define the parameters of their own world, in diametric opposition of the comfortable conventions of pre-modern Japanese society.
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Youth in France is not always portrayed on film as sunshine and rainbows. From Antoine Doinel’s emotional abandonment in The 400 Blows (Truffaut 1959) to the tragic life of Mouchette in Mouchette (Bresson 1968), the life of the modern French child always seems to be one of perpetual sadness. It comes as no surprise that Maurice Pialat’s debut film, L’enfance nue (1968) followed in the same footsteps as its predecessors.
There is a fascinating dual nature of war, a subtle correlation between emotional pain and that unmistakably male tendency to use physical violence to eradicate the sting of those emotions. What we too easily forget is that beating on someone’s outward flesh does nothing to bring peace to the inward scars that we carry through life. And just as emotional brutality trumps physical violence, there must be something else capable of ushering in the peace we seek – something stronger than blunt force.
Buster Keaton’s The General, one of the few undisputed masterpieces in cinematic history, might seem to some like a museum piece, an art object to be admired with detachment, but the film is in fact livelier, warmer, funnier, and more thrilling than most big budget entertainments being churned out by Hollywood today. Keaton is often regarded as perhaps the greatest filmmaker of all time in many critical circles, and in recent decades his reputation has surpassed even that of Chaplin’s.
1964 was an important year in the career of French filmmaker Jacques Demy. Having already made two feature films, Lola (1960) and Bay of Angels (1962), Demy made an international splash with his third feature film, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). Borrowing numerous elements from American musicals, Demy created a sumptuous musical that was, and still is, a treat for the eyes and the ears.
The musician biopic has a long and interesting history: In the 40s and 50s, it was a sugar-coated narrative that idealized the lives of musicians; in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the genre demystified the musician’s life when drugs, sex, and alcohol became more prevalent in popular culture; and in the 90s and 00s, the genre found complacency in clichés and formulaic plot devices. At the dawn of a new decade, Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010) comes as a breath of fresh air.
By 1963, Jean-Luc Godard had established himself as the “rebel” of the Nouvelle Vague. The release of his sixth feature film, Contempt (1963) further cemented this title. Based on Alberto Moravia’s 1954 novel Il disprezzo, Contempt tells the story of Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), an aspiring French screenwriter living in Italy, who is hired by a crude American producer, Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance), to doctor the script of a big screen adaptation of The Odyssey.
The interaction between the physicality and non-physicality of nature in Busong acts as a building force at the end of the film. As the film reaches its climax, symbols became intensified and superimposed. The film ends with Punay successfully healed with butterflies emerging from the surface of her wounds. The symbolism becomes apparent: rebirth from within oneself.
Among the first of Universal’s classic horror pictures, James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein remains one of the most iconic and influential films of the genre. Its 1935 successor Bride of Frankenstein builds on the legacy of the original, adapting previously untapped elements of Mary Shelley’s novel.
The end has finally arrived. My journey through and revisitation of the feature length works of Andrei Tarkovsky has come to an end, but it was a richly rewarding experience to shine a light inward and try and tap in to the philosophical undertones and artistic mastery of the work as I saw facets of myself in his body of work.