CineMathematics or CinemaThematics. Your choice

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sundae Monday's Film Marathon Part II

The Sundae Monday that was too big for one post or for Monday. Let's just call it Two for Tuesday. Part One can be found below, or here.

Days of Heaven

Alright, I admit my philistinism. I don't get it. It is certainly beautiful, and some passages have a near biblical feeling. The birds work wonderfully, and some symbols are graceful in their presentation. That said, some elements just don't work for me, especially Linda Manz. I would be happy to entertain a defense of the film, and I'll gladly take a beating from critical society if it makes me appreciate the film more. I'll stop embarrassing myself now by declaring the locust scene simply amazing:

A Generation

This is certainly a good way to start a career. Andrzej Wajda takes Italian Neo-realism and moves it to the east in this tale of communist resistance to the Nazis in Poland. In some ways, especially in its use of characters, this is the most distinct of Wajda's war films. Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds fit more comfortably into predetermined narrative structures, and so they are much easier to digest. A Generation, however, provides little by way of plot, playing out as a series of disappointments and losses that are the inevitable result of war. Though the blatantly communist propaganda is awkward (got to get it by those censors somehow), it is insignificant when placed against the rest of the film. I couldn't find a clip from the film, so I will let this nice girl tell you about Wajda:


Well that is certainly a step in some direction. I'm not sure if it's forward, and I'm not sure if this direction is the right one. Wajda is certainly more sure of himself than he was in A Generation. Sometimes, such as in the film's opening shot, the aesthetics stifle the narrative. In a sense, the film is too well-made. It's formal excellence overshadows any attempts at genuine suspense in the story, though the setting of the sewers makes for wonderful dread and atmosphere. If there's one thing this film doesn't lack, it's atmosphere. And nihilism. This is one of the most nihilistic films I have ever seen. Have fun:

Ashes and Diamonds

If A Generation was a bit too raw and Kanal was too polished, then Ashes and Diamonds finds a happy medium. There is a set narrative here, and its visual style never overshadows what is going on. The film also provides one key ingredient that is lacking in the previous films: laughter. With his first writing credit on one of his directing efforts, Wajda reveals a sense of humor that provides a nice counterpoint to yet another WWII tragedy. It also sets up a crucial narrative point, making it a narratively economical way to to add something extra to the film. This is also the first of Wajda's films to feature a fully developed romance. Ashes and Diamonds deals in a certain amount of imagery that, depending on your view of the film, is either pretentious or gloriously epic. I think you can guess which side of that fence I fall on.

This was fun. Now that I have a little bit of free time, I hope to write a bit more, depending on what tickles my fancy. Finals limited my cultural intake to the television, music and political worlds, so I need to get back into film. This was a good start. Have a good week.

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