Archive for April, 2011

Sidney Lumet, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and respected film directors died yesterday aged 86.

Lumet directed 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Network, and numerous other productions, with over 72 credits to his name.

He will be greatly missed by both film professionals and fans everywhere.

12 ANGRY MEN (1957):

SERPICO (1973):

DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975):

NETWORK (1976):

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Last night a sold out audience at the National Film Theatre in London had the privilege of listening to Bernardo Bertolucci, director of The Conformist, Last Tango In Paris, Novecento, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers talk about his life and work.

Now 70 Bertolucci talked energetically about his career and said that he intends to return to directing soon, after almost 10 years of back surgery which has resulted in him having to use a wheelchair.

He expressed great enthusiasm for James Cameron’s Avatar as well as Wim Wender’s 3D dance film Pina and said in his return to directing he will “use a new technology”, that technology being 3D. Like his art house peers Bertolucci intends not to use 3D for sheer spectacle, but instead to tell a story of adolescent love in an adaptation of the Italian novel Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti.

He also pondered what it would be like to witness a Jean-Luc Godard film in 3D and reflected on what it was like to make his first films in his early twenties. Though 50 years on, it was easily apparent that Bertolucci is as young in spirit as he was when he directed his first features back in the early 1960’s.

Photo by Chiara Capponi

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Towards the end of his new 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams Werner Herzog interviews a scientist. The scientist recalls a tale of an ethnographer who, while in the presence of an Aborigine came across a historical rock painting. The Aborigine, sad to see the rock painting beginning to fade immediately began to repaint the fading lines. The ethnographer, surprised by the man’s decision to repaint this historical artefact asked him why he was repainting it; to this the Aborigine replied with something to the effect of: “I am not painting it; it is the spirit that is painting”. This exchange between the western ethnographer and the Aborigine illustrates the essential question in Cave of Forgotten Dreams: How should we as human beings interpret the history of our species and how should we deal with the markings man has made in the past?

It is precisely this question that motivates and justifies Werner Herzog’s decision to use 3D to shoot his documentary charting the Chauvet Caves in France, the site of the oldest cave paintings known to man (dated around 30,000 years old). Herzog ventures to give the audience the opportunity to look upon the oldest man made illustrations with as great a sense of authenticity as possible, as entering the cave is a hugely exclusive privilege. Though there has been some scepticism as to the ability of 3D technology to create a realistic experience Herzog’s film comes very close, as we are given an opportunity to truly perceive the shape of the caves and the way the paintings sit on the walls.

However, ‘realism’ is not the true reason why Cave of Forgotten Dreams is successful as a film. The film provides us with an opportunity to look upon the oldest form of manmade representation (that of cave paintings) with the technology of the immediate present (3D cinema); Herzog uses 3D to drive the main questions of the film. By looking upon these ancient images with such a contemporary technology we are provoked to recognise the “abyss of time” (as Herzog puts it) that stands between the images being painted and Herzog’s filming of them. The film makes us recognise not only the extraordinary opportunity to look upon such seminal images (images which Herzog relates to the “birth of the modern human soul”), but it also gives us the opportunity to understand the films place in this extraordinary human history. It is not just these ancient paintings that are intriguing, but it is just as extraordinary that someone should be filming them, in 3D no less 30,000 years on.

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Happy Birthday to Francis Ford Coppola, one of Hollywood’s finest storytellers and the man who brought us The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, Rumble Fish and Tetro to name but a few of his films.

THE GODFATHER (1972):

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979):

RUMBLE FISH (1983):

TETRO (2009):

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Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, one of cinemas greatest masters was born on 04.04.1932.

Sadly the he passed away in 1986, but his films live on as some of the most extraordinary ever created.

As Ingmar Bergman said: “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”

As a tribute to the poetic genius of Tarkovsky’s work I have compiled a few images from his films here, the beauty of these still images only hint at the greatness of his films.

IVAN’S CHILDHOOD (1962):

ANDRE RUBLEV (1966):

MIRROR (1975):

STALKER (1979):

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