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Bronenosets Potemkin (1925)
A Classic Soviet Propaganda Film That Influenced the Entire Western World
Filmed throughout the year of 1925; Potemkin was first brought about when director Sergi Eisenstein was commissioned in March of 1925 to make a feature on the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the revolution in 1905. What the final script came out was a script that ran over a hundred pages in length (big for that time) and would attempt to highlight all the main actions and events that happened up to the revolution.
Altogether looking at the film now it can be understandable why the film was banned from any Western countries for nearly 30 years. It's a full ahead propaganda film for the early name Soviet Union. But wonderfully made film.
One of the most memorable and harrowing scenes in the film is the 'Odessa Steps' massacre. A set piece that only lengthed for at least 3 pages in the script but would become one of the most celebrated and most used sequences in the world of cinema. What makes 'The Odessa Steps' so great tho is nothing that it is shot; but the way in which the sequence is edited to together with fast cutting shots added together, which would come about being called 'Montage Editing'; the quick shots of a woman crying, of soldiers marching down the steps firing volleys into the fleeing cowards, the shot back to the woman with blood over her face then one's of soldier's feet marching gives the impression of force and power.
The only problem is with the film is that it gives the impression that it lasts too long; the full version which was re-cut when it was allowed to enter Western cinema's (or even straight to video) was cut down to 63 minutes, from the 189 minute oringal (in which sadly the negative of the epic has been lost somewhere in russia and would probably never be found). The film carries on to long; into which the acting is very poor. But that can be understandble for a silent film; and especially a film of this scale.
The reason for such over the top acting is how can you bring about your charcter's views or opinions in any other way. You can't with sound; because their wasn't any, you can't with continues dialogue captions, because the audience would become to anoyed for reading all the time and not watching in which is the main reason for the cinema, to show moving images that astound the audience. If the film didn't astound the audinece; then the 'Odessa Steps' scene does for film makers later on in the cinema. With films such as:
Woody Allen's 'Bannas' (1971) Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' (1985) Brain DePalma's 'The Untouchables' (1987) and even Leslie Nielson's 'Naked Gun 2 1/2 The Smell of Fear (1991)
If anymore interest in the Soviet Cinema in the 1920's check out "Strike" as well.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Thank God They Didn't Make Many More Like This
When looking at the whole of the James Bond series, there aren't that many films which come under the catorgory of 'total trash'. Sadly this one does. Because of this, the film has been one of the lowest money making films in the Bond series; only banking $98 million.
Although the reason for this could have been between the relationship of the two producers, Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman (by the time the next Bond film would come out 'The Spy Who Loved Me' Saltzman would break the partnership in two because of finaicial troubles). Almost every part of this film is uninspired this of course doesn't highlight the acting. A wonderful and classic villian is played by Christopher Lee (who has family connections to writer of James Bond Ian Fleming; they were cousins) who in many ways is the darkside to James Bond, (in which we see in the dinning scene on Scaramanga's island). There isn't that much to say about this film. From the outset it feels more of one of Moore's continues 'Saint' episodes. Although the 'leap into the unkown' jump that has a car jumping a spectacular 360-degree car jump in only one take, is (and still is) a great and wonderful piece of footage; clouded by the dark and dull shadow of the rest of the film.
The Long Good Friday (1980)
A Grand Slam of a British Gangster Film
Think back to 1980; (If you can; I weren't conceived for another 4 years). A small film has just been released that has upset the whole of Margaret Thatcher's Converstaive Party. It's also the height of the IRA bombings around Britain at that time.
Starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren (most of the rest of the cast have fallen away on the side lines and joined the ranks of the ITV's police series 'The Bill'); although it is surprising to see a young Pearce Brosnan appear as (in many ways) a mute Irish terrorist/assainian. Hoskins ability to leap from quiet man to outraged loon who attacks with a smashed up bottle of whiskey (you'll know the scene when you watch it) is great and is one of the main powerhouse's of the film. Helen Mirren is also wonderful in this also, trying to keep sane while her mother in law is nearly blown up, a pub blown up and a casino nearly blown up tries keep these situasions under raps to an American businessman (and 1 lawyer).
The only down point to this film is two things. The electronic and aged soundtrack although sounds very cool at the beginning, just becomes annoying by the time the 30 minute digit is highlighted on your video/dvd player. The other problem is the directing. If the script and narrative hadn't been as good (Thankgod it wasn't) then this film would have just disappeared by the time I was born (1984). At times it almost feels like your watching an repeated episode of 'The Bill'; (British readers will understand what I'm talking about).
But the one thing that places 'the icing on the cake' is the final scene in which Hoskins' wordless and astounding performannce concludes the film. Every emotion is visible from shock to final ambivalent expression that might be rueful acceptance. It's a wonderful performance in a wonderful story based film.
When watching the film thinking about it; there isn't much to say, only that it's a great heist film in which their is hardly any downfall's. The script is electric as is the screenplay.
There are two things which are so great about 'Heat'; one is that it's two main stars are probably two of the best icons of the gangster and crime genre's since Humphrey Bogart. The other if you break the whole of the film down; the messages in which Michael Mann (director) is trying to do, the story is mainly cops catching robbers.
The only down point about the film that there isn't more scene time with Pacino and DeNiro than the (what it looks like) a 'When Harry Met Sally' scene; in which both are sitting in a cafe opposite each other across a table.
If you want to find a modern day 'French Connection' film; this is probably the closest you'd get (apart from Reservoir Dogs as well). A wonderful film.
A Symphony of Horrors
They don't make films like this faded, haunting masterpiece of silent cinema anymore.
When Dracula was first put on sale for movie rights; the one of the first men to grab it was F.W.Murnau one of the most of the famous German directors of his time. By the time word got back to them about using the rights of the name and storyline of Dracula (Owned by the rights of Florence's widow.) Murnau had alread started production on the film; so to get around it they cut out the name 'Dracula' and replaced it with Count Orlok, Jonathan Harker became Hutter and Ban Helsing became Professor Bulwer; Orlock stalks the gothic streets of Bremen instead of Vistorian London.
What is so different from Nosferatu and many of the others films of the time was that most of the film was shot on actually locations around Eastern Europe; the production hardly used any studio sets. What makes the most haunting feature tho is the sense of realism and the expressionism (most evident in the interiors od Orlok's Castle) that gives the film its hypnotic visual power.
If there is any film a film student would need to have in his/her collection, it's this film. Although it is a hard task to find any surving copies. The reason for this is when the film was released Florence Stoker (widow of the author of Dracula) noticed the comparsion; she pursued the case relentlessly and in July 1925 a German court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. Luckily for us several prints of the film survived; a few in which have still been lost over the last few 8 decades.
But thanks to the 2000 release of 'Shadow of a Vampire' a film which looks behind the filming of Nosferatu and starring John Malkovich (F.W.Murnau) and Willem Dafoe (Count Orlok) the film was released for the first time on DVD in it's full original length of 94 minutes.
Sadly soon after the film hit America in 1929; at the age of 43; Murnau was killed in a car crash.
"Men must die. Nosferatu does not die!" proclaimed the original publcity for the film. We can only hope it's the truth for this film.