Caravan (1934) - News Poster

(1934)

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The Forgotten: Erik Charell's "The Congress Dances" (1931) and "Caravan" (1934)

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Erik Charell. His credits include script contributions to the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Morocco and the Tony Martin musical Casbah. To learn this after seeing his only two features as director, The Congress Dances (1931) and Caravan (1934), is like discovering there was a guy called Orson Welles who made Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons and spent the rest of his career writing gags for Abbott & Costello.Perhaps Charell wasn't an artist of quite Welles' status. But he'd made a big name for himself in operetta, and both his films are in this mode, though the operetta-film is the genre that time forgot. As out-of-vogue as musicals are, despite anything Damien Chazelle can prove to the contrary, they are the height of fashion compared to actual filmed operettas.The Congress Dances is set in Vienna as pre-wwi world leaders meet and get distracted by romance, except Conrad Veidt as master diplomat
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Nyff 2011. Béla Tarr's "The Turin Horse"

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"Béla Tarr is the cinema's greatest crafter of total environments and in The Turin Horse, working in his most restricted physical setting since 1984's Almanac of Fall, he dials up one of his most vividly immersive milieus," begins Andrew Schenker in Slant. "Excluding one of the director's now-famous virtuoso, film-opening tracking shots, the film is entirely confined to the dilapidated rural spread where a farmer lives with his daughter and the horse he depends on for his livelihood, but in Tarr's hands, the unpromising setting teems with textures and, if not exactly vitality, then an almost tangible sense of presence…. In this most Beckettian of films, the characters endlessly enact the same quotidian tasks over the course of six days, unable to leave their property both because of a windstorm that rages the entire time and because of the horse's stubborn Bartleby-like refusal to not only pull the man's wagon,
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The Camera Moves #3

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In honor of Béla Tarr's The Turin Horse, three successive shots from another film of lavish absurdity, tracking shots, and gypsies, Erik Charell's Caravan (1934), with Charles Boyer and Loretta Young. The first two shots are each about two minutes long; the last about eight seconds, but in a movie that seems mostly made up of minutes-long tracks, every cut becomes more significant as Charell suggests he might have just left his camera running. In Caravan, even when the camera is still, Charell, rather than cut, tends to triangulate the composition among actors whose small gestures of hands and eyes flit about from one to another: a minute choreography that keeps the viewer's eye tracking and the point of focus fluctuating through latent lines of motion.

Other sequences in the movie are even more audacious conceptually: one follows a supporting character slipping in and out of a past memory
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