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Es werden Posts vom November, 2013 angezeigt.

Menschen am Sonntag / People on Sunday (Robert Siodmak, 1930)

Young city dwellers enjoy their Sunday off by taking a trip to the countryside on the quest for romance and relaxation.

Apart from the superstar-studded cast of emerging filmmakers (Siodmaks, Ulmer, Billy Wilder, Zinnemann) behind this project, there are also many astounding discoveries one can make about Berlin. In an astounding way, this film is timeless. The careless joie-de-vivre in Berlin is just as tangible today as it is in this pre-war film. Would this film be re-made, there are barely anything that would need change.

Due to the use of non-actors the makers kept a careful distance to their subjects. They don't ask them to do much or complicated things (a kiss, maybe). This inner distance gives the film its documentary touch which at points nearly drowns the story. This seems intended as the charming little tale is intercut many times with documentary footage of normal people, enjoying their Sunday on the outskirts of Berlin.

What surprised me was the open-minded approach …

Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)

During second world war the monk running a boarding school for upper-class kids hides Jewish kids.

This highly personal movie is very touching and manages to avoid all the pitfalls of being overly emotional. Music and editing are very subdued and carefully used to underline situations. This makes the story ring true (which it was) and gives the viewer good time to settle into the universe that these kids live in.

There are many quite complicated scenes and I was interested in one particular: When Jean gets invited on parent's day by the mother of his new best friend into a posh restaurant. In that very restaurant there are Nazis at one side of the room and an elderly Jew sitting on the other side. The table of the family is right inbetween. Many things about France during the war are told during this scene, I'll just try and focus on camera placement.

The focus shifts twice in the scene: From the family table to the French Jew's table  (who I have been told wears the red …

The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928)

A young man comes to New York with big dreams and a bit of good and bad luck - then life happens.
If there was a genealogical tree for movies than The Crowd would be very close to the root. There is not a minute where I didn't have the feeling that I've seen a similar scene in a newer film. The story beautifully combines a bit of romantic, comedic and tragic elements and at the end it has the effervescent melancholy similar to Chaplin's masterpieces. All is lost but hope.

There are two scenes that caught my eyes in terms of visual work. They might not be the best scenes in the film, but for inexplicable reasons I felt drawn into the frame.

The first one is, obviously, the depiction of crowds. A myriad of films have tried to depict crowds, and Vidor has managed to catch an air of the Koyaanisqatsi films by simply superimposing top shots of busy street crossings in New York. The technique is super simple, effective and... I like superimpositions. They are highly underused i…

Die Büchse der Pandora / Pandora's Box (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929)

A beautiful young woman lives an careless life while her surroundings enthralled by her charms descend into madness.

I would have wished for a better soundtrack than I was given here. Unfortunately, the heavy classical orchestra score didn't reflect the many subtleties that are hinted at through the story line. On the other hand I preferred not to be emotionally guided.

I assume that it was Pabst's intention to lure the viewer into judging the protagonist Lulu ambiguously. When one scene prompts for contempt another might just as strongly pity the naive view of the world that the woman has. The character seems on one hand to have a very strong sense of moral, when she tries to give herself up to the law, but it is hindered by one of her many potential lovers. On the other hand, she ruthlessly abuses a woman who has obviously fallen in love with her to give her money. She has a spirit-like quality in terms of that we never really learn about her past, except that she was poor.

The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947)

A lawyer falls in love with the woman he is supposed to defend in a murder case.

This highly entertaining movie was not as consistent story-wise as some of the other of Hitchcock's movies that I've seen. There is still a bit of Freudian over-interpretation in some of the actions that the characters did. But nevertheless, I enjoyed it - I would have loved to see more of Laughton's performance, him being one of my favorite actors in films from that time. (Especially in This Land is Mine, a Renoir film, unfortunately forgotten by and large).

I wanted to look a bit at Hitchcock's camera work in one scene. Peck has been traveling to his client's home to investigate and encounters the mysterious "gardener" and personal butler of the deceased for the first time. But the gardener has been avoiding the lawyer and suddenly shows up at his hotel room during a stormy night.

The camera is quite mobile in this scene and it is fascinating to watch how the image has bee…