Direkt zum Hauptbereich

Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964)

A lonely wife of a newspaper editor falls in love with his bohemian brother.

Unfortunately, I didn't get drawn in by the movie enough emotionally, but nevertheless I could admire the perfect direction. I will definitely rewatch this film at some point. It can be a matter of mood, sometimes. The whole film plays practically all through in a few confined rooms, with a few exceptions towards the end of the film. The ending of the film has some visually unusual choices visually of which I felt a bit uneasy.

But the beginning of the movie is fascinating to study. It shows Charulata alone and we get introduced to her life and her character without barely a word.

During the opening credits, two female hands are seen, stitching. The silk and the hand seem refined, so we can guess that this is not a poor woman in the street. Then the camera pulls back and shows Charulata on the bed. Ray uses tracking for most of these first shots, following his protagonist around the house. The whole film is full of those tracking and dolly shots, the camera seems constantly on the move, albeit sometimes only very subtle.
Charulata calls for Brojo with the voice of a mistress and with routine anger. The camera follows her to the staircase and tracks back again, when she walks towards the camera. It introduces not only the servant, but the architecture of the yard. Charulata lives on the first floor and a balcony surrounds the courtyard.

She returns to her room and throws the finished broidery on the bed, maybe slightly annoyed or bored. She then grabs a book from the bed and pages through it. She seems to know the contents well, but she grabs it and walks off.
The camera follows Charulata walking through the courtyard, where she passes through her door, possibly separating her private quarters from the rest of the house. This part of the house seems more lavishly decorated. She must be very well off.
She enters a beautifully furnished and ornamental room and opens a cabinet to the right of the camera. Very carefully, she puts her back into the shelf. The way she touches the different books it is obvious that she really likes books, at least these books here. Searching for a bit, she selects another book. We guess, that she must have read them all. This is the first time that the camera doesn't move.
Slightly bored, she studies the book in her hands, when she notices a drumming coming from outside. Humming, and reading a passage from the book, she slowly walks to the next room. The camera follows her from the back, as she strides towards the window blinds in the next room. She looks out and something catches her attention. Excited, she runs off, back to her room.
She grabs a little opera glass from a drawer and rushes back to the window with it. There is quite a long take of her walking across the balcony, but it's focused really close on the opera glass.
She looks through the glasses and sees a street beggar/musician with monkeys on a leash. At this point it is clear, that she is a sort of prisoner benevolently held in a kind of a golden cage.

The whole introduction takes approximately 9 minutes, and gives all the information needed to understand some of Charulata's problems. She is an intelligent, refined and possibly active woman, but she is not free to do what she wants.

When Charulata is bored of watching people through the opera glass, she hears something from the courtyard. When she steps out onto the balcony, a man, reading a book passes her, completely ignoring her. The way she looks at him it is quite clear that this must be her husband or somebody close. 
With an air of rebellion she watches him through the opera glass, too. He seems just as distant as the outside world, although he is inside the house. Charulata's problem has been clearly stated.


Beliebte Posts aus diesem Blog

They drive by night (Walsh, 1940) #DTC #161

Two truck-driving brothers dream of a better future and financial independence in a sea of good and bad fortune.

Although the film has all the ingredients of a film noir, like the selfish femme fatale, Bogart, and many night scenes, this is something you could consider a feel-good movie. It pretty much surprised me with its turns and twists and I also wasn't prepared in the least to see Bogart as the sidekick, instead of the lead.

In terms of interesting characters, Ida Lupino as the selfish wife that tries to seduce George Raft's Joe she is definitively at the most intense when she slowly sheds all the layers of sanity towards the end. Although her motives are a bit unclear - the amazing thing about her behavior is that she values love over money. In that perspective the movie feels like a tragedy, as (except for the loan shark) everybody has comparatively sophisticated understanding of emotion and life.

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 …

Glory (1989, Edward Zwick)

A young commander in the civil war is asked to recruit and lead the first all-black Confederate battalion into the Civil War.

I am not too interested in details of the American Civil War but the film managed to stir my interest in some ways. I might want to look up the difference in treatment of the many Chinese laborers that were employed in the development of the West and what kind of legacy this particular group of people has to suffer from in contrast to the better-known fate of African-Americans.

There are some interesting scenes in the film. I decide to examine the battle scene in the beginning. It introduces Broderick's character as a naive and brave but inexperienced soldier - a great choice of casting, especially in contrast to the hardened appearance of Washington. According to imdb footage was used from re-enactment groups and intercut with the staged film.

Before the battle scene commences Broderick walks in row of soldiers and talks over the pictures of the gathering…