Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Season’s Greetings Round 2!!!!

To all my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

(Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weinachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Vrolijk kerstfeest, Meri Kurisumasu, Hyvää joulua,
Sheng Dan Kuai Le, Seng Dan Fai Lok, Veselé Vánoce, Glædelig Jul, Zalig Kerstfeest or Zalig Kerstmis, Wesołych Świąt, Blithe Yule, God Jul, Crăciun Fericit, and all the many other ways to say the holiday!)

 

 

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Tom Turkey Has Arrived!

To all my followers, those I’m following, and all visitors –

Have a Happy, Festive, and Thank-filled Thanksgiving!!!

I’m thankful for my family, friends, and all the people who follow and support me here on WordPress.

Tony Nash aka Movie Fan Man

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Hallow’s Eve Greetings

from Tony Nash

To all my Followers, those I’m Following, all Curious Onlookers

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!

As a little treat to everyone on this Spooky Day, let me share with you my fan cast and crew for a dream Horror Anthology based on the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe that’ll never be made, but would’ve been interesting had it been. I hope you all enjoy my choice of actors, writers, and directors.

Synopsis: A trio of crooks hide out in a library where they hear tales of the macabre by Poe from the sinister caretaker. Soon they’ll prefer the safety of the police waiting outside.

Racconti di Strani e Soprannaturali

(Tales of the Strange & Supernatural)

Boris Karloff: W.H. Opel, the Librarian (Storia della Struttura)

Vincent Price: The Murderer (segment: Il Diavoletto del Perverso)

Paul Naschy: Count Egaeus (segment: Berenice)

Michael Dunn: Hop Frog (segment: Hop-Frog)

Robert Hossein: The Artist (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale)

Rosalba Neri: Countess Berenice (segment: Berenice)

Maria Perschy: The Artist’s Wife (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale)

Luigi Pistilli: Frank Donalds (Storia della Struttura)

Roberto Camardiel: The King (segment: Hop-Frog)

Vonetta McGee: Trippetta (segment: Hop-Frog)

Piero Lulli: The Inspector (segment: Il Diavoletto del Perverso)

Claudio Camaso: Dan Bonnard  (Storia della Struttura)

Nello Pazzafini: Brock Bonnard (Storia della Struttura)

Eduardo Calvo: The Doctor (segment: Berenice)

Jean-Marc Bory: The Lost Motorist (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale)

Written by: Tony Nash (Storia della Strutturra), Lucio Fulci (segment: Il Diavoletto del Perverso), Mario Bava (segment: Hop-Frog), Paul Naschy (as Jacinto Molina) (segment: Berenice) Robert Hossein (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale), Fabrizio De Angelis (Storia della Strutturra), Amando de Ossorio (segment: Berenice), Roberto Gianviti (segment: Il Diavoletto del Perverso), Claude Desailly (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale), Marcello Fondato (segment: Hop-Frog), & Mario Serandrei (segment: Hop-Frog)

Based on the Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

Produced by: Tony Nash & Fabrizio de Angelis

Directed by: Mario Bava (segment: Hop-Frog), Lucio Fulci (segment: Il Davioletto del Perverso), Robert Hossein (segment: Il Ritratto Ovale), Amandeo de Ossorio (segment: Berenice), & Fabrizio de Angelis (Storia della Strutturra)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Top Ten Mummy Kills

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers ahead)

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors. With the Euro Witches & Madmen Halloween Special finished, I was racking my brain with what to do for Monday before the final Wednesday post, and I found something I’m sure will be fascinating. On both YouTube and WordPress I’ve seen people discussing their favorite Slasher kills, and normally I stear clear of such lists because I tend to have trouble narrowing stuff down, but here I’m making an exception because I’m sticking to the four Mummy films made by Hammer studios. While the Universal Mummy films and the Mummy films starring Brendan Frasher are cool, the death scenes are either too ordinary or too fantasique, Hammer’s scenes often being creative and/or set perfectly to the right mood or tone.

 

10. Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) in The Mummy (1959)

While a good music cue adds to the overall effect of the scene’s scare and eerie factor, the strangulation scene happens just way too fast. Mr. Huntley doesn’t even get the opportunity to show being scarred a Mummy has come back to life and is killed too fast.

9. Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer) in The Mummy (1959)

The head of the expedition responsible for the resurrection of a murderous Mummy should usually have a befitting death scene, and while Mr. Banning is certainly given such, nothing extra ordinary happens. While the asylum strangulation scene most likely offered inspiration for many an 80’s Slasher film, that the character forgets an important item that would’ve helped his son find his killers leaves the scene a little cold.

8. Stanley Preston (John Philips) in The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

When the man responsible for the archeological expedition also happens to be the most unlikable jerk on screen, his death scene would certainly be one that would leave audiences actually cheering the Mummy snuffed him out. Audiences most certainly aren’t sad to see the character of Preston get killed, but that all he gets is his head bashed into the side of a wall is a little subpar and maybe a little underwhelming for the slick dirty dealings he pulled. John Philips still plays the scene well either way, and his getting spit on at the end adds a little.

7. Hashmi Bey (George Pastell) in The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

Now what makes this scene interesting is that the victim actually asks to be killed. Bey is a loyal subject of Egypt and feels so traitorous in helping the British foreigners defile the tombs of the Pharaohs that he chooses to have his family become synonymous with dirt and suffer a painful death. The Mummy gets quite unique with his style of execution by using his foot to crush Bey’s head and neck. A well done and welcome different scene.

6. Mr. Longbarrow (Michael Ripper) in The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

What makes this kill scene a bit more tragic than the rest on the list is that the fellow getting killed was truly a victim of circumstances. Longbarrow’s only connection to the tomb is his being the secretary of the man financing the expedition. The Mummy gets really physical with Michael Ripper’s character and wraps him up in his bedsheets, then promptly throws him out of a window where his skull smashes on the ground. Ripper gives quite the good death scene ravings as he shouts for help and begs for mercy.

5. Adam Beauchamp/Prince Beal (Terence Morgan) in The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

What happens when you learn the guy you thought was the brooding anti-hero of the film turns out to be the Mummy’s evil brother who was cursed to live forever for the act of fratricide? One of the better climaxes to a well paced and generally entertaining movie. The revelation does come out of left field, but does make sense when audiences learn the whole story of The Mummy’s death. Terence Morgan’s character was the only one in the franchise to suffer death via being held down and drowned by a Mummy, which did prove to be very inventive and interesting.

4. Sir Basil Walden (Andre Morell) in The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

Veteran British character actor Andre Morell gets to be the first victim of the third film in The Mummy franchise. His death scene is the earliest instance in the genre of the Mummy crushing someone’s head with its bare hands. The camera beginning with Morell’s head being grasped and then panning up as The Mummy slowly and methodically squeezes the head to mush is very effective as it leaves audiences wondering how terrible the end result was of such a death.

3. Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) in The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

This scene is one of the more chilling deaths within the franchise. Like with the Andre Morell, the actual kill is never seen, but the implication is just as frightening. The Sir Giles character suffers death by bludgeoning with a statue. That the film music just stops as does actor Gwillim’s cries for help after the first blow and all that’s heard for the next three strikes is the Mummy’s unearthly breathing is truly unsettling and effective.

2. (Multiple ties) Geoffrey Danbridge (Hugh Burden), Helen Dickerson (Rosalie Crutchley), Prof. Berigan (George Clourouris), and the Three Priests (Unnamed Extras) in Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb) (1971)

Whew, talk about true powers of darkness at work in this one. Director Seth Holt mixed unique editing and camera angles as he shows the members of an expedition being killed one by one by supernatural means with throat wounds similar to that of jackal bites. Probably the most eerie kills in any Mummy style film.

1. Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) in The Mummy (1959)

Yes ladies and gents, this is my all time favorite kill in Hammer’s Mummy franchise. The Religious Zealot determined to uphold the curse of his native land ends up having the tables turned on him. Not realizing the hero’s wife bears a striking resemblance to the ancient princess he is to protect, the evil Bey suffers a quite painful death of having his back broken and his spine severed. Quite an ironic ending for the man who wanted to destroy the foreign infidels who he believed had no respect for his land and culture.

I hope this list matches the quality of other lists elsewhere and that everyone found it interesting.

All images are courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

Please check out my reviews in my Halloween section for more in depth looks at the films

 

 

Filed under: Film: Special Topics, Uncategorized

The PI Plays the Thugs Against Each Other

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Yakuza & Crime)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Related image

Kutabare Akuto-Domo: Tantie Jimusho 23 (Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! /Go to Hell Bastards!: Detective Bureau 2-3) PG-13 (1963) ****

Jo Shishido: Hideo Tajima/Ichiro Tanaka (as Joe Shishido)

Tamio Kawaji: Manabe

Reiko Sassamori: Chiaki

Nobuo Kaneko: Inspector Kumagai

Kinzo Shin: Boss Hatano

Naomi Hoshi: Sally

Asao Sano: Father Tanaka

Yuko Kusunoki: Misa

Kotoe Hatsui: Irie

Hiroshi Hijikata: Horiuchi

Written by: Iwao Yamazaki, based on the novel by Haruhiko Oyabu

Directed by: Seijun Suzuki

Synopsis: Private Investigator Hideo Tajima offers to go undercover for the Tokyo Police to figure out who’s behind a rash of smuggling operations. Realizing this group is forcing two Yakuza mobs into consistent shoot-outs, Tajima decides to bring down both the smugglers and the Yakuza groups. Along the way he falls in love with the scarred mistress of the leader of the smugglers.

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Seijun Suzuki, the Japanese filmmaker who’d become most famous for his psychedelic cinematography of the Yakuza film genre, and later for his lawsuit against the corrupt execs at Nikkatsu studios, gives an early success with Detective Bureau 2-3. What makes the film an interesting early effort is that the hero is actually a private investigator, a rarity in the genre as the leads were usually gangsters trying to maintain their personal codes of ethics or a stoic police officer trying to maintain law and order. Much like with his later hit Youth of the Beast, Suzuki has the protagonist go undercover within the Yakuza to break the gangs up, only the former has an independent entity helping out the police in these actions. The adding of some romantic intrigue between the male lead and both the Yakuza Boss’ mistress and a childhood sweetheart gives the film some extra spice in the audience wondering if these emotions will complicate the investigation.  By playing up the recent economic boom of the 60’s in Japan and the subsequent dirty dealings of the Yakuza underworld to line their own pockets off the honest workers, Suzuki creates a nice mix of mystery and action that keeps the viewer interested and entertained.

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While Tajima has all the criminals wondering where his allegiance’s lie in the turf battles as he helps the cops rid Tokyo of some of the bad guys, this isn’t Suzuki’s take on Yojinbo. Yes, he’s looking to gain some publicity for his Private Investigation Agency, but he’s also a concerned citizen of Japan sick and tired of the Yakuza preying on the innocent and taking the hard earned money away from the middle class. What viewers get is a character who does something because it’s the right thing to do, but if he gets notoriety and money from it isn’t necessarily a bad bonus for his time and effort.

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Image result for detective bureau 2-3

Joe Shishido, one of Japan’s more interesting looking character actors/matinee idols, shines very brightly in the role of Tajima. While not overtly patriotic or completely selfless in his actions, Tajima is a man looking to put a dent in the criminal activity that disgrace the honor of Japan. Shishido plays the character with his usual fast talking and charming approach, which fits the character like a glove. As the character finds himself going deep into the inner workings of the smugglers, he realizes the harsh realities of the world and the complete unscrupulous nature of the mind of the criminal. Shishido also portrays well the respectful nature of the Japanese people. While he’s very direct and blunt with many of the people he meets, Tajima shows both the respect some of who he meets deserve, and also compassion and apologies to the one woman he knows needs to escape to be free. Shishido’s background in Japanese musicals come into play as the character asks his childhood sweetheart on the fly to help him out so his cover isn’t blown which leads to a well crafted and funny song and dance duet that allow the viewer to feel relaxed in an otherwise tense situation. Shishido also gets to display his physicality, doing the majority of his own stunts and fight scenes, gained from years of involvement in dance and theater.

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Image result for detective bureau 2-3

A nice irony within the film is the showcasing of Japanese Christians. Tajima, while undercover with the alias Ichiro Tanaka, tells one of the leaders of the smugglers that he’s a devout Catholic and the son of a born again priest. This ruse leads to Tajima having to create a situation with the aid of a local priest to help his cover look legitimate. With Japan being known mostly for the Buddhist and Shinto faiths, it’s quite interesting to see some of the country embracing aspects of Western observances. Even though its an irony, it’s a nice little touch to the film as it showcases Japan’s diversity and openness to the many different aspects of life.

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A little different in the Yakuza genre in that the protagonist is neither a gangster or a policeman, this new take with the genre adds spice and interest in how the film will play out. Mixing thrills, intrigue, suspense, and action, Detective Bureau 2-3 is an entertaining little film from a director right before his successful mix of interesting cinematography and lighting.

(I highly recommend the film for its nice mix of action, suspense, and even a little comedy. A fairly straightforward plot, the film offers nice camera angles and shots, 2 ro 3 dimensional characters that fit the kind of people one would encounter in real life, allowing for sympathy and connection, and of course fine set pieces. Arrow Video does another fantastic job with the restoration and clean up of the film, offering quality audio, subtitles, and visuals that make the film pop and come alive.  Not as deep, complex, or artistic as later efforts of the genre, the film still offers thrills and action, and even takes a look at a growing concern of the public’s during the post war period.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

IMDB/Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!

Wikipedia/Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!

Buying options

https://www.amazon.com/Detective-Bureau-Bastards-Special-Blu-ray/dp/B07CQR5SRQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1F391XR3Z4VHN&keywords=detective+bureau+2-3+go+to+hell+bastards&qid=1554917752&s=movies-tv&sprefix=Detective+B%2Caps%2C130&sr=1-2-catcorr

https://www.amazon.com/Detective-Bureau-2-3-Hell-Bastards/dp/B001U3TPPC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1F391XR3Z4VHN&keywords=detective+bureau+2-3+go+to+hell+bastards&qid=1554917845&s=movies-tv&sprefix=Detective+B%2Caps%2C130&sr=1-2-catcorr

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Detective-Bureau-Hell-Bastards-Blu-ray/dp/B07CPDKPNX/ref=sr_1_1?crid=KLG1CFKURTO3&keywords=detective+bureau&qid=1554917881&s=dvd&sprefix=Detective+Bu%2Caps%2C209&sr=1-1

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics, Uncategorized

TIS THE SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash, Movie Fan Man, wishing all of you the best

Image result for Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas

Joyeux Noël

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Buon Natale

Feliz Navidad

Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Wesołych świąt Bożego Narodzenia

God Jul

Veselé Vánoce

Milad Mubarak

Eftihismena Christougenna

Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan

Merii Kurisumasu

Jeulgeoun Seongtanjeol Bonaeseyo

Image from Google.com/Google Images, and translations from WikiHow – saying Christmas in other languages

Filed under: Annoucements, Uncategorized

Jeanne D’Arc: Warrior Saint

The Life, Impact,

and Influence of

Joan of Arc

 by: Stephen Nash

 

 

The name Joan of Arc (Jeanne D’Arc in French) is a very familiar one. She is talked about in both history books and religion books and is probably one of the most recognizable names in history today with the title of both hero and saint. She has risen as one of the most colorful and inspiring women of the ages and has influenced many with her courage, hope, strength, determination, and cunning.

Joan was born to peasant farmers in the village of Domremy, France in 1412 (the actual date has never been recorded). Much of her youth was spent helping her parents tend to the fields, raising crops, and herding & feeding the animals. While working with her father, he would tell her of the war between England and France, and how their country’s prospects were grim. This distressed Joan very much and her thoughts began to ponder as to what she could do. Then one day in 1428, as Joan was tending the land, she began to hear noises that sounded like voices. When she looked up she saw the visions of St. Michael the Archangel and the virgin martyrs St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

 The words they spoke to her were, “Joan, you can deliver the land from the English. Go to the relief of King Charles,” implying God had chosen her to free France from the English help crown a new king.

Joan was unsure if she should trust the voices, but as time passed, the voices kept at her to fulfill her destiny, and with the permission and sadness of her parents, went to see Robert de Baudricort, the general of the French army. She insisted to him to let her lead the army against the English, but her lack of education and being a woman caused Baudricort to think her mad and dismissed her. While discouraged, she persisted to him the importance of her mission, and he finally relented and sent her to the king. Sources extremely differ on the characteristics of Charles VII, as history and religion have painted him differently, ranging from weakness to cowardice to ruthlessness. Nonetheless they all agree he feared to take the throne due to his father Charles VI suffering from a mental illness he believed to be hereditary. Charles was very aware of Joan’s growing popularity, and upon hearing her say she could identify him without ever having seen him, he dressed in servant’s clothes, placed a double on the throne, and mingled amongst his court.

When Joan arrived, wearing her white armor, she pointed through the crowd, and bowing at Charles exclaimed, “Dauphin (regent), I have been sent from God to bring help to the kingdom and yourself.”  Charles was still skeptical and asked a group of priests to interview Joan on her claims. After careful examination by the priests and a private meeting , the heir apparent allowed her to lead the French forces against the English. In April 1429 Joan, dressed in her armor, and brandishing France’s flag, which at the time was white with a golden lily with the names of Mary and Jesus printed on it, led the French to the City of Orleans.

By this time most people quit trying to persuade Joan not to lead the army, but the fear the men would not obey the commands of a woman still existed. Joan proved her critics wrong by instilling in the men impassioned speeches and words of courage and hope that had them rousing behind her. On May 7th, she led the men full gallop to the city and the battle began. Right at the turning point of the battle, Joan was wounded by a English archer and as the men were about to flee, she spoke out, “Wait, eat and drink and rest; for as soon as I recover I will touch the walls with my banner and you shall enter the fort.” Within a few minutes Joan was riding toward the fort and touched it with her banner, as promised. The next day, May 8th,  Joan’s forces overwhelmed the English army and they retreated from the city. The men, in gratitude to Joan, dubbed her the “Maid of Orleans”, a name which many in France still call her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK5rf1S5Dx8

After her major victory at Orleans, Joan’s popularity spread, and French and English alike soon came to believe she was instilled with super human abilities from some higher power. By early 1429 her army had captured nine other cities and prospects looked good for a French victory. With her army doing well and the English at bay, Joan proceeded with her next mission: the crowning of Charles VII as King in the city of Reims. Charles was still uncertain of his destiny, but Joan convinced him that she saw great things for him as king. Charles decided to accept his fate, and allowed Joan to escort him to the coronation. Joan kept constant vigil on Charles as the English still intended to put the young Henry VI on the throne. They made it successfully to Reims and on July 16th, 1429, the ceremony to crown Charles as king commenced.

When the priest placed the crown on Charles’ head, Joan knelt before him and recognized him as King. Knowing her mission to be completed she asked Charles if she could turn over command to someone else and return to her family in Demremy. Charles, now fully convinced of Joan’s capabilities begged her to stay on a while longer as the men had her trust, believing they’d obey no one as they did her. Joan was unsure her presence was still needed, but obliged, warning Charles “I hear the heavenly voices no more and I am afraid.”  Joan took part in several more battles, winning most of them, with the exception of the siege of Paris, which remained a haven for the British invaders.

In May of 1430 during the campaign for the city of Compiegne against the Duke of Burgundy, Joan was thrown form her horse and seized by enemy troops. The partisans, who fiercely supported English dominance in France, ordered Joan to be handed to English Inquisitors at the city of Rouen, which was still under English control, to be tried as a heretic. The English intended to prove Joan was a fraud, and have Charles VII usurped off the throne. In January 1431, the Inquisitors subjected Joan to various forms of interrogation and torture, but she remained firm. When no French aid seemed to be coming to her rescue, Joan felt tempted to sign a document that declared her visions to be the work of the devil, but she stayed strong and recanted this previous statement saying to the judges, “God has always been my guide in all I have done. The devil has never had power over me.” The courts ruled Joan guilty of the charge of heresy and ordered her to be burn at the stake. On May 30th, 1431 Joan was led to the bonfire that would be her execution site. A soldier made a cross from a wooden stick he carried, and gave it to her. She accepted the cross and placed it on her chest as a priest read the rights for the dying to her. Joan’s final words as the flames consumed her were, “Jesus, Jesus”; she was only 19 years old.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm2dxrKwCHo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-VvDjRg4nA

In 1441, on what would have been Joan’s 29th birthday, the French finally succeeded in claiming victory over the invading English. For several centuries afterward, many priests and scholars demanded the verdict of guilty placed on Joan by the English be retracted. In 1452, Pope Callixtus III ordered a re-examination of the trial and had the verdict overturned in 1456. In 1909 Pope Pius X beatified Joan for her service to the Catholic faith and on May 30th 1920 Pope Benedict XV performed the ceremony that canonized her as a saint. Joan was then named the patron of soldiers, prisoners, women in the military, and those condemned for their piety and faith.

Joan’s popularity has become so wide spread over the years that literature, plays, and particularly films, have been done about her. Some of the most famous films are: La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc), a 1927 French silent film, starring Renée Falconetti and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, focusing mainly on Joan’s trial and execution. The Passion has been considered by many critics and historians to be the best film about Joan as it focused on the faces and expressions of the actors, and for the impassioned performance of its star, Renée Falconetti. Joan of Arc (1948) and Giovanna D’Arco al Rogo (Joan of Arc Burned at the Stake) (1953) both starring Ingrid Bergman, directed by Victor Flemming and Roberto Rossellini respectively, were good historic, somewhat fictitious accounts of the heroine, but were not well praised as Bergman was twice Joan’s age.  A more recent adaptation of Joan’s life is The Messenger: the Story of Joan of Arc (1999) starring Milla Jovovich and directed by Luc Besson. The film had mixed reactions as it mixed fact and fiction too much; insinuating Joan was not the courageous heroine history depicts, but a mad woman bent on revenge, and Charles VII as a manipulative monarch, using Joan to steal his way to the throne. Critics however did praise the film’s imagery and the attentive detail to attire, scenery, and mannerisms of the period.

Joan’s sacrifice and courage still inspires and intrigues people to this day. She is a model for those who wish to speak out against cruelty and injustice, encourages those to take action against evil, and gives hope to those who feel small. Many to this day still look to her for inspiration and continue to follow her example of determination and spirit.  She remains the most celebrated saint and her home town of Demremy has an annual celebration in honor of her feast day. While she’s not celebrated on the Christian calendar, she is still the most revered and most cherished of all Saints and Heros. 

All images from www.google.com

clips from www.youtube.com

Information on Joan of Arc from:

http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/joan-of-arc.htm

http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa41

and the book Saints and Feast Days: Lives of the Saints with a Calander and Ways to Celebrate by: The Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon, Ohio from Loyola University Press

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passion_of_Joan_of_Arc, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc_(1948_film), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Messenger:_The_Story_of_Joan_of_Arc

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The Evolution of Film and its Forms

Cinema: From

Edison to Digital

By:

Steve Nash

What is Cinema? Most would say its movies made by names like Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino, and Cameron. Others would say it’s an expression of the times books, radio and music can’t project. Still, others say it’s a revealing portrait of humanity in both good and bad times. I say it’s all this and more. This article will trace Cinema’s origins from Edison’s inventing of the Motion Picture camera, the Lumière brothers first demonstration of the camera, and Georges Méliès’ first one reel film to the films of D.W. Griffith to the invention of the studio system and it’s pioneers to Technicolor to films reinvention in the 60’s to the use CGI and Special Effects to Digital. The article will also cover some of the happenings in Europe including  the French New Wave.

Cinema first started in the late 19th century. The idea for moving images first started when politician Leland Stanford bet a friend that when a horse was in full gallop all four of his feet went up in the air. Photographer Eadweard Muybridge helped Stanford win his bet with simultaneous snapshots of the horse in motion and made his own discovery of moving pictures when looking at the photographs he shot a certain way. A few years after Muybridge notion was made the inventions of the zoopraxiscope, kinetograph, daguerreotype, and calotype were coming into being, and soon experiments in moviemaking started.  

The Motion Picture didn’t come into full effect until 1895 when Lumière brothers showed real time filmed shots of quilts being made, a baby eating his food, a son playing a prank on his father, and the stopping of a train at a station. People panicked during the train part and ducked for cover. The Lumière’s had such an impact on this first audience more of this invention wanted to be seen.

While the Lumière’s had the patent on the first screening of films, Thomas Edison held the patent to the camera that made them. Edison’s invention of the motion picture camera was an important milestone in Cinema history. Edison filmed some of the first one reel films at that time, from the first televised execution to stop motion animation to shorts involving men engaged in daily activities like working or recreation to images of famous celebrities of the time like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody. These shorts were called Nickelodeons because they cost a nickel.

The first film adaptation of a novel was done by Edison when he filmed a short sequence from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While Edison was the father of early movies it was Frenchman Georges Méliès who made movies the art form it is today. A magician by trade, Méliès used his talents to dazzle audiences in ways he couldn’t do on the stage. His slight of hand and disappearing techniques were the first special effects seen in motion pictures. His film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) was not only the first in early cinematic technique, but the first science fiction film as well.

When people in America had seen Méliès’ work, it got the wheels turning for great films of there own. The Great Train Robbery in 1903 was the fist example of film as we know it today. It was based on an historical incident, but fictionalized by Edwin S. Porter to have the effect of a melodrama novel. This led to many other films, but most notably the films of D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and DeMille’s The Squaw Man were two of the finest examples of epic proportion picture making and raised the price of movie admission from a nickel to a few dollars. They also brought about the birth of the modern movie house.

Birth of a Nation is the most important film of the time because it introduced us to the different uses of cinematography (angle shots, close ups, wide shots, etc), lighting, music, acting, and story. These were the experimentation days and D.W. Griffith risk taking with this film gave us our modern day movies. 

During the silent film era, which lasted from the late 1800’s to 1929, Edison had formed the now infamous MPPC (Motion Picture Parents Company), which made a list of dos and don’ts for anyone wanting to be involved in movies. While rules such as the featuring of only certain and popular stars and celebrities, only using certain subject material, and pre-determined time lengths were easy to deal with, the banning of an onscreen kiss is what changed everything. The MPPC didn’t allow certain things that were normal to see on the streets shown in films such as kissing, sexual innuendos, and anything considered morally corrupt. Many filmmakers, not all too happy with this scrutiny from Edison and his cronies such as Westinghouse, decided to move from New York (where the first films and early TV were shot) to California where they could express their creativity freely. Among the pioneers on the move were Griffith, DeMille, Hal Roach, Mack Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. The move to California ended up being the best move ever made as the southern end of the state has more sunny days out of the year, other than Almería Spain, that allowed for longer shooting schedules as New York and other east cost states experience long periods of rain. With motion picture people settled in their new surroundings, it was time to create.

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are credited as the for-runners of today’s movies. Since they not only acted, but wrote and directed their own films, they created spectacular scenery and effects that wouldn’t be common-place in film for another 4 decades. Keaton is considered the most important as he can be seen as the first “Stuntman” in Hollywood. Keaton, like Chaplin and Harold Lloyd took most of his own bumps and bruises when making movies and the stunts he’d do like grabbing a moving car going 60 miles, falling 10 or 20 feet to the ground, and having a whole house fall around him, were near impossible and would’ve have landed most men in the hospital or morgue. The fact he could do those things and survive (he cheated death several times supposedly) made him the most respected man in Hollywood.

In Europe, the Germans were adding their own innovations to the movies. Fritz Lang, the true German pioneer, gave Hollywood its current special effects. His 1927 movie Metropolis, with the famous robot becoming human transformation, was the most innovative piece of camera trickery ever seen.

Lang and his cameraman Günther Rittau created the effect using a series of camera dissolves carefully interwoven together. Lang also gave us the first fire explosions in his controversial political film Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse), again by using carefully planned camera tricks as well actual small, controlled fires with the help of cameraman Fritz Arno Wagner. When many German filmmakers fled their native soil to escape Hitler’s Nazi regime they brought with them their expressionist ideals, that is the use of light and images, that became the cornerstone of modern film.

The biggest advancement of Hollywood in the pre-and-post war period was the advent of Technicolor. Originally color was a  mere two or three stip processs, but eventually these stips were specially mixed together that gave movies the life-like realistic images they have today. The first uses of Technicolor were in sections of the silent films The Phantom of the Opera and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The first good fully color film in Cinema was 1937’s A Star is Born with Fredric March and Janet Gaynor.

The best examples of color in movies are 1939’s Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind. Techicolor gave a richness to the images presented in movies that couldn’t be done in black and white. Many were against color at first because they felt colorful background images took away from the actors performances.

The WWII years were mainly about stirring up patriotism and support for the fight overseas and films were whole-heartedly giving their support. Films were mainly B grade, to help the audience forget their troubles and have fun, while also asking to buy war-bonds and give any gold or any kind of metal to aid the effort. The whole world banded together at this time and it was all about gaining peace and getting the boys there back home. The post war years saw the rise of television and Hollywood scrambling to keep it’s numbers of  audiences up. They originally focused on making  more action/adventure, crime, drama, western, horror, and comedy films. When this didn’t work, Hollywood began uping the violence. This excess in brutality may have been largely influenced by the Spaghetti Westerns in Italy, particulary those of Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, and Sergio Sollima, which had loads of blood and guts in them, and were well received by Italian audiences when they became disenchanted by the intellectual Neo-Realism films of Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, and Passolini. Audiences went to the movies to have fun and forget about reality for a two hours or more, so Hollywood delivered.

France had it’s own revamp of cinema style in the postwar years too. When the nation was rebuilding, they realized the times had changed and the Bourgeoisie style of cinema no longer had a place there and new films were being born. This era was known as the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) and introduced a new, fast paced type of cinema. These men, which included Jean-Pierre Melville, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle,  Francois Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol, showed the world if you had enough heart and passion you didn’t need an education to know how to make movies. These men worked on films with very little money, crews of sometimes only five or six people, and not the best equipment, and yet turned out million dollar grossing films every year. Many call the New Wave the birth of independent cinema, although this can be really be credited to American character actor turned filmmaker John Cassavetes, who made the first low-budget money making movies in the USA.   

The movies remained the same for a quite a few years with nothing new really being done except George Lucas’ Star Wars films of the time. Then in the mid to late 1970’s came the invention of CGI. This new process, which allowed for the creation of realistic, animatronics/computer images on film that lead audiences to believe they were seeing what looked like reality. Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was the first really good example of CGI effects.

 

Other Spielberg films including the Indiana Jones Series and The Lost World: Jurassic Park were using CGI to enhance there effect. CGI was the main source of making the impossible possible on screen for the next several years.

Digital and Virtual are the effects innovators of today. Introduced in the late 90’s, these were a more defined version of the original CGI process, only more clear and crisp in image. Pixar’s collaboration with Disney on several features including Toy Story and Frank Miller’s Sin City were the finer examples of the new computer image process. This new process allowed George Lucas to recreate what he couldn’t before on his original Star Wars films and set the standard for this new process could do. Digital also allows for the elimination of actual film projector film and now films can be stored on CD’s and computers Today most films are done with these effects and affluent filmmaker Steven Soderbergh once commented his belief all films would be made digitally in the next few years. IMAX is another example of the new technology with its huge screens and bigger, better picture and sound quality.

Film has gone through a lot in the 100 sum-odd years it’s been around, and all of them have been influential. Some of these influences were rebooted and made better then they had originally been and are still used today. From camera tricks to CGI to digital, it’s all been good. Many people think film was something that just popped out of nowhere and quickly rose as one of the most popular mediums of the time. Well it was just the opposite; film was a long lingering process that took years to perfect and several failures before success. Some people adapted quickly to the medium and had success sooner than others. This article was a pleasure writing as I’m a great fan and devotee of the medium and hope many will come away with a deeper respect for this icon and the people who worked their butts off to make it what it is.

For more information on the people, genres and and movies mentioned in this article check out the following and for general information on various films check out www.imdb.com, www.criterion.com, and www.wikipedia.org. Posted downward are the links mentioned earlier

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017136/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0004972/

http://www.criterion.com/explore/118-jean-pierre-melville

http://www.criterion.com/explore/21-francois-truffaut

http://www.criterion.com/explore/12-jean-luc-godard

http://www.criterion.com/explore/9-technicolor

http://www.criterion.com/explore/104-independent-american-cinema

http://www.criterion.com/explore/4-french-new-wave

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000485/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000428/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000122/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000036/bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolis_(film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_of_a_Nation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Train_Robbery_(film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Star_Is_Born_(1937_film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029606/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Park_(film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Lang

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technicolor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-generated_imagery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghetti_Western

http://www.criterion.com/explore/6-italian-neorealism

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