Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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

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

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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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