Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): A Violent Release 1949 - 1952 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 9

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Violent Release 1949 - 1952 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 9


The ninth chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films.
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)

A Violent Release

From the Russian A-bomb explosion to the Korean War, peacetime was not very peaceful. Around the world the focused energies of the antifascist fight had been scattered among myriad causes and directions. Clips this week come from a couple defeated Axis powers (their messages seem the most pacifist), a Cold War-minded America, and a Frenchman shooting in India with British actors and American money. Some days the chapters have a theme, sometimes they don't. Today they most certainly do.


Nearly every single clip includes either a representation of an act of violence, terror, or war or reference to it (even the comedy!). This was not planned, but is serendipitous as I think it reflects a mood of anxiety in the air at the time. Only one clip is an exception, and it proves the rule. Emerging out of the darkness of night, twilight, or early dawn (it can be hard to tell in black & white), a gentle monk embraces a leper, who looks at him, confused, and wanders on, turning back to look one last time to see if he imagined the encounter. It's like a dream of another world, one that perhaps could have been but never was.




I have covered today's films herehereherehere, and here.

Yesterday: Noir and Naturalism

2 comments:

Shubhajit said...

Ah, yet another great montage. Here's what I've seen among the ones covered:

The Set-Up - I found this boxing movie exceedingly gripping.

Rashomon - Kurosawa's groundbreaking movie; one sequence that I remember most is where the woodcutter walks through the jungle with a plethora of cameras at various angles following him - what an incredible sequence that was! Personally though I wouldn't rate it as my favourite Kurosawa movie.

In A Lonely Place - One of the great film noirs. Dark, disturbing and utterly brilliant, and Bogart's performance was absolutely stunning. I like to call this the cinematic version of Camus' The Outsider because of the thematic resemblance.

The Asphalt Jungle - Yet another incredible film noir. In fact, for all I remember, this might very well have been my first tryst with noirs.

Dial M for Murder - I wouldn't call it a great movie, but it was a pretty engaging watch nonetheless.

Joel Bocko said...

Yes, this is definitely a strong selection though most of the ones from this era tend to be. Probably the core of classic Hollywood movies I love come from the mid forties through the mid fifties.

I just saw The Set-Up for the first time (same deal as Murder My Sweet) and will probably do a visual tribute for it soon. Such fantastic images. And it's fascinating how it took a similar theme to something like Body and Soul (although there the fighter was a big shot not a palooka like Ryan is) but plays it out differently. Here it's not really as if he's playing true to some principle - you can definitely see Polonsky's touches in the screenplay for B&S - more just trying to retain some shred of dignity for himself. And in the end you even wonder if it was worthit as he crouches and dodges like a scared rabbit. I think this film could be seen in some ways as more cynical than Body & Soul. One thing I found a little too easy - though it was delightful in a sense - was the characterization of the audience, we're encouraged to laugh and sneer at their gauche bloodlust but aren't we kind of acting the same way in the audience (I know I was on the edge of my seat and even occasionally letting out a "yeah" when Ryan got a shot in). A more nuanced take might, I think, have gotten the same point across without letting the viewer off the hook so easily.

Rashomon I think might be my favorite Kurosawa, but astonishingly I don't think I've seen it for about 10 years! It was a recent purcahse (during that Criterion summer sale) that I haven't re-watched yet. I loved the forest photography and the storytelling (although I think its notions of the subjectivity of truth are a little whacked - yeah, we're gonna have different versions but clearly everyone's can't be "right"; then again, this might be more the way the film has been characterized or mischaracterized, and since I haven't seen it since I was 18 or so I might see more nuance there this time).

Asphalt Jungle is great, and I think at this point I prefer it to The Killing (though both are wonderful in their way).

Lonely Place is probably my favorite Ray. Dial M is far from my favorite Hitchcock, and I found it a little underwhelming when I saw it. It came with a "murder mystery" package I bought recently.

Maybe my favorite clip though is from The River - just such gorgeous, gorgeous colors there.