Lost in the Movies: Welcome to the Arthouse 1972 - 1974 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 21

Welcome to the Arthouse 1972 - 1974 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 21

The twenty-first chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump & 2023 update: new version w/ different, more period-accurate closing song)

View "Chapter 21: Welcome to the Arthouse" (outdated as of 2023, see bottom of post)

Welcome to the Arthouse

Artistic expression, rather than pleasing a wide audience, seems to be the guiding spirit behind most of today's selections, although increasingly the two could go together. There are three genre pictures (a German sci-fi, a British horror, and an American gangster movie), yet these too wear their "artsy" ambitions on their sleeves. This was a period when attendance of "art houses" - those theaters devoted to playing foreign films, serious dramas, or eccentric comedies - thrived, and when even mainstream Hollywood movies were darker, more complex, more aesthetically sophisticated than they had been ten years earlier. It was a golden age for American film, but we'll see more of that tomorrow; today, the offerings are almost exclusively European (with an exception each from the U.S. and India).

(this original video is outdated as of 2023, scroll down for new version)

The French, having long since passed from the frenzy of the New Wave, now contemplate love and life from the cozy confines of cafes, before venturing out onto the street to shoot a bit (either expensive productions or handheld documentaries, excuses to flirt with pretty young camera subjects). A Swede broods on a collapsing marriage in close-up, an Italian shoots for widescreen fantasy in the snow, a Spaniard turns back to Hollywood for inspiration, a German visits both dystopian future and a beleaguered present, and a Soviet turns inward, achieving oneiric epiphanies few could have dreamed the cinema capable of. Welcome to the arthouse, where anything is possible.

Spoilers: Minor spoiler at 2:00 - 2:15; it arrives early but is a major plot development. However, it's probably something you'd expect going into the movie.

Update 2023: The song originally chosen to end this video was actually from 1980, but I didn't realize that until twelve years after publication. I've left the original intact for archival purposes, but the following is the proper, corrected video with a song actually from the 1972 - 74 period covered in this chapter...

Visit the Video Gallery for a complete list of the chapters so far.


Shubhajit said...

I've a pretty hectic time since last week, and so I've ended up missing a number of your posts in this series. I'll check out the remaining videos tomorrow morning & post my comments. Its past 1 am here, so planning to hit the sack now :)

Anyway, here's what I've seen with respect to the current compilation.

Scenes from a Marriage - yet another film that qualifies as "one of my favourite Bergman movies" for me. I still need to watch Saraband though, even though I have it lying with me.

Day for Night - a highly enjoyable Truffaut film. Loved the light humour & satire.

Spirit of the Beehive - the performances by the two kids are what I remember most strongly about this moody, lyrical film.

Mean Streets - ah, a superb film!!! It ranks, along side Taxi Driver & Raging Bulls, as my favourite Scorsese movie. What stellar performances by Robert De Niro in all the three movies!

Ankur - I'm pleasantly surprised to see this Shyam Benegal film featured here.

Great stuff as always!

Joel Bocko said...

I actually saw Saraband before Scenes from a Marriage, oddly enough! Now that I've seen Scenes, I'd like to go back and revisit it.

I think Mean Streets is pretty raw & rough around the edges compared to some later Scorseses, but that's what I love about it. I just really cotton to propulsive films that plow headlong into the viewers like good rock music (and usually use good rock music as part of their tactic to do so) - this & Easy Rider being two prime examples.

I was wondering what your take on Ankur was. It's the only Benegal I've seen; years ago I saw a picture of the beautiful Shabana Azmi and read a story summary and was very intrigued. I tried to track it down but had difficulty and it became a holy grail film for me. Then, this year or last year I found out it was on You Tube or Google Video and watched it all the way through. I loved it & bought a pretty cheap DVD off Amazon. A very powerful movie, one of the best I've seen to demonstrate class differences (and caste differences of course) while still keeping the protagonists human and complex. Great movie.

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