Monday, February 20, 2017

The Sound Barrier



Directed by David Lean and written by Terence Rattigan, The Sound Barrier is the story of a test pilot who takes part in an experiment with aircraft designers to try and break the sound barrier where its owner is hoping for the experiment to succeed. The film is a mixture of drama mixed in with documentary footage about the attempts to break the sound barrier in the aftermath of World War II. Starring Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick, John Justin, and Denholm Elliott. The Sound Barrier is a riveting film from David Lean.

The film follows the son-in-law of a wealthy aircraft design company owner who becomes a test pilot as they embark on breaking the sound barrier. It’s a film with a simple premise yet it is more about a man’s obsession with wanting to do the impossible just as World War II is about to end as he sees that his daughter’s new husband might be the right person to break the sound barrier. Terence Rattigan’s screenplay explore the sense of ambition as well as the desire to do something new and see if the impossible can be overcome. Yet, there is also some conflict over these ambitions where the protagonist in the owner John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson) who is looking into the future as he is already on board on the emerging jet engine at the time.

Though he had plans for his son Chris (Denholm Elliott) to be the test pilot, it would be his new son-in-law Tony Garthwaite (Nigel Patrick) that would take on the role but becomes conflicted as he has just started a blissful life with Ridgefield’s daughter Susan (Ann Todd). The heart of the film is this conflict between Susan and her father as the former disapproves of her father’s ambitions just as she and Tony are making a life of their own with a child on the way. Tony is caught in the middle of this conflict as he wants to do the things as a test pilot but is also aware of the risks when he reads about a test pilot’s death in the second act. Even as the events in the third act where Susan and her father become estranged due to the former’s disdain for what her father wants showcase some of the fallacies of ambition despite Ridgefield’s good intentions.

David Lean’s direction is definitely stylish in some respects where it has some gorgeous compositions for the dramatic moments in the film while the aerial scenes are exquisite in its mixture of documentary footage and in re-created fashion. Much of the film is shot at Shepperton Studios with some of it shot on various locations in the British countryside near airfields as the scenes set in the ground have an intimacy in its close-ups and medium shots in how some look into the way planes are being flown as well as the meetings between the family. Especially in scenes where there is tension looming between Susan and Ridgefield as it play into this conflict of Susan wanting something where men in her family don’t have to live under the shadow of her father which is something Chris struggles with. The aerial scenes definitely have this vast look where Lean would use not just documentary footage of Britain’s own experiment with jet engines but also try and create moments where it could happen as some of it is inspired by actual events. Notably the film’s climax where a test pilot would try to break the sound barrier as it proves into what could be done. Overall, Lean crafts an engaging yet thrilling film about an aircraft owner’s desire to see the sound barrier broken.

Cinematographer Jack Hildyard does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography for the gorgeous look of some of the aerial scenes including the shots overlooking some of the locations as well as some of the interior scenes set at night along with the exterior nighttime scenes. Editor Geoffrey Foot does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with some intricate rhythmic cutting for some of the aerial sequences. Art director Joseph Bato does amazing work with the look of the airfield including Ridgefield‘s office and his home which is quite lavish as it play into his big personality. Costume designer Elizabeth Hennings does nice work with the costumes from the air force uniforms and suits as well as the clothes that Susan wears. The sound work of John Cox and sound editor Winston Ryder is incredible for the way jet engine sounds as well as some of the sparse moments at the homes of some of the characters. The film’s music by Malcolm Arnold is superb for its orchestral score that is bombastic with its string arrangements as well as in some of the somber moments for the dramatic aspects of the film.

The film’s wonderful cast include some notable small roles from Joseph Tomelty as aircraft designer Will Sparks, Dinah Sheridan as one of the test pilot’s wife in Jess Peel, John Justin as an inventive test pilot in Philip Peel, and Denholm Elliott as Susan’s brother Christopher who is reluctant to be his father’s premier test pilot. Nigel Patrick is excellent as Tony Garthwaite as an accomplished war pilot who is hoping for a great life with his new bride Susan while given the chance to do the impossible where he isn’t sure about taking such a grand risk. Ann Todd is brilliant as Susan as the daughter of an aircraft design mogul who is eager to start a new life with her husband while coping with the massive expectations and ambitions of her father as it relates to her husband and brother. Finally, there’s Ralph Richardson in a phenomenal performance as John Ridgefield as an aircraft design mogul who is eager to look into the future as he hopes he can give the British air force something new as well as break the speed barrier unaware of his faults in his thirst to see the impossible become possible.

The Sound Barrier is a remarkable film from David Lean. Featuring a great cast, exhilarating aerial sequences, and a compelling story of ambition and glory. It’s a film that explore the emergence of the modern world as well as man’s desire to do make the impossible possible. In the end, The Sound Barrier is a sensational film from David Lean.

David Lean Films: (In Which We Serve) - (This Happy Breed) - Blithe Spirit - Brief Encounter - (Great Expectations (1946 film)) - (Oliver Twist (1948 film)) - (The Passionate Friends) - (Madeleine) - Hobson's Choice - (Summertime) - The Bridge on the River Kwai - Lawrence of Arabia - Doctor Zhivago - Ryan's Daughter - (Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor) - A Passage to India

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chile, Obstinate Memory



Directed and narrated by Patricio Guzman, Chile, Obstinate Memory is a documentary film in which Guzman returns from exile to Chile to screen his trilogy of documentaries in The Battle of Chile for the first time in his home country while reflecting on what Chile has become. The film is a reflective look at a man returning home as he also talks to those who lived in the time when the country was under the rule of Augusto Pinochet. The result is a somber and evocative film from Patricio Guzman.

Returning to his home country nearly twenty-three years living in exile where only a few of his relatives have survived, the film has Patricio Guzman follow several individuals who were part of the Unidad Popular party, Salvador Allende’s personnel, and individuals who try to look back at the events of September 11, 1973 when a coup d’etat emerged and overthrew Allende in favor of a darker regime. The film has Guzman not only reflecting on that period when he made his trilogy of documentaries but also coming back to a country that is trying to suppress memories of those times as well as the rule of Augusto Pinochet following its coup which ended in 1988 following a referendum. With the help of cinematographers Eric Pittard and Paolo Saura, Guzman would have the camera all over Santiago, Chile including a sequence at the Presidential palace where Guzman have one of Allende’s former guards in the place pretending to be a crew member holding a tripod.

Interviewing bodyguards and Allende’s chambermaid at the palace, they all talk about what happened on that day of the coup as it would also include discussions about Unidad Popular and why it fell apart. Even as students debate over what it succeeded to do but also what it failed to do as some of them are conservative but not in an extreme way. Guzman would also feature some archival TV interview from Allende’s widow Hortensia Bussi who had to wait 17 years for her husband to receive a proper funeral that she could attend while still waiting for personal effects including photo albums to return to her. Guzman also touched on the disappearance of many people in the aftermath of the coup where many of Allende’s supporters were never seen again including members of Guzman’s own family as well as Jorge Muller Silva who was the cinematographer in Guzman’s trilogy of documentaries.

With help of editor Helene Girard in showcasing footage from his documentaries as well as a news footage and photos of the events of the coup, Guzman also showcase things in which some of the survivors of torture camps and such would look into. Even filmmakers and professors would talk about what happened where the film would culminate with private screenings of the trilogy of documentaries in four universities in Chile since public screening for the films is something that couldn’t be done then due to distributors’ fear of upsetting the people of Chile. Especially as Guzman would use sounds of the events with the aid of sound editor Leopoldo Gutierrez as the aftermath of the screening is quite devastating considering that a generation of kids who hadn‘t known much about the events of the coup are forced to face the reality of what happened. The film’s music by Robert Marcel Lepage is low-key as it play into traditional woodwind music of Chile yet its soundtrack is largely dominated by a performance of Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig Van Beethoven that is performed by Guzman’s uncle who also talks about what happens as he’s one of the few relatives who had survived the awful events during Pinochet’s reign of terror.

Chile, Obstinate Memory is an incredible film from Patricio Guzman. It’s not just this very personal and engrossing film about a man returning home to his home country but also reflect on the events that shaped his country and allow a group of people to see the documentaries he made about those events. In the end, Chile, Obstinate Memory is a phenomenal film from Patricio Guzman.

Related: The Battle of Chile Pt. 1 - The Battle of Chile Pt. 2 - The Battle of Chile Pt. 3

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Battle of Chile Pt 3: Popular Power




Directed by Patricio Guzman, The Battle of Chile Pt. 3: Popular Power is the third and final film of a trilogy of documentaries chronicling the events of the September 11, 1973 coup d’etat as the film explore the Unidad Popular movement from March of 1972 and how it managed to defy the odds against conservative forces before the end of Salvador Allende’s rule as president of Chile. The film follows the same visual format but it is more about the rise and fall of Unidad Popular and how it managed to connect with the people at a time of conflict with the conservative and bourgeoisie as it’s narrated by Abilio Fernandez. The result is a compelling and somber film from Patricio Guzman.

Shot from March of 1972 to the summer of 1973 before the coup d’etat of September 11, 1973, the film is an exploration into the Unidad Popular party and its methods to keep Chile going despite the strikes and shortage of supplies led by the more conservative Christian Democratic party with the aid of U.S. government. The film follow not just the events where Unidad Popular would defy the odds and create a system for themselves but also find ways to create a community amidst the political turmoil in the country. While many of the views in the film definitely lean towards Marxism/socialism, it does showcase what the working class in Chile are dealing with against the opposition that is largely bourgeoisie.

The film is more structured than its predecessors where it focuses on what is going on in the streets and in working class areas in the first half while the second half is more about land owned by rich landowners that aren’t being used as well as the plight of the miners and workers at repair shops. The first half focuses on an attempted trucker’s strike which was driven by both members of the conservative/bourgeoisie members of congress with the aid of the U.S. government as they try to stop supplies from being reached to the people in an act of defiance against its president Salvador Allende. The second half showcases the movement against landowners who refuse to have their land used to create crops and resources for the country where workers do whatever they can to fight the landowners.

Patricio Guzman’s direction is definitely straightforward with its usage of hand-held cameras as it’s shot in black-and-white with the aid of cinematographer Jorge Muller Silva (whom the film is dedicated to) as it play into the events that is happening with Guzman talking directly to the people in their plight. Especially as they try and support Allende as much as they can. Editor Pedro Chaskel would gather some news footage and interviews that play into the situations where Guzman and Silva would go inside the mines or see how workers do whatever they can to get the needed supplies to the people. The sound work of Bernardo Menz would capture the sound of those protest marches during those times as it play into the growth and power of Unidad Popular and the influence it would have in various industries all over Chile. The film’s music by Jose Antonio Quintano is mostly low-key as it largely consists of traditional woodwind music to play into some of the quiet moments where the movement had succeeded despite the dark times what was to come.

The Battle of Chile Pt. 3: Popular Power is a remarkable film from Patricio Guzman. While it’s a more somber documentary that is focused on the people who are part of a movement against the more traditional and bourgeoisie society in Chile. It is still a fascinating film that explore the ideas of socialism as well as a country’s attempt to maintain a sense of community during a tumultuous time in Chile’s history. In the end, The Battle of Chile Pt. 3: Popular Power is a marvelous film from Patricio Guzman.

Related: The Battle of Chile Pt. 1 - The Battle of Chile Pt. 2 - Chile, Obstinate Memory

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hobson's Choice




Based on the play by Harold Brighouse, Hobson’s Choice is the story of a boot shop owner in Victorian England who copes with his eldest daughter’s decision to live her own life and marry his boot smith. Directed by David Lean and screenplay by Lean, Wynyard Browne, and Norman Spencer, the film is an exploration of a man coping with changes as he tries to maintain his own ideas while his daughters would rebel against the old rules. Starring Charles Laughton, Brenda De Banzie, Daphne Anderson, Prunella Scales, Richard Wattis, Derek Blomfield, and John Mills. Hobson’s Choice is a riveting and delightful film from David Lean.

Set in the late 1800s at Lancashire, the film revolves a boot shop owner whose life is about to change when his eldest daughter decides to marry his best boot smith and start her own business after hearing that she is considered too old to be married. It’s a film that play into this man who is quite pompous and often quite selfish as he pays more attention in going to a pub to drink rather than give his daughters the freedom to make something of themselves. Even as his best boot smith is feeling unappreciated for his work when a posh customer commends his work but still gets underpaid. The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the ideals of Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton) but also someone that wants to operate everything from his business to his life at home a certain way. Even as he wants his two youngest daughters to be married but with men of his choice rather than their own choice while his eldest daughter Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) is thirty-years-old as he think she’s too old to get married and would rather have her run the business and household which she’s good at.

When Maggie hears what her father has said about her to his friends at the local pub, she realizes that she has to do something for her own independence where she forces her father’s best boot smith in Willie Mossop (John Mills) to marry him and take part in a partnership where he would make the boots and she would sell them and run the business. It’s a move that shocks her father who tries to move on without her but both Alice (Daphne Anderson) and Vicky (Prunella Scales) have a hard time trying to run the household and the business. One of the unique aspects of the script is the developing relationship between Maggie and Willie where even though it’s the former that is doing all of the decision-making. It’s Willie who would become much smarter and more confident as he starts off as someone with little ambition but through Maggie’s patience in educating him and learning bits about the business.

Willie would come into his own while Maggie finds an equal in her life which would inspire Alice and Vicky to find men that they want to marry in their own terms. It’s something that Hobson would struggle with but also his own negligence towards his daughters and the fact that he’s an alcoholic. Hobson is a very unique character who is either oblivious in his selfishness or stubborn in his refusal to accept the changes around him. Especially at one point where he goes to the pub because the dinner Alice and Vicky made for him wasn’t satisfactory to his liking as it would play into the fact that times are changing and all of his bad vices and behaviors is catching up with him.

David Lean’s direction is definitely mesmerizing not just for its sense of theatricality since much of the film is shot in soundstages with some of it exteriors shot in old areas in Manchester where the film is partially set. While there are some wide shots to establish some of the locations, Lean would go for something that is more intimate in its visuals in the way he captures life at the shop as well as the raucous world of the pubs. The direction also has Lean create some moments that are quite surreal as it relates to Hobson’s alcoholic state late in the film such as a scene early in the second half where he sees the moon reflected on puddles and tries to stomp them out. The direction also has a theatricality in some of the wide shots such as the very first time one of Maggie’s sisters sees Maggie with Willie as well as the day of their wedding dinner where Maggie’s sisters are with the men they want to marry.

The direction also has Lean create moments that are quite humorous but in a very low-key way as it relates to Willie and the situation he’s forced into. Yet, even as he is developed into a more educated man with ideas of his own. There is still aspects of him that is quite simple where Lean would create a simple shot as it has something that is also very enjoyable. Notably the sequence of the wedding night where it’s about Willie trying to figure what to do while Maggie is in the other room. The film’s climax isn’t just about what Maggie and Willie had achieved but also a fall of sorts for Hobson who is forced to face reality about himself and the situation he’s in as it relates to his business. Overall, Lean crafts a witty yet whimsical film about a boot shop owner trying to deal with changing times and his own faults.

Cinematographer Jack Hildyard does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the gorgeous exterior shots in the park and in the day to some of the interior scenes at night including at the home/shop that Maggie and Willie live/work at. Editor Peter Taylor does superb work with editing as it is largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts for some of the film‘s surreal moments. Art director Wilfred Shingleton does brilliant work with the art direction from the look of Hobson’s boot shop and the basement where the boots are made to the pub where Hobson frequents at.

Costume designer John Armstrong does fantastic work with the period costumes as well as the design of the boots that are made and the ragged suit of Hobson. The sound work of John Cox is terrific for the simplicity of the sound as well as the raucous atmosphere of the pubs. The film’s music by Malcolm Arnold is wonderful for its low-key yet playful orchestral music while music director Muir Matheson provide a soundtrack filled with the traditional pub songs of the times.

The film’s incredible cast feature some notable small roles from John Laurie as Dr. MacFarlane, Dorothy Gordon as Willie’s original fiancée, Julien Mitchell as the pub owner, Gibb McLaughlin and Philip Stainton as a couple of pub regulars who are friends of Hobson, Jack Howarth as another boot maker at Hobson’s shop, and Helen Haye as the posh customer who appreciates Willie’s work as she would play an integral part in Willie and Maggie’s new business. Derek Blomfield and Richard Wattis are superb in their respective roles as the corn merchant Freddy Beenstock and the solicitor Albert Prosser as the two men whom Vicky and Alice, respectively, want to marry while they would also be involved with Maggie and Willie’s business.

Prunella Scales is excellent as the youngest daughter Vicky who often does the cleaning as she also tries to cook for her father while Daphne Anderson is fantastic as the middle daughter Alice who knows how to run and manage the business but is aware that it’s not enough for her father. John Mills is brilliant as Willie Mossop as a boot smith who is good at what he does while he finds himself being in a business venture with Maggie where he realizes that he has a lot more to offer. Brenda De Banzie is amazing as Maggie Hobson as a 30-year old woman who decides to go into business by herself with Willie as she is someone with a lot of brains while realizing there’s more to Willie as she falls for him. Finally, there’s Charles Laughton in a phenomenal performance as Henry Hobson as a boot shop owner who prides himself in being the best at what he does but is often very selfish and often drinks himself unaware that he’s done a lot to hurt his family as well as be a fool to himself.

Hobson’s Choice is a sensational film from David Lean that features tremendous performances from Charles Laughton, Brenda De Banzie, and John Mills. It’s a film that has a lot of wit but also a compelling story about changing times and a man’s selfish refusal to accept it. In the end, Hobson’s Choice is a spectacular film from David Lean.

David Lean Films: (In Which We Serve) - (This Happy Breed) - Blithe Spirit - Brief Encounter - (Great Expectations (1946 film)) - (Oliver Twist (1948 film)) - (The Passionate Friends) - (Madeleine) - The Sound Barrier - (Summertime) - The Bridge on the River Kwai - Lawrence of Arabia - Doctor Zhivago - Ryan's Daughter - (Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor) - A Passage to India

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: William Shakespeare Film Adaptations




For the third week of February 2017 of the Thursday Movie Picks hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We turn to William Shakespeare and the many film adaptations of his body of work. There have been many versions of his stories adapted into film as picking three itself would be tough as there’s so many.

1. Macbeth-1948 film - Throne of Blood - 1971 film



The story of ambition and betrayal set in the Scottish highlands is definitely one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated stories as it’s been adapted time and time again. Yet, two of its film adaptations are told in a traditional fashion but with different ideas by two cinematic masters. The 1948 version by Orson Welles is definitely more theatrical in terms of its setting and mood while the 1971 version by Roman Polanski is definitely more cinematic visually while not being afraid to be graphic in its approach to sex and violence. The best of those three adaptations is from Akira Kurosawa whose adaptation in Throne of Blood definitely takes it to new heights not just in its visuals but also translating the story into feudal-period Japan with Toshiro Mifune in one of his best roles as the film’s climax remains one of the most intense moments in film.

2. Romeo & Juliet-1968 film - William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet - Warm Bodies



Easily the most popular adaptation of Shakespeare’s work about two kids from feuding families who fall in love with other and tragedy ensues. Another story that spawned numerous adaptations, there are so many to choose one as it’s hard to say which is the most definitive. Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film version is definitely the most traditional in its narrative but the music of Nino Rota as well as the visuals and Laurence Olivier’s narration makes it a very faithful adaptation. The 1996 version by Baz Luhrmann that stars Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes definitely uses Shakespeare’s language but it is given a modern-day setting that is very lively and filled with gorgeous visuals. The third and most unconventional picks of the three in Warm Bodies sets in a post-zombie apocalypse where a zombie falls for a young woman despite the conflicts between humans and zombies. It is definitely very funny but also give Shakespeare’s tale a new twist.

3. Othello-1951 film - 1995 film



While there are many adaptations of this tale of a Moorish general who is deceived by his captain claiming that his beloved is having an affair. Much of it often features white men in blackface playing the titular character with the most famous was Laurence Olivier in a 1965 film version. The 1951 version by Orson Welles which also has him playing the titular role is definitely very stylish in terms of its usage of slanted camera angles and improvised tone. It’s a messy film but certainly intriguing while the 1995 film version by Oliver Parker starring Laurence Fishburne in the titular role is probably the most faithful. Especially as it has Fishburne playing the character the way it’s meant to be played though he’s not the first African-American actor to play that role. With Kenneth Branagh, Michael Sheen, and Irene Jacob in key roles, the 1995 is definitely the more traditionally-based version of the story but it is certainly a film to seek out as it is a very underrated film.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blithe Spirit




Based on the play by Noel Coward, Blithe Spirit is the story of a novelist who invites a medium for a séance in the hopes he can find inspiration for his next novel only to receive an unexpected visit from his deceased first wife. Directed by David Lean and screenplay by Lean, Ronald Neame, and Anthony Havelock-Allan, the film explores a man who gets more than he bargains for in his quest to find inspiration where he is reintroduced to his late first wife. Starring Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford, Hugh Wakefield, Joyce Carey, and Jacqueline Clarke. Blithe Spirit is a witty and whimsical film from David Lean.

The film revolves around a novelist who is looking for inspiration for his next book where he invites friends for a séance that would unfortunately unleash the spirit of his late first wife who would haunt only him. It’s a film that play into idea if ghosts are real where a man gets more than he bargains for as he doesn’t just have to deal with the presence of his first wife but also cause trouble in his current marriage. Even as his old wife doesn’t like the new wife at all as she will do whatever to get her husband back. The film’s screenplay which features some narration by Noel Coward play into a man dealing with death in a humorous way as he’s made a new life for himself with a wife that is actually supportive of his work. The séance was meant to be a chance for Charles Condomine (Rex Harrison) to get an idea of what goes on thinking either nothing or little will happen.

Instead, the appearance of his late first wife Elvira (Kay Hammond) would appear as his current wife Ruth (Constance Cummings) think it’s all in his imagination as he had drank a lot that night and was behaving erratically. While the script did make some changes from Coward’s play, it does retain some of its dialogue where it quite racy as it relates to the many things Elvira says and her commentary towards Ruth which Ruth cannot hear. Ruth would eventually turn to the medium Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) who is this very eccentric individual yet knows what she is doing no matter how many skeptics refuse to believe her. A series of odd events occur where it would be Madame Arcati would be integral to the plot in not just summoning the spirit of Elvira but also the dead to leave Charles alone.

David Lean’s direction is quite straightforward as it maintains a sense of theatricality for a lot of the interior scenes as much of it shot at Denham Studios with some exterior locations in the British countryside. There aren’t a lot of wide shots in the film as Lean would favor intimate shots with some medium shots to capture multiple characters in a frame and a few close-ups. Lean’s camera movements and the way he would capture some unique special effects in how Elvira would appear in some scenes or how she would prove that she is a ghost. Lean would create some unique camera angles while trying to find ways to maintain the liveliness of the humor. Especially in the film’s climax where Madame Arcati tries everything she can to reveal Elvira and send her back to the world of the afterlife. Overall, Lean creates a fun and charming comedy about a novelist who deals with the ghostly presence of his late first wife.

Cinematographer Ronald Neame does incredible work with the film‘s Technicolor cinematography as it‘s rich with vibrant colors for many of the interiors as well as some of the exterior scenes in the film as it is a major highlight of the film. Editor Jack Harris does excellent work with the editing as it‘s very straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into its humor. Art director C.P. Norman and set decorator Arthur Taksen do fantastic work with the set from the living room where the séance is conducted to the home that Madame Arcati lives in. Costume designer Rahvis does brilliant work with the dresses that the women wear including the clothes that Charles wears.

Makeup artist Tony Sforzini and hair dresser Vivienne Walker do amazing work with the look of Elvira in her ghostly state as well as the hairstyle she had to add to her unique presence. The special effects work of Tom Howard is terrific with its usage of backdrops for some of the exterior driving scenes as well as some other effects to play into Elvira‘s ghostly appearance. Sound recorders John Cook and Desmond Dew do superb work with the sound as it play into the things that Charles would hear as well as some of the things that happen at the séance. The film’s music by Richard Addinsell is wonderful for its score as it’s very upbeat in its light-hearted orchestral setting to play into the film’s humor.

The casting by Irene Howard is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Hugh Wakefield and Joyce Carey as the Bradmans who are guests at the séance that wonder if anything happens is true and Jacqueline Clarke as the maid Edith who would play a crucial role for the film’s climax. Margaret Rutherford is phenomenal as Madame Arcati as a medium who is quite odd yet so full of charm and wit as this weird woman who is able to communicate with the dead. Kay Hammond is delightful as Elvira as Charles’ late wife who has been brought back as a ghost to try and win him back as well as provide snide commentary toward his new wife.

Constance Cummings is remarkable as Charles’ current wife Ruth as a woman who is baffled by her husband’s behavior as she wonders if Elvira is alive wanting to haunt her as it’s a very fun role that has her the butt of all jokes. Finally, there’s Rex Harrison in a sensational performance as Charles Condomine as a novelist whose attempt to have a séance in his home leads him having to deal with his dead first wife where Harrison provides some dry wit in his commentary as he just exudes charisma and a sense of command in his performance.

Blithe Spirit is a phenomenal film from David Lean that features a great cast and a very entertaining story based on Noel Coward’s play. It’s a film that play into the idea of the dead coming back as well as what a man does to try and move on with his life while working on a novel. In the end, Blithe Spirit is a spectacular film from David Lean.

David Lean Films: (In Which We Serve) - (This Happy Breed) - Brief Encounter - (Great Expectations (1946 film)) - (Oliver Twist (1948 film)) - (The Passionate Friends) - (Madeleine) - The Sound Barrier - Hobson’s Choice - (Summertime) - The Bridge on the River Kwai - Lawrence of Arabia - Doctor Zhivago - Ryan's Daughter - (Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor) - A Passage to India

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Battle of Chile Pt. 2: The Coup d'etat




Directed by Patricio Guzman, The Battle of Chile Pt. 2: The Coup d’etat is the second part in a trilogy of documentaries that explore the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende. The film showcases the events leading to the coup following its first attempt in late June and how it would be successful as well as the horror that would impact the country for nearly two decades. The result is a fascinating yet visceral film from Patricio Guzman.

Picking up where its predecessor left off, the film chronicles the ten weeks of the summer of 1973 in Chile during a period of social and political unrest under the rule of its president Salvador Allende. The film, that is narrated by Abilio Fernandez, showcase the events that begins with the June 29 coup attempt as well as the attempts for a peaceful resolution between Allende and the more conservative Christian Democrats. During the course of the ten weeks, director Patricio Guzman and cinematographer Jorge Muller Silva (whom the film is dedicated to just like its predecessor) would film the many events that is happening including more protest marches and meetings that showcase the political disarray between the working class and poor against the middle and upper-class.

With this usage of hand-held cameras in black-and-white footage that include some TV footage collected by editor Pedro Chaskel. Guzman chronicle many of these events that include a strike from trucker owners driven that was partially funded by the CIA who would be instrumental in the coup d’etat on September 11, 1973. Guzman would also go in the middle of the marches and protests talking to regular people as well as showcase footage of the growing tension including brief moments of peace talks that included a funeral for naval officer Arturo Araya was assassinated by right-wing extremists as it set the tone for what is to come. With some wanting Allende to resign or to transfer power to the Christian Democratic-led congress, Allende would refuse as he would try to create another vote for September but that would all change on September 11, 1973.

The sound work of Bernardo Menz would capture the sounds of protests and violence including the film’s climax that feature footage of the coup d’etat on September 11, 1973. Most notably Allende’s final speech before he would kill himself at the Presidential palace though it was reported that he was killed by either gunfire or bombs from the jets attacking the palace. Featuring pictures including some of the last pictures of Allende hours before his death, Guzman would reveal the chaos of that day and how it would affect Chile in the course of twenty-four hours with Augusto Pinochet and members of the junta talking about the end of three years of Marxism in the country.

The Battle of Chile Pt. 2: The Coup d’etat is an incredible film from Patricio Guzman. It’s a haunting documentary that explore the events that lead to one of the most horrific uprisings in world history as well as the division in a country that nearly destroyed it. In the end, The Battle of Chile Pt. 2: The Coup d’etat is a sensational film from Patricio Guzman.

Related: The Battle of Chile Pt. 1 - The Battle of Chile Pt. 3 - Chile, Obstinate Memory

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