1956: 3 movies

(Last updated 16 August 2014)

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé 
ou Le vent souffle où il veut
Written and directed by Robert Bresson
Produced by Alain Poiré and Jean Thuillier
Cinematography by Léonce-Henri Burel
Editing by Raymond Lamy
Production design and Art direction by
Pierre Charbonnier
Starring François Leterrier

   This is an interesting movie because as much as it's a technical, rational, methodical movie, objective and tedious, at it's core it's about caring. It's about caring not because it depicts caring, but rather because it omits caring and lets us fill in the emotion. We see a man in prison, we are not given many reasons for his or his prison-mates' captivity, and yet we understand their dream of freedom. By the end of the movie there is no doubt that our hunger for freedom is one of our hardest traits to kill.
   Through the masterly editing of scene after scene depicting life in a Nazi prison in France, especially through the focus on the stoic lead actor, we begin to feel as if we are all in a prison, and so we care about Fontaine escaping because that comes to symbolize our hope. And so, we also come to realize how important hope is. And we come to realize that art is just another name for a human escaping the boundaries others have set for him or her. It's brilliantly amazing how for most of the movie we are staring at a man's face as he stands in front of a painted brick wall. That's it. And somehow, a breathless state sneaks over viewers, and we end up re-evaluating our lives, our passion, and our connection to each other.
   The title translates from French to "A condemned man escaped or The wind blows where it will".

Directed by Gene Kelly
Produced by Arthur Freed
Cinematography by Freddie Young
Editing by Adrienne Fazan, Raymond Poulton,
and Robert Watts 
Art Direction by Alfred Junge
Makeup by Charles E. Parker
Set design by Rolf Gerard
Costume design by Elizabeth Haffenden
Gene Kelly ... choreographer
Starring Gene Kelly, Claire Sombert,
and Igor Youskevitch

   This movie was part of a collection of three short movies with the same cast and crew, and same genre of dance-based, dialogue-free Technicolor fests. The mood, setting, and structure of the first movie, though, stands apart by leaps and bounds! Some may disagree with looking at the movie separately from the others in the collection, which was called Invitation to the Dance, but it is a complete idea with its own title and can be enjoyed on its own, in fact, I believe it is more rewarding on its own.  It is complete with sweetness, humor, conflict, tragedy, and resolution. The piece is so full and epic in scope that the following chapters of the collection take the audience to overload of cheaper sensations, diluting the potential effect of greatness. Filling the screen with movement and emotion, the movie calls to mind Chaplin's melodramas, Powell and Pressburger, as well as Gene Kelly's prior masterpieces. If Chaplin is cinema's classical period, this is cinema's jazz and early bop period. The colors complement the movement and story in a lushly gorgeous way!

Le coup du berger
Directed by Jacques Rivette
Written by Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol,
and Charles L. Bitsch
Produced by Pierre Braunberger and Claude Chabrol
Cinematography by Charles L. Bitsch
Editing by Denise de Casabianca
Music by François Couperin, Eta Harnich-Schneider,
and Orchestre de chambre Hewitt
Starring Virginie Vitry, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, 
and Jean-Claude Brialy

   It feels modern and vibrant, while also feeling baroque and intellectual. The baroque ingredients are the music, the plot, and the lifestyle of the upper middle-class, while the crisp cinematography, the editing, the depiction of contemporary life, and the subtext about frivolous romances are what keeps the movie vibrantly modern. The movie plays on the surface like a chess game where the pawns are proofs of love, but the checkmate comes with the bittersweet realization that this sort of love is in deficit and will never reach equilibrium. The viewer is left to ponder whether his or her beliefs on love match the characters or find true fulfillment.
   The title translates from French to "Shepherd's Mate".

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