Georges Méliès – The Movies Begin – Disc 4 – The Magic of Méliès (1904 – 1908)

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The Magic of Méliès
Director: Georges Méliès
Country: France
Year: 1904-1908
Tribute is paid to the screen’s first special effects wizard in this special collection of marvelously restored prints. In addition to more than a dozen of his early trompes l’oeil – such as Untamable Wiskers, Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjurer, and The Mermaid – this volume boasts the illuminating documentary, Georges Méliès, Cinema Magician and a rare hand-tinted print of the fantastic spectacle An Impossible Voyage.

Decades before the term “special effects” was coined, audiences of the newborn cinema were witnessing spectacular screen illusions, courtesy of the medium’s first master magician: Georges Méliès. The films collected on this disc offer an unparalleled view of Méliès’s career, introducing the viewer to the rich body of work that lies beyond A Trip To The Moon (1902), which is featured in vol. 1 of The Movies Begin. Continue reading

Nelson Pereira dos Santos – Raízes do Brasil: Uma Cinebiografia de Sérgio Buarque de Holanda AKA The Roots of Brazil (2003)

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Cinebiography of celebrated historian Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, who wrote the seminal “Raízes do Brasil” in 1935, with interviews with his large family (including his widow and his seven children, among them famous composer/singer/writer Chico Buarque and singer Miúcha) and scholar friend Antonio Candido. Written by fabreu Continue reading

Oskar Roehler – Elementarteilchen aka Elementary Particles (2006)

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If you are moved by the death of a parakeet at the beginning of The Elementary Particles (Elementarteilchen), you are in for a bumpy ride, as all of humanity as we know it will be wiped out by the film’s end in a brief written epilogue. Of course, those who have read the novel (Les particules élémentaires in its original French, Atomised in its UK version) saw this coming, but for those who are unfamiliar with Michel Houellebecq’s cult hit that explosively mixes sex, death and science to annihilate mankind – and blames the flower power generation for it in the process – this might come as something of a shock. Continue reading

Yakov Protazanov – Pikovaya dama AKA The Queen of Spades (1916)

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Already in the early years of Russian cinema Protazanov’s name was a hallmark of artistic excellence. “The Queen of Spades” is a brilliant example of his extraordinary talent. The film has not only a first-rate story and ingenious Mozzhukhin’s performance, but also all the tricks that were available to filmmakers in 1916. The use of crosscutting in the film is quite sophisticated for the time; superimposition is yet another important device; and the use of flashbacks here is very effective. Unlike most pictures of that time “The Queen of Spades” made a genuine contribution to the evolution of Russian film art. I think it would be great if more people see one of the best pre-revolutionary Russian films.

–GostaBerling Continue reading

Ken Loach – Fatherland (1986)

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Persona Non Grata in his homeland, protest singer Klaus Drittemann must leave East Berlin, his wife and child and emigrate to West Berlin, where the representatives of an American record company are eagerly waiting for him. They plan to exploit his defection from communism both ideologically and financially. But Klaus, as ill-at-ease in the West as he was in the East, is reluctant to be used as an expendable commodity. Leaving his contract unsigned (or signed in his manner), he leaves for Cambridge to meet his father, a concert player, who -just like him – left East Berlin thirty years ago as Klaus was a little boy. He is accompanied by a young French journalist, Emma, who knows where his father has been living since he disappeared for more than a decade. The young lady is cooperative but might hide things from him… Continue reading

Various – The Movies Begin – Disc 3 – Experimentation and Discovery (1898 – 1910)

EXPERIMENTATION AND DISCOVERY (vol. 3 of THE MOVIES BEGIN) Dir. (various). U.S. and Europe. 1898-1910. Color-tinted, B&W. Frequently comical, often risque, and sometimes just plain baffling, the twenty films of this anthology challenged the precepts of the visual representation of narrative, thereby inventing the photographic and editing techniques that would quickly become accepted as cinematic syntax. Includes Peeping Tom (1901), History of a Crime (1901), How It Feels to be Run Over (1900), and The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906).

More than any other decade, the first ten years of the moving picture saw the greatest amount of experimentation and development. Ranging from the ingeniously creative to the audacious, the films represented in this volume offer a sampling of the primitive masterworks that allowed the technical novelty of the cinema to so quickly flourish into an artistically expressive medium. Continue reading

Various – The Movies Begin – Disc 2 – The European Pioneers (1895 – 1906)

The European Pioneers
Director: (various)
Country: (various)
Year: 1895-1906
From the archives of the British Film Institute, this collection features forty distinctive works from cinema’s infancy, produced by such Euro pioneers as R.W. Paul, George Edward Smith, Fran Mottershaw, Walter Haggar & Sons, and James Bamforth, as well as by acknowledged innovators like the Lumière brothers and Méliès. Includes Demolition of a Wall (1896), Exiting the Factory (1895), and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (circa 1895). Continue reading