Kurt Hoffmann – Das fliegende Klassenzimmer AKA The Flying Classroom (1954)

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Synopsis:
All is not really well between the boys of Gymnasium and the boys of the six-form High School: sparks fly when they get within 100m of each other! The continuous feud between the pupils is only one of the pleasant alternations, which life brings into the everyday school life. In addition, there are the rehearsals for the school theatre; and there are the secrets around a teacher called ‘Justus’ and a man called ‘Nichtraucher’ or the “non-smoker” since he lives in an abandoned non-smoking railway carriage. Moreover, in between all the exciting surprises, a few serious things remain to be done… Continue reading

José Antonio Nieves Conde – Surcos AKA Furrows (1951)

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Quote:
At the end of the Spanish Civil War, a working-class family that migrates from rural Spain to Madrid in the hopes of finding a better life, and their hopes are thwarted by Don Roque, the personfication of the oppressive social forces at work in the Madrid of the 1940s. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – Scotch Hop (1959)

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The wonderful Scotch Hop (1959) [ imdb says 1953] is something of a letdown only after seeing his first two staggering, shattering masterpieces. In that film Maclaine intercuts a small band of bagpipers with other scenes, making some costumed young women appear to dance to the bagpipes’ rhythms. Scotch Hop is animated by a tension between synchronicity and asynchronicity — the rhythms of the images and the music converge, then diverge. Each image feels as if it were perched on a knife-edge between a world of smooth, lyrical dance and a world about to be torn apart. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The Man Who Invented Gold (1957)

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The Man Who Invented Gold, very different from The End, is fully as masterful. It focuses on a modern-day alchemist whose zombielike neighbors think of him as “madman” while he aspires to become “goldman.” Again Maclaine narrates, likening the quest to create gold to a quest for the “world of light”; the editing is as disjunctive as in The End but arguably has a much more optimistic meaning, bringing to the forefront the Gnostic longing to escape substance and recover light that underlies parts of The End. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The End (1953)

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Description from Beat Cinema
The End is in six numbered sections, each separated by long stretches of darkness during which Maclaine speaks directly to the audience. Each of the sections is a tale of a different person on the last day of his or her life. The characters in the first three sections meet their end either through random acts of violence or suicide (none depicted graphically), after which Maclaine (in dark humor mode) acknowledges that the audience may not yet be identifying with his characters (“These people are all violent!”). The characters in the second half seem to meet their end through a large-scale disaster, unspecified in Maclaine’s narration but undoubtedly the atomic explosion shown at the beginning and end of the film. The two halves of the film are bridged by Maclaine’s narrator, who equates the self-destruction of the first three characters with a complacent world awaiting “the grand suicide of the human race.” The finale of the film is the end of the world as Maclaine imagines it might look, set to the tune of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – presaging Stanley Kubrick, who would also juxtapose an atomic explosion with ironically uplifting music in Dr. Strangelove a decade later. The End is not just a stern warning, but a prophecy of absolute doom – Maclaine seems to have believed the world was ending before his very eyes, and the eyes of his audience. Continue reading

Jack Cardiff – Sons and Lovers (1960)

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Sons and Lovers
At the Brattle through Saturday
By William A. Nitze, March 26, 1962
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Sons and Lovers does not lend itself easily to a movie script, but Jack Cardiff has transformed Lawrence’s novel into a superb film. The reader must follow a slow and agonizing series of conflicting passions presented in a style which is often deceptively complex. Through a skillful rearrangement of plot elements and dialogue Cardiff has condensed the novel into an hour and 45 minutes without sacrificing its subtlety and force.

The film opens halfway through the story: Paul Morel is in his early twenties. Within the first ten minutes one grasps all of the important relationships of the drama: the abandonment of Walter Morel by his wife and sons, who detest him because of his weakness and cruelty; Paul’s desperate attachment to his mother, and his frustrated love for Miriam. The film then concentrates on the final failure of Miriam to break through Mrs. Morel’s hold on her son, Paul’s unsuccessful affair with Clara Dawes and his final liberation through his mother’s death. Continue reading

Kôzaburô Yoshimura – Itsuwareru seiso AKA Clothes of Deception (1951)

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Quote:
In 1951 Yoshimura had approached Daiei in order to realise – again from Shindo’s script – his outstanding study of women in Kyoto’s Gion district, Clothes of Deception (Itsuwareru seiso). Once at the studio he went on to work on a number of prestige projects, such as the lavish 1951 adaptation of the Heian-era prose classic The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), commissioned by Daiei to celebrate the studio’s tenth anniversary and supervised by respected novelist Tanizaki Junichiro, who had translated Murasaki Shikibu’s original 11th-century text into modern Japanese. Yoshimura won critical acclaim, and the film became Japan’s biggest commercial hit up to that date. Continue reading