Abel Gance – Bonaparte et la révolution (1972)

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The last film made by legendary French director Abel Gance, Bonaparte et la révolution (1971) was also his final attempt to release the Napoleonic biopic he had begun in the 1920s. Napoléon, vu par Abel Gance (1927) was over nine hours long, but represented only the first of a planned six-film series. Having failed to get funding for the remaining episodes, Gance revamped his silent film as Napoléon Bonaparte (1935) – adding newly-shot scenes and dubbing his decade-old footage. After other abortive attempts to resurrect part or all of his biopic in the 1950s, Gance gained funding from Claude Lelouch to release Bonaparte et la revolution in 1971. This last version recycles footage from the films of 1927 and 1935, as well as material from his television work of the 1960s. The result is a bizarre mishmash of old and new images, performances, and voices – less a coherent film than a document embodying the whole of Gance’s 45-year involvement with his eternally incomplete project. Continue reading

Henri Verneuil – Le Casse aka The Burglars (1971)

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Henri Verneuil’s The Burglars has a bit of a cult reputation for an infamous car chase through Greece – fully deserved for that lone, incredible sequence – but more than thirty years since its theatrical release, the flaws in this second attempt at adapting David Goodis’ novel to the big screen are painfully evident. Continue reading

Claude Lelouch – Le chat et la souris AKA Cat and Mouse (1975)

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Synopsis:
A jaded and charming police inspector is assigned along with his cheerful partner to a case involving the mysterious death and/or suicide of a wealthy entrepreneur. The chief suspect is his enchanting wife who was aware that her husband had a mistress. It is also possible that the dead man may be the victim of a radical terrorist group. Continue reading

Fons Rademakers – Because of the Cats AKA The Rape (1973)

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From IMDB:
A gang of six wealthy, well-dressed and well-spoken hoodlums break into a married couple’s house and rape the wife while forcing the husband to watch. Thus begins a dogged investigation by a determined detective who quickly finds that their cult-like solidarity can be a serious obstacle to breaking them. Continue reading

Volker Schlöndorff – Baal (1970)

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Plot:
Baal explores the cult of the genius, an anti-heroic figure who chooses to be a social outcast and live on the fringe of bourgeois morality.

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Screening as part of the Masters & Restorations program at this year’s MIFF is Baal, writer/director Volker Schlöndorff’s television adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play of the same name which features a rare leading performance by Schlöndorff’s contemporary in the German New Wave and master filmmaker Reiner Werner Fassbinder outside of his own films. After a single screening in 1970 it was removed from public release by Brecht’s widow, but 44 years later is making the rounds at film festivals thanks his granddaughter who has approved its release. And thankfully it was worth the wait, offering a rare treat for foreign film fans. Continue reading

Leopoldo Torre Nilsson – Los Siete locos aka The Seven Madmen (1973)

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“The Seven Madmen” draws on two novels by Roberto Arlt to show us the opulent and seedy words of Buenos Aires in the 1920s. Erdosain (Alfredo Alcon) is a failed inventor who allows himself be pressured into giving up his dreams, marrying a woman he doesn’t know, and taking up a job as a bill collector that he grows to hate. A weak man, Erdosain can’t no to anyone, including an astrologer who enlists him as one of seven members in a secret anarchist society that sets out to destroy the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina’s religious, commercial and government center.

Much of the movie takes place in the working class rooming houses, brothels and tango bars of the period’s and it also shows us the era’s political and criminal underworlds. Although this a well produced picture with good costumes and sets, there is nothing glamorous about the places shown or the people who frequent them. Erdosain’s rented rooms are as sad and depressing as the life he leads that results in his embrace of violent anarchism. Continue reading

Govindan Aravindan – Uttarayanam (1974)

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Aravindan’s debut extended a 60s Calicut modernism into cinema, drawing on the work of the writer Pattathiruvila Karunakaran, who produced the film, and the satirical playwright Thikkodiyan, who co-scripted it. The plot is about a disabused young man, Ravi, who has a series of ironic encounters while looking for a job. One of his mentors, Kumaran Master, and his now critically ill friend Setu had participated in the 1942 Quit India agitations with Ravi’s father (shown in flashback). The lawyer Gopalan Muthalaly, also a participant in those events, has become a rich contractor and an example of the corrupt post-Independence bourgeoisie. Ravi abandons the city and, in a mystical ending, is initiated into ‘eternal truths’ by a godman meditating on a mountain. The figures of the father and the ailing friend form a composite portrait of Sanjayan, a political activist, spiritualist and satirist, and major influence on the Calicut artists who participated in the film. Aravindan’s approach to his lead characters and his framing evoke the cartoon characters Ramu and Guruji from his Small Man and Big World series Continue reading