José Ramón Larraz – Symptoms (1974)

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The official British Palme d’Or entry at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, Symptoms is a sophisticated modern gothic horror film exploring the themes of sexual repression and psychosis.

Larraz’s dark and stylish film tells of a young woman (Lorna Heilbron) who is invited by her girlfriend (Angela Pleasence) to stay at her remote English country mansion. Events take a disturbing turn when a menacing groundkeeper (Peter Vaughan) interrupts their time together, and a woman’s body is found in the mansion’s lake. Continue reading

Klaus Wyborny – Bilder vom verlorenen Wort AKA Pictures of the Lost World (1971–1975)

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For 50 minutes or so Pictures presents a series of static, or gently swaying images which are sometimes bucolic landscapes but more often industrial ones (sludgy harbours, power lines, abandoned railway stations or deserted factories). The interplay between the two sets of imagery is not simple. Wyborny photographs his modern ruins at their most ravishing – at dawn or sunset, partially reflected in the water or glimpsed through the trees. Shots recur throughout, optically printed into brilliant colours or else, given the washed out quality of fifth generation Xeroxes. As there are few people shown, one’s impression is of a planet that is populated mainly by cows, barges and hydraulic drills. Continue reading

Klaus Wyborny – Die Geburt der Nation AKA The Birth of a Nation (1973)

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Authentically ‘New’ German Cinema, and, simultaneously, an archaeology of narrative film itself, Wyborny’s avant-garde landmark defines cinema as a ‘nation’ that has perversely acquired rulers, laws and hierarchies before it has even been physically mapped out. At first appearing to spin an elementary yarn of social organisation (the predictably fraught establishment of a rudimentary commune in the Moroccan desert of 1911) in the ‘authoritative’ film language of DW Griffith, Wyborny proceeds to break down that language to its constituent elements and produce fragmentary hints of alternatives. Structural film-making of a rare wit and accessibility results, with flashes of appropriate absurdity highlighting the redundancy of closed systems, whether social or cinematic. Continue reading

Jorge Mautner – O Demiurgo AKA The Demiurge (1972)

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A colorful feature film that mixes exile with the figure of the poet Rimbaud and the feminist revolution. “It’s super-intellectual. A fable-musical-philosophical-chanchada”, Mautner says. He also affirms that the work focuses a lot on the longing for Brazil, on the will that the exiled had to return to their homeland. The idea came from conversations between the musician and his old father, “always talking about the pre-Socratics”, he recalls. Glauber Rocha states that “The Demiurge” is the best film “of” and “about” exile. Continue reading

Andrei Tarkovsky – Solyaris (1972)

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One of the most frequent charges against science-fiction is that it replaces emotion with intellect. Its characters are people who live by and for the mind, and their personal relationships are likely to be stifled and awkward, That’s probably true enough of most s-f novels (although exceptions range from Fredric Brown’s “The Lights in the Sky are Stars” to a lot of the work by Theodore Sturgeon), but it’s even more true of science-fiction movies. Continue reading