Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

Robert Kramer – Ice (1970)

Quote:
“An underground revolutionary group struggles against internal strife to stage urban guerilla attacks against a fictionalized fascist regime in the United States. Interspersed throughout the narrative are rhetorical sequences that explain the philosophy of radical action and restrain the melodrama inherent in the thriller genre.” Read More »

Peter Fleischmann – Das Unheil AKA Havoc (1972)

Based on Martin Walser’s modern classic novel Das Unhell, this German film is much shorter than director Peter Fleischmann’s original six-hour version. The book was notable for its complexity, psychological precision, and poetic imagery. The many-layered story concerns how a small town responds to the stresses of modern living: the political changes, social changes, and personal problems which change the nature of their once secure world forever.
– Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Read More »

Lev Kuleshov – Po zakonu AKA By the law (1926)

Barbara Wurm, Edition Filmmuseum wrote:
Po zakonu (also know as Dura Lex) was the cheapest film produced in Russia (perhaps even still today); at the same time an absolute masterpiece, the greatness of which stems from its very minimalism. The minimum effort required for the story-development (Kuleshov constantly claimed, he happened upon Jack London’s story “The Unexpected” quite by chance), the minimum number of characters (just three for most of the film), a minimum of inter-titles and lines of dialogue, a minimum of locations; a clearing not far from Moscow (posing as “Alaska”) and a cabin–the perfect setting for a stripped-to-basics chamber play. Even if the juggling of shot composition and length (Kuleshov’s notorious “Americanism”) is not as artistically ambitious as in his previous work, it is still apparent how close-ups dominate inside, whilst outside, in the snowy landscapes and riverscapes, long shots reign, seemingly to the point of halting all movement. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit AKA Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)

Quote:
Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind struggle to understand and accept a world from which they are almost wholly isolated. Read More »

Peter Emmanuel Goldman – Echoes of Silence (1964)

Desperate sexuality, desperate emotions;
every gesture and inflection an act of grave
import; a film of young adults, infused with
a new existentialist humanism, devoid of
certainty or illusion. The sharp contrast
and graniness of the still indicate the film’s
distance from slick commercial cinema.
A major new talent.
– Amos Vogel Read More »

Don Siegel – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Synopsis:
Dr. Miles Bennell returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged doppelgangers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Fata Morgana (1971)

Quote:
Werner Herzog’s third feature is a haunting, sardonic exploration of Africa as it was “in the beginning,” and as it becomes glutted with the wastes of technological civilization. Amos Vogel writes of the film: “Marvelous, sensual, 360-degree travelling shots of animal cadavers, barbed wire, industrial wastes, decaying trucks, sudden oil wells, ominous surrealist tableaux — all embedded in tragically alienated landscapes of sand and disassociated natives — create an obsessional, hypnotic statement whose anti-technological, anti-totalitarian, cruelly anti-sentimental humanism is subtle, overpowering, and inexplicable to shallow Left and know-nothing Right.” Read More »