Epic

Michael Cacoyannis – The Trojan Women (1971)

Hecuba and the other women of Troy rise to find their city in ruins and their cause lost. The city has fallen into Greek hands and it is likely their lot to become slaves of Greek soldiers. A messenger approaches to inform them that the lots have been drawn and each woman will be taken to the man who drew for her. Of particular interest is Hecuba’s daughter, Cassandra, who is chosen for the Greek kings bedchamber. She has received word of this news already and is in hiding because she has sworn an oath to the gods that she will live as a virgin. When she is found she has some particularly nasty things to say about treatment at Greek hands. Read More »

Otto Preminger – Exodus (1960)

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Plot
Produced and directed by Otto Preminger, Exodus is a 212-minute screen adaptation of the best-selling novel by Leon Uris. The film is concerned with the emergence of Israel as an independent nation in 1947. Its first half focuses on the efforts of 611 holocaust survivors to defy the blockade of the occupying British government and sail to Palestine on the sea vessel Exodus. Paul Newman, a leader of the Hagannah (the Jewish underground), is willing to sacrifice his own life and the lives of the refugees rather than be turned back to war-ravaged Europe, but the British finally relent and allow the Exodus safe passage. Once this victory is assured, 30,000 more Jews, previously interned by the British, flood into the Holy Land. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »

Otto Preminger – The Cardinal [+Extras] (1963)

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From DVD Verdict.com:

The Charge
“Look at him now, will you? Stiff as a board, he is, in that fine Eye-talian suit.”—Dennis Fermoyle (Cameron Prud’Homme)

Opening Statement
As World War I reaches its peak, bland and sincere Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon) prepares for his new assignment in his hometown of Boston. As a newly ordained Catholic priest, Fermoyle takes his duties very seriously. But over the next two decades, he will see his faith tested, his family torn apart, and the world plagued by the horrors of racism and fascism. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Au hasard Balthazar aka Balthazar [Criterion] (1966)

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Jim Ridley wrote:
With exquisite, heartrending calm, Bresson’s 1966 masterpiece Au Hasard Balthazar lays out the life of a donkey, from first brays to final rest. Baptized Balthazar, the donkey goes through passages of life parallel to his early owner, a farmer’s daughter named Marie (played as an adult by Anne Wiazemsky).
Together and separately, they experience the full spectrum of man’s failings: Balthazar is kicked by passing thugs, beaten by an owner, and eventually used for theft, while Marie is seduced, abandoned and ultimately assaulted. Yet while Bresson’s vision is harsh, it’s also redemptive, even merciful. It ends on a note of quiet transcendence, as if to say all suffering, no matter how grave, cannot last. Read More »

Enrico Guazzoni – Fabiola (1918)

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Quote:
Italian film’s early master of the historical spectacle, Enrico Guazzoni, was responsible for the second of (at least) three film adaptations of Nicholas Patrick Wiseman’s classic novel about Christianity’s rise in ancient Rome. Aside from the usual great production values of these silent epics, what surprises here is perhaps the rather graphic violence. And, the film is further notable for being Elena Sangro’s debut (when she was still going by the name Maria Antonietta Bartoli-Avveduti) in the title role no less. Read More »

Sultan Khodzhikov – Kyz-Zhibek AKA Lady Zhibek (1971)

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Quote:
Kyz-Zhibek – Kazakh poetic folk legend of the 16th century, tells about the period in the Kazakh nation when the people suffered from bloody feuds. In those times each province of the Kazakh nation had its own Khan and each tried to supersede the other. The love story of Tolegen, the brave warrior, and the beauty Zhibek ends tragically because of inter-family strife. Tolegen is foully murdered by Bekejan (the batyr, or nobleman, of the rival family), who earlier strived for the hand of Zhibek. Zhibek commits suicide after learning about the death of Tolegen.

16 variants of the legend exist in different parts of Kazakhstan.

In 1934 opera “Kyz-Zhibek” was staged in Abay Opera House (music – Eugeny Brusilovsky, libretto – Gabit Musrepov).

In 1970 Kazakhfilm made film based on the legend.

In 1988 the poem was translated into Russian by Kazakh poet Bakhytzhan Kanapyanov. Read More »

Edgar Reitz – Die andere Heimat – Chronik einer Sehnsucht AKA Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision (2013)

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Quote:
When Edgar Reitz made the Heimat film series in 1984 he created an incredible chronicle of German rural life in the 20th century. He went on to release another couple of mini-series, bringing events up to the modern era. At over 53 hours they were beautifully made and together are an epic saga of the Simon family and the village of Schabbach. He returns to familiar ground for this prequel, charting the fortunes of the same clan between 1840-1844, in Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision.

Jacob (Jan Dieter Schneider) dreams of escaping the hard, oppressive and poor life in Schabbach by emigrating to the tropics. His father (Rüdiger Kriese), the local blacksmith, despairs that his son is stuck with his nose in a book whilst there so much work to do. His mother (Marita Breuer) on the other hand, is happy to indulge his daydreaming. He falls for Jettchen (Antonia Bill), the daughter of a mill owner, but they are fated not to be together. When his brother Gustav (Maximilian Scheidt) returns from war, a drunken night with Jettchen leads to her getting pregnant, whilst Jacob is arrested after his first brush with rebellion. Read More »