Gabriel Axel – Den røde kappe AKA Hagbard and Signe AKA The Red Mantle (1967)


Hagbard and Signe / The Red Mantle

By Roger Ebert / October 30, 1968
Prentoulis films presents an ASA Film Movie Art Europe co-production, directed by Gabriel Axel from a screenplay by himself and dialog by Frank Jaeger. Produced by Bent Christensen and Johan Bonnier. Photographer in color by Henning Bendtsen.

“Hagbard and Signe” is a beautiful, lean, spare film, which reaches back into the legends of the past to find its strength. I think it must be reckoned the sleeper of the year; I had not heard of it previously, either under the present title or as “The Red Mantle” (its title as the Danish entry at Cannes). Read More »

Lav Diaz – Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino AKA Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004)


An intimate epic made with uncompromising and austere seriousness, Lav Diaz’s “Evolution of a Filipino Family” patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan, meant to symbolize a nation’s history spanning 1971 to 1987. Ten-hour running time, radically slow pace and hyperminimalist mise en scene will excite international cinephiles at the most daring fests and showcases, which are the only conceivable venues outside of homevid. Read More »

Amanzhol Aituarov – Prikosnoveniye (1989)


MDB: Nice and sad Fairytale

I was pretty surprised to see this rare Kazach film. First of all it touches upon great Asian folk atmosphere and has wonderful music, partly composed by master of soviet electronic music Edward Artemeyev. The director shows great visionary in the film. Some parts of the film are made in colour-the rest are black and white. The story is also something new for me: a blind bagger-girl meets a steppen killer, who decides to protect her on her hard life way. They meet a lot of dangers and wise old men and stayed alive after really creepy moments. Finally they reached the girl’s motherland. Here the ways of them two separate really dramatically. One can see some gore moments in this philosophic tale. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Al-mohager AKA The Emigrant (1994)


The biblical tale of Joseph is told from an Egyptian perspective in this interesting character study. In this film, Joseph is called Ram. Ram, tired of his family’s backward superstitious life, and tired of being picked on by his brothers, wants to go to Egypt to study agriculture. His brothers travel with him across Sinai, but then suddenly sell him to Ozir, an Egyptian who works for a Theban military leader, Amihar. Amihar is impressed by Ram’s drive and personal charm and so grants Ram some desolate land outside the capital. Ram soon finds himself a pawn in the political and sexual games between Amihar and his wife Simihit, a high priestess of the Cult of Amun. Read More »

Giovanni Pastrone – Cabiria (1914)


Standing out from all the stumbling efforts toward a new expression of cinema, Giovanni Pastrone’s story of the Second Punic War, Cabiria , demands special attention. Compared to the other colossal Italian spectacles of its time, it had an integrity and sense of purpose. From the beginning it was regarded as something special, and its premiere at the Teatro Vittorio Emmanuele, Turin, on 18 April 1914 was a great occasion. The film’s accompanying score by Ildebrando Pizzetti, performed by an orchestra of 80 and a choir of 70, added to the excitement. Viewed today, the film has lost little of its epic poetry to the zeitgeist, though the acting performances may seem dated. Read More »

Kaige Chen – Jing Ke ci Qin Wang AKA The Emperor and the Assassin [+extra] (1998)


Set in 221 BC, The Emperor and the Assassin tells of Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian) and his obsession to unite seven Chinese kingdoms and become the first Emperor of China. The film mixes spectacular battle scenes with court intrigue, counterpointed by the King’s complex relationship with the only woman he has truly loved, the Lady Zhao (Gong Li). From protocol-ridden palaces to wide open grasslands, this is a visually striking film, both beautiful and at the same time burdened with the horrors of the period. Read More »

Jerzy Kawalerowicz – Faraon (1966)


The Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City’s retrospective – History Lessons: The Films of Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 30 January to 12 February 2004, screened the major work of this Polish director whose career spanned 50+ years. The programme offered, amidst the veteran’s varied output, a very special, culture vulture/archaeologist’s dream: Pharaoh (aka: Faraon), co-scripted by Kawalerowicz with Tadeusz Konwicki, and based on a novel by Boleslaw Prus. The best cinematic recreation of circa 1100 BC Late New Kingdom Dynastic Egypt ever, photographed on location at authentic sites and environs, the production design, costumes and props were all meticulously researched. Read More »