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1951-1960

Marcel Carné – Juliette ou La clef des songes AKA Juliette, or Key of Dreams (1951)

Synopsis:
Having been caught stealing money from his employer to pay for a holiday with his girlfriend Juliette, Michel finds himself in a prison cell. He falls into a deep sleep and awakes to find the door of his cell open. Stepping through the doorway, he finds himself in the most beautiful sun-drenched countryside. A peaceful country road leads him to a remote village whose inhabitants have lost their memory. Husbands and wives no longer recognise one another but everyone seems to know Juliette when Michel enquires about her… Read More »

George C. Stoney – All My Babies (1952)

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Quote:
One of the first and most important films to treat child birth as a human event and to show it fully. This documentary of a compassionate Black midwife at work in the deep South remained restricted to medical personnel for many years. One cannot recall a more moving, humanist portrayal of the wonder and pain of the event. Read More »

Otto Preminger – Bonjour tristesse (1958)

Synopsis:
Cecile, decadent young girl who lives with her rich playboy father Raymond. When Anne, Raymond’s old love interest, comes to Raymond’s villa, Cecile is afraid for her way of life. Read More »

Joris Ivens, Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani – L’Italia non è un paese povero (1960)

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According to Carlos Böker’s thesis, Joris Ivens, Film-Maker: Facing Reality (“Studies in Photography and Cinematography, No. 1”, UMI Research Press, 1978):

Quote:
…… Ivens was approached by Enrico Mattei, head of ENI, the Italian State Natural Gas Monopoly. Mattei, who died mysteriously in an air crash in 1962, and was the subject of a later film by Francesco Rosi (Il caso Mattei, The Mattei Affair, 1972), had been put in charge of ENI on the understanding that he would wind it up. However, he expanded its activities and investment programme against much internal political opposition and external opposition from the US-controlled multinational oil firms. Ivens’s films, collectively entitled Italia non è un Paese povero, were to be shown on television. The first part, Fuochi della Val Padana (Fire in the Po Valley), deals with the extraction and distribution of methane in the Po Valley. The second part is divided in two: Due città (Two Cities), devoted to Venice (Porto Maghera) and Ravenna, is a treatment of the production of agipgaz and its by-products; and La storia di due alberi (The Story of Two Trees), set in Lucania, which contrasts the impoverishment of peasant life in a southern village, where seven families are dependent on one olive tree, with the future benefits to come through the newly exploited natural resource (mechanisms for controlling the gas outlets, lit up at night, are called “Christmas trees”). Read More »

Yakov Bazelyan & Sergei Parajanov – Andriesh (1954)

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Андриеш

Quote:
The feature length version of Andriesh (Kyiv Film Studio 1955) is a straight forward example of the Soviet fairytale film genre. In the film, the young shepherd Andriesh is charged with guarding the village’s flock of sheep. There Andriesh meets Voinovan, a bogatyr (hero) who gives the young boy his magic wooden flute. Black Storm, a wicked sorcerer who despises the flute’s joyous music, descends upon the village in human form, hypnotizes and kidnaps Voinovan’s beloved Liana, sets the village aflame, and steals its flock. Andriesh undertakes a journey to confront Black Storm and meets various individuals who help him, while Voinovan amasses an army of Haiduks (mercenary soldiers) with sun tempered maces to battle the sorcerer. Read More »

Sergei Parajanov – Pervyy paren aka The First Lad (1959)

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A gem from Paradjanov’s early oeuvre is a musical agitation film or a romantic comedy, made by the young director under the guidance of Alexander Dovzhenko and set in the immense fields of the collectivised Ukraine. The social realism is replaced by colourful, convivial and dancing shots of the “Pabieda” (Victory) kolkhoz, where peasant women sing in the fields, and boys march with banners glorifying revolution. Against this backdrop, intense romantic feelings have reached a climactic stage; tailor Sidor Sidorovich, farmer Jushka and soldier Danila Petrovich all dote on the fair-haired Odarka. It is Jushka and Danila who engage in overt hostility; the initial “gentlemen’s” contest turns into an outright confrontation, resulting in miserable Jushka being increasingly more desperate and scorned by the villagers. Read More »

Alexandre Astruc – Le rideau cramoisi (1953)

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Plot: A young second lieutenant in the hussars, garrisoned in the provinces, recalls a strange adventure. While staying with an old couple he meets Albertine, his hosts’ daughter, falls in love with her and, after wooing her assiduously, makes her his mistress. But then one night she dies in his arms… Read More »