Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

Fumio Kamei – Ikiteite yokatta AKA It Is Good to Live (1956)

From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
This is one of the first documentary films about the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It coldly records the lingering effects of the bomb on the victims decades later. In a succession of realistic, shocking sequences, their lives, difficulties, and camaraderie are examined. The very objectivity of incidents, scenes, and faces makes the film the more terrifying. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Lebenszeichen AKA Signs of Life (1968)

“A soldier is assigned to guard a fortress on a remote Greek island and finds himself unable to cope with the crushing boredom of the task in this interesting drama, an early film by renowned-director Werner Herzog. The story is set during WW II and concerns a soldier who was wounded and stationed on the Nazi-controlled island. He is accompanied by his wife and two other guards. It is a very quiet island and soon the men begin looking for constructive things to do. First they paint houses. Then they try raising goats. One of them finds a small stockpile of explosives, so the men begin making bombs. Another of the men can read Greek and so begins translating some of the ancient inscriptions on the castle walls. Read More »

Gunvor Nelson – Kirsa Nicholina (1969)

Kirsa Nicholina records the birth of a child at home by the Lamaze method. The father assists in the birth, while a physician guides him. At the moment of birth, the mother reaches down and grasps the hand of the emerging child and guides it out of her body and into her arms. Read More »

Fred Baker – Events (1970)

Events is about a young filmmaker, Ryan, who wants to complete a documentary on Lenny Bruce, decides to raise the needed money by shooting a weekend of porno films enlisting the help of his friends. Read More »

Jerzy Skolimowski – Rysopis AKA Identification Marks: None (1965)

Quote:
Jerzy Skolimowski’s debut is a combination of short student films made over the 4 years he spent at the Film School in Łódź. Identification Marks: None is the first instalment in the story about Andrzej Leszczyc, played by the director himself. 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 »

Alexandre Volkoff – Casanova [English intertitles] (1927)

Russian stage star Ivan Mosjoukine plays the title role in this far-from-accurate biopic of legendary Italian lover Casanova. The main plot concerns itself with political intrigue, as Casanova travels from Venice to Russia and back again on a variety of “secret missions.” This doesn’t prevent the amorous hero from enjoying the favors of several delectable females. Even Russia’s Catherine the Great (Suzanne Bianchetti) briefly falls under Casanova’s spell. But when all is said and done, it is the lovely Therese (Jenny Jugo) who captures the protagonist’s heart. Highlights include the spectacular Carnival of Venice sequence and the splendiferous scenes within the palace walls of Czarina Catherine. Casanova was truly an international production: It was filmed in France but financed and written by Germans, while its star and director were Russians. The film ran into some curious censorship troubles in the U.S., and as result it was retitled Prince of Adventurers, with the main character rechristened as “Roberto Ferrara”! ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »