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Archive for September 22nd, 2009

 

by Sam Juliano

     John Boorman’s Hope and Glory stands apart from nearly-all other World War II-themed films in that it presents an idyllic view of terrible events, seen through the eyes of a ten-year old boy.  By displaying the humor and the resilience of the boy’s family and the British people in general, the film at first broaches denial, and then segues into domestic life wrought under danger and hardship, where luck plays a large part in the survival game.  Hope and Glory is for it’s writer-director a semi-autobiographical work centering around his own experiences of a child growing up during the war, and of the psychology of a nation not yet ready for such a calamity.  When a school teacher quips “a few bombs may wake up this country” and the boy’s mother complains that they’re “starting  a war on such a beautiful day”you know that many aren’t prepared for, nor aware of the deadly battle of wills that is to soon ensue.

     Young Bill Rohan, played by a spunky young actor named Sebastian Rice Edwards, lives with his parents and two sisters in a London suburb.  His father, who is too old to serve in combat, is assigned to a military desk job early in the film, so the young boy is surrounded by females and a close friend of his mother.  His daily routine is in large measure to attend school, engage in mischief with friends, and scour through the wreckage caused by bombs that penetrate the blimp defense employed around the country.  You don’t have to be British to be stirred by an emphatic school master’s patriotic speech invoking Churchill and and the brave young warriors enlisted to defend the country, with the strains of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” underscoring the noble defiance.  When Billy holds up the cover of a war periodical at the end of the sermon, we’re reminded that the kids think it’s a big adventure, no different that when Billy plays with his collection of soldiers before going to bed.  And few mothers won’t be able to relate to a wrenching scene when Bill’s mum breaks down a the train station, at the planned prospect of sending Billy and his youngest sister away to safer pastures until the end of the war, only to change her mind and be rejected by the officials. (more…)

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The Shining (no 9)

Shining

(US/UK 1980 146m) DVD1 (114m only on DVD2)

Redrum…redrum…redrum

p/d  Stanley Kubrick  w  Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson  novel  Stephen King  ph  John Alcott  ed  Ray Lovejoy  m  Bela Bartok, Wendy/Walter Carlos, Rachel Elkind, Gyorgi Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki  art  Roy Walker, Leslie Tomkins 

Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrence), Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrence), Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrence), Scatman Crothers (Dick Hallorann), Barry Nelson (Stuart Ullman), Philip Stone (Delbert Grady), Joseph Turkel (Lloyd, the barman), Anne Jackson (doctor),

Of all the puzzling enigmas at the heart of Kubrick’s bona fide horror masterpiece, the biggest that still plagues me is rather why he saw fit to shorten the film for its UK release from the version that showed elsewhere.  In the UK it is only shown in the full 2½ hour version on TCM, Kubrick himself having had control over his movies in the UK (which of course allowed him to withdraw A Clockwork Orange so famously).  At the time of its release, like Barry Lyndon before it, it was roundly misunderstood and jeered; critics and audiences expected a horror movie and a transcription of King’s novel.  They failed to understand that source novels are merely the bare bones upon which Kubrick fleshes out his movies with something deeper that interests him more.  What is so baffling is that the shorter version, though tighter, misses a pivotal early sequence with Lloyd, Duvall and Jackson’s psychiatrist, which at least goes some way to explaining one aspect of the piece, if not remotely all. 

            Jack Torrence is a recovering alcoholic who has had trouble in the past getting started on writing a novel and has come to the Rocky Mountain resort of the Overlook Hotel to become the site’s new winter caretaker during the off-season.  He brings with him his wife and his young son, Danny, who unbeknownst to his parents, is possessed with a special gift of sight which the hotel chef, also a possessor of the ability, is the only one to recognise.  Jack slowly begins to feel at home at the hotel, and thinks he’s been there before, but the atmosphere proceeds to send him insane, much like a previous holder of the post, who killed his family several years earlier. (more…)

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