Archive for July 4th, 2018

 © 2018 by James Clark

      We were, in absorbing Ingmar Bergman’s thrilling and strenuous film, Through a Glass Darkly (1961), ushered into a reflection about fearlessness—specifically, the loss of fearlessness. In light of that beacon, replete with a beacon/ lighthouse, we can proceed with a film of his, The Seventh Seal, produced earlier, in 1957, offering a variant of fearlessness sustained, though so incomplete you’d probably miss it.

Our film today affords noticing that its two scene-stealers at the outset, exhausted and inert on a rocky shore with luminous clouds dancing apace, comprise an important contrast to the introduction of Through a Glass Darkly, where four raucous vacationer-swimmers come ashore with a laureling sky above and slag-heap consistency of the sea. Nearby that pair are their horses, looking as fresh and beautiful as can be, not to mention lovely bird song. Nature disapproving of stasis; and the other film’s putting on a brave front being closer to nature. (Here, too, the credits subtly disintegrate in giving way to the next names. The title, once again, has been drawn from a biblical vignette, this time pertaining to a vacuum in the generally good-news-communication between God and the faithful. What does put in a striking appearance is a rather ominous, large hawk.) The two having succumbed to protracted inertia—one of them a knight, bedecked in an impressively-designed Onward-Christian-Soldiers crusader tunic and now washing his face in the surf—appear to have survived a shipwreck (a shipwreck having been a factor in the other film). They’re damn lucky to be alive. Karin, in the other film, shows she’s willing to claw herself toward lucidity as to being lucky. How do our crusaders handle the matter?

The better-dressed of the company, surveying the harsh landscape, clasps his hands in prayer, but soon he brings his hands down and his face clearly spells “out-of-service.” What he unfortunately can do is produce a chess board and spend the rest of his life banking on gamesmanship no one in his right mind would essay. He conjures a spectre (an ascetic priest in flowing black cassock), who addresses him—a sort of kick-off—with, “I am Death. I’ve been at your side for a long time. Are you prepared?” For his part, the supposed aristocrat announces that they should play chess to determine longevity or not. Shook up is his state of affairs, in ways bearing some resemblance to the tailspin of Karin (seen in the previous campaign), after the bilious stage play. The knight declares—from out of that peevish, weakling bossiness we saw in Karin— “If I win, you set me free…” (He doesn’t have to say a word to speak volumes that the stirring military observances were not stirring.)  But we’ve already seen enough to know that he and freedom don’t get along. Having been there quite a while, his first impression was him decoratively sprawled on a large rock with the game facility and with a grip upon his expensive sword, like some kind of soft grandee. It seems to me that to get over at the outset any assumptions of viable integrity in the knight prepares for an unexpected keeper (or keepers) of the flame. There is never any doubt where the hope lies, in Through a Glass Darkly. But this saga could be headed toward overthrowing the reflex of counting on elevated families.    (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2015 350m) DVD1/2

Attempting a three card trick

p  Mark Pybus  d  Peter Kosminsky  w  Peter Straughan  novels  Hilary Mantel  ph  Gavin Finney  ed  David Blackmore, Josh Cunliffe  m  Debbie Wiseman  art  Frederic Evard, Pat Campbell  cos  Joanna Eatwell

Mark Rylance (Thomas Cromwell), Damian Lewis (Henry VIII), Bernard Hill (Norfolk), Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn), Anton Lesser (Thomas More), Jonathan Pryce (Wolsey), Mark Gatiss (Gardiner), Jessica Raine (Lady Rochford), Mathieu Amalric (Chapuys), Joanne Whalley (Katharine of Aragon), Natasha Little (Liz), Monica Dolan (Alice More), Charity Wakefield (Mary Boleyn), Bryan Dick (Richard Rich), David Robb (Thomas Boleyn), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Rafe), Harry Lloyd (Harry Percy), Saskia Reeves (Johane), Richard Dillane (Suffolk), Will Kane (Cranmer), Kate Phillips (Jane Seymour), Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Elizabeth Barton),

We’d be forgiven for thinking we’d had enough of Henry VIII.  How many have there been?  Charles Laughton, Robert Shaw, Richard Burton and Keith Michell (four times!!!), we all know them, they were memorable.  Not forgetting The Tudors, but we’ll leave the final apologies to cover what was wrong with that; what Wolf Hall gave us was the antidote to The Tudors; no sex or bodice ripping here, no time for that nonsense.

Henry wasn’t always the centre of attention as played by all those actors listed above, sometimes he was a mere sideshow.  Even the famous Keith Michell TV series told its six episodes through the eyes of his six wives.  What Wolf Hallattempts though is even more ambitious, maintaining the entire narrative through the eyes not of his wives in turn but those of that embodiment of Machiavellian ambition Thomas Cromwell.  This is a very different Cromwell; he’s not the villain, not even an antihero, but Virgil to our Dante, guiding us through the maze of hedgerows, courtyards, alleys, corridors and other dimly lit interiors of Tudor England.  Oh, there’s splendour, naturally, but there’s always a chill in the air; it’s always a good day for an execution. (more…)

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