Posted inFilm

Mother

The force of this famous 1926 Russian silent is more mechanical than emotional, centered in the flashy, rhythmic montage techniques of director V.I. Pudovkin rather than in the development of his deliberately stereotypical characters. During the 1905 revolution, a mother (Vera Baranovskaya) hoping to protect her communist son (Nikolai Batalov) reveals the cache of arms […]

Posted inFilm

Madame Bovary

Flaubert’s tale, rendered in a seldom-seen 1934 film by Jean Renoir. Eric Rohmer noted that the theatricality of the style is required by the self-conscious theatricality of the characters, particularly that of Bovary herself, the greatest self-dramatizer of literature. But Rohmer’s ingeniousness doesn’t quite explain away the general stiffness—deliberate, presumably, because it is so uncharacteristic […]

Posted inFilm

Kameradschaft

G.W. Pabst’s 1931 film recasts an actual incident—a mine disaster on the Franco-German border in 1906—into a parable on international relations; the “little people” transcend their political differences in helping each other. It may be naive and sentimental, but Pabst’s filming packs a punch—the action is well-nigh irresistible. The pessimistic ending, in which the boundaries […]

Posted inFilm

Faust

A brilliant example (1926) of the baroque style by F.W. Murnau. Gösta Ekman is the man who sells his soul, and the buyer is magnificently incarnated by Emil Jannings. As atmospheric and menacing a work as the expressionist movement ever produced.

Posted inFilm

In Harm’s Way

Otto Preminger’s epic rendition of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. It’s a huge film, intertwining the Navy’s preparation for war with a dozen personal stories, yet all the elements are kept in perfect balance. No one was better at these big-scale melodramas than Preminger; the cross-references here are Jack Smight’s Midway and Rene Clement’s Is […]