In an excellent introduction to Ran Isolde Standish situated the film’s pessimism within the postwar trajectory of the Japanese film industry. From the early sixties the number of films directors like Kurosawa could make became smaller; with the consequence that the time between projects increased and funds had to be secured from overseas, this film a co-production with Serge Silberman. For Kurosawa this represented the defeat of a particular kind of cinema where it was the directors, and not the marketing department, that were in charge; Ran a memorial to a once vigorous industry that had been wrecked (largely) from within. It is a wonderful interpretation; to which we could add…
Thursday, 12 December 2013
Saturday, 7 December 2013
What is a generalisation? It is a statement that is both truth and false at the same time. Alternatively, and perhaps more accurately, it is a statement that can mean something and nothing. To narrow it down still further: the better the generalisation the more individual the content it will contain; a good generalisation actually explaining something about a phenomenon rather than merely describing a few of its surface features. The worst generalisations are those that can be applied to everything: humans have a heart. Now we are getting close to where we want to go: there are some generalisations that useful and others that are superfluous. If we were of a mind we could create a scale to rate them.
Friday, 29 November 2013
It is about power, and its paradoxes. It is about change, its dangers and results. It is about a past too strong to be ignored, and which fights for its right to exist; imagine a wounded soldier returning to a battlefield on which his enemy has built a large and prosperous town. There is a weak king and a strong queen; while illusions and cynical self-interest are much in evidence. The opening is majestic. A vast panorama of green hills, speckled with decorative humans; who traverse this valley with lordly insouciance; having transformed a wild territory into a country estate and royal hunting ground. And yet… against these large hills these great men look tiny. This country they have conquered has turned them into dwarves.
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Sunday, 10 November 2013
This review is odd. It rests on a misconception about a state that was always more complicated that the caricatures portrayed on our television screens. This leads to some curious assertions. Here is one:
It takes some 40 minutes before we begin to understand where we are… (Catherine Wheatley, BFI Notes)
Yet at the very beginning of the film, just after Barbara gets off the bus and is walking through the town, East Germany 1980 appears on the screen. Why such an obvious error? Was she tucking the cigarette packet into her handbag, unaware that there will no be opening credits to this movie…? Although the most banal explanation usually ends up the truest, I think in this case there is a deeper reason for such a mistake. Catherine Wheatley needs a mystery to dictate the form of this film. She wants it to be a Kafkaesque place whose concrete identity is only slowly revealed; the moment of revelation sudden and unexpected: ah ha! the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. She first needs the myth. Then she needs the particular details to confirm it.