Entries tagged with “film”.

‘Black Swan’ is about art and obsession, is about sanity and madness, it’s about perfection and genius, all this described in the world which can be so mistakenly perceived of classical ballet. A world in which the spectator is supposed to get the feeling of fluidity and lack of gravity, of lightness and perfection of movement. However these are acquired by years and sometimes a lifetime of pain in which everything needs to be put aside for the seek of the unique moment of art on stage. Including one’s own self.

source www.imdb.com

The film starts as a very tightly told story of the art and rivalry in the ballet world. While it develops as a story that without becoming really boring seems to focus too much on the technical issues of the profession and the personal challenges of a young woman who needs to sacrifice all to get on the top, it plants in its first hour the elements of incertitude and build-up of the final segment. Aronofsky plays permanently with the viewers the game of mixing and swapping perceptions between objective and subjective reality. It is not easy viewing and this is on purpose. There is a lot of suffering on screen and most of it is not physical. In order to reach the peaks an artist needs to master the dark side of its art and personality. But when darkness is awaken can it still be kept under control? The balance between art and obsession, between perfection and madness is the ultimate theme of this film. Reaching the peaks of art may demand the descent into the abyss of insanity.

(video source FoxSearchlight)

Unless a colossal mis-judgment intervenes Natalie Portman will hold a statuette by the end of the Oscars night. She deals with an extremely complex role which demands a permanent balance between ingenuity and ambition, fragility and strength of character, loneliness and dedication to art. Of her partners I enjoyed mostly the performance of Vincent Cassel who provides to Portman the mirroring context of her ambition to reach the top of art.

(video source starzmedia)

When I was a young kid I used to love the animal numbers in circus. Then I read one of Jack London’s novels which described the behind-the-scenes of animal training in circus. I never could watch such a show in the arena with the same eyes. I am afraid that folks who love ballet may go though the same risk after seeing ‘Black Swan’. They may have seen also one of the most unusual and best films about ballet ever made.

The ARTE European TV chain brought last week at late night hours an outstanding Canadian short animation film. The name is ‘Lipsett Diaries’ and I found on the Internet two Web sites dedicated to this film, which received several important prizes at animation and short film festivals in 2010.



I did not find the film on the Internet but the trailer can give you a good idea about the exquisite graphics of the film. It’s not special effects visuals, it is hand work which gives you the string feeling that you are watching a work of art, same as if you find yourself in a museum.

(video source nfb)

The name of the artist is Theodore Ushev. He is born in Bulgaria and now lives in Montreal. Some of his works can be seen at http://www.nfb.ca/explore-by/director/Theodore-Ushev/.

(video source nfb)

(video source nfb)

Here he is talking about his film which is dedicated to another figure of the Canadian art film – Arthur Lipsett (1936-1986). An animator, experimenter and author of short films himself, Lipsett was known and influenced such directors as Kubrick (who asked him to do a trailer for ‘Dr. Strangelove’ which unfortunately was never completed) and Lucas.  One of his short films earned an Oscar nomination. He never however fulfilled his destiny to become a great name in a world where commercial cinema dominates and little room is left for innovation and creation. This is what Ushev’s film is about.

A well written and detailed text about Upsett and his cinema is available at http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2004/great-directors/lipsett/.

(video source xezene1)

Here is a gem I found on youTube: Lipsett’s first film ‘Very Nice, Very Nice’. A couple of more films of his can be seen at http://www.nfb.ca/explore-by/director/Arthur-Lipsett.

source http://en.wikipedia.org/

Where does this amazing film come from? Who is Joann Sfar, a director I never heard about before? The easiest answer at hand was the wikipedia entry which tells us that Sfar is a well known comics author in the fabulous French-Belgian tradition. He is of Jewish origin, and his next film is an adaptation of one of his comics successes called The Rabbi’s Cat.

source www.imdb.com

And suddenly all makes sense. The opening scenes of the film contain the key of the biography of French musician and poet Serge Gainsbourg as imagined by Sfar. We see Lucien Ginzburg, a Jewish kid in occupied Paris during WWII daring not only to laugh in fronde at the nose of the collaborationist police by being the first in line to receive his yellow Star of David as a sign of nobility rather than an anathema, but moreover, to transform in his mind and his sketch drawings  the fat rapacious Jew on the Vichy posters in the thin, stylish, long nose and big years Gueule - the alter-ego who will guide his steps and feed his revenging self-confidence for the rest of his life.

source http://bestforfilm.com/

The combination of acting and cartoon is not a new thing, but it has never been tried before in a biopic to the best of my knowledge. Sure, it is not the usual respectful biopic but it’s the vision of Sfar about Ginzburg – Gainsbourg, and Sfar as he says in the final text that runs before the credits was more interested about Gainsbourg’s lies than by his perceived truths.  Moreover, for sure Gainsbourg himself would not have appreciated a respectful film. Ironically under-titled Vie heroique (heroic life) the film takes us though the artistic and especially womanizing career of Gainsbourg from the early 50s to the late 70s. We see him in the company of such French cultural icon as Boris Vian and especially of fabulous women such as Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin (and actually the list in the film is very partial). I enjoyed each of the scenes in this part of the film which combine style, attention to details (just follow how fashion changes marking the progress of time) and deep understanding of the atmosphere of the Parisian clubs and artistic milieu in the mythic mid-20 century. His Gueule alter-ego mentors him though this trip and when he decides to renounce his patronizing, it’s the beginning of the end – the charisma goes away and the effects of his excesses slowly destroy him. Maybe a little more of his art would have provided an even more complex and balanced image of the person that Gainsbourg was – this would be my only observation.

(video source theindependent)

The choice of Eric Elmosnino as Gainsbourg is excellent, he drives the character from the insecurity of the young age to the decay of the end, all the time with charm and deep empathy. He proves a perfect understanding of the intentions of the director and a full identification with the identity dilemmas of the French-Jewish Gainsbourg. Laetitia Casta is a perfect replica of Bardot. Lucy Gordon is mastering very well Jane Birkin‘s role. Her maturity makes even harder to explain the suicide of the young actress a few days before the film was presented in avant-premiere at Cannes.

(video source  infolivetvenglish)

Gainsbourg (vie heroique) is a complex work about France in the 20th century and about one of its major artists. For the readers of The Catcher here is a clip that throws light on another dimension of Gainsbourg, not mentioned in the film.

Aceasta este a treia (si ultima) mea contributie la Saptamana Clint Eastwood pe site-ul http://filme-carti.ro/


1971 a fost unul dintre anii cei mai importanti in cariera lui Clint Eastwood. Trilogia de western-uri spaghetti regizata de Sergio Leone dupa ce se bucurase de un succes imens in Europa si Japonia cucerise in final publicul american, chiar daca o parte din critici inca strambau din nas (Roger Ebert dela Chicago Sun-Times, unul dintre criticii mei preferati isi va revizui abia dupa decenii aprecierile despre filmele lui Leone) si avea deja la Hollywood reputatie, statut si salarii cu ordine de marime mai mari decat cu 4-5 ani in urma. In acelasi an Eastwood se afla pentru prima data si de cealalta parte a aparatului de filmat facandu-si debutul regizoral si incepand o a doua cariera in cinematografie, o cariera dupa opinia mea cel putin la fel de importanta ca si cea de regizor. Si in fine, in acel an, Eastwood il joaca pentru prima data pe Dirty Harry.

Regizorul lui Dirty Harry era Don Siegel, veteran al perioadei filmelor de actiune de serie B din anii 50, al carui palmares mai includea in acel moment unul dintre filmele de mare succes al lui Elvis Presley Flaming Star. In pofida diferentei de varsta Siegel si Eastwood devenisera prieteni apropriati, si daca Eastoowd va declara mai tarziu ca multe dintre secretele meseriei de regizor le-a invatat de la Siegel, acesta ii va datora lui Eastwood cel mai mare succes al carierei sale cu filmul despre care discutam aici.

(video source a1bergie)

La revizionare aproape dupa patru decenii dela realizare Dirty Harry mi s-a parut un film de actiune care nu a ‘imbatranit’ prea bine, dar care pune niste probleme de actualitate si astazi. Povestea detectivului Harry Callahan din San Francisco specializat in afacerile murdare si indeplinirea misiunilor pe care nimeni altcineva nu vrea sa si le asume, confruntandu-se cu sistemul de legi si reguli care par sa favorizeze delicventii si nu pe aparatorii legii arata astazi teribil de ‘deja-vu’. La fel ne par cunoscute relatia cu partenerul novice nedorit care devine un ajutor si un element de actiune indispensabil, sau chiar si urmaririle pe strazile San Francisco-ului. Ucigasul psihopat, sefii obtuzi, politicienii slabi si gata de a ceda santajului raufacatorilor pentru a castiga un ragaz de liniste, toti par familiari. Meritul filmului lui Siegel este ca in anul 1971 era primul sau dintre primele care aducea impreuna toate aceste teme si personaje in acelasi film, legandu-le intr-o actiune coerenta si descrisa cursiv, fara prea multe meandre si ramificatii.

source www.imdb.com

Clint Eastwood abandoneaza aici poncho-ul din vestul salbatic (acelasi purtat in toate cele treu filme ale trilogiei) pentru sacoul elegant al politistului secolului 20, dar aduce din filmele precedente masca de calm imperturbabil, maiestria manevrarii pistolului si economia de cuvinte, care atunci cand este incalcata face loc multor replici memorabile. Personajul construit de Eastwood in acest film se confrunta cu dileme morale asemanatoare cu cele cu care se va confrunta personajul Jack Bauer din serialul ’24′ cu trei decenii si jumatate mai tarziu. Cand vieti omenesti sunt in balanta are dreptul un om al legii sa ia legea in propriile sale maini? Cand sistemul judiciar este incapabil sa apere victimele si sa-i pedepseasca pe vinovati poate un singur individ sa-i ia locul si sa se erijeze si in judecator si in aplicator al pedepsei (care in cele mai multe cazuri este pedeapsa capitala)? La aceste dileme raspunsurile date in film sunt mult mai evidente si mai usor de dat decat in viata reala. Dirty Harry si multe alte filme care l-au succedat au dat acestor intrebari cheie raspunsuri simpliste si problematice. Cum se spune de obicei in asemenea cazuri? ‘Nu incercati asta acasa’. In cele din urma este vorba despre filme de divertisment, realitatea este mult mai complexa.

Fisa tehnica si cronici despre acest film pot fi citite la http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066999/.

Textul a fost publicat in premiera pe http://filme-carti.ro/ in cadrul Saptamanii Clint Eastwood.


Revederea filmului care incheie trilogia westernurilor spaghetti ale lui Sergio Leone a reprezentat pentru mine o adevarata revelatie. Mi s-a mai intamplat sa revad filme clasice si sa retraiesc o parte din senzatiile de la prima vizionare, sa descopar unghiuri de vedere noi si perspective diferite pe care experienta de viata si de spectator de cinema le-a adaugat sau creat odata cu trecerea anilor. Cu ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ s-a intamplat parca ceva diferit. Cred ca am vazut filmul acum a treia oara. Despre prima vizionare imi aduc aminte destul de putin, eram adolescent, si probabil ca vedeam filmul in acei ani impreuna cu westernurile clasice cu John Wayne si mai ales cu neuitatele filme cu Winnetou inspirate de cartile lui Karl May. L-am revazut prin anii 90 si dimensiunea care crescuse pentru mine si devenise dominanta era jocul exceptional al actorilor – in special Uratul lui Eli Wallach. Revederea de acum este cred diferita pentru ca am deja curajul sa fac abstractie de etichetele derizatorii ca ‘western spaghetti’ si ‘cinema comercial’ si sa apreciez si sa ma delectez de ceea ce este mai bun in acest film – estetica imaginii, dinamica personajelor, jocul superb al celor trei protagonisti, muzica lui Ennio Morricone intrata in patrimoniul slagarelor universale, coloritul si varietatea figurantilor si perspectiva proaspata adusa unui moment des filmat din istoria americana.

La mijlocul anilor 60 cand Sergio Leone are tupeul de a-si asuma proiectul trilogiei westernul era in oarecare masura un gen in stagnatie. Trecuse epoca marilor creatii ale lui John Ford, actori ca John Wayne si Richard Widmark se aflau la apusul carierei si genul nu mai era considerat de Hollywood ca avand sanse sa creeze succese de casa. Era firesc intr-un fel ca reinnoirea sa vina din afara Americii, din Europa in care spatiul vestului salbatic isi pastra dimensiunile de legenda si potentialul de scena a povestilor etern umane.

(video source jonriley)

Dupa succesul primelor doua filme din trilogie, Leone si l-a dorit pe al treilea ca pe un salt calitativ, mai ambitios in perspectiva istorica si mai inchegat stilistic. A dorit sa si atraga in proiect un trio de actori cunoscuti care sa ii asigure succesul de casa in Europa dar si in Statele Unite. Pe langa Clint Eastwood din distributia planuita original urmau sa faca parte Charles Bronson si Gian Maria Volonte. Din motive diferite nici Bronson si nici Volonte nu au ajuns sa joace in film, dar cel putin in cea ce-l priveste pe Eli Wallach schimarea a fost extrem de norocoasa sau poate de inspirata, actorul care a dat viata atator roluri secundare ‘de caracter’ in filmele Holywoodului (ultima data l-am vazut in The Ghost Writer al lui Polanski ca batranul de pe insula) realizand un Tuco de neuitat, unul dintre putinele dar marile roluri principale ale carierei sale, o combinatie de siretenie si rautate bonoma, de strengar periculos si supravietuitor, totul cu un simt al umorului iesit din comun.

Vizionarea filmului ofera o delectare estetica de la inceput pana la sfarsit. Era epoca Tehnicolorului si al ecranelor de mari dimensiuni, si Leone stapaneste la perfectie tehnologia si formatul, care este de altfel perfect potrivit peisajului de desert infinit in care se petrece cea mai mare parte a actiunii. Majoritatea exterioarelor au fost filmate in Spania si nicicand deserturile Andaluziei nu au aratat mai arizoniene sau texane. Regizorul a angajat un mare numar de figuranti localnici, ale caror fizionomii arse de soare si batute de vant si nisip s-au incadrat perfect in peisajul cinematografic. Muzica lui Morricone implineste viziunea intr-o sinteza care a fost preluata si citata in filme care au urmat in istoria cinematografului, unul dintre ultimele si cele mai memorabile fiind Kill Bill al lui Tarantino.

Un alt aspect care apare vizbil si diferit in acest film este reconstituirea fundalului istoric al perioadei razboiului civil american. De la Pe aripile vantului si pana la Cold Mountain este una dintre cele mai filmate epoci ale istoriei americane, si una care a prilejuit filmarea a nenumarate scene de masa si de razboi. Pare poate straniu, dar viziunea italianului Sergio Leone filmata in Europa se incadreaza perfect in aceasta serie de tablouri ale istoriei americane. In plus juxtapunerea situatiei cautatorilor de comori cu a celei a soldatilor angrenati in absurdul razboiului in transee prilejuieste o comparatie cu nuante anti-militariste. Si unii si altii joaca jocuri ale mortii din care sunt putine sanse sa supravietuiasca. In momentul prins in cadru insa jocul escrocilor pare a avea mai mult sens, si in definitiv mai multa esenta umana decat absurdul joc de-a razboiul, cu distrugerile sale nimicitoare si la o scala mult mai extinsa.


(video source lickmybigdick1)

Desigur insa ca actorul care domina filmul este Clint Eastwood. Incheind trilogia care ii lanseaza cariera, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ finiseaza portretul Omului Fara Nume din filmele precedente, mercenarul norocului, ucigasul care nu scoate niciodata primul pistolul si nu ucide niciodata fara finalitate. Daca scenariul il pune aici in situatii diferite si in perspective diferite decat in ‘Pentru un pumn de dolari’ in scena finala a duelului triunghiular (una dintre cele mai bune scene de duel cu pistoale din istoria westernului) el isi recapa poncho-ul parca pentru a inchide ciclul. In permanentul joc de inselaciune si moarte cu ceilalti doi protagonisti Blondie al lui Eastwood este singurul care isi permite manifestari de umanitate si acte de compasiune care ii pun viata in pericol, dar si el si noi spectatorii stim ca el este si mai bun si mai rapid si mai precis decat adversarii sai si ca ii va dovedi in final. Final care cinematografic reprezinta figura sa topindu-se in imensitatea desertului, imagine care inchide cat de poate de adecvat trilogia lui Sergio Leone.

Detalii despre film, cronici, opinii, date tehnice pot fi gasite la http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/.

I have previously seen only the first film of director Radu MunteanFuria (The Anger) made in 2002 – and I remember it as a very different kind of film. The style was dynamic and dramatic, and the theme was related to the period of transition of Romania after the fall of the Communism, with strong critical social accents against the decay of the morals and culture of these troubled times. Eight years and three films later Marti, dupa Craciun (Tuesday After Christmas) which I saw yesterday at the Herzlya Cinematheque is a very different kind of movie. The social commentary is not at all in focus here (although not completely absent), the localization is not important as the story could happen any place and any time, and the style is very different, aligned with what became known as the Romanian ‘minimalist’ New Wave style. What is common is the quality. The promise that Muntean was showing in that first movie turned now into the work of a mature director, fully mastering his tools, very sure on the story he wants to tell and the way he tells it.

source www.imdb.com

Marti, dupa Craciun tells a classical love story of a triangle that is caught in the critical moment of the relationship. To emphasize the dramatic lines of the conflict the segment in time that the script chooses are days before Christmas, the ultimate family holidays seasons. It is at that moment of the year that Paul Hanganu, a successful banking adviser in his mid 30s must chose between his lawyer wife Adriana and the younger dentist Raluca, with whom he has fallen irreversibly and incurably in love.  No moral judgment is made about the situation or about the decision, love (in good Romanian literature tradition I may say) is looked at as an indisputable work of destiny, something one cannot fight, closer to disease or witchcraft than rational decisions. The whole story evolves around these three characters and their close family and friends circle which is busy with the holiday routine. A fragile balance oscillates not only in the soul and mind of the man who must chose between the stability and fidelity of his wife and the  intensity of the feelings for his lover, but also between the lie of a relation that if revealed will be condemned by the social environment, and the truth of the sentiment in the new relationship. If eventually the truth is to prevail it will be at a high cost and nobody will be happy the day after Christmas. Fulfillment of love comes at a price, and there is no such thing as fair game in triangle relations.


(video source undo251280)
The ‘minimalist’ style is poignant in this film and works well, which may become in time one of the examples that explains in cinema schools how the method works. We have here all the principal characteristics of the style – the long and static shots where the focus is left to the actors, the low tone in which the story is told with realist and sincere dialogs, the avoidance of any sophisticated settings or complicated camera work. In order for the method to work good actors are needed, and director Muntean directs the work of a wonderful team, with Mimi Branescu (Paul), Mirela Oprisor (Adriana) and Maria Popistasu (Raluca) in the principal roles. Memorable scenes like the opening which sets the context of the sexual tension that drives the whole story,  the scene in the dentist’ s cabinet where the three characters dance around the innocence of the little girl of Paul and Adriana who is the potential victim of the story, part of them knowing the truth and part ignoring it, the scene of the revelation of the truth when the world of Adriana falls apart, and the final scene, where the Christmas carols symbolize the serenity and sacredness of the holidays, and of the stable family life which does not exist any longer, because the day after comes after any holiday.

For many years the Romanian cinema had to pay a double dept – describing the Communist era with its lies and oppression, and dealing with the reality of the traumatic transition of Romania from dictatorship to democracy. Hesitating in style for more than a decade after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the accumulated energy burst to life after the first years of the century with the young directors of the new wave, in a style that had to deal with the economy of means of a cinema school that works at low budgets, and with a need and capacity of telling the truth and being true to the themes it dealt with and with its viewers. This is one of the big qualities of Marti, dupa Craciun – it is true in its message and never sounds false or artificial. It is good to see that the young directors of the new wave who are not that young any longer continue to be true to themselves, while gaining in experience and maturity. It is also good to see that new themes and new environments show up in the Romanian films. Marti dupa Craciun is a mid-class drama which describes a Romania that goes beyond the social traumas of the past. Such movies and such themes are good and necessary for a mature cinema school.

source www.imdb.com

The source of this film is a book of Sebastien Japrisot – a thriller author and script-writer who also directed a a few films by himself. After having seen the film directed by Jean Becker in 1983 I start to wonder whether it would not have been better in this case if Japrisot brought to screen his own novel.


(video source etik42)

The whole film turns around Isabelle Adjani, By the time she made L’ete meurtrier Adjani was already at her 20th film or such and Truffault’s L’Histoire d’Adele H., or Polanski’s Le locataire were already behind her. Yet, she has in this film the freshness of a debutante and a sex-appeal that equals few films I have seen (Tornatore’s Malena with Monica Belucci comes to my mind). Adjani plays here the role of the victim and of the avenger, her beauty, changes of mood, suffering and mistakes make and destroy everything in the story and in the film itself.


(video source etik42)

Seen through the perspective of almost three decades the story of the young girl seeking revenge for the rape of her mother may seem conventional and melodramatic. It is however very much into the style and approach not only of the classic French cinema but also of the literature – the characters seem to descend to us from the world of an Emile Zola, with their predestination of giving up to passion and with the tendency of making fatal, destinies breaking mistakes for the seek of love.


(video source etik42)

If there is anything or anybody to blame for this film not really aging well despite Adjani’s fabulous performance (seconded by Alan Souchon, an actor who seems to have all but disappeared after having made this film, and I have a hard time understanding why) I think it’s the direction and the director. Similar material has created masterpieces if I am to think about films like La mariee etait en noir – Jean Becker seems to have lacked the daring of taking a ‘classical’ story and using lesser conventional cinematographic means in order to make the story more credible. And yet, the film is worth seeing, even just for the pleasure of seeing Isabelle Adjani at her best.

It is interesting to judge what place ‘O vara de neuitat’ (An Unforgettable Summer) plays in the too short cinematography of Lucian Pintilie and to speculate about why he had chosen to make this film in 1994, his second only after the fall of the Communism which had practically silenced for two decades the creative voice of a director who debuted in the 60s and could have become in a different constellation one of the most important creators of the European cinema. While most of his films after 1990 deal either with the Communist era or its repercussions in the process the Romanian call ‘transition’ this film as well as ‘Tertium non datur’ made in 2005 (his last by now) connect with the more remote past of Romania, the first half of the 20th century. Both deal with the actions of the Romanian army beyond the borders of today’s Romania, both happen in remote places, and place the moral dilemma of the Romanian officers in the center of the action.

There is one more element in the making of this film that is worth mentioning. The film is inspired by a story written in the 50s by a Romanian writer who was then belonging to the Socialist Realism style (but later became a political oponent and a refugee). So here we have Pintilie, the most famous dissident film-maker of Romania picking up a story written in the Communist era – maybe in a demonstrative manner that tells in a most authoritative voice that bridges with the past should not be completely blown-up.

‘The Unforgettable Summer’ is a anti-war drama on the road open by Kubrick‘s ‘Paths of Glory‘. Yet it has also another classical source in the Romanian cinema – Liviu Ciulei’s Padurea Spanzuratilor, the first Romanian movie to have won a major prize at the Cannes film festival. Pintilie’s film, with the moral dilemma of the officer hero, making eventually the right decision with the major risk for his career and even life has a lot of similarity in theme and form.

The cinematographic approach is simple and direct. The film is beautifully filmed, with attention to the detail, and a fluent story telling. Music also plays a role in the narrative structure, the whole action happens between the opening French Can-Can music and the closing ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ and in the meantime nothing too nice happens. The horror of the violent actions that happen or are suggested to happen on screen is balanced by the innocent view of the child whose story telling leads the action. Here the innocence is also under pressure as in many other films by Pintilie, so is the destiny of principal heroine superbly acted by Kristin Scott Thomas, who together with her partner on screen Claudiu Bleont give life to the couple of heroes. Her actions cannot cut off sufferings or fix evil, they can only postpone by a second the sentences of history. Is it too much, is it too little? The open question is left to the viewer to answer.

Here is the film as I found it on youTube:









(video source CinemaRomanesc)

As the Holocaust Memorial Day starts in Israel, I found in the weekend edition of Yediot Aharonot a list drawn by Yehuda Stav and Yehuda Nuriel of some the most important films dedicated to the Holocaust. It’s certainly a personal list, and other may have different preferences, I personally found some surprises but I thought that it’s interesting to bring it up and this is the appropriate moment to do so.

(video source UnitedOffensiveIII)

Elen Klimov’s ‘Idi i smotri’ (Come and See) from 1985 tops the list – they call it the greatest war film of all times and one of the best on a Holocaust theme.

Next comes Paul Mazurski’s adaptation from 1989 of Bashevis-Singers’ Enemies: A Love Story. It’s actually a post-Holocaust drama dealing happening in post-war America. I saw recently a stage adaptation at the Gesher theatre.

(video source EvenstarDreamer)

Another splendid screen adaptation was inspired by Giorgio Bassani’s novel Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini brought to screen by Vittorio de Sica in 1970.

I have not seen Sidney’s Lumet’s The Pawnbroker staring Rod Steiger from 1964 – this was for me the first surprise on the list.

Interestingly enough the Yediot Aharonot critics did not include Roberto Benigni La vita e bella in their list (a miss in my opinion) but rather preferred to point to the lesser known first version of Jakob, der Lugner (Jacob, the Liar) of the East-German director Frank Beyer as the most original treatment of the Holocaust in the comic register. A second film staring Robin Williams followed in 1999.

The Shop on the Main Street made in 1965 by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos is not only a small and moving human story, but also one of the best films of the short-lived new wave in the Czechoslovak cinema cut off by the Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring.

(video source isaiasgarde)

I did not know that in 1955, four years before making ‘Hiroshima, mon amour’ Alain Resnais had authored one of the first documentaries about the Holocaust – Nuit et Brouillard.


(video source GusHammond)

Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) does not need any explanation – it is probably the most famous and most viewed film about the Holocaust and the director’s best in my opinion.

(video source klappozita)

And yet the highest on my personal list is Polansky’s The Pianist. Like Spielberg, Polansky put the best of his talent in the service of making this masterpiece dated 2002.

(video source sweetshark3)

Claude Lanzman’s Shoah could not be missing from the list. It’s a huge, overwhelming documentary which in 1985 succeeded to catch on film many of the stories of the survivors.

(video by kurish666 )

The newspaper list ends with another film I knew nothing about previously Le Chagrin et la Pitie – a documentary by French director Marcel Ophuls who in 1969 smashed some myths presenting the extent of the collaboration of the French in the Final Solution.


(video source giuliodeluise)

I would like to add to the list one film made in France in 1998 by Romanian-born director Radu Mihalileanu – Train de vie. It is not a perfect film, but it has a strong and original idea.

The key scene of this wonderful film about a father-son relationship happens towards the end. The father, a former painter whose life and career were crushed by the political troubles of the Cultural Revolution that China went through four decades ago visits the newly opened exhibition of his son’s paintings. He walks through the paintings which like in a time travel bring back the emotions of his son uneasy growing up. Then he stops in front of one work, representing the double portrait of child with blurred features and huge deep hunting and hunted eyes near the portrait of a man whose traits are hard to distinguish, hidden like by fog. The two portraits seem unrelated, but yet we feel that the boy’s uneasiness is related to the man’s portrait absence of clarity. The visiting father sits on a bench. Then his son joins him. Without a word the father extends his hand to his son as a sign of congratulation. It’s almost the only sign of father to son tenderness in the whole film.


(video source keane43)

As many good movies ‘Sunflower’ can be read and interpreted at multiple levels. It is the story of a relationship between a father that is taken away from the child to find him back nine years later, a father who tends to dominate and control his son’s life beyond ‘normal’ father to son care, in an attempt to realize through his son’s talent and artistic training the destiny that was refused to him because of the convulsions of history. At this level the film is wonderfully helped by a team of actors were Bin Li and Joan Chen have the leading roles of the parents, and three different actors represent the phases of development of the boy, with Wang Haidi playing the key mature period. Another reading goes beyond the immediate dialogs and makes us reflect to the relation between individual and history in a country which underwent such profound transformations as China did in the last half century. History and politics play all the time a role in the film, they are present in the background even if politics are not openly discussed. A radio or TV set seem to be permanently open, family relations or lodging depend on low scale policies, and the very premises of the film are derived from a huge political event. On this perspective the relation between father and son may become a symbol of the relation between the older and newer generations of China, a country were new ways find their place and replace the older methods in economy and in the life of its citizens. In a country and tradition were elders are respected and order is the supreme governing principle, the story of a rebellious son has a stronger connotation. The title itself of Yang Zhan’s film can be interpreted in multiple ways – the presence of sunflowers in the action is paralleled by a picturesque resemblance of the flowers brought on screen with the famous sunflowers painted by Van Gogh, the supreme master of art rebellion.

At the end the father disappears completely from the life of his son, making him absent at the childbirth of his grandson in what seems to be a gesture of supreme sacrifice knowing his obsession with the life of his son continuing ans repairing his own life and the destiny of the previous generations. Yet, sunflowers are present, and we feel that in the life and spirit of the new generations there is a lot of what the elders induced. An almost Confucianist conclusion to the story of the relation between father and a rebellious son.