25 Flawless Masterpieces

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Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby MikLosk » Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:56 am

6. Fanny och Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1982)

Bergman belongs to the handful of directors (that numbers 4-5 directors) whose masterpieces are not accidental. You can remember Nicholas Roeg whose Don't Look Now is his only great film. Also Carol Reed with The Third Man, Laurent Bouttonat with Giorgino, etc. But Bergman is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors: he created many masterpieces which will remain forever in cinema history. Fanny och Alexander is his last flawless masterpiece, that could be the great final "accord" of his filmography. I always thought that this film is absolutely perfect, but it's only a short version of TV series, eh? When I saw TV-version (all series in the row) I was blown away. My God, what a captivating, charming film, absolutely not overextended. In the film-version the director cut out the plotline of Isak Jacobi masterfully performed by Erland Josephson. Paradoxically it says about Bergman's great confidence in the actor who can only darkly be present at the screen bringing in calm and peace in the tearing apart world of Ekdahl. But nonetheless the movie - short version - is still one of the greatest works in cinema history.

Fanny och Alexander is the Bergman's journey to the past (actually he's told the story of his family), similar to the mental journey of Professor Isak Borg in Wild Strawberries, another Bergman's flawless masterpiece. This story about love and death, religion and faith strikes with its filigree directing, meticulous portrayal of the athmosphere of the days of old. It contains inner charm and simultaneously break-down of past childhood period. There weren't another epic cinema novel with such an emotional power and spiritual depth in cinema history. Magic of cinema in the movie captivates every viewer like Alexander in the beginning of the film...

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby MikLosk » Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:23 am

7. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1954)

Alfred Hitchcok was a great master. Nobody else could create such entertaining, exciting and thrilling movies. But once he managed to create a piece of real art within the limits of his genre. It was Rear Window where Hitchcock achieved the highest point of his career and penetrated into the secrets of cinema.

Obeying classicist "unity of time, place and action" (main hero photographer L. B. Jefferies due to injury can't move and being bored observes opposite windows through the binoculars) and using minimum of tools Hitchcock masterfully create suspense and - furthermore - allows us to reflect on one of the ontological entities of cinema. Camera, likening to the eye of the main hero who becomes a casual observer of a murder of a woman by a man, turned out to be an unintentional voyeur of the reality, it occasionally notices something that is hidden from the others. And a viewer who has to identify himself with the hero turns into a peeper of action. At that a viewer being without motion in cinema hall or at the TV set can't interfere in the action in the screen too. So, the viewer's situation is absolutely similar to the hero's one.

Consequently cinema itself is in a way a "rear window" which allows to see the wrong side of the life, background of the reality which usually remains beyond the common sight. By the way, there is a concept "back projection" in cinema corresponded with the use of specially shooted background images behind the figures of heroes in the foreground. Hitchcock changes "focusing" of the shot and pay more attention to the things which happen behind the foreground. Secondary things acquires importance though not fully guessed by the observer. After all, we can interpret events happened in that apartment in a different ways. Actually Hitchcock anticipated philosophical question "Is everything visible is true?", one of the fundamental cinematic questions. This question will be considered later by Michelangelo Antonioni in his great film Blow Up.

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby trevor826 » Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:37 pm

Nice thread Miklosk, I'd certainly go with the majority of your choices so far, can't wait to see what will appear next on your list.

I have a few in mind that probably wouldn't come into consideration and can think of a few others that could well make an appearance here.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby justindeimen » Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:48 pm

Same here Trev, I could fit a couple of contemporaries in as well that probably wouldn't make the grade elsewhere.

I am intrigued at MikLosk's inclusion of "Don't Look Now" in his various threads and am inspired to read up about it before touching my DVD of it. To me, "The Exorcist" remains the immaculate, utter masterpiece of the horror genre.

This is however just my own perspectives of Flawless Masterpieces that would probably differ from plenty others, and I would love to know the lists of others as well.

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby MikLosk » Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:05 am

Trevor, what films do you mean? It's really interesting.

Intrigue is maybe the most important thing in this thread

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby wpqx » Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:14 pm

I don't really consider Don't Look Now a horror film, but I've certainly seen it regarded as such. For my money Kubrick's The Shining is the first and last word in the genre and the absolutely perfect realization of all that can be done within it. For sheer fun though, its hard to top Bride of Frankenstein, which like The Shining I've probably seen 25 or more times.

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby MikLosk » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:13 pm

8. Mirror (Andrey Tarkovsky, USSR, 1975)

This film is exactly in the middle of Tarkovsky's filmography: he shot three feature films before it and three - after it. And I do believe it's the highest point of his work. It's one of the most complex and multilayer films in cinema history and simultaneously very simple and clear movie: it speaks with a viewer in the universal language of cinema. Originally the screenplay "White, White Day" (this working title of the movie is the name of the poem of the director's father - a celebrated Russian poet Arseniy Tarkovsky) appeared. It was a story about Tarkovsky's mother. He said: "I can't bear with my mother's death. I will protest against it and will prove that she's immortal. I am going to convince other people of her being unique". Later this idea developed into the plotless film that became one of the provement of the fact that cinema is an absolutely equitable to literature, music and paintings form of art (another Tarkovsky's idee fixe).

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
This words of Dante's Divine Comedy could be an epigraph to the film. Do you remember final travelling of camera into the forest? I think it's not accidental - it symbolizes author's look: Tarkovsky was "midway upon the journey of his life" and "found himself within a forest dark". But in the end of the movie he sees an exit from this dark forest: his present and his past step together. So, the relation between the present and the past is in the base of Tarkovsky's philosophy. Conscience and memory (recollections are one of the main constituents of the movie like in Otto e Mezzo and Amarcord) are the two things that can help man to understand himself.

The gist of events in the movie is very complex: it contains the present life of unnamed and unfeatured main hero (we can only hear his voice), his recollections, dreams and newsreel: Tarkovsky's childhood fell on the WWII. So, by means of his childhood story (told only with the most bright points - the whole story remained unsaid) he said about the hard history of his own country.

Reticence is one of the most important features of the film: it makes the movie similar to the poem, where images (cinematography is undoubtedly marvellous: nobody could shoot nature in such a beautiful way!), mood, athmosphere and metaphors are more important than plot or formal narrative structure. In the movie we can hear voice of the Tarkovsky's father: he recites his poetry. It's not accidental: Andrey Tarkovsky acclaimed himself as a cinematic poet, successor of the Russian poetry traditions. And he was a real poet who felt relation between space and time, multidimensional and multilayer nature of time, strange and complex interpretation of time and space in our memory and in the art of cinema...

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby madhuban » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:47 am

I was expecting Mirror to make your list. Nice review

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby wpqx » Wed Nov 29, 2006 5:35 pm

The mirror has been on my list of films to re-watch for years, and I swear one of these days I'll actually do it.

Re: 25 Flawless Masterpieces

Postby A » Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:43 pm

Great thread. I'd love the idea, if some other users would also start a thread on their 25 favorites
When I first watched Mirror at the cinema, I wasn't overwhelmed (though I was already a Tarkovski enthusiast). Since then, the film has grown in my memory and become one of my favorites. The first scenes of the film, with the protagonist sitting outside of the house and waiting, are one of the most marvelous transferences of nature onto film.
Nykvists cinematography in Offret (1986) is also remarkable. I'd say that Angelopoulos was inspired by this in his later films.

Rear Window is by far the most complex film by Alfred Hitchcock I have seen so far (out of 25 movies). The last time I saw it on a large screen I was astounded by the many layers present in the film. The plot and ongoings were secondary as I was exploring the philosophical questions inherent in the material. But I must say that I like some other films by Hitch much more.

Keep the comments coming Mik!


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