After marathoning the Qatsi Trilogy in which no words are spoken, I moved along to the small collection of European films (3 French and 1 Swedish) I had acquired.
The first of which, The Rules of the Game, is often considered one of the best films of all time. It was released in the later 30s, a time where a war was incoming, and the film mocks French society and their trivial affairs. It is a film about making fun of etiquette and manners, and it is clear that Jean Renoir was not happy with society at the time. The film uses many techniques that would later be accredited to other films, like deep focus. But as amazing as it is claimed to be, I just cannot see it yet. It is a movie you have to watch multiple times to understand its true significance.
Another film considered to be one of the greatest French movies, The Wages of Fear, is an intense and often cruel film about four men trying to deliver a load of nitroglycerin to an oil field 300 miles away. The road is bumpy, treacherous, and deadly; but the men are desperate for the money in the end. The movie is one of the most tense I have ever seen. The sound is phenomenal at making you sit on the edge of your seat in fear of the load igniting. It is a 150 minute movie, and for the first hour or so it is simply build up to the even bigger build up. It is a masterfully crafted (literal) thrill ride.
Up next, just a couple countries over, was Persona, by the great Ingmar Bergman. It is one of his shorter films, and one of his most astounding. At times he is breaking the norms of cinema. In a film that is about a nurse trying to take care of a suddenly mute actress, it is a movie that gets under your skin and by the end feels like a fever-dream. From the lighting, to the subliminal editing, to the sheer innovation; Persona remains one of Bergman’s best.
Finally, a bit of a tear-jerker back in France: Au Revoir Les Enfants (Goodbye, Children). Taking place during the Nazi Occupation of France, it follows a group of boarding school students. The new kid to the school is Jewish, but he has kept this secret hidden. He grows close to another boy. For the most part it is a fun movie about their friendship, but deep down we know that something is going to happen. I won’t ruin the ending, but it is certain to make you feel even sadder about it because the characters are mainly children who had no care about religion or race, but must suffer in a world where genocide is real but do not know it until it is too late.
Up next will be my films from Britain, so be expecting some Beatles, Red Shoes, and falcons.