After European, I am moving a little to the west to Britain. There were five films, varying from grand epics, to ballet films, to a movie about one of the most famous bands of all time, and two equivalents to independent films.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a sweeping epic of a film that covers 40 years. It starts in 1943, then goes back to 1903, and we follow our main character, Clive Candy, through wars and history. It is considered one of the greatest British films of all time, sometimes even THE greatest. The acting is great, featuring great performances from Deborah Kerr, Roger Livesey, and Anton Walbrook. It is a film about living and dying, growing up and changing, or not changing at all. It is also about heartbreak and loss and experiencing a devastating 40 years in world history. It is beautifully shot and miraculously restored to a crisp picture.
Up next is apparently one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite movies, The Red Shoes, which is the only other ballet movie that I have seen other than Black Swan. The funny thing is though, that Black Swan stole the camera techniques. The quick pan around and stop, like a ballet dancer spinning on their toes and turning to the audience. If you have seen either of these films you know what I am talking about. This film features a grander story, and is not a dark, psychological thriller. It is a story about love and deciding between it and passion. It has some of the most dazzling imagery of any Technicolor film.
A Hard Day’s Night makes me wish that I lived during the rise of The Beatles. It must have been so crazy to see something completely new and influential in every medium. From Ed Sullivan, to the radio, and eventually on film, The Beatles were everywhere in the 60s. One might have thought that A Hard Day’s Night would end up being just a gimmick, but it has turned out to be one of the best musicals ever. It features iconic images and probably the best soundtrack ever with the title song, “If I Fell,” “And I Love Her,” and “Tell Me Why.” The Beatles are fun to watch as they play exaggerated forms of themselves, and it is a wild romp in the day of the lives of the most famous band in the world.
Before Malcolm McDowell made a name for himself in A Clockwork Orange, he starred in a little film called “If…” about an uprising in a private school in Britain. It is a haunting film shot in both color and black&white. The movie is especially terrifying considering recent events in parts around the country involving school shootings.
Finally, Kes, a tiny little film that is essentially the British answer to the French New Wave where there is no famous lead actor, it is filmed on location, and it has a very inexpensive budget. It too is considered one of the greatest British films ever and it is a rather sad look at the life of the lower class. Billy is a young boy who is not a good student, but he finds happiness in training a falcon. It is filled with beautiful cinematography and a sad story about lives that probably will never improve.