Archive for January 12th, 2012

Scene From”Black Narcissus”

Last month I wrote here about color influences and focused on the film work of filmmaker Jack Cardiff, particularly in the the movies of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.  Tonight, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is featuring an entire evening of the Cardiff-shot films of Powell and Pressburger as well as the documentary, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff.  If you like films with a distinct look and a unique storyline, this is a great night to tune in.

The Cardiff documentary is very good and gives great insight to this innovative mind behind the movies.  For instance, it talks about the film Black Narcissus which is set in a convent in the Himalayas, with spectacular shots such as the one shown above.  The film is so wonderfully shot and lit that the viewer always feels that the film was shot on location in the high mountains.  Their is depth and naturalness in every view yet it was completely shot on a British studio lot with long views composed of papier-mache mountains and painted backdrops.   One of the people who worked on the film said that the sets were so brilliant that when you walked by a window with the mountains in the distance, you forgot for a moment where you were and believed you were  in the Himalyas.
The evening starts with The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp  , a movie I really hold in high esteem, and moves on to the Cardiff documentary.  That is followed by A Matter of Life and Death which was originally released as Stairway to Heaven .  It’s a great film with wonderful fantasy scenes shot in a reverse Technicolor monochrome that are quite striking.  The film, though not well known here, is considered by many film critics to be one of the greatest British films.
Then comes the incredible color and beauty of the ballet-based The Red Shoes.  I don’t know ballet but this is a spectacular film. The evening finishes up early in the morning with Black Narcissus
All are beautiful to see.  All have stories that are a bit unusual.  All have great impact.  I can’t speak for every taste here, knowing that many might see these and just not see what I see in them.  But for those who love great films, this is a great night to see some of the best.

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