It's another double hitter and it is all about the ooohs and aaahhhs. We could be somewhat bored with a film but love the way it was "photographed" and/or the special effects. I am becoming bored with all the CGI nowadays because, I think, it is relied on too heavily. One of the Avenger flicks starts off with all of them either running or driving through the woods to get to the bad guys. I seriously thought the film hadn't started yet and was watching a promo for a videogame. It just looked so fake. When it is done well, I am impressed but it gets pretty ridiculous now. OK enough rant. Here are my picks for each category and, after commenting, head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to see what the others have chosen.
1. BLACK NARCISSUS(COLOUR)-1947
OK, I know I spoke about this sensuous, beautiful film before and I was thinking, "I should choose something else," but I kept coming back to this amazing film by Powell & Pressburger, noted for their very colourful imagery, like "The Red Shoes". Jack Cardiff, a great Cinematographer, won the Oscar for this film that takes place near the Himalayas. A beautiful nun, played by Deborah Kerr is to head a nunnery high up, near the Himalayas, in an old palace for the King's harem, that, in parts, are filled with decadent paintings of court life. To bring her to the old palace, is a devil may care agent for the owner of the palace who is very handsome and questions everything. There is an attraction between these 2 and we can feel it ooze out of the film along with the erotic images. The nuns try to run a school and hospital for the natives in the area where we see the virtues of some students vie with the eroticism of others especially played by the young Jean Simmons. Throw in the winds, primitive drums, colours and a crazy ass nun and we have a great film.
2. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (COLOUR)-1951
This is a great musical, not as good as some others but still great, in my humble opinion starring Gene Kelly as the American Ex-Pat trying to make it as a painter in Gay Paris! His friend is the lovable(lovable??) Oscar Levant who is actually an excellent pianist in his own right, trying to make a go as a, well, pianist. They have a mutual friend (Georges Guetary) who is big in the Follies Bergere, who has a girlfriend he adores. Well, this gal, played by newcomer, Leslie Caron, meets up with Kelly and they fall in love. The finale, has 20 minutes of just pure dance with colours, costumes and sets created against the greatest Impressionist artists from Van Gogh, Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec and others. It's a pretty basic story but the dancing and cinematography are anything but. Alfred Gilks & John Alton were the cinematographers for this and they truly captured many great scenes that exuded the feel of this film from that great 20 minute balletic type scene to Levant's daydream, the Stairway to Paradise number and the love scene along the Seine.
3. BEN-HUR (COLOUR)-1959
Forget the remake(blecchh), this still stands the test of time just like Hestie's chiselled face. Yes, This was done before CGI and it is impressive isn't it? You have Charles as Ben Hur taken away to become a slave on a Roman battle ship. All he has is vengeance on his mind for how his former friend, Messala, played by Stephen Boyd, back-stabbed him and his family. When the leader of the Roman Battleship is saved by Heston after the ships are sunk, Heston is given his freedom and is taken under the wing by this Roman head. Charlie heads back to his homeland and finally decides to drive his new friend's beautiful white horses in the famous chariot race. You also realize his mom and sister are lepers but not all is lost especially when he offers Jesus a drink of water, something Jesus did many years ago for him when he needed it. This film has beautiful shots, not only of the famous chariot scene but also the scenes on the boats and in the desert plus many others. Robert Surtees is the cinematographer and he created a great piece considering how colossal this picture was.
Just so you know...for many years 2 Oscars were given for Cinematography-one for Colour and the other for Black and White films.
1. THE THIEF OF BAGDAD-1940
When I finally saw this film, I was enchanted at how great the special effects were back in 1940 from the Genie to the magic carpet and the beautiful horse. The colours, sets and costumes were also great and it starred one of the earliest known Indian film stars made famous in Hollywood, Sabu(who was also in Black Narcissus). He is the young lad, a thief, who somehow becomes centre stage between a young man, a prince, imprisoned by the evil Jaffar (the wonderful Conrad Veidt) and a beautiful princess whom Jaffar covets for his own. Through their adventures, we meet the genie, a daffy old prince (the princess's dad) who loves toys and the many "toys" Jaffer creates for the old guy. It is one of the best versions ever made of this classic fairy tale. Lawrence Butler and Jack Whitney were the collaborators creating the Genie and the wondrous toys. They truly deserved to win the Oscar that year.
2. STAR WARS-1977
Yup, I am assuming this will be a popular one this week but for good reason since it created a whole new way to do special effects and started the Industrial Light & Magic that every man, still living with his mom in the basement of his childhood home, dreams about visiting. It's hard now not to find the new and improved versions of the first, er, I mean middle, I mean, well, the first ones to be shown in the theatre. John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune and Robert Blalack(ughh, that's a lot of guys) were the reason for the special effects that blew my ex-husband away when he first saw this. He always remembers the beginning scene of the spaceships going through space only for this much bigger ship to appear, blowing my ex's mind away. We know the story, young man wants to see space and feels he is held back. His Uncle buys 2 droids and while fixing them, the kid comes across a message from a princess looking for Obi-Wan. Anyway, Obi Wan finds them and they go on a quest to find a fast spaceship. Enter Chewie and Han Solo, hired to bring them to the dark side where evil Darth Vader is as well as the princess. Chaos ensues. I saw this back in 1977 and remember feeling underwhelmed because I thought the story was simplistic, not really caring about the special effects. Oh well....
3. JURASSIC PARK-1993
I saw this in the theatre as well and was properly impressed with these dinosaurs that scared the living bejeebies out of me! Again, the story is a bit simple; an old coot, played by Richard Attenborough, invites 2 palaeontologists to his island to see what he has accomplished. Also along for the ride is a lawyer and Jeff Goldblum who irritates the old coot to no end. There are the old coot's 2 grandkids here, as well, ready to see the wonders of what this nutbar created from the DNA extracted from really old mosquitoes. I had to laugh when the Sam Neill character tells the kids that these huge brontosaurus are safe just like cows (really??). When the T-Rex is introduced, I was scared as it was done so very well. It's a fun flick which has now spanned many sequels with CGI taking over and you can see the difference...not to the better. Oh yeah...here are the winners for this Special Effects Oscar this year-Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Phil Tippitt & Michael Lantieri-all greats in their field.
So there is my lengthy post, which 3 would you choose?