The release of Franco Rosso’s
Babylon in the US earlier this year
triggered a series of memories for me of cinema in the UK in the 80s. The film received rave review in The New
Yorker, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The LA Times and elsewhere. They spoke
of it not only as a piece of compelling entertainment but also as a social and
political document, as relevant today as it was four decades ago. British reviewers
and critics have chosen to ignore the phenomenon.
For a time now, the term
‘social realism’ as applied to British cinema has been one of dismissal or even
contempt. It was just about OK if you added a prefix of ‘poetic’ or ‘neo’
before ‘realism’ – or, of course, if the film was foreign. We seem too caught up with stories of murderous
psychotics and their multi-various and exotic ways of slaughter, and endless
series of the lives of our dysfunctional Royals Through The Ages.
Meanwhile Babylon and much
else is falling apart.…
The British Film Institute Southbank is screening:
Dir Horace Ove
Friday 19 July 2019 18.10
Intro by Dr Elizabeth M Wiliams
Goldsmiths University of London
Dir Franco Rosso
Friday 19 July 2019 20.50
Intro from Filmmaker Mamoun Hassan
Filed under Lecturing, News
The Lady with the Dog will screen on Monday 13 May at 2.00pm in NFT I at the BFI Southbank.
Mamoun will introduce the film and there will be a Q&A at the end.
You won’t find many adaptations of books or plays in anybody’s list of Ten Best Films. Francis Coppola’s two-parter of Mario Puzzo’s The Godfather might figure and also Satyajit Ray’s trilogy of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s Pather Panchali, where it is difficult to know where the book ends and the film begins. But where are the other great writers: Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Balzac, Ibsen, Melville, George Eliot…? So often we get illustrations of bits from here and there and dialogue, lots of it. Adaptation can be an inspiration but also a burden – a burden of responsibility to the original. Films need to break free, as in Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (Macbeth) and Howard Hawks’s liberties with Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not.
Books and films are more than plot, character and dialogue. To my mind, one of the most successful adaptations, where the book and the film are one, where the film is the book and the book is the film, is the 1960 realization by Soviet director-screenwriter Josif Kheifitz of Anton Chekhov’s great short story The Lady with the Dog. The original is only 17 pages long – no longer than a film treatment.
Bibi Andersson and Live Ullman in ‘Persona’
This week I was asked by Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts at National Film and Television School (NFTS) to introduce a screening of Bergman’s Persona at the National Film Theatre Southbank, London.
It’s taking a liberty telling an audience how to view a film minutes before seeing it.
I prefer to give them a perspective, often by referring to the director’s other work. I talk primarily about form and style, sometimes about subjects that recur. I try to keep it simple. The film’s the thing.
Here is a recording of the event, montaged with a few slides:
The film was shown as part of the NFTS ‘Passport to Cinema’ season – a continuous and comprehensive overview of every facet of cinema, from its beginnings to the present day.