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sábado, 6 de abril de 2013

Mystery is all around

Since I was a child, I used to enjoy watching films on TV or being taken to the cinema to see a good one in the company of my father and sister, most of the times. I must confess that I became sort of hooked on films and the stories behind them so whenever there was a film on TV late at night, I reluctantly submitted to go to bed.

As we have been talking about plot devices which help develop great stories, we can undoubtedly highlight the figure of Alfred Hitchcock, who was the master in creating suspense and made us stick to our chairs from the very beginning of a film to its end.

It would be an extremely difficult issue to decide on a single film that I could consider my favourite one –there are lots of them and for various reasons. But just to name a few:

The Birds and Psycho for being such hair-raising films that I’ve never been able to see again –I saw The Birds at the age of 10 and I’m still scared.

The Man Who Knew Too Much and Rear Window for those intriguing moments James Stewart made us live.

North by Northwest or Vertigo as the nail-biting suspense masterpieces and the ones you can become scared stiff.

Marnie and Rebecca, two women’s names for two romantic stories.

To Catch A Thief and Dial M for Murder, where we can appreciate Grace Kelly's innately elegant style. 

The Trouble with Harry as the funniest one.

The list is endless: Jamaica Inn, The 39 Steps, Torn Curtain, Shadow of A Doubt, The Paradine Case, Rope, … In all these films we can note the plot devices we’ve been checking lately –the plot voucher, the locked room, the MacGuffin, deus ex machina, … Alfred Hitchcock perfectly knew what he was doing. And here’s a video with one of his special characteristics. What was it?

I must admit to a certain fondness for a film which, by the way, we mentioned in class some days ago, and that’s why I’ll comment on a classic, another Alfred Hitchcock’s “must” that immediately springs to my mind, Rebecca.

As you may know, Rebecca was a film adaptation of the namesake novel by Daphne du Maurier. Two years after having written her story (1938) achieved her greatest recognition through this outstanding film, which won two Oscars (Best Film and Best Picture) despite having been nominated in 11 categories.

I won’t tell you much of the plot in case you still haven’t seen it. However incredible it may sound,  the secret of its success relies on the following facts. The whole story is told by a naïve young woman (Joan Fontaine) whose name we never know, and only when she marries Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), a handsome and rich widower, she becomes, of course, Mrs de Winter. However, this causes confusion since there are constant references to the first Mrs de Winter, Rebecca, who seemed to be the narrator’s counterpart and who everyone thought had drowned in the sea near Manderley, the old mansion where they live. Throughout 130 minutes, the past becomes the present, and the omnipresent Rebecca together with the diehard, her devoted housekeeper, Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson) rule the whole film in a dramatically tense atmosphere.

It was such an impact the one created by the main character that here in Spain, we started naming the cardigan Joan Fontaine wore as “rebeca”.

Well, I think Rebecca is a film you can’t miss.

All in all, I’ve always liked films and all the industry around them –actors and actresses, directors, stories behind the film scenes, clothes and props, … Not only because they make you live and dream of other experiences by being in the main character’s shoes, but also because you can always learn something new or, at least, realise how different the world can be.

So, it’s your turn now! Which blockbusters can you think of now? Do you feel like writing about a film or a book you waxed euphoric about?
Go ahead!!! All your comments are welcome.

9 comentarios:

  1. As I said in class, from my point of view, the most amazing fact is that Hitchcok never won an Oscar. Nowadays, he is considered as one of the greatest directors in History of Cinema but when he was working, the crittics thought that his films are only commercial, without artistic value. The authors from The Nouvelle Vague began to present him like a genius. There´s nothing more fair. In his work, doubtless you can choose at least ten masterpieces and everybody would be agreed about that. My other favourite directors: Kubrick, Ford, Elia Kazan or Scorsese have five, six? It´s normal, it´s difficult to reach the high standards.
    When I think about Kitchcock, I Think about a few unforgettable scenes like the smile of Grace Kelly from the opposite building ("Rear Window"), how difficult is to kill somebody ("Torn Curtain") or the best kiss in Cinema between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in "Notorius".

    1. Although I don't especially like Kubrick, what about Elia Kazan's film East of Eden? Wow, that's a great film, isn't it?

      Grace Kelly was always amazing and her beauty was extraordinary.
      And there are unforgettable kisses that will remain in our retinas for the rest of our lives, for instance the kiss between Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind.

      Cinema is great!

  2. I like watching films so for me it’s very difficult to choose one author or director, but I’ll try to do it!

    In my young ages, my favorite film was The Highlander, with Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery and an special soundtrack made by Queen. Who wants to live for eve, remember?


    When I was at the University, I watched Dead Poets Society, that film was very important for me, because I realised that the beautiful things are near and we can achieve our dreams although that could be against the establishment rules. Carpe Diem!


    My absolutely love film it’s The piano by Jane Campion with Holly Hunter and Hervey Kaitel, and the marvellous soundtrack by Michael Nyman.


    My classic film, as most of the people in the world, is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love the final scene.


    And recently, …
    I love Once because of the music and the love story.
    Happy, thank you, more please! Because of the message…
    and a few months ago I watched Silver Linnig Playbooks a beautiful an special way to see the life, I recommend you this film.

    So I love watching films, there is always a film for a moment in your live, isn’t it?

    1. Rebeca, you mention some of the best films ever.

      I am one of those Breakfast at Tiffany's fans. Not only because of Audrey Hepburn and George Sheppard but also because of "Moonriver". I've seen it a hundred times and I could see it time after time.

      Dead Poets Society is one of the films that made a huge impression on me. You already know, I've always wanted to be a teacher. That's why I enjoy films related to this topic. But when one of the boys at the boarding school ... (I don't want to say it in case someone hasn't seen it yet), I was completely distressed.

      And finally, thanks to you, I hope to see "Once" this weekend. After that, I'll give you my opinion, but I can foretell it won't deceive me.;-)

  3. I consider to myself like a fan of the cinema, classic or modern, Spanish, European or American films,...but I can´t choose what my favourite gender of film is (I´m very indecisive about all the aspects of my life). I´m only sure that I like no very comercial films, I prefer independent cinema or different films about the little things of the life.
    If I have to make a list with my favourite films, I start with:

    Firstly- "Amelie", a French film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is not a convencional woman. She has lived terrible moments in her life: she had to throw to the Saint Martin brook to her loved orange goldfish and she saw to her mother died in the cathedral of Notre Dame, while her father es only worried about a little garden gnome. The life of Amelie is very simple: she works as a waitress in a cafe in Montmartre, she loves throwing stones in the river, she uses to look to the people and imagine things about their lifes. But one day her life changes when she find a box with toys in her house and she decide to look for the owner and arrange the lifes of the others, forgeting her hapiness.
    One of my favourite thing of this film is the music, composed by Jean Tiersen, the same author than "Good Bye Lennin".

    On the second best I want to speak about "Noviembre", an Spanish film directed by Achero Mañas. The film tells the story of an independent group of theatre which wants to succeed without earning money, only showing their plays in the streets. The film is told like a documentary where the stars speak about the company.

    And in the third position I have to speak about "Cinema Paradiso", an delicious story about the cinema and the friendship, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. In a little village of Italy, there is a cinema where everybody enjoy.Toto is a poor boy fascinates with the image and the machines and he is a friend of cinema projectionist, Alfredo. One day, a fire destroy the cinema and Alfredo goes blind. Toto helps him and decides to work in his favourite place, the cinema, rebuilt by a rich man.
    This film is perfect to laught, to cry and to enjoy with the music of Enio Morricone.

    1. I love Amelie film too, and of course the soundtrack is amazing.

  4. I agree with most of you,Hitchcock is the best figure on suspense films.I´ve watched some of his films.
    I´ve read some books written by Stephen King,who writes terror books.They are amazing from the beginning to the ending.
    But now, I´m going to write about Murder on the Orient Express of Agatha Christie,another good writer.
    The plot device used in this book is locked room.The story takes place on a train.It´s a cold,dark night in winter.The train has to stop due to a snowstorm.A waiter discover a man wildly stabbed.There are sixteen passengers under suspicion.As you´re reading,you change your mind about who could be the murderer because all of them could have a good reason to commit the crime

  5. I would like to write about one of my favourite films Blade Runner, I love this movie for different reasons, but maybe, the main one, is that it doesn´t matter how long I watched it, I always catch a distinct detail, that gives the story another meaning. Without counting the innumerable versions that the director and the producers have made for 30 years.
    Blade Runner (1982), rising director Ridley Scott's follow-up to his hit Alien (1979), is one of the most popular and influential science-fiction films of all time - and it has become an enduring cult classic.
    But this fascinating film was originally a box-office financial failure, and it received negative reviews from film critics who called it muddled and confusing.
    It received only two Academy Award nominations without Oscars: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Visual Effects.
    The evocative, inventive film has improved with age and guarantees repeated viewings. The dense, puzzling, detailed plot of the film is backed by a mesmerizing, melancholy musical soundtrack from The Greek composer Vangelis - undeservedly unacknowledged for an Oscar nomination.
    The film is a combination of 1940s film noir and futuristic detective thriller. The setting is the decayed, rain-soaked Los Angeles of 2019. Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is a retired Blade Runner, a cop who specialises in hunting down replicants. (robotic NEXUS models) The replicants are artificial humans, indistinguishable from the real, only two things: they have no memories, and they have four year lifespans.
    Five replicants are lost in LA, led by the fearsome combat specialist Roy Batty. Deckard's job is to hunt them down. He stalks his prey through the neon-lit, future-noir city. The film climaxes in a showdown between the Blade Runner and his nemesis Batty.
    The film's screenplay was based on the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
    The film begins with a scrolling prologue about escaped slaves that are now considered android adversaries:
    “Early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL CORPORATION advanced Robot evolution into the NEXUS phase - a being virtually identical to a human - known as a replicant.
    The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them.
    Replicants were used Off-world as slave labors, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets.
    After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth - under penalty of death.
    Special police squads - BLADE RUNNER UNITS - had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.
    This was not called execution.
    It was called retirement.
    Now it is your turn, If you have never watched it I recommend you, and if you have already watched anytime, I suggest watching it again. The Ultimate Collector's Edition: Although director Ridley Scott had significantly re-edited his film in 1992, he went further with this 2007 edition for the film's 25th anniversary, for me that is the best.

    1. I like a lot this film! I fall in love with its soundtrack which I used in my radio programmes. One thing more Vicky: you writting about Blade Runner is fantastic, at least for me. Thanks for it, for remembering this incredible film!