Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Art Of" - How About Two Movies ? (my first blog dealing with the subject) -

Two movies, diametrically opposed - one, a comedy; the other, a dark view of the human condition - both nominated for Oscars, with "Hulot's Holiday" winning at Cannes, as well.
My reason for these choices is that, oddly, one must look at these masterpieces with the same attitude.
The comedy, "Hulot's Holiday," released in 1953 through 1955, was made in France, and stars Jacques Tati, one of the great mimes. If you do decide to watch Jacques Tati in action, please be reminded that he was considered, along with Chaplin, Marceaux and Stan Laurel, as one of the prime mimes in modern history.
The one published novel by Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was released in 1945 out of Great Britain, one of the stars being a teen-aged Angela Lansbury (her first major role).
The common essence of these opposites is the almost incredibly low pace of event production coupled with an exquisite level of character development and portrayal.
To explain: "Hulot's Holiday" has no script, only an occasional word, with the building of this delightful story centered around the brilliance of Tati's character through unseemingly low-level mishap after mishap and such sound effects as a swinging door leading into the hotel restaurant, used throughout the movie in a wonderfully tasteful array of placements, tactically.
In "The Picture of Dorian Gray," the sense of pure evil and nihilism is set at such an unexpectedly low level of intensity, one realizes that the kinetic in this unique piece of cinematic art is the slow poisoning of the human spirit through the compelling level of conversational brilliance which was one of Wilde's central facets of his genius. There is but one act of violence, in the traditional sense, in this film; however, the portrayal of the frightening level of overriding evil is by way of the quiet word. Enhancing the nucleus of this unique movie is the striking portrait of Dorian Gray, in a setting of unremitting cohabitation with Faustian commitment. The painting was done in 1943 by one of America's most brilliant realists, Ivan De Lorraine Albright, out of Chicago, who sometimes used one hair(!) as a brush, and took more time to do a painting than Brahms took to write his music. The painting resides in an art museum in Chicago, I believe.
Watch both movies, back to back, with same attitude of observation; and that is, to "shrink down", as it were, to the size of a window you are looking through, with nothing in mind except to become a kind of voyeur as regards that "window", and with nothing else in mind.

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