Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Major Artist's Most Powerful Statement...

I  will, for the moment, move  to an art form other than music, primarily because I do not very often move outside my primary field:
A great movie is indeed an art form - Disney, in his history-altering view of animation in such masterpieces as "Snow White" or "Bambi" is  one such artist so well-remembered; or, Alfred Hitchcock, with his  sense of vision in  movies we continue to watch, such as "The Birds" or "Suspicion" are but two of  a number of  possessors of images and ideas that result in immortality in the same  sense of reality when one thinks of a Bach, or a  Beethoven, or  a Winslow Homer.
George Stevens most assuredly is among the Exalted, as director of such movie epics as  "Shane" or "Giant" or "Place in the Sun," among a number of other masterpieces we see in our day; however,  I personally consider his work during the Second World War in Germany to be the most powerful statement of his creations. Even Stevens himself stated that his experiences altered his thinking forever about the kinds of movies he would create after the conflict was over.
Stevens was assigned to make a film record of  the war from D-Day to the last days in Berlin. He chose a coterie of top notch writers and cameramen to create this film, using, for the first time in war, 16 mm Kodachrome film.All were part of the armed forces and in uniform, including Stevens, who was made a lieutenant colonel.
This group of unarmed men was as close to the conflict as any soldier involved in the fighting, and  in constant and dire danger from the first day to the surrender, almost a year later.
The sense of presence, with the gifts these men had in creating a record of the horror of war,  brilliantly enhanced by the wonderful quality of color that the Kodachrome process possessed, is, for me, the most evocative example of the final year of the war that I have in my personal collection of filmed documents.
If you have not seen this document, and have interest, my recommendation is automatic.

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