A Comparison of Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Greystoke (1983)
IMDb link 6.0/10 with 475 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer not available/user rating 22% with 85 votes
Year: 1918 Director: Scott Sidney -- Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs(novel), Fred Miller, Lois Weber -- Cast: Elmo Lincoln, Enid Markey, George B. French, Gordon Griffith, True Boardman, Kathleen Kirkham, Stellan Windrow -- Length: 60-73 min. B&W/Silent -- estimated gross: $1,000,000
The idea behind Tarzan is at once both ridiculous and compelling. Yet, it would be impossible due to time constraints for anyone to catalog all the pop culture and even real culture influences the character has had over the past 104 years.
Only six years after Edgar Rice Burroughs published his idea of a child raised by apes in the jungles of Africa who grows into an adult with unusual capabilities was published in The All Story Magazine, October 1912, a cinematic adaptation premiered. Tarzan of the Apes (1918) is just over an hour long, but it condenses the salient aspects of the novel into something trackable on the screen. Is the Tarzan that Gordon Griffith and Elmo Lincoln depict exactly like the one you had in your head as you read the words? No. Is this Tarzan like the most famous Tarzan that wouldn't debut for another 14 years? No.
If the estimated gross shown above (from IMDb) is accurate, it means that this was quite a popular film when it was released. One of the people who saw it was my grandmother. She didn't tell me that it was three hours long originally, but she did say that she enjoyed the movie. Her voice was the first voice I ever heard say "Elmo Lincoln." This man became a star, although typecast as action figures. He played Tarzan three times: Tarzan of the Apes (1918), The Romance of Tarzan (1918), The Adventures of Tarzan (1921).
Although this Tarzan seems fluent in English by the time he meets Jane, you can't hear him. This is a silent film.
Enid Markey plays Jane. She is almost the only female in the movie. Lady Greystoke and a few native girls are there, but Jane is the predominant female role. Oh, and there is Esmerelda, a racistic representation of a black woman servant to the Porters. This was the era of Birth of a Nation (1915), of course.
As you watch this film it can escape your notice that the first person ever to appear as Tarzan on the movie screen was 10-year old Gordon Griffith, credited as "Tarzan the Boy." Pre-pre-code. There is no loincloth on young Tarzan until he steals one from a native who has gone for a bathe in the river. At about 13 minutes into the movie the lad spies the untended grass-skirt type wraps that a couple of native kids have left on the shore as they swim in the river. The intertitle, "Clothes! At the bottom of his little English heart survived a longing for them." From that point on we don't see young Gordon Griffith's derriere.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: For what it's worth, I am not the first to note that the film follows the plot of the Tarzan debut novel very closely. In that respect it is unlike every other Tarzan film ever made.
Like: IMDb trivia is cool. It says that the film was shot mostly in Louisiana. "Louisiana was chosen as the main shooting location because of the cooperation of the residents of Morgan City, the lush jungle vegetation, bayous, waterways, abundant black extras, and facilities such as hotels, a railway-serviced wharf and an adjacent storage warehouse." So, production wasn't tied to Hollywood at that time any more than it is today. All the black faces you see actually belong to residents of 1918 Louisiana. It says they got paid $1.75 a day to play cannibal extras. The location shooting adds a lot to the appearance of the film.
Like: The previous fact leads to this: other than the woman playing the denigrating character of Esmerleda, and perhaps the man who kidnaps Jane, the blacks in the film are treated with relative racial respect by the screenwriter and producers. In other words, the script has the natives make an honest (yet comic) mistake when they see the whites arriving toting guns, and think they are under attack from these interlopers. Yet, they aren't made to look stupid as a people. Which kind of surprised me.
Like: Gordon Griffith is a truly gleeful and "realistic" little Tarzan. He makes growing up with an ape for a mom look like delightful fun. Also, the physicality of the role is something he matches perfectly. We can't say that about Elmo Lincoln.
Like: Binns. He intends well. But things don't go his way. He's slightly selfish, in that he worries that the Greystokes might have thought he didn't keep his promise. Wellll, he didn't. But it was because he was kidnapped by Arab slave traders, and held for ten years. Still, while he was a prisoner, he would minister to the slaves who were hurt. That brought about sharp words and scowls from the Arabs. So, you'd have to say that Binns is a rather realistic character, not totally heroic, but a man with a good heart, and intentions to do the right thing. He becomes the protector and teacher for little Tarzan. But the Arabs return, and the man and boy split up. Binns goes to England where he talks about the young Greystoke heir living as an ape.
Like: As would be the plan of operations for Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan (1983) the young actor and the production crew evidence no problem with Tarzan as a boy being naked, as he most certainly would be if this were a true story. No doubt some 1918 viewers were scandalized by this series of bare bottom views of the boy, as are (no doubt) some viewers today. The exact opposite of this presentation appears in the Disney Tarzan (1999) where (understandably) baby Tarzan seems to have been born wearing a loincloth. One of these extremes is ridiculous, and the other is not. I'll leave it to you to determine for yourself which is which.
Like: To cap off a scene where young Tarzan sees his reflection beside that of his ape brother in a pool of water, and he notices the difference for the first time, Scott Sidney allows Griffith to break the fourth wall and do an extended take toward the camera. This actually works quite well in the silent film format. It doesn't come across as comic, the way Laurel and Hardy's fourth wall breaking takes did. Instead, it simply and effectively telegraphs that the lad has had an epiphany. In a sense it is like similar aside glances that actors can get away with on stage without the moment turning comic. A significant part of cinemacraft was derived from stagecraft, since that was the only analogy the early years of film could muster.
Don't Like: Enid Markey is not what you would call a looker. Then again, most women (and most men) fall into that non-looker category. I don't know enough about early Hollywood to understand whether ravishing beauty was an aspect that became predominant after 1918 or not. Regardless, later in 1918 Markey played Jane Porter again in The Romance of Tarzan (1918). Of note, Griffith was Tarzan as a boy in that film, too. I have no idea if they reused his footage from Tarzan of the Apes. I'm not sure whether I dislike the fact that Hollywood eventually developed the high good looks esthetic, or whether they weren't using it for this movie.
Don't Like: The six searchers who come to Africa to find the boy that Binns has told them about are largely caricatures. Especially Jane Porter's fiancé. Jane is not herself comic relief, but the rest seem to tend in that direction.
Don't Like: Sorry to his ghost and descendants, but Elmo Lincoln is not "Tarzan." He plays Tarzan, but he is just not physically the type to be a 20-year old kid who has grown up with very hairy parents in the jungles of Africa. There was originally a different actor hired for adult Tarzan. IMDb asserts that Stellan Windrow played that character for five weeks of shooting before quitting to go join the US Navy in The Great War. All the Tarzan in the trees footage is allegedly this more athletic actor's work. Honestly, you expect Lincoln to be huffing from his physical exertions, although you couldn't hear it in a silent film. He was only 29 when the movie was released, but he looks ten years past that.
Don't Like: When we first see young Tarzan he is braiding a rope. Come on! Who taught him to do that? Wait! I forgot. Humans always braid ropes. It's just what we do. We do it naturally. Hell, I'm braiding one right now as I type this. I stand corrected.
Don't Like: For all these older films I seem to always mention this, but it's only because so many actors and actresses of the time didn't use The Method. For George B. French who plays Binns to be in the same scene with the totally natural Gordon Griffith is quite a contrast between what would nowadays be called "good acting" and what nowadays would be called "very bad acting" so far as cinema goes. French simply goes too far in transmitting his character's emotional state after Binns discovers the Greystoke cabin with its three skeleton occupants. Did Scott Sidney, the director purposely have French play the part in such an overwrought style? Or did he not notice? Or did he try to get French to hold back some, without success? I believe I've asked these same questions before in this thread.
Don't Like: The movie just quits. Now that's probably because over two hours of the original 3-part film has been lost (so they say). But when Jane calls Tarzan back to her, they kiss and "The End" pops up on the screen. Kind of abrupt. But I realize that it might not always have had such an abrupt ending.
Alice Guy turned down an offer to direct this film, which is why Scott Sidney's name appears on the posters. I wonder if a woman's touch would have made the film substantially different.
Now the trivia page also says that this film was originally three hours long, divided into three parts. Only 73 minutes of the film remain known today. I wonder if the three hours were divided across the three sections of the current edited version of the movie. If so, each section has been truncated to fit into the shorter space, and the ending would have been the same as what we see, now. Honestly, I could never have sat through three hours of this film. Or, maybe that isn't true. I watched all 15 episodes of the 1920 serial film The Son of Tarzan starring the muscular, believably athletic Kamuela Searle as the adult Korak. Interestingly, the kid in that film, Jack, the young son of Tarzan, who returns to the jungle to ultimately become Korak, was played by Gordon Griffith. So he played Tarzan first, and he also played the son of Tarzan first.
As with all these very early movies, I feel a need to say that they exist today mainly for the interest of film historians. Not everyone wants to watch movies without color, and without synchronous audio. Still, some silent films are as literary and cinematic as anything that has come since. This is not a bad film, and might have been an even better presentation in the lost longer version. It's worth a diversionary hour of your time to see it if you can get a DVD copy from your library, or just watch one of the posts of the film made to YouTube.
I bought the only version I could find at the time I started this Rematch Round Four, and it's a fairly cheap 61-minute Alpha Home Entertainment release with an original synth score by Don Kinnier. Parts of the image look like a newer transfer, but some scenes look like they were mastered to DVD from a second generation VHS copy. Part of this may have to do with image compression and the relative amount of movement in the frame at times. More has to do with the low image resolution!
It is wonderful whenever a very clean copy can be restored from such an old film. I've seen very crisp DVD images from films that are from the same era, or before. It's a judgment call whether the expense of cleaning up a film is worth it in revenue terms, even in the long run. And I suppose no one has thought they could make back tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands spent to find and restore the elements of the existing 73 minutes of the 1918 movie.
We have what we have. At least most of the dramatic intent is still recognizable.
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Gordon Griffith (1907-1958) at IMDb. He played parts in 86 titles between 1913 and 1936. He was still acting in 1931 at which time he began moving over to 2d unit and assistant directing, and producing which lasted until 1956, adding another 28 screen credits to his listings. As a child, according to IMDb, he was the first to play Tarzan, Tom Sawyer and Penrod on the screen.
Elmo Lincoln (1889–1952). IMDb. 'A former Arkansas peace officer, Elmo Linkenhelt worked in D.W. Griffith's The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1912). In a fight scene his shirt was partially torn off, displaying his powerful chest. Griffith noticed, called him over, and told him "That's quite a chest you have there". Griffith changed the name to Elmo Lincoln and featured him in several of his films.'
Enid Markey (1894–1981). IMDb. 'In a career on stage, screen, and television covering more than six decades, actress Enid Markey is probably best known for two roles almost fifty years apart: The original Jane Porter in the first-ever Tarzan film (1918's Tarzan of the Apes, opposite Elmo Lincoln's Tarzan) and in the recurring role of Mrs. Mendlebright on The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s.'
George B. French (1883–1961). IMDb. "George B. French was born on April 14, 1883 in Storm Lake, Iowa, USA. He was an actor, known for Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Crazy by Proxy (1917) and Her Speedy Affair (1915). He died on June 9, 1961 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA."
Stellan Windrow (1893–1959). IMDb. 'At the University of Chicago Stellan was an outstanding athlete (swimming, shotput, discus), took an Associate in Philosophy (1915) and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, the Society of Tiger Head and the Blackfriars Drama Society. He worked summer jobs at Chicago's Essanay Studio and there became friends with Wallace Beery, Ruth Stonehouse and Francis X. Bushman. In 1917 he was hired by producer 'Bill Parsons' to play the part of Tarzan, becoming the first actor ever contracted for the part. After several weeks of shooting, on Bayou Teche LA, the tree-work all but completed, the United States entered World War I and Stellan became an ensign in the navy.'
Scott Sidney (1874–1928). IMDb. 'American director and erstwhile actor. Originally a performer on the stock and vaudeville circuits, especially the Mittenthal Bros. circuit, he appeared with his wife Josephine Foy in a vaudeville show entitled "The Inspector." Noticed in this show by producer Thomas H. Ince, Sidney entered films in approximately 1913 as a performer and quickly was promoted to directing pictures.'
Alice Guy (I) (1873–1968). IMDb. 'Generally considered to be the world's first female director, French-born Alice Guy entered the film business as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The next year Gaumont changed from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, and Guy became one of its first film directors. She impressed the the company so much with the output (she averaged two two-reelers a week) and quality of her productions that by 1905 she was made the company's production director, supervising the company's other directors.'
Not Quite a Remake Rematch between The Tingler (1959), Night of the Creeps (1986) and Slither (2006)
IMDb link 6.7/10 with 5,138 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 71%/user rating 67% with 4,954 votes
Year: 1959 Director: William Castle -- Writer: Robb White -- Cast: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln, Philip Coolidge -- Length: 82 min. B&W/Mono -- estimated budget: $250,000
One of the hardest decisions to make when assessing a movie is whether it's a good film or not. Now, like most people, if I like a film I tend to think of it as "a good film." But all of us at times recognize that we might like a film a lot, yet realize that it isn't the pinnacle achievement of the art form.
There are other films that simply defy description. After seeing The Tingler (1950) three times I cannot tell you what it is. The structure of the movie is bizarre. In part this stems from William Castle's bizarre idea for marketing the movie. I understand that surplus WWII aircraft wing electric deicing buzzers, vibrators, were attached to a number of the seats in each theater where the film was shown. Castle named this in-theater effect "Percepto!" because it needed a name, I guess. During one scene where a tingler creature is loose in the theater on the screen, the people in those seats would have received a tingling buzz from the vibrator motor. Did that cause people to scream? Who knows? In case no one did, I hear tell that Castle put shills in the audience who would scream.
Films like this are an acquired taste, except for a few who readily gravitate to anything offbeat. The Tingler isn't a pain to watch. There isn't a whole lot that you can riff on. There is also nothing that is particularly scary.
So, if you haven't already seen The House on Haunted Hill (1959) by Castle, starring Vincent Price, or this one, it won't hurt you to give it a miss.
This is one of those films where the producer/director appears on screen before the movie to warn you about it. Things like -- This could be too frightening for many viewers. -- Just remember to scream for your life. Sure. Sure, Mr. director. After this you expect silliness more than terror.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: Castle's films aren't "good" per se, but they are cleverly put together and to some extent the production values are fairly high. The lighting in this black and white movie is moody and sometimes creates a sense of claustrophobia. The photography is mostly pedestrian, but will sometimes take an interesting angle.
Like: Very little in this film is deliberately "campy," yet some take the style to be just that. It isn't afraid to be tongue-in-cheek, but even when it is doing so, it doesn't wallow in it. Much of the film is subtly done, which emphasizes the weirdness of the screaming scenes. It's the subtlety that I like.
Like: Vincent Price was always excellently comedic when he appeared on The Red Skelton Show on TV. So it's no surprise that he plays the part with an awareness of what is goofy, yet he plays it straight. Until he doesn't. Such as in the scene where he sets out to scare himself; his emotions and tone are straightforward until he gets to make faces. These are more than slightly over the top. We are in on the joke with Price.
Like: Homage. "I feel as though my arm was in one of those hydraulic presses."
Like: Castle tried noticeable special effects. In this case it's a black and white film with one notable color scene.
Like: Castle's low budget leads to many of the special effects being produced in the viewer's mind. Such as the cracked spinal column of the electrocuted criminal who dies at the beginning of the movie.
Like: Again, subtlety.
Oliver Higgins discloses that his brother-in-law killed two women down the street from them on their block. "They got the right guy," he says to Dr Chapin. But by the end of the film you understand that they got and killed the wrong guy. It was Higgins who killed the two women. Nothing is ever said about this. Again, subtlety.
Like: Judith Evelyn's tormented performance as a deaf-mute woman who owns a silent movie theater is spot on. She also appears in this thread as Miss Lonelyhearts in Rear Window (1954).
Like: The reveal shot of the Tingler is quite well done, if on the cheap. The backlit projection of a shadow onto a surgical screen is perfect. Sadly, a couple of shots later we get to see the actual rubber prop. Cue trombone blat sound.
Like:Tol'able David (1921) is a real film (shown on the marquee of Martha's silent film theater). The portions shown in the theater scene make it look like a better film than The Tingler. The scenes included in Castle's film spurred me to take the plunge and order the DVD.
Don't Like: Cheese, except on pizzas, and then, only mozzarella. This movie is really among the strangest films I have ever seen.
Don't Like: I remember a little friend who saw the film and for a while believed that the Tingler creature is a real thing. As if he had seen a documentary rather than a fictional drama. I wonder how many kids there were like him. I didn't see the movie, but when he talked about the Tingler at length I knew there wasn't such a thing. I was two years younger than him, too.
Don't Like: As good as the film is in places, it is ultimately a let-down. The silent theater shows adult admission is $1.00. If people paid a hard-earned dollar to see this movie, I'll bet a lot of them felt like they had wasted the money.
Overall: worth maybe one watch. If you never take that step you won't have missed anything. But if you like cinema that's WTF?? you ought to see it once, just for the scenes with screaming. Yeah.
After Vincent Price starred in this film he was finished with his one-year two-film William Castle run. Both cheaply-produced films became cult-classics. In part, Vincent Price's continuing recognition among new generations will be the result of his choice to do these two cheap films! (The Dr. Phibes movies are much better.) Do not be deceived by this accolade, though. Price appeared in over 100 films in his career. Was on radio. Wrote art books. And was a noted art historian and lecturer. He would be remembered for some of this, anyway.
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The Tingler. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "The Tingler received mixed reviews and is generally considered a camp cult classic."
Vincent Price. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Price was an art collector and consultant, with a degree in art history. He lectured and wrote books on the subject. He was the founder of the Vincent Price Art Museum in California. He was also a noted gourmet cook.'
William Castle. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He obtained Orson Welles' telephone number and persuaded Welles to lease him the Stony Creek Theatre in Connecticut. (Welles was leaving to begin filming Citizen Kane.) He hired German actress Ellen Schwanneke; upon learning that, under then-current theater guild regulations, German-born actors could only appear in plays originally performed in Germany, Castle claimed he had hired her for the non-existent play Das ist nicht für Kinder (Not for Children); Castle spent the following weekend writing the play and having it translated into German.'
Judith Evelyn. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'On September 3, 1939, she and her fiancé, Canadian radio producer Andrew Allan, survived the sinking of the Anchor-Donaldson liner SS Athenia. The Athenia was the first British passenger liner to be sunk by a German submarine in World War II.'
Robb White. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The Whites spent three years on Marina, hacking a cistern out of the rough, rocky land and shipping in enough concrete to build a small, sturdy house. These adventurous years, during which the couple weathered a typhoon, fended off a randy Nazi skipper, aided Jewish refugees, and survived a surprise visit from White's mother-in-law, are detailed in his memoirs, In Privateer's Bay (1939), Our Virgin Island (1953), and Two on the Isle (1985).'
Tol'able David (1921). IMDb. "When three thuggish men are responsible for the death of his father and the crippling of his brother, young David must choose between supporting his family or risking his life and exacting vengeance." 8.1/10 with 1,485 votes.
Pushed myself to get back to reviews. I have to re-watch the films in order to write essays, etc. So I figure as I do, I ought to complete the reviews.
Still slogging my way through the French edition of War of the Buttons by Pergaud. Honestly, I can read pages of English in the amount of time it takes me to decipher, and double-check five paragraphs of French. Ha ha! Probably the reason I'm proceeding so slowly, or part of the reason, is that I generally read only when tending to alimentary canal issues, either input or output, and that limits my time digesting words.
And I've gotten distracted by two other hobbies.
Plus a new one. (DAZ Studio 4.9 is great fun, and may be a way to generate new covers for the ebook editions of my novels.)
Plus a thread that I'm writing but haven't decided to post yet. (What's the rationale for that, eh?)
And my resolve to complete this thread for a third time has been flagging due to lack of verbal interest, although I buoy myself with consultation of the page view numbers. It's just that sometimes I'd like to hear from another human in text form, although I maintain that I'm doing this thread for myself.
I've been busy with other things, but I'm working up a review for Night of the Creeps (1989).
I'm simply sick of the ubiquity of advertising. It has become visual trash, and takes up far too much space. Like lawns.
I don't watch television -- because of ads. The only thing that ever plays on my TV are DVDs, Blu rays, and streaming video. True, I pay for those. But I also pay for my mother's U-verse TV, and she's barraged by fucking ads constantly.
I consider that I have more respect for myself than to submit to being assaulted (it seems like assault) by messages about things I don't want. Don't even want to know about.
Fuck the notion of a "right" to operate a business. Yeah, in America and other places we have a right to start a business. There is no right to make a profit, or even to sell anything to someone else. Merely the opportunity to do so. If business operators insist that I must submit to their advertisers' cheap shots simply because they have spent money to try to reach me, then that's their sad, miserable loss.
"It takes money to put together a magazine or a website....bla bla bla bla bla..."
You have a right to spend that money. I guess you have a right to block me if I won't look at your stinking ads. So, we're even. You don't want me to read your actual content if I won't read the trash that you think allows that content to exist. And I won't be reading it. Yay. We both win. Wait, I win, you lose. Because you can no longer make the argument that your business exists for the purpose of informing the public. Nope! Now it exists only for pushing unwanted advertising content into my browser. And I reject that notion. If you aren't there to create it because I won't let you flash ads before my eyes, and you have to close up shop then the content won't exist. But I won't notice, because I won't be reading it anyway, remember!?!?!
Damn, I've gone and become a curmudgeon in this area! Well, that's okay. I am truly the only person in the entire world who detests advertising. The rest of you, enjoy!
I have a link to my website in my signature. No one is forced either to read it or to click on it.
I respect your right not to hear from me. And that is a right. I respect your right to buy nothing that I have written, if you don't want to. And that is a right. I don't claim the right to force you to watch or read ads for my books. And I never will. I respect you as a human being. You aren't simply a marketing target.
Not Quite a Remake Rematch between The Tingler (1959), Night of the Creeps (1986) and Slither (2006)
IMDb link 6.8/10 with 14,804 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 69%/user rating 70% with 10,085 votes
Year: 1986 -- Director: Fred Dekker -- Writer: Fred Dekker -- Cast: Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins, Allan Kayser, David Paymer, Evelyne Smith -- Length: 88 min. B&W/Color/Stereo -- estimated budget: $5,000,000; est. gross USA $591,366
Fred Dekker's 1986 fright flick seems to follow "the formula." But it might actually have helped to set the formula followed by subsequent films that we are more likely to have seen lately. Whether it set any trends, or merely amalgamated them, it is one of the best of the genre. Many first-timers are involved in the cast, and it was the director-writer's first feature film.
The film also handles 1980s US culture in a way that no modern film could, and with good reason. Pay phones, the lack of digital devices, the selection of 1980s pop tunes for the soundtrack, the attire of the day; all are handled naturally. The reason is that those things were contemporary in 1986 or did not exist yet, so there aren't any anachronisms in their presentation. Still, in the flashbacks to 1959, there is a supposedly 2-year old Thunderbird automobile that has a 30-year accumulation of scratches to the dashboard paint below the radio.
Many of the characters in the film are named after film directors whose stock in trade has included sci-fi and horror genre pieces. But there is one main character named "J.C." who behaves in a way consistent with another famous figure whose initials are J.C. He brings a message of salvation (heat will kill them), and then goes to his death. Oh, but not before reminding roommate and best friend Chris Romero, that "I love you, Chris." And he wishes Chris the best of luck with Cindy Cronenberg.
I'm pretty sure that "creeps" in the title refers to both some human creeps, and the zombies created when slugs spring into the victims' mouths.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: Detective Ray Cameron arrives at a murder crime scene and passes by some roses growing beside the sidewalk as he approaches the sorority house scene of the crime. He stops and takes a deep whiff of the fragrance. No one says a thing.
Like: The interplay between the three main young characters (Chris, J.C., and Cindy) is light and enjoyable throughout. No one grows so important that they cannot (or must be) sacrificed to the plot-line.
Like: The film is not really frightening. Nor does it try to be. There are moments of tension as characters face peril. But it's treated more as a comedy. And the ideas in it are silly, but the way the story is told is compelling.
Like: Many quotable lines.
Like: The effects in 1986 weren't like they are now. I think some of these visual effects are early digital to film effects. Most are practical, animatronic or human dummy props. The dummy props look like dummy props. But they are well-made ones. Even though the effects aren't "realistic" they are appreciated.
Like: Allan Kayser plays Brad very effectively. Brad's definitely the kind of guy I wouldn't offer my feces to if he was dying of hunger. Such people probably don't exist outside fiction. But, oh do we love to hate that creep in this tale!
Like: This film has at least one "I know that guy!" in it. David Paymer, whose name I never looked up until I was writing this review, is instantly recognizable to anyone my age (and possibly anyone who watches TV). He is "Young Scientist" and the character who inadvertently sets everything up for Chris and J.C. to get into the cryogenic chamber where Johnny has been frozen since 1959.
Like: Tom Atkins (I had never heard of him before I watched this film for the first time) is really cool as Detective Ray Cameron. Atkins has said that Ray Cameron is the favorite of all the characters he has played in horror films. It is difficult to describe the incongruities in the character, but what Dekker didn't provide in the script, Atkins added in his performance. And it is spot on weird! Perfectly weird!
Like: J.C. is a handicapped character (the actor is not himself handicapped) who is witty, a good friend, struggling against depression but unwilling to wallow in it, and willing to give everything in order to protect those he loves. Which is apparently...everyone. He doesn't even cuss Brad out when the creep trips him by blocking one of his crutches. In fact, J.C. is the most rounded character in the entire movie. His motivations are not always clear, but they run deep. Bravo to Fred Dekker for including someone like him in the character list, and for actually pulling off a fine realization of that kind of person, with the adept help of actor Steve Marshall.
Like: It's worth noting that teenage freshmen Chris and J.C. are played by actors who actually were 18 during shooting. Jill Whitlow was about 22 years old during shooting. Maybe Cynthia Cronenberg is not a freshman?
Like: Jill Whitlow puts in another perfect performance as Cynthia Cronenberg, the shallow sorority girl who fascinates Chris, and for whom J.C. puts forth energy to hook her up with his best friend. But Dekker and Whitlow conspire to make her much more innocent than we would expect, and much smarter, too. Why, she turns out not to be as shallow as we thought, nor as dainty as she appears. In some ways she is an homage to Ripley in Aliens, yet the movies came out in the same year. Figure that one out!
Don't Like: Well, this is a general dislike that applies to all films, books, short stories and comics...when the villains of a piece are so villanous that they don't come across as even slightly human. Brad reminds me of Donald Trump. Self-important, and utterly without value to most of the people around him. So, when Brad becomes a monster there isn't a lot of change. This is kind of a cheap trick, I think. But I can see why Dekker uses it: the trick works. Almost all of the men who become possessed by the slugs are like that. All except poor J.C. But that's because most of the slug zombies we see are on a frat bus bound for "the formal dance." A few sorority girls who don't seem to have been bad people in the course of the story become slug zombies, too.
Don't Like: Perhaps it has to be this way in order for J.C. to shine, but Chris is written as a much flatter character than he might have been. Or, maybe only that kind of character could fit into the slot Chris has in the story. Jason Lively does a good job of reflecting a subsurface something from time to time, indicating that there is more to Chris than his surface. Yet, that opportunity is not expanded. Like: And it doesn't have to be, really. We have the J.C. character and Detective Cameron in this film. It's okay if Chris and Cindy aren't fleshed out any more than they are.
The world has changed a lot since 1986. Of course, I have no experiential knowledge of college campuses since 1992 when I went back to get my BA in Video and Film Production. I bet they don't still have "formal dances" unless the greeks still have them. When I was in undergraduate school in the early 1970s (working on my 1975 BS in Biology) the campus fraternal and sororal organizations were declassé. They had very, very small membership. I wonder nowadays if it's a microaggression to turn down a boy for a date. Or is it a microaggression for him to ask you out in the first place? I think very little about microaggressions, although perhaps I should increase the amount of attention I pay to that topic.
This is a film that I can recommend to nearly everyone. It's fun, a bit gross by its nature, but not nearly so much as it would be in a 2017 remake. It is tame compared to Slither (2006) made two decades later with a similar basic idea. It is funny, compelling, and never takes itself seriously.
Worth a viewing.
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Night of the Creeps. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Director Fred Dekker originally wanted to shoot the film in black and white. He included every B movie cliche he could think of and insisted on directing the script himself. The script was written in a week.'
Jason Lively. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Lively is married and has two sons with wife Lani. They live in Heber City, Utah. Lively works for a computer company and is also owner and operator of Jimmy Crack Corn, a mobile roasted-corn business.'
Jason Lively. IMDb. 'Jason Lively was born on March 12, 1968. He is an actor and director, known for National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), Night of the Creeps (1986) and Brainstorm (1983).'
Steve Marshall. IMDb. 'Steve Marshall was born on March 1, 1968 in the USA. He is an actor, known for Night of the Creeps (1986), Shades of Love: Tangerine Taxi (1988) and Justice Denied (1989).'
Jill Whitlow. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'In recent years, Whitlow has developed something of a cult following and there is a web site dedicated to her. Her fans have professed she is an outstanding and beautiful actress who was never given just due for her fine performances. They have praised her portrayal of an action heroine in Night of the Creeps and pointed out that she was one of the pioneers and it paved the way for future action heroines like Linda Hamilton, Sandra Bullock, and Angelina Jolie.'
Jill Whitlow. IMDb. 'Jill made her film debut with a small role as high school student Mindy in the outrageously raunchy comedy smash Porky's (1981).'
Tom Atkins (actor). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He is well known to movie goers for his role as Michael Hunsaker in the Richard Donner hit film Lethal Weapon (1987), with Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey; the film was produced by Donner and Joel Silver, written by Shane Black.' Shane Black is a friend and collaborator to Fred Dekker.
Tom Atkins. IMDb. 'Tom gave a smack dead-on-the-money terrific performance as weary, cynical and suicidal Detective Ray Cameron in the delightful Night of the Creeps (1986) (this movie is Tom's personal favorite among all the horror films he has acted in).'
Fred Dekker. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Fred Dekker (born April 9, 1959) is an American writer and director of the cult classic films Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad (written with Shane Black).'
Fred Dekker. IMDb. 'An avid comic book fan, monster movie buff, and film nerd from an early age, Dekker was rejected by both USC and UCLA film schools. He wound up attending UCLA as an English major instead.'
Charles Gordon. IMDb. 'Charles Gordon was born on May 13, 1947 in Mississippi, USA. He is a producer and actor, known for Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2 (1990) and The Girl Next Door (2004).'
David Paymer. IMDb. 'Has worked opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins twice: first in Nixon (1995), and then in Amistad (1997). In both films, Hopkins plays a former U.S. President.'
Tony Laudati. IMDb. 'dimensional animation effects - as Anthony Laudati'. One of four credited for that function.
Night Of The Creeps on Crackle.com. 'Feature Film | R | 1 hr 29 min | Released: 1986 Audio: English | CC/Subtitles: English Why It Crackles: One of the most underrated zombie films ever unleashed is also one of the funniest.'
La guerre des butons. I have finally completed reading the novel, after only four months (I think, perhaps close to five months) of slowly slogging through a language I barely know. I'm reading the essay that follows the novel, now. Much easier to comprehend without having to translate very much. I was heartened by the ease with which I could (mostly) understand the interspersed academic assignments for the students who would be reading this particular edition. No doubt, the fact that the French in those sections, and in the essay, is aimed at young readers helped me a great deal!
I should be back to posting a bit more often.
The review of Vitorrio De Sica's 1948 (1949 in the US) film about bicycles being stolen is just about complete. Should be up in a few minutes.
And then it's off to the grocery store . Ugh. Hate grocery shopping.
A Comparison of Ladri di Biciclette (1949) & Beijing Bicycle (2002)
IMDb link 8.3/10 with 96,689 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 98%/user rating 94% with 33,510 votes
Year: 1949 Director: Vittorio De Sica -- Writers: Cesare Zavattini (satory), Luigi Bartolini (novel), and the screenplay - Oreste Biancoli, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Vittorio De Sica, Adolfo Franci, Gherardo Gherardi, Gerardo Guerrieri, Cesare Zavattini -- Cast: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltamerenda, Vittorio Antonucci, Giulio Chiari, Sergio Leone -- Length: 89 min. B&W/Mono -- estimated budget: $133,000
The film's title has often been mistranslated to English. "Ladri" is plural for thief, so, thieves. "Thieves of bicycle," would be a more literal translation. Thus, in English, "Bicycle Thieves." That doesn't sound like a title that would lead you to a happy ending; none is promised, none is delivered.
Ladri di Biciclette came out in 1948 (1949 in the US), as part of the neo-realism movement of Italian cinema following WWII. Ossessione (1943) was an earlier part of the same movement. This was an attempt to strip away the cinematic and dramatic from films and let it stand as a bleak reflection of real life. Of course, they didn't eschew good photography the way some modern movements have done. They simply didn't glamorize life the way Hollywood did.
In one of my college textbooks for cinema history someone was quoted as having said, "The best film plots can be written on the back of a postage stamp." I wish I could recall who said that. Anyway, it fits this film: Antonio, a man living in poverty with his wife, Maria, and their young son, Bruno, goes daily to try to find work. Apparently, he has been without work for a year. One day his name is called, he has a job putting up posters, but he needs a bicycle, or he cannot take the job. He owns a bicycle, but he has pawned it. So his wife sells (or pawns) six sheets in order to raise 7500 lire. The bike costs 6500 lire to get it out of hock.
Antonio starts work the next morning after dropping Bruno off at the gas station where he works. Then he is trained how to put up a poster, balances his ladder on his left shoulder and rides away to his first posting location. While he is on the ladder, a young man circles by on foot, and then brazenly takes Antonio's bicycle and rides away. The rest of the film follows Antonio and Bruno as they search for the bike on the following day (Sunday). They find the boy who stole the bike, still riding it, but when they give chase he is able to get away. There are four episodes beyond their discovery of the bike, all of which go downhill.
The postage stamp version?: a man has to have a bicycle in order to get a job. But his bicycle is stolen on his first day, and he will lose the job without the bicycle. This is the same basic postage-stamp plot that underlies Beijing Bicycle, which is why it is being compared to Bicycle Thieves in this NQR Rematch.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: As with Ossessione, the camera moves. Not just a pan or tilt. Not a mere trucking shot. No, De Sica's vision can waltz all around the Italian cityscape, going from very wide to closeups, following characters, following vehicles, because there is no apparent restriction on its movement. It is a silent film camera, with the dialog recording postponed until after the editing has been done. Sometimes sloppy audio sync, of course, but it allowed masterful use of movement with the cameras of the day.
Like: The photography is often documentary style to the point of allowing us to wonder just how much of the background is set-up and how much of it is just what the producers found where they were shooting? I assume that a master like De Sica would have had full control of his sets, but it all seems very real.
Like: Bruno, Antonio's little boy, probably 6 or 7 years old. He is the comic relief in the story...and it needs quite a bit. But he is so natural, just a little kid, really, that nothing about his comedy is forced. Enzo Staiola is the perfect boy to have in this cast. For a modern analogy, it's very much like putting kitties!! in your film would be today. The little dude is so cute by nature, and then the young actor does an excellent job of making Bruno constantly aware of (sometimes imitating the movements of) his father. You forget that he is not actually Lamberto Maggiorani's son. I can't recall any other film in this entire thread with a character quite like little Bruno. And also, no other 6-year old who works at a gasoline station.
Like: There are so many quotable lines in this film. Probably they are equally quotable in the orginal Italian. "I'm not going to wait around another year." "Why should I kill myself worrying when I'll end up just as dead?" "Why did you let him go for the soup?" "Watch your back. Stay out of the Via Panico." "I don't want the bother. The man has enough trouble." All these make sense in context, and maybe not so much out of context.
Like: The economy of visualization and telling of the story are amazingly adept. I didn't note any heavy-handedness in the depiction of this family's dire circumstances. In this case the neo-realism pays off, because not a lot is made of their poverty; it is simply shown, not flaunted.
Like: In fact, De Sica refrains from rubbing our noses in anything about this story. That makes it seem more real than real, but not in a Hollywood way. The characters are not bemoaning their post-war poverty. Their despair is rather quiet, in fact, almost too quiet. Exactly as if it has become an everyday thing for them.
Like: A sequence set in a Sunday mass at a charity ministry is rather humorous, but is tension-filled as well. Antonio is trying to get information from the old man he saw with the bicycle thief earlier. The beggar is not cooperative. Antonio is not interested in the worship service, but continues to badger the man, and to threaten him, in an attempt to get information. And, of course, he is shushed and called down by people running the worship service.
Like: Maria immediately sets about to get the sheets that can be hocked in order to get Anto's bike (she calls him "Anto") out of hock. She doesn't complain, she simply does what is best for the family, even giving up two new sheets that she has been keeping in a drawer. Later she rides on the bar of the bicycle as her husband drives her around town. Her only complaint is that Antonio pawned the bike in the first place (made before they pawn the sheets and reclaim the bicycle), but she says nothing else when he points out that it was done so that she and Bruno could eat. Her husband is not perfect, but neither is life, and she takes everything in stride, with faith, aplomb and self-control. Before there were "strong women" in Hollywood films, there was Maria.
Like: The residents of his neighborhood close around the bicycle thief. This is the kind of injustice that happens all too often in life. Antonio is right, but not even the process of the law is on his side. Not really. Only the words of the law make his stance correct.
Like: The film is visually rich. Although he uses closeups, and varies his shot distance constantly, De Sica leaves the camera wide quite often. There is so much to see. It seems that everything included in the frame is there with a purpose, even if it's only to constantly remind you what a small thing a bicycle is in a city, and how many other things there are to compete for your attention when you are trying to find it.
Like: This is a marvelously busy film. Hundreds of background extras. Hundreds of vehicles. Hundreds of buildings with their occupants and windows. A constantly moving texture that backs up a simple story, provides the story with place and energy and emotion. Enough detail that you can watch it once for the story, and again and again just to see what your eye didn't have time to find the first time through. Plus, Antonio and company are quite busy trying to find the stolen bicycle in the midst of unexpected twists and turns of plot.
Like: This film has an all too realistic ending. No sugar-coating. We know that, because of a bicycle thief, this good man and his family will have to go hungry for much longer. His reinstated ability to dream of a future has lasted only a day. Now it's back to cold, brutal reality. Likely at least another year before he finds a job again.
Don't Like: Only one thing -- Italian post-syncing of all audio. As an American I can't stand the asynchronous lips...whenever I notice them. I rarely do notice them when I watch this film, though. There is too much else to see.
To state explicitly why the title is plural would be to give away the ending of the story. So I won't. But if you have already seen the film you know.
People are still watching this film 68 years after its initial release because it is one of the finest movies ever made anywhere in the world. It has never been exactly remade, because there is no need. It could not be improved. It is lean, emotionally riveting, not too long. The music is all diagetic. There never seems to be artificial light. The main actors aren't even actors, although they do a superb job of playing the parts that they have.
I first saw the film when it was only 21 years old (I was 18, a college freshman). I loved it but had no idea that it would still be so beloved 47 years later. Owning a copy of it in any form that I could watch at will was beyond all seeming possibilities in 1970. I thought I had probably seen it for the only time I ever would when the film flickered off and the ceiling fluoros flickered back on in the classroom.
Thank goodness that wasn't the case!
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Bicycle Thieves. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Bicycle Thieves is the best-known work of Italian neorealism, the movement (begun by Roberto Rossellini's 1945 Rome, Open City) which attempted to give cinema a new degree of realism. De Sica had just made the controversial film Shoeshine and was unable to get financial backing from any major studio for the film, so he raised the money himself from friends.'
Vittorio De Sica. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Four of the films he directed won Academy Awards: Sciuscià and Bicycle Thieves were awarded honorary Oscars, while Ieri, oggi, domani and Il giardino dei Finzi Contini won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar'
Lamberto Maggiorani. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He was a factory worker (he worked as a turner) and non-professional actor at the time he was cast in this film. He earned 600,000 lire ($1,000 US) for his performance, enabling him to buy new furniture and treat his family to a vacation; but when he returned to the factory he was laid off because business was slackening and management felt it would be fairer to terminate him instead of other impoverished co-workers since he was perceived to have "made millions" as a movie star.'
Enzo Staiola. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He appeared in several other films (including the American-produced The Barefoot Contessa in 1954, which starred Humphrey Bogart) before becoming a maths teacher in adulthood.'
Lianella Carell. Da Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera. 'La Carell, giovane giornalista e scrittrice,...nel 1948 incontra Vittorio De Sica per una intervista, proprio nel momento in cui il regista è alla ricerca della protagonista di Ladri di biciclette' -- 'La Carell, young journalist and writer,...in 1948 she met Vittorio De Sica for an interview, just at the moment when the director was looking for the protagonist of The Bicycle Thief.'
The Bicycle Thief (1948). tcm.com. 'Vittorio De Sica's direction of mostly non-actors in The Bicycle Thief is one of the most effective uses of non-professionals in film history. Drawing on his experience as an actor (the director had been a stage and screen star long before moving behind the camera), he drew subtly nuanced performances from his cast, often catching emotional responses and physical changes of which the performers themselves were unaware.' -- 'With the controversy over the film's failure to pass the U.S. film industry's Production Code and its subsequent distribution by three independent theatre chains that had never before carried a film without the Code's Seal of Approval, The Bicycle Thief, became a key factor in bringing an end to the film industry's self-censorship in America.'
A Comparison of The Mayor of Hell (1933), Crime School (1938) and Hell's Kitchen (1939)
IMDb link 7.0/10 with 987 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer unavailable/user rating 57% with 326 votes
Year: 1933 Director: Archie Mayo, with uncredited assist from Michael Curtiz -- Writers: Edward Chodorov (screen play) Islin Auster (story) -- Cast: James Cagney, Madge Evans, Arthur Byron, Dudley Digges, Frankie Darro, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Sidney Miller, Raymond Borzage, George Offerman Jr. -- Length: 90 min. B&W/Mono -- estimated budget: $229,000.
The Mayor of Hell is not going to ever be at the top of the X Best Movies Ever Made list. In fact, it won't even be at the bottom of the list, because the list won't be long enough to accommodate whatever place it would earn. But it isn't a bad film. B-films used to occupy the niche taken over by television in the 1950s and 1960s in the US. The Mayor of Hell would be a television show now. And it would be a good one.
This film has too much in common with the 1938 and 1939 movies in this NQRR for it to not have had a lot of influence on the writers and producers of the other two movies. The difference is smaller than the differences between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. In some ways smaller than the differences among the three Maltese Falcon films. The basic idea is the same for all three movies. Yet, Crime School and Hell's Kitchen change enough plot details that they are not technically remakes of The Mayor of Hell. Not sure how that can be. But it seems that's how it is. Neither of those films credits the writers or story from 1933. Still, IMDb lists both films as remakes of The Mayor of Hell. Did I goof when calling it an NQRR?
The '38 and '39 films share a writer and a director. The Mayor of Hell was written by Edward Chodorov and Islin Auster. Chodorov was outed as a Communist by Jerome Robbins in 1954 to the House Unamerican Activities Committee, but this film certainly doesn't have a lot of Communist influence. After all, it shows a boy's reformatory being turned into a democracy run by the boys themselves.
The Mayor of Hell is the best-made of the three movies. The lead is James Cagney but he doesn't play his "Ngyaa!" kind of character this time. Oh, he talks fast and gangster-y, but he's not the same kind of character. Also, he's a more honest not-quite-as-underworld figure this time around. Patsy Gargan is a precinct boss in charge of keeping the voters in line. People my age and younger have likely never seen his type of politician.
The director of the Peakville State Reformatory, Mr. Thompson, is scrimping on the expenses of running the school in order to line his own pockets. When newly-appointed Deputy Commissioner Gargan shows up, Thompson thinks he'll only have to put up with occasional visits. Instead, Gargan decides that Thompson is not serving the boys well, and pulls strings in order to take over the top role at the reform school.
Gargan's muse in this decision is the medical officer at the reform school, Nurse Dorothy Griffith. She is always kind to the boys, considerate of their humanity. Mostly she wants to reform the reformatory. And Gargan likes this. He also likes her.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: The film doesn't introduce the star of the poster until it has introduced the stars of the film: the boys in Jimmy Smith's gang. These roles will be taken over by The Dead End Kids for the 1938 and 1939 re-works, but here some of the stars are much more Hollywood seasoned than those boys would be. In the same year that Frankie Darro appears in five films, including William Wyler's Wild Boys of the Road, his 67th screen role is Jimmy Smith. Frank Borzage's son, Raymond, plays Johnny Stone. A boy called 'Smoke' is played by Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, who had appeared in 113 short films before The Mayor of Hell. These roles are played by young, but seasoned actors. Darro was only 17 years old, Hoskins was only 13 when they played Jimmy and Smoke. Borzage was also 17. The other roles for boys are played by real teens. This in a time when 30-somethings might be called on to play a teenager.
Like: Cagney does the best, lowest-key job of acting in this film that I have ever seen him pull off, from his 1930s oeuvre. And, as Patsy Gargan he has enough chemistry with Madge Evans that you can mostly believe the tentative romance between Gargan and Dorothy Griffith. But their romance is not the major part of the story, albeit an important one to the plot
Like: The plot is straight-forward enough to let the characters shine. And the characters are well-written and acted. Thompson, the reform school director is both sleazy and human in the melodramatically capable hands of Dudley Digges (who we've seen before in 1931's The Maltese Falcon, as Casper Gutman). He is responsible for most of the foul turns in the story as he tries to get rid of Patsy Gargan.
Like: There is little or no music in this film. It's like Dracula (1931) in that way. Nearly the entire soundtrack is ambience and dialog. From having produced and edited so many videos, I understand that it is quite a challenge to pull that off. Easier, I guess, if all your shooting is on a sound stage, though.
Like: This is a 'you had to be there' kind of "Like" entry. For a person around my age, there are a number of faces that you'd remember from television in the 1960s, but the faces would be remembered in decades-older versions. Sidney Miller who plays Izzy is one of those faces. Frankie Darro is another. And the tone of the movie is basically what became the tone of dramatic TV when TV was young. Even though I had never seen the film before I was a crotchety old guy, it still felt familiar to me on first viewing. You will have such an experience a few decades from now, too. Just with different faces and programs. Uhm...perhaps even in a different medium. Get ready for it.
Like: Television, and B-films before it, will often mix genres so that you have, as in this film, love stories, crime stories, escape attempts, stories of redemption and failure, shootings, hiding on the lam, the stooge in the warden's back pocket, boys stealing guns from the armory and taking over the reformatory at gunpoint, as well as blazing barns (with horses carefully saved from the flames), impassioned last-minute speeches, and an occasional capitulation. Still not interested in watching?
Don't Like: Although it fits, and because the kids are so likeable, as well as Patsy Gargan and Dorothy Griffith, you want everything to come out well for them. But the happy ending is slightly too Hollywood for the story up to that point. It doesn't ruin the experience, but a somewhat darker turn of events would be more likely to happen IRL, and it may have made the film a "greater" movie if that had been done.
Johnny Stone, who has a cough, possibly TB, is put into the cooler because he won't identify some boys involved in a theft from the kitchen to feed Jimmy, who was in the cooler. The cooler is a hut without insulation or even anything to keep the cold wind out. Johnny dies. The boys hold Thompson responsible, and sentence him to death in their reformatory court. Thompson very melodramatically jumps out the window of the courtroom, flees to the barn and climbs up to the roof. The boys set the barn afire. Thompson falls from the roof into the pig pen. He hits his head on the way down, and apparently dies instantly. This to pay for his callous consignment of Johnny to the cooler, and that boy's demise. Hollywood justice. And that isn't dark enough? Nah. The boys are all exonerated in a very, very quick scene. Maybe some angsty, sweaty, terrorized scenes while the investigation was underway would have been better. Or something!
Don't Like: On the way to the slightly too-happy ending, there is a lot of melodrama. Still, it is subsumed beneath the plot to the point that it doesn't really stick out. Like: Bringing us to that fact that overall, the melodrama isn't allowed to overwhelm the story or the characterizations. Oh, sure the predictable characters from prison movies are all there: the heartless warden, the reform-minded nurse, the hard-as-steel no-nonsense inmates. The guys on the take. The guys out for themselves. But this is a different mix, so the expected characters and the predicted situations are sometimes turned on their heads. I guess I should say that it's a good story without becoming high-brow.
Don't Like: To some extent the skeleton of the film (prison movies) dictates how some characters must act. And sometimes it isn't convincing because these are boys, not hardened grown men. Like: Yet, this is a kind of different take on the prison movie. It is similar to films like Scum and Dog Pound, and even Darro's later starring vehicle, Boys Reformatory. But The Mayor of Hell is a rather liberal treatment of the genre tale. It allows itself to reset and maneuver the tropes into something recognizable, and also slightly new. At least for its contemporary time.
There was something about this pre-code film that wouldn't have passed muster with the Hayes Office. You might get some idea what from the information under the spoiler tag. Censorship is why it was remade in 1938, perhaps. Remember, The Maltese Falcon was also re-made after five years because of censorship issues. And its initial remake wasn't actually a remake-remake, either. But why was the 1938 film re-done again in 1939? I might figure that out before I finish this rematch. But it's a gaping, empty informational void at the moment.
Anyhow, I decided to stick with the NQRR label because neither Edward Chodorov nor Islin Auster are credited as writers, or even as creators of characters in the two later films. Crane Wilbur gets credit in both with the words "From an original story by...", yet we'll see as we go on that Hell's Kitchen is a bit more like The Mayor of Hell than it is like Crime School.
Weren't there any good copyright attorneys around back then? No matter. Warner Brothers created and owned all three films. And they weren't in the habit of suing themselves.
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The Mayor of Hell. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The Mayor of Hell is a 1933 American Pre-Code Warner Brothers film starring James Cagney. The film was remade in 1938 as Crime School with Humphrey Bogart taking over James Cagney's role and Hell's Kitchen with Ronald Reagan in 1939.'
Archie Mayo. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Mayo retired in 1946, shortly after completing A Night in Casablanca with the Marx Brothers and Angel on My Shoulder with Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, and Claude Rains.'
Michael Curtiz. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He introduced to Hollywood a unique visual style using artistic lighting, extensive and fluid camera movement, high crane shots, and unusual camera angles. He was versatile in that he could handle any kind of picture: melodrama, comedy, love story, film noir, musical, war story, Western, or historical epic.'
James Cagney. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'In his first professional acting performance, Cagney danced costumed as a woman in the chorus line of the revue Every Sailor, in 1919. He spent several years in vaudeville as a dancer and comedian, until he got his first major acting part in 1925.'
Madge Evans. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'At the age of 8 in 1917, Evans appeared in the Broadway production of Peter Ibbetson with John Barrymore, Constance Collier and Laura Hope Crews. At 17, she returned to the stage and appeared as the ingenue (stock character) in Daisy Mayme. Some of her best work in plays came in productions of Dread, The Marquis, and The Conquering Male. Her last appearance was in Philip Goes Forth produced by George Kelley. Evans' mother took her to England and Europe when she was 15.'
Madge Evans. MovieCritics.co. ' Her pleasing looks and personality soon attracted the attention of Hollywood and she was eventually signed by MGM in 1931. During the next decade, she appeared in several A-grade productions, notably as Lionel Barrymore's daughter in MGM's Dinner at Eight (1933) and as the dependable Agnes Wickfield in one of the best-ever filmed versions of David Copperfield (1935). She co-starred opposite James Cagney in the gangster movie The Mayor of Hell (1933), Spencer Tracy in The Show-Off (1934) and listened to Bing Crosby crooning the title song in Pennies from Heaven (1936).'
Edward Chodorov. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Edward Chodorov (April 17, 1904 – October 9, 1988), was a Broadway playwright. As well, he was the author or the producer of over 50 motion pictures' -- 'Chodorov was blacklisted in 1953 by Hollywood studios for his failure to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He was identified as a Communist Party member by Jerome Robbins.'
After posting two reviews of black & white films in a row, I got to thinking that a lot of the films in Round four are not made in color! So I went to my Excel spreadsheet, the one used for planning and keeping track of RR Round 4, and added a column for B&W films. As it turns out, of the 33 films that have been or will be reviewed in this Round, only 12 are black & white. The rest are color.
So far, the reviewed b&w movies are: On the Beach (1959), Bicycle Thieves (1949), La guerre des boutons (1962), Batman (serial, 1943), The Mayor of Hell (1933), The Tingler (1959), Tarzan of the Apes (1918) and Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). That's 8 of the dozen, already posted. The four remaining are the other two in the HEL rematch, and two of the Tom Brown rematch films.
Aside from those, all the movies are color films. It was an illusion (or maybe a delusion) brought about by the juxtaposition of the two most recent reviews, apparently.
Though ideas for Rematch posts are abundant, I am currently involved in the creation of text similar to,
"The reaction mechanism and solubility of precursor constituents are controlled through modifying chemicals, and sacrificial bonds. Thermal variance is used to adapt the precursors and to maintain them in the proper phase. This also allows removal of unwanted reaction byproducts."
Writing this is much more taxing that writing stuff like,
"Not only that, as much as Pergaud allows these little boys to be 'manly' in their endeavors, there is the recurring specter of parental reprisals for clothing ruined. They are playing at an adult game called war, one which adults barely understand."
But "The reaction mechanism and solubility of precursor constituents" pays a few bucks per hour [and I don't have to create graphics], while "there is the recurring specter of parental reprisals" yields no dollars whatsoever. Merely the pleasure of idea manipulation and wordcraft.
Despite my silly rant post of 17 Oct, I have used Comodo Dragon (a browser) to view Atlantic.com pages three or four times since.
All the ads I see, without exception, are placed by companies that already have permission to send me emails!
If Atlantic is getting paid by them for placing the ads, that's just one more bizarre and corrupt angle of capitalism!
I opted out of Google gathering information on me for ads, and that might be why I only see ads from people I already do business with.
Still writing about physics and solar cells, but I rewatched The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996) and have the review underway. No telling how long it will take me to polyimide substrates reportedly produced photovoltaic outputs of about 15%, but their low heat tolerance (about 420° C) represents a limitation to their usefulness. Wait, what happened there?! OMG!
I see, what I'm working on is a scientific review article, so because I wrote the word "review" the text from listed advantages included use of inexpensive and varied substrates, satisfactory stability characteristics environmentally speaking, and absence of Cd toxicity in the absorber.
Not Quite a Remake Rematch between The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996) & A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
IMDb link 5.3/10 with 4,171 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 27%/user rating 27% with 10,133 votes
Director: Steve Barron -- Writer: Sherry Mills, Steve Barron, Tom Benedek, Barry Berman -- Cast: Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Geneviève Bujold, Udo Kier, Bebe Neuwirth, Rob Schneider, Rob Schneider -- Length: 90 min. Color/Stereo -- estimated budget: $25,000,000 est. gross: $36,394,530 (worldwide, acc. IMDb)
There is a sweetness, a naive fog that hovers over this film. It is rarely broken, and it fits the story perfectly. I'm not sure how the writer and director managed to make that happen, but I am glad they did. Yet, the film is not without the melancholy that pervades A.I., to be honest. There is also a sense of foreboding and dread that moves through the story alongside the little magical wooden marionette which has cast off his strings.
It was fun to watch this film with my 10-year old son when it first came out on rentable VHS. His 14-year old brother liked it, too. Their enjoyment was contagious, and neither balked at watching the film again when I bought a DVD, but when I watched the film later, by myself, I still found it entertaining. (My DVD is so old that the widescreen version is letterboxed into a 4:3 aspect ratio black background!).
Clearly, those who voted on IMDb, and especially those voting at Rottentomatoes, thought it was crap. Maybe they are put off by the somewhat overdrawn characters. Maybe the over-produced "What Are We Made Of?" sequence. Perhaps the frenetic pacing of the film wears them down. Perhaps it's because those reviews are about the film when it was new, not a 20-year old, familiar film. The votes may be more recent, though.
I've written before about the films that I would never have bothered to watch if I hadn't had children to entertain. Well-made films. Enjoyable films. This is one of them. Its Disney precursor is another, because it came out when my parents were children, and I don't recall ever seeing the animated Disney Pinocchio movie before I watched it with my kids.
The puppet version of Pinocchio is both animatronic and stop-motion, depending on the scene. The animatronic puppet is mistaken for CGI by several reviewers I have run across. Pepe the grasshopper is early CGI, but I'm not sure he's all CG. The credits list a slew of digital artists and technicians. Some of the transformations are no doubt CGI, but others are practical effects. Altogether, for a pre-turn-of-the-century film the composite effects are pretty good.
But there is a never-ending backdrop of complex visualization for most scenes. It reminds me overall of the graphic texture of many children's book illustrations. The foreground action is quite clear, but in the background are a thousand things that you might look at. I always figured this was because small children focus their attention on the images while the adult reads the words to them. There may be a time when a shift occurs, and the attention goes from the pictures to the words. Surely there is! But I think we all still love the process of closely examining an image. My evidence: Where's Waldo?!
The frames in The Adventures of Pinocchio are filled with just such fitting detail.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop does the makeup effects, including the animatronic Pinocchio. They evince a subtle humor. When the wooden boy climbs into Gepetto's vacant bathtub, he floats atop the water. And I love the scene where the puppet boy observes and imitates the walking style of people that he and Gepetto meet in the street. There are times that I can "forget" that the marionette is not actually alive, so it must seem totally magical to children.
But my impression of the film is higher than most IMDb voters have.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: The story is supposed to have "ohmygosh, don't do that!" moments for the kids watching it. But, amazingly enough, I feel that way when I watch Pinocchio making all his pine-brained mistakes in judgment. And that fact engages me with the film, which is always a good thing.
Like: The musical score is at times magical, but always listenable. Sure, there is a bit of purposeful traditionalism to its score, but it props up all the correct emotional notes as you watch. And Brian May somehow takes a very simple, almost cliche motif in "What Are We Made Of?" and makes my skin crawl with delight at the fulsomeness of the music in the marionette theater. Sure, it's overproduced. So is "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the same man (Dr. Brian May, Ph.D. Astrophysics) is reportedly responsible for both.
Like: The film is full of clever moments, and "how did they do that?" moments, which will engage the adult mind while kids are watching the non-stop motion.
Like: This movie is darker all the way through than the Disney version. It doesn't wallow in the negative aspects of its own story, but it doesn't dodge the darkness! Some say it is closer to Collodi's book than the Disney version. (Maybe some people went expecting to see the Disney story, not realizing that it isn't the original story.)
Like: The costumes, sets and the decoration thereof are very believable, although I cannot say whether they are authentic to a particular place and time. There seems to be a coherence to what people wear and what they are doing, and with the buildings surrounding these goings on.
Like: There are moments of fantasy that just cannot be in real life...yet here they are on screen in motion and color. A two-story wagon chock full of little boys who think they are going off to a place with no rules to tamp down their fun. A giant monster (similar to Monstro in the Disney version) with a mouth large enough to swallow a boat, yet a throat too small for a man to crawl through. And, of course, the living marionette. These are the things that movies excel at showing us.
Like: The production and the edited film never move at a snail's pace. Even the "slow" moments, when you time them take only a few extra seconds. Probably done to keep the kiddies engaged, but it works for me, too. My inner child is easily bored or distracted.
Don't Like: The transformation scene at the end is played well, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas does an excellent job of voicing the wooden boy. But somehow when you see him all scrubbed up and in the puppet's clothes it's just a 'That kid???' moment. It's a major incongruity with the entire rest of the film.
Don't Like: Certain events at the end are too compressed. I don't like it when film endings seem to be the result of everyone saying, "Well, we've spent enough time on this. Wrap it up, folks!" I don't like that because I know that the scenes are recorded out of order, although it might be an editorial decision to rush the ending and get to the credit roll. This film has a touch of that affliction.
Don't Like: Although Disney's Pinocchio film has the cartoon wooden boy making facial expressions, for some reason to see what appears to be a block of wood smiling, or crying, is uncanny. Perhaps my senses are telling me that this block of wood shouldn't be able to have those expressions. Like: On the other hand, that feeling doesn't come to me anymore. It was something uncanny for only a few moments when I first watched the then-new film. In fact, it might be that very over-the-top emotional expression on the part of the puppet that makes you forget that he isn't really wood, and isn't really alive. (Despite what some critics said when the movie was new.)
Most viewers have seen this film only once, and that includes published critics and IMDb/Rottentomatoes voters. (That's probably true of all viewers of all films for all time!) If they didn't like it on first viewing (for whatever reason) I can understand their low rating. In my case, not disliking the film the first time probably predisposed me toward liking it more on second and subsequent viewings.
Since I have no idea who voted on either of the two websites I always link to at the top of a review, I'm a bit surprised at the low RT rating. Then again, I'm not. There are viewers who don't like any part of sweetness in a film. Maybe some of these people were trying to rekindle childhood memories after they had reached adulthood. I don't know whether childless people who are adults (I say that because we almost always expect children to be childless!) would find this film as interesting. They might if they are people with an inner child that is quite alive. The movie does a good job of speaking to your inner child. But if you've sent him or her on vacation, permanent vacation, then you might not be a good candidate viewer.
In all honesty, I can't understand those ratings. But I have to assume they were honest reviews and votes.
On the other hand, I can't think of an adult alive who wouldn't enjoy watching Genevieve Bujold play her part in the story, however brief it might be. She is fabulous as Gepetto's life-long love, and former sister-in-law, Leona. Now, I'm pretty certain that Leona is not in the original Collodi story. She's not even in the Disney story. But the addition of that character really perks up the movie a lot. She and Martin Landau's Gepetto have some lively exchanges. Some claim that she is the replacement for Disney's Blue Fairy. I'm not so sure about that.
Maybe I'm just old and sentimental, but I really like this movie. Its imperfections don't keep it from grabbing me. I can't find very much to dislike about it, although I know it has missteps. And it's an interesting companion to A.I. The themes in the movies are similar, brought about by the fact that David the mecha boy wants to find the Blue Fairy in order to become a real boy.
Pinocchio gets his happy ending. Something forced upon Collodi by his publisher. Disney kept it. This version keeps it. Maybe it resonates with us because we almost all hold a dream that we can become something that we are not. Yet some thing that we can see the promise of already within ourselves. This is especially true when we are young...boys or girls...with a whole world to see and an entire life ahead of us. Even when that time passes, we likely never forget that the world, and we, once seemed that way.
Steve Barron. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Barron made his music video directorial debut in 1979 and directed various music videos, including "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, and "Take on Me" by a-ha. Barron only made eight music videos in the early 80s and made his temporarily last music video in 1986 for David Bowie's "As the World Falls Down".'
Martin Landau. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'At the age of 17, Landau started working as a cartoonist for the Daily News, illustrating Billy Rose's column "Pitching Horseshoes" and also assisting Gus Edson on the comic strip The Gumps during the 1940s and 1950s, eventually drawing the "Sunday strip" for Edson....At 22, he quit the Daily News to concentrate on theater acting.'
Geneviève Bujold. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Bujold was touted to become a star, but she walked away from her contract with Universal Studios. The resulting lawsuit was settled when she agreed to appear in the 1974 disaster film Earthquake, opposite Charlton Heston, and the 1976 adventure film Swashbuckler, opposite Robert Shaw.'
Udo Kier. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He has worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Walerian Borowczyk, and Dario Argento and has starred in many horror and vampire movies such as Flesh For Frankenstein (1973) and Blood for Dracula (1974) (produced by Andy Warhol and directed by Paul Morrissey), the horror classic Suspiria (1977), the vampire Hollywood blockbuster Blade (1998), and the independent film Shadow of the Vampire (2000), produced by Nicolas Cage.'
The Adventures of Pinocchio. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'According to extensive research done by the Fondazione Nazionale Carlo Collodi in late 1990s and based on UNESCO sources, it has been adapted in over 240 languages worldwide. That makes it among the most translated and widely read books ever written.' This is about the book.
In the Original Story, Pinocchio killed Jiminy Cricket, Got His Feet Burnt Off, and was Hanged and Left for Dead. From Today I Found Out. March 20, 2014; posted by Emily Upton. 'You would think by this time that Pinocchio would learn to be a good, obedient little boy, but that simply is not the case. The Talking Cricket returns as a ghost to tell Pinocchio not to get involved with some people who claim planting gold coins will result in a tree of gold. Rather than apologizing for throwing a hammer at the poor bug, Pinocchio scoffs at the advice once again.' This is about the book, too.
The Adventures of Pinocchio. rogerebert.com Roger Ebert July 26, 1996. 'Jessica Rabbit and most of the other toons in real-life scenes are designed to look like just what they are--drawn cartoons. Pinocchio's face looks like a real face was photographed and then transformed by computer into a wooden dummy. The result is unsettling and even a little creepy, and I didn't like this Pinocchio, which is by the Jim Henson people, nearly as much as the all-cartoon creature in Disney's 1940 movie.'
Collodi's Brooding, Subversive 'Pinocchio'. npr.com March 4, 200910:27 AM ET John Powers. 'Which isn't to say that the book is depressing. In fact, it's filled with wonderful surreal touches, many involving animals, like the huge snail that offers to let Pinocchio into his house then takes nine hours to reach the front door. A similar anarchic spirit infuses Pinocchio himself, who's not the cute, anodyne figure we remember from the movie. He's a selfish, unruly, sometimes cruel puppet — the very soul of childhood.' This is also about the book.
The Adventures of Pinocchio. nytimes.com. July 26, 1996 By LAWRENCE VAN GELDER. 'Landau makes an earnest Geppetto. Genevieve Bujold, as the widow Leona, is, as always, a charmer. Bebe Neuwirth as Felinet, Rob Schneider as Volpe and Udo Keir as Lorenzini create vivid villains. But audiences raised on the 1940 "Pinocchio" are likely to find Pepe the Cricket too archly modern and to miss the lovely score that accompanied the action in the extraordinary world created by Disney artists.'
With Landau,'Pinocchio' Not So Wooden. sfgate.com. MICK LaSALLE, Chronicle Staff Critic Published 4:00 am, Friday, July 26, 1996. 'In between big moments, there's the spectacle of a wooden kid getting into mischief. It's not awful. Parents should be able to sit through it. Kids should like it.'
THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO. moria.co.nz. 'One did not expect that much of The Adventures of Pinocchio, but in fact it ends up pleasantly surprising. Pinocchio is a dazzling blend of CGI and puppet animatronics. The Adventures of Pinocchio was the first time that digital film technologies were asked to create the central character on screen. And they proved more than up to the task. Director Steve Barron captures a genuine sense of magic in Pinocchio’s child’s eye innocent view of the world. One is able to completely suspend their disbelief and accept Pinocchio as a living, heart-renderingly innocent character for the duration.'
calendar: film The Adventures of Pinocchio. The Austin Chronicle. REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., July 26, 1996. 'Pinocchio and Geppetto's encounters with the despicable showman Lorenzini ([Udo] Kier, last seen in Barb Wire) provide the film's most suspenseful and enjoyable moments, while Pinocchio's attempts to fit in with “real” boys emphasize the film's theme about the difficulties of being an outsider.'
Final Paper: Children’s Books for Adults? lit4334goldenage.wordpress.com. by sarahroddenberry. 'Which Pinocchio will children relate to more? Is it better to be a puppet or a real boy? In one sense the answer is obvious, yes it’s better to be a real boy, as in this state Pinocchio finally comes into his true self and reaches his happy ending. But on the other hand, why does Collodi spend so little time in Pinocchio’s real boy phase? Does he believe that children are more like wooden puppets and through hardships and lessons finally transform into “real” children?'
I have never had any inclination to watch that Pinocchio... but found that to be a wonderful read, and now plan on hunting it down to watch with my kids.
Ah! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Well, please come back and let us know which group you fall into. I'm sure you'll have an opinion about it once you've watched it.
My next post is going to be an essay about another film that online voters seem to like less than I do. It's a recent remake of Bicycle Thieves that doesn't really have much to do with bicycles at all.
Not Quite a Remake Rematch between Bicycle Thieves (1948) & Beijing Bicycle (2001)
The American Touch
Just this year a Canadian production, an Americanization and updating of Bicycle Thieves (1948) came out, and it's a really clever adaptation: The Confirmation (2016). I happened upon it in a Netflix offering, and read the blurb. Since it sounded a bit like the Italian film, I gave it a shot. It finally got to the top of my queue just last week.
Even after it arrived I couldn't get around to watching it for four days. But I'd have to give it a lot of support. It's tight, clever, both faithful and skeptical in a beautiful mixture of the two, and has a down-on-his-luck father ask his estranged son, "Do you ever think about the people who made your jeans?"
Yep, it admits that all those things that we drive on, walk into to go to school or work, drive across to get from one side of a river to the other, or one side of the country to the other, were built by real people. Real, living people.
Critics loved it, but if you look at the viewer votes at RT, audiences don't seem to like it all that much. Can't figure this out. Nothing explodes, but guns are brandished (although never fired). One pre-teen flails another one with a baseball glove. A couple of guys get bloody noses, but not in the same fight. Some of the IMDb chat-room posts explain that the viewer found the film implausible. Makes you wonder if they're the kind who love the logic and realness of the Avengers movies. One says he is not. It's a fiction story, a comedy, and I find the writing to be pretty well top notch.
The characters are incredibly real (although realistic only in an indie film way). They are rounded (even the least of them) and they play well together. Everyone is trying to be "right" even when he has done wrong. The film doesn't shy away from how people can justify taking another's belongings, because they perceive their need to be greater than the owner's need. And, just as we see so clearly that great loss can impair judgment as the story unfolds in Bicycle Thieves, these Washington State residents are equally capable of doing lame-brained things when they are desperate.
Also, the casting supports the writing, right down to the kids who are in the film. Clive Owen and Jaeden Lieberher as Walt and Anthony play off one another with exactly the same chemistry that Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola generate in Bicycle Thieves. In fact, Bob Nelson clearly must have told Lieberher to watch Owen the same way Staiola watched Maggiorani. Either that or Lieberher just naturally worked his character that way, because Anthony is always looking at his father, and sometimes imitates his movements. A difference between the film relationships is that Anthony has to develop a relationship with his estranged father, whereas Bruno and Antonio are already very close to begin with.
Like the prototype, this film doesn't diminish those who due to circumstance happen to be in poverty. It doesn't blame them for their lack of wealth. Instead, it simply presents where they are, and not how or why they got there. It also presents getting off the bottle as something that isn't easy to do, and presents the willpower to follow through as heroism.
If you were to watch De Sica's film and then immediately watch The Confirmation, you would see how closely Bob Nelson models his story and script on the original, while updating it to the 21st century, and and transposing it to some place in America (although it's a Canadian film).
Nelson's version even keeps
the scene where there is a theft at the end. But whereas De Sica's ending is more realistic, Nelson goes Hollywood and has a kid steal the tools back from the pawnbroker who bought them.
So, you get a more American-style happier ending. Still, Nelson's script leaves hanging the matter of a traffic ticket written to someone who doesn't yet know he's going to get it, as the credits roll. There are other "what's going to happen when...?" moments in this film.
The IMDb voters liked the film quite a bit better. RT voters call it "rotten" but IMDb voters would have made it fresh over at the competitive site. How you would or will rate it I can't guess. But now you know about it, and if you like the De Sica film, you probably would enjoy at least comparing the two.
The Confirmation (2016): Bicycle Thieves American Style (Review). From Mike's Film Talk. Michael Knox-Smith--Posted on August 7, 2016 'There are even a few scenes that are essentially the same in both films. The thief is mauled (in “Thieves” he is slapped) and then “forgiven.” Over and above the fact that this is a “remake” it deals with times of financial strife. The first in post-WWII Italy and the latter in present day America where the world is suffering economic turmoil.'
Poor Families and Blue-Collar Heroes: “The Confirmation” is Keeping Hollywood Real. From The Stake. March 18, 2016 by Christopher ZF 'In his new film, The Confirmation, Bob Nelson mirrors De Sica’s classic. He portrays the economic difficulties of rural American life in a simple tale of a father and son searching for stolen tools. Walt (Clive Owen), a recently evicted, out-of-work carpenter, has his antique tools stolen from his truck the same day he’s been tasked with watching his estranged son. Walt and Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) spend the next few days searching for Walt’s tools, his only source of income and pride.'
‘The Confirmation’ Does Comic Justice to Its Themes of Family and Faith. From The Village Voice. Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 9 a.m. By Alan Scherstuhl 'While not explicitly pitched to the church audience that thronged to Heaven Is for Real, The Confirmation — about a divorced alcoholic's misadventures when trusted to care for his son for a weekend — is from title to trailer faith-crowd accessible. (They might bristle at the occasional goddamn.) But it has none of the pious stiffness of onscreen devotionals, and it never lies about how belief actually works: As young Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) prays, and small crises pile up, God never steps in to set everything right.'
The Confirmation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Nelson says "I thought it would be funny if you took a boy who was really good and doesn't really sin and have him break pretty much every commandment in a day. That kind of gave me a basis to start, too, when I was filling out the notebook."'
A Comparison of Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Greystoke (1983)
IMDb link 6.3/10 with 15,110 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 67%/user rating 60% with 14,974 votes
Year: 1983 Director: Hugh Hudson -- Writer: Robert Towne (as P.H. Vazak), Michael Austin -- Cast: Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Christopher Lambert, Andie MacDowell, Nigel Davenport, David Suchet, Nicholas Farrell -- Length: 143 min. Color/Stereo -- estimated budget: $30,000,000 -- est. gross (US) $45,900,000
This is a confession: I didn't want to watch this film again, so I have written the review strictly from memory. I hope you don't mind that I broke my rule this once. For the record, the full title of this film is Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
When I first watched this film it was on a VHS tape recorded from my HBO account, a few years after the film was released. I was astonished at the first half hour of the film, which is the Tarzan origin story. But I lost interest soon after the adult Tarzan and his French mentor showed up. It was years before I would buy the DVD and view the entire movie.
Having never read any Burroughs, at the time of that first full viewing, I was puzzled. Wasn't the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan the "real" Tarzan? What was this story about some French explorer being rescued by and then teaching the Lord of the Jungle? Where the hell did that come from? I'm sure I wasn't the only one confused by the differences. This was pre-WorldWideWeb, so there was no easy way to gain access to reviews of the film that might have explained that this was based on the novel, and that the 1932 film and its successors were not.
My college-level film history texts had mentioned the MGM Tarzan series, but didn't go into any great detail. Uh, at least not detail that stuck with me. And, of course, as a kid in Little Rock I had watched a lot of those films on after-school television. My friends and I would occasionally discuss the movies as if they had been recently produced, as a matter of fact. They simply existed, and we weren't much into delving into the history of the movies. In those days I was fascinated by the tech and the process, but totally ignorant of the history of the medium.
When the Tarzan television series with Ron Ely as Tarzan came out (September 8, 1966), I watched the first episode. Tarzan spoke normally, and I decided that this wasn't "real" Tarzan, and didn't watch any more of it. Some of my friends were avid fans, though.
It is difficult to compare the 1983 film to either of the others in this Rematch. On balance, it is closer to the silent version from 1918. It is not as charismatic as the 1932 MGM movie. This film is more "thoughtful," in that it seeks to get you to ponder things, albeit not very deeply. It is most often not a fast-paced film.
It isn't bad, but it is mostly un-Tarzan-like if you compare it to the vast number of previous Tarzan movies. It's one that I have to be in a certain mood to watch, so you might find yourself with the same situation.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: The attempt at realism in the origin story sequence. The ape suits are as good as the ones in 2001. There are WTF moments, but mostly they serve the story. And they are mostly true to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original vision, which is what is being put on film. Although it could easily be embarrassing for some viewers, the long opening segment that shows the abandoned English infant as he is adopted by a female ape, and follows him to competent jungle adolescence, is more or less an expansion of what remains of the first hour of the 1918 movie. Because apes don't wear garments, neither does little Tarzan. In this film there is no equivalent of "Clothes! At the bottom of his little English heart survived a longing for them." The only adornment the boy takes on is a knife scabbard and its contents, when he find's his father's knife.
In the commentary director Hugh Hudson says that efforts were made to not show genitalia. Still, sometimes these items are visible for a few frames, but usually in a wide shot, and without pausing the video disc you won't be sure you saw anything at all. Beware, though, if you don't want to see that kind of imagery (especially of a youngster) then you should skip through these scenes and get to the Christopher Lambert parts. Yet the segment is a film within itself, and is well-done. The purpose is to show the boy becoming an ape, but an ape with human capabilities and weaknesses. The sequence provides details that are consistent with the original 1912 novel, and it sets up a bit of what happens later in the movie. By the way, adult Tarzan is first seen wearing a breech cloth, with no explanation of how or when he made the sartorial adjustment. We never see the adult King of the Jungle totally bare (not a complaint, by the way!). This is most certainly not because Christopher Lambert objected to appearing unclad in a film (I offer Fortress (1992) as exhibit A), but most likely because Hugh Hudson didn't wish to show the adult version of the character in the altogether.
Like: Having finally read the initial Tarzan print outing, I am glad that this film cleaves closely to its plot. Sure, the jungle swinger is more interesting as a character than Lord Greystoke, but this is the story as conceived by ERB. Pretty closely. It is, in fact, more of a drawing room drama than any Tarzan thing Weissmuller ever did. There is a lot of soul searching, and growing dissatisfaction with being an ex-jungle-man. You can guess how it ends.
Don't Like: When Tarzan the adult imitates the roar of a lion, the soundtrack has a real recorded lion's roar instead of a man's voice doing a fair imitation of the big cat. It sucks, man. Stinks up the whole film! So stupid.
Don't Like: I was originally put off by Christopher Lambert's native French accent. I am not so much now as I was on first viewing, but it still distracts me. This is merely my English-language bias as a native speaker. It is not truly a flaw in the film. Lambert was actually born in New York, but moved to Switzerland when he was an infant, and to Paris when a teen. This gives him a decided accent that is neither English nor American in nature. But one brilliant apologist has stated that Lambert's learned accent makes sense, because in the novel and in this movie Tarzan's first spoken language is French. Thus, it is logical that he would have a French accent when speaking English. It's wonderful when you can take something about a movie and spin it that way, isn't it?
Don't Like: The entire idea of a human becoming Lord of the Jungle is hooey. The apes would rip his pansy ass to shreds before he was a teenager. And certainly after he became one. But Burroughs is not writing "true-life"; instead, his goal is "plausible", which means that if he can fool you into thinking that this is making sense, you'll buy it. And his books. And tickets to the movies. Well, it works! As I watch all Tarzan films (I'm sort of a fan) in the back of my mind is the reality-check that says, "You know this is bullshit."
Don't Like: Truly, for once I feel a great loss as I watch the film. There is scarcely a hint of all the mental work that young Tarzan does in the book. It is stridently external, even more so than the 1918 young Tarzan segment. And the adult section reveals a little bit of Lord Greystoke's struggle only because as a man he can talk to other people. Note: I never recognized this as a problem until after I had read ERB's first volume.
Don't Like: Of all the plot points in the novel, there is one that works well in the novel but would be very difficult to pull off in cinema (short of narration). I still wish it had been included. Tarzan learns to read English, although he has no understanding of the sounds that go with the printed characters or the words they form. From his father's books he gathers a lot of information that is useful to him. This film makes it seem as if he just figures everything out on his own (in a similar way, the kid in the 1918 film instinctively knows how to braid a rope). Burroughs took the time to at least attempt an explanation for the anomalies and WTF's in his novels. They may not be totally plausible, but they often "make sense." And Helen Keller learned to read English without ever hearing the sounds of the words or seeing the shapes of the letters.
Don't Like: They dubbed Andie MacDowell's voice in the film because she was from the southern US. Couldn't play an Englishwoman. But Jane in the novel is originally from the US southern region!
Don't Like: The story in the English countryside moves much more slowly than it does in the jungle. Also, little Tarzan is changing every few minutes, while grown-up Lord Greystoke is still very much the same every few minutes. Overall the film seems tedious to me, the main reason why I didn't watch it again. I've seen it a few times, though.
If you have the time and are curious, give it a watch. If you are a Tarzan fanatic you might like it, too. But I can't guarantee that. I've never seen any other Tarzan film that takes this approach to the story. It garnered the first Oscar nods for any Tarzan movie: three Oscar nominations in 1985 (the USA release was in 1984). No statues, though. The makeup actually won a BAFTA. Out of 19 noms overall, it got 3 awards. Research shows that Disney's Tarzan (1999) was the first to ever actually grab an Oscar, but for Best Original Song. Nothing that has to do with Tarzany stuff at all.
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Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The film received a mixed-to-positive critical reception upon its release, with many praising the film as a welcome return of Tarzan to the silver screen after 1981's Tarzan, the Ape Man starring Bo Derek. Greystoke went on to receive three Academy Award nominations at the 57th Academy Awards ceremony for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Richardson, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and Best Makeup. It became the first ever Tarzan feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award; the later Disney animated feature film adaptation became the first one to win an Academy Award (Best Original Song for "You'll Be in My Heart").'
Hugh Hudson. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'In the 1960s, after three years of editing documentaries in Paris, Hudson headed a documentary film company with partners Robert Brownjohn and David Cammell. The company produced, among others, the documentaries A for Apple, which won a Screenwriters' Guild Award, and The Tortoise and the Hare, which was nominated for a BAFTA award. The company emerged with much success in the 1960s, winning many awards and pioneering a new graphic style for documentary and advertising films.'
Ralph Richardson. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Sir Ralph David Richardson (19 December 1902 – 10 October 1983) was an English actor who, along with his contemporaries John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He worked in films throughout most of his career, and played more than sixty cinema roles.'
Ian Holm. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'A visit to the dentist led to an introduction to Henry Baynton, a well-known provincial Shakespearean actor who helped Holm train for admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he secured a place in 1949. His studies there were interrupted a year later when he was called up for National Service in the British Army, during which he was posted to Klagenfurt, Austria and attained the rank of Lance Corporal.'
Christopher Lambert. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Lambert was born in Great Neck, New York. His father was a French diplomat at the United Nations. Lambert was raised in Geneva from infancy and moved to Paris in his teens.'
Andie MacDowell. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'In the early 1980s, MacDowell modelled for Vogue magazine and appeared in ad campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Vassarette, Armani perfume, Sabeth-Row, Mink International, Anne Klein and Bill Blass. A series of billboards in Times Square and national television commercials for Calvin Klein drew attention to her and led to her 1984 film debut in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, a role in which her lines were dubbed by Glenn Close because her Southern accent was too pronounced for her to play the role of an Englishwoman. The irony of this is not lost, as in the original book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jane travels to Africa with her father, and both are from the American South.'
Tarzan in film and other non-print media. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The first Tarzan movies were silent pictures adapted from the original Tarzan novels which appeared within a few years of the character's creation. With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, anchored at first by actor Johnny Weissmuller in the title role, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s. Tarzan films from the 1930s on often featured Tarzan's chimpanzee companion Cheeta. Later Tarzan films have been occasional and somewhat idiosyncratic.'
Category:Tarzan films. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The following 57 pages are in this category, out of 57 total. This list may not reflect recent changes....'
It's been awhile. My mother, who is 86 years old, spent four days in the hospital from 13 Dec to 16 Dec, and because she gets confused easily, I had to stay with her to explain things like the call button and the TV remote.
She had congestive heart failure, and it's being treated. I didn't have to deal with my father as he died slowly of lung cancer in 2000-2002. That was Mom's job. But she is slowly declining due to old age, and maybe heart conditions. Thus, I had no idea what it was going to be like to shepherd an elderly woman through her last days.
Of course, she might still outlive me!
My Medicare begins on 1 March 2017, and a year later I'll be able to draw my Social Security pension income. Will still work, of course. Because it isn't that much. Although the SS amount is more than I make per month these days.
A Comparison of Battle Royale (2000) & The Hunger Games (2012)
IMDb link 7.2/10 with 716,601 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 84%/user rating 81% with 900,738 votes
Year: 2012 Director: Gary Ross -- Writer: Billy Ray, Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross -- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks -- Length: 142 min. Color/Stereo -- estimated budget: $78,000,000 -- estimated gross (US) $407,999,255
Koushun Takami creates a world that is bizarre enough in Battle Royale that it is interesting and frightening. But the world in which the game exists is peripheral to the story itself. Takami's story centers on the game, and only peripherally brings in the world outside the island, where the teen age protagonists are taken to fight to the death in their last days on earth. They are not offered a choice whether to compete. They are sedated while on a school trip, and wake up on an island, with the shocking revelation that only one person may leave alive.
Suzanne Collins begins her story in the midst of the world outside The Hunger Games, and then takes her characters and readers into the bizarre contest where only one may leave alive. The feelings evoked by the respective novels are quite different because of these approaches.
The same holds true for the films, except that the externality of both makes them a bit more alike than the novels are. In both cases we are watching older children running around an enclosed space trying to survive, while killing others in the contest. But the 2012 movie does somewhat more to create empathy for Katniss and Peeta than the 2000 film does for its main characters, Nanahara and Nakagawa.
Just as the main characters kill mostly by accident in Battle Royale, so do Katniss and Peeta. The authors and filmmakers were not yet willing to choose as their protagonists, people who could kill easily, even to survive. But Collins spins a yarn in which the government subjecting these kids to The Certain Death Olympics at least chooses mentors to train them before the games, giving them some fighting chance. Being selected by lottery is just as surprising to those chosen in the world of Panem as the random selection of one entire middle school classroom is in Takami's alternate planet. But after that horrible surprise, the spectacle offered via television to the non-combatants in Panem includes the training of the tributes.
As social commentary, both stories present the same wise truth: any social system under which people live today could very easily be supplanted by a coarser, more callous social system at any time. These stories suggest a possible result of the changes. Just as in Nazi Germany where bogus laws were passed allowing, and then mandating the persecution of categories of people, any government could make it illegal for you to be you at virtually any time, if the people in power are not held accountable by the people being oppressed. History shows that it has happened more than once; even more than a thousand times. Doubt this? Read the 6,000 year old stories at the begining of the biblical book of Genesis. Whether you hold it to be truth or a religious myth, you will still recognize the actions and motivations of all the human characters. Kind of chilling.
As a species we haven't changed all that much in terms of how individuals behave.
Before watching the film prior to composing this review I had watched The Hunger Games only once (3 Oct 2013. Thank You, Corrie Trends for remembering that). Before I watched the film I had read all three of Collins' novels. The novels are good at creating a sense of plot and to some degree a sense of character. The film, on the other hand, is excellent at creating the world, and suffers slightly in the characterization area.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: The set decoration on this film is quite revealing. I'm not sure how the designers found what they created in Ms. Collins' book, because very little of her writing gave me much of a sense of how the world of Panem goes together. The movie made it more visual (because, you know, it's a movie) and I didn't notice any embellishments that conflicted with what I had imagined (except, as you will read below, Peeta's hair).
Like: James Newton Howard's music ranges from very whimsical to orchestral, as needed. I enjoy the more whimsical voicings and motifs.
Like: More words are used to make the point that Haymitch Abernathy has begun to sober up with his responsibilities toward Peeta and Katniss in the novel. But in the film we see a steward offering him a beverage at a meal, and he continues to speak as he places his palm across the mouth of the glass. He refuses that dose of wine. It makes the point without belaboring it at all. Very elegant and visual story-telling. The film is full of such little moments.
Like: The problem of urban versus rural life is projected into the future as more blatant than it seemed in America in 2009, when the first book was published. It's punkish style against impoverished utilitarian style in this film.
Like: In a bow to classic science fiction the film shows us a technical world that appears to be magic (sufficiently advanced, you see) that is presented, in a bow to Gene Roddenberry's story-telling style, without any elaborate explanations of how things work. It makes for sometimes empty occurences that are subject to fridge logic, but the storytelling remains elegant because of it.
Like: As storytelling, it is convenient to the buy-in of readers and viewers that as much of the unfamiliar world as possible is familiar. Based on things that we already know. This is more crucial to a film than it is for the written version of the tale. Collins and company do a good job of using parallels to the real world to make their plot points easier to swallow. For example, in a parody of the Olympics and what rich governments do by selecting promising youngsters and providing them all they need in order to become excellent athletes, Panem has two rich districts (1 and 2) that select boys and girls and make them into honed killers to volunteer as tributes each year. Most of the rest are unwilling participants from districts 3 through 12.
Like: Despite the presence of archetypal creatures in the protagonist list, and suporting characters list, both Takami and Collins avoid the nemesis structure. Thus, there isn't a villain in The Hunger Games. The story revolves around a more naturalistic structure of individual against adversaries. There is nothing like The Joker, or Ra's al Ghul against whom Katniss Everdeen's Batman must constantly and repeatedly battle.
Like: The romantic aspect of the "thing" between Peeta and Katniss is played way down in both print and celluloid versions. The makers of the movie resisted any effort to make the romance angle a bigger thing in the film than it is in the book. After all, the backdrop is ritualized adolescent murder.
Don't Like: Peeta was brown-eyed and dark haired in my imagination as I read the three books, so I was astonished that Josh Hutcherson was dyed blond-headed for the part. I missed that descriptive line somewhere in my reading of the first book. It's similar to my reading of The Martian, in which Mark Watney was so undeniably African American that the casting of Matt Damon to play the role has made it unlikely that I will ever watch the film! To this day I am uncomfortable with Peeta's blond hair. But even though I don't like this aspect of The Hunger Games, it's merely because of sloppy reading on my part. BTW, Hutcherson's natural hair color is brown. And I should add that the scene where Katniss discovers Peeta in camo was very much like what I imagined when I read the book.
Don't Like: The characterizations are not very strong, except for Haymitch and one or two of the Panem handlers. But the use of archetypes creates the illusion of characterization rather quickly. As in 3:10 to Yuma, we get archetypes here, not real people. But the archetypes work in that film, and they work here, more or less. In the book the characterizations are better. Every scene is contrived to show an interaction between an archetype and his/her surroundings/companions.
Don't Like: The bleeding of Cato's face was brought about by beasts, not by people. In order to get a PG-13 rating in the US, so much of the murder is sanitized. Murder is a repugnant thing, but you don't get that idea from The Hunger Games (2012). You do get that idea from Battle Royale (2000). You get that idea from both novels, but in order to not offend or scare people, the Hunger Games filmmakers make the same mistake Hollywood has always made. Murder is okay if you don't show blood. Right? Right? As long as there is no blood all over the place, showing murder is just a plot point. And this is fine until generations of people begin thinking this way when it's not celluloid. From the internet I quote, "You should die." Not serious at all, right? Right? Just a joke. Right? Well, how do you know that? Murder is an interesting plot point. But in this case it's okay, because like in a war, "They made me do it."
Don't Like: The sanitization of something as gross as The Hunger Games contest. The idea itself should make anyone's blood run cold, but in all honesty, I see little difference between this and warfare. Sure, when it's couched in Collins' or Takami's framework it seems more absurd, but it is basically the same thing. People, usually the young, kill one another for no reason at the whim of rulers. That's the Hunger Games, and the Battle Royale. It's gang warfare. It's romantic rivalries that turn bloody. Since we are a violent culture, without the blood and guts, THG don't seem bizarre and immoral enough as presented in the film. My opinion, of course. Maybe many of you find it grisly enough as it is.
Don't Like: Many of the more interesting and crucial aspects of the story are relegated to a brief flashback or two, while the main thread is made to be the Hunger Games contest. This is because the film takes less time to create the world of Panem District 12 than the novel does.
Don't Like: This problem begins with the novels. Very little about The Hunger Games (book or film) passes Alfred Hitchcock's 'fridge logic' test. That's when you're standing at the refrigerator door getting a snack, and it occurs to you that an event in one of his films would never happen that way in real life. This thought doesn't occur to you while watching, of course. It seems to hang together until you scrutinize the plot. Upon such scrutiny the entirety of The Hunger Games (including the name of the contest) falls apart. It is overwhelmingly implausible. Like: But...despite the utter illogic of the world of Panem, the back story, and the goofy rationale offered for the punitive tributary games, the characters mostly act the way real people might be expected to act in such a circumstance. The story is aimed at people in middle school, who are at an age where much of the world has already stopped making sense, and for that crew there probably don't appear to be so many plot deficiencies.
You will probably find it uninteresting that in 2010 when I got far enough along into Catching Fire (the second novel) to realize that recent history for Katniss and Peeta was going to (yawn) repeat itself, I quit reading the trilogy for six months. After I learned that a movie was coming out I finished the second book and read the third. I own the first movie on Blu-ray, and the second in a combo pack. I haven't watched Catching Fire (2013) yet. I bought it to watch while working through this NQRR, but haven't gotten around to it, yet. I also have the final two films selected in my watch list on Amazon Prime Video.
The Hunger Games is likely intended as an allegory, if it is intended as any literary form. Basically, it is simply a terrifying idea, which is the basis for a story. There are a lot of well-known tales like that: the novels Lord of the Flies, and Lord Jim are among them; Romeo and Juliet, and Oliver Twist join them; the difference being that the first two are utterly contrived, while the second pair seem to be set in "the real world" and pass muster in that way.
This film has a distasteful dystopian notion at its center, which is often enough to draw audiences, if downplayed in the way this is. In Great Britain the film was censored so that 12-year-olds would be allowed into the theatres. See one of the article links below for more information.
The Boy Scout three-finger salute becomes a silent gesture of protest and solidarity in this film. Its use is quite transparent. Because it needs no explanation to the audience it would also need no explanation to the people in power. It is one of the beautiful, silent cinematic moments in this film, and is one of the many things I like about The Hunger Games (2012)
But subversive revolutions have always been a little less lampshaded in real life than the uprising that threatens from the halfway point of the 74th Hunger Games to the end of the film. The novel is, perhaps, offered in support of hope and lays it on thickly. The film is a tutorial in the devious nature of government, sure to sow cynicism even more deeply in our divided country.
Lest I seem too full of my own morality, wait until I confess in one of the essays that in 1968, as a 16-year old kid, after reading Lord of the Flies, I wrote the beginning of a novel that's similar to these two, and then destroyed the manuscript at age 22 because it horrified me that those ideas had come out of my very own mind. Also, no one would have published this kind of thing in the 1968 era. And back in those days, Takami (1969) was not alive yet, while Collins (1962) was a 6-year old.
Times have changed.
They will change even more.
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The Hunger Games (film). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Development of The Hunger Games began in March 2009 when Lions Gate Entertainment entered into a co-production agreement with Color Force, which had acquired the rights a few weeks earlier. Collins collaborated with Ray and Ross to write the screenplay. The screenplay expanded the character of Seneca Crane to allow several developments to be shown directly to the audience and Ross added several scenes between Crane and Coriolanus Snow.'
The Hunger Games (novel). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The Hunger Games was first published in hardcover on September 14, 2008, by Scholastic, featuring a cover designed by Tim O'Brien. It has since been released in paperback and also as an audiobook and ebook. After an initial print of 200,000, the book had sold 800,000 copies by February 2010.'
Gary Ross. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Big was his first produced screenplay. Co-written with Anne Spielberg (sister of Steven), it led to an Academy Award nomination and a Writers Guild of America Award. He went on to write several other successful films, including Dave in 1993. In 1998, he wrote and directed Pleasantville, and in 2003, he wrote, directed and produced Seabiscuit, based on Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film earned seven Academy Award nominations.'
Suzanne Collins. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Collins' career began in 1991 as a writer for children's television shows. She worked on several television shows for Nickelodeon, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford's Puppy Days. She received a Writers Guild of America nomination in animation for co-writing the critically acclaimed Christmas special, Santa, Baby!'
Jennifer Lawrence. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Jennifer Shrader Lawrence (born August 15, 1990) is an American actress. As of 2016, Lawrence is the highest-paid actress in the world, and her films have grossed over $5 billion worldwide. She is the youngest person to accrue four Academy Award nominations.'
Woody Harrelson. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'For The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger, Harrelson earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. In 2014, he starred as Detective Martin Hart in the first season of the HBO crime drama True Detective with Matthew McConaughey, which earned him and McConaughey nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.'
Lenny Kravitz. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male.'
Hunger Games, The. Comparison: BBFC 12/German DVD. From Movie-Censorship.com. 'The British branch of Lionsgate had similar problems, they were aiming for the BBFC12A rating. In order to get the rating, it was decided that the movie was to be censored. Accordingly, a rough cut was given to the BBFC so they could say which alterations they wanted made in return for the lower rating. These included cuts and the digital removal of some blood. However, the first cut version that was created to meet these limitations was still rejected and The Hunger Games did not get the BBFC12A rating before a few more cuts were added.'
A Comparison of La Guerre des Boutons (1962), The War of the Buttons (1994), La Guerre des Boutons (2011) and La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons (2011) The Writers
The writing credits for these films look complex. But you will notice that there are fewer names involved that it would at first appear. Louis Pergaud is credited for his novel on all four films. The 1994 film credits Yves Robert and the 1962 film. The two 2011 films actually owe more to the 1962 film than they reveal. Robert should have been credited on those films as well.
Louis Pergaud ... (novel) is famous for the novel which serves as the basis for these four movies. All his screen credits are for writing the novel, and range from La guerre des gosses (1936) through the two 2011 adaptations.
François Boyer ... (adaptation) This writer has 30 screen credits listed on IMDb. Robert's War of the Buttons is about halfway through his career, as his 13th credit. Ten years earlier, Boyer debuted in French cinema with Forbidden Games (1952), a René Clément film that won a special Oscar in 1953, and got Boyer nominated for 'Best Writing, Motion Picture Story' in the 1955 Academy Awards. Boyer kind of entered the race at the head of the pack, because the film of his screenplay won Clément eight international awards. But this was to be Boyer's only Oscar nomination. His last writing credits were for La vie de Berlioz (1983), a TV mini-series. Boyer lived until May 2003, to the ripe old age of 83. Boyer is also known as a novelist. Most of his writing work for the cinema was for dialogue, and/or adaptation of existing works. He adapted his own novel for Bebert and the Train (1963).
Yves Robert ... (adaptation) (uncredited) Actor (82 credits), Producer (31 credits), Writer (28 credits) and Director (23 credits), Robert wore three of these hats on the 1962 movie in this Rematch, although he was not an actor in the film. But he did not take screen credit for the writing work. The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe ('Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire')(1972) was remade in English as The Man with One Red Shoe (1985). Later, La guerre des boutons (1962) was remade in English as War of the Buttons (1994), which you already know. Yves Robert's writing career lasted from Terreur en Oklahoma (1951) through Le prince du Japon (2010), which was released eight years after his death in May 2002 at 81 years of age.
Louis Pergaud ... (novel)
Colin Welland ... (adapted for the screen by) Welland had an acting career that lasted from 1965 to 1998, ranging from television to feature films. Perhaps his most notable role is Mr Farthing in Kes (1969). But he began a writing career that spanned two and a half decades from 1970 to 1994. His script for War of the Buttons (1994) follows Yves Robert's adaptation very closely, so that Robert's script is cited in the writing credits. Welland won an Oscar in 1982 for 'Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen' because he wrote the original screenplay for Chariots of Fire (1981). He also penned the screenplay for A Dry White Season (1989), and both story and screenplay for Yanks (1979), which got Colin Welland a BAFTA screenplay nomination. We are told in the IMDb bio, that Welland focused on screen writing after success with Yanks.
Yves Robert ... (based on: the film: La Guerre Des Boutons" by)
Louis Pergaud ... (novel)
Yann Samuell ... (screenplay) Samuell was born in 1965, but has no cinema credits before 1993. Since Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'enfants, original title)(2003) he has written 6 screenplays, and has directed 6 films. Five of these overlap! His most recent release is The Canterville Ghost (2016). He won five awards with Love Me If You Dare, including 2004 'Feature Film -- Best Drama' at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Stéphane Keller ... (scenario) Most of Keller's work has been scripting television shows and films. In fact, Barratier's War of the Buttons is the only theatrical film he's worked on to date. But he has only 15 writer credits in a career that began in 1997. It was difficult to find an image of Keller. But I finally succeeded.
& Christophe Barratier ... (scenario) Besides being the director, Barratier is one of the writers for the film. He has Producer, Writer and Director credits at IMDb that range from Microcosmos (1996) to Team Spirit (2016) on which he filled all three roles. I have seen Microcosmos, a documentary, as are nearly all his producer credits. But I first came to know his name as the producer of Winged Migration (2001). Then as the director for The Chorus (2004), a dramatic film. After I got Netflix I saw Microcosmos. So far, his work has impressed me. But I don't know which writer came up with the WWII angle for the 2011 remake of La guerre des boutons.
& Thomas Langmann ... (scenario) Simultaneously to La nouvelle guerre des boutons (2011), Langmann was the producer of The Artist (2011), which was a nomination and trophy statue mill for a year. Langmann has 31 producer credits, but only six writer credits to date. He began film acting at age 9 in Je vous aime (1980), moved into producing with Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999), then wrote his way to his first screenplay credit on Dead Weight (2002). He remains active in the writing and producer areas. His next project, wearing both caps, is slated to be Stars 80, la suite (2017)
Philippe Lopes-Curval ... (adaptation) Lopes-Curval broke onto the screen as a writer and director with Trop tard Balthazar (1986). War of the Buttons (2011) is his latest screen credit of any kind. He wrote The Chorus (2004) and Boudu (2005), a second remake of Jean Renoir's classic comedy film. He has a soundtrack credit as the lyricist of one of the songs in The Chorus.
Real life has snookered me on this quest. Mom is doing better, by the way.
At real work it's tax season, and I am a bookkeepper at two of my jobs. Plus it's year-end for other reasons, and I've been busy. Oh, plus I spent five days battling a virus and a sinus infection which is just getting finished.
Much of the time I think I've bitten off more than I can chew. RR-wise.
But I'm determined to finish. The only thing that will stop me is death, and I don't anticipate that any time soon.
Then again, who does?
But there are things that will postpone me. That's for sure.
It has been a struggle, but I've managed to get four posts ready, and I'll put them all up tonight.
There are two essays from the Tarzan Remake Rematch, and two from the War of the Buttons Rematch. Three of these are among the most complex of the remaining posts, so maybe the sailing will be slightly easier as I move forward. (We present YouTookMyName the Hubris award for inability to see reality.)
A Comparison of Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Greystoke (1983)
If you read the early 20th century books about Tarzan and watch the movies made from and based on characters from them, the racism slaps you in your 21st century face. Tarzan is white, and in the books, the blacks (African natives) are evil degenerates, only a slight evolutionary distance above the apes. Queen Victoria was dead only 11 years before the American author of the Tarzan books penned the first of 24 stories about the white lord of the jungle.
As you contemplate racism, remember that to the racist person it all seems sensible and correct. Their racist actions are an outcome of their personal attitudes. It is only afterward when the sad consequences can be seen that the racist attitudes and actions can also be seen as harmful. Trouble is, some people never look at their attitudes, and continually justify their actions by looking at whatever upside they can find, or manufacture, for what they have done. That's why racism is persistent. And people looked at the world through an invisible lens of racism in 1912.
There is no escaping the racism in the early Tarzan books. But I had not thought of it as springing from social Darwinism. This was the idea of "survival of the fittest" with the idea of the fittest being supplanted by "best." And white people were the best. Just ask them. They'll tell you. Thus, put a white man in the jungle next to the brutish beasts, including the humans that are not white, and he will prevail. His primitive instincts will rise up, and remember, they are the fittest instincts around, and he can whup up on anything and anybody. I found a blog article by a non-expert (like me) that echoes these ideas and amplifies them. Find the link below.
In the midst of this superlative primitivism, as the blogger reminded me, Tarzan kills a black man because the black man, Kulonga, has killed Kala, Tarzan's ape mother. So, one "brute" killed another, and had to be done in by the avenging white man. Eh? (The illustrations are from Burne Hogarth's "Tarzan of the Apes" graphic novel.)
There is also no denying that this kind of racism is there in the films. And it didn't go away as the 20th century brought some degree of enlightenment about such mindsets. If you Google "racism in tarzan" the most notable example, according to some bloggers and reviewers, is the 2016 Tarzan film that stars Alexander Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson. Some of those whose words you read in the resulting links might argue that the modern Tarzan subverts racism. But...I don't think so. Please be aware that the only reason this film comes to the top of a Google search is because it's the most recent. Not because it is the most awash in racism.
Burroughs' hero, Tarzan, is white. In the first book he defends white people (and animals) from black people...and those black people...don't ever forget this fact...were living in Africa when the first whites arrived. The whites are the interlopers. The whites fantasize that they are bringing civilization to the backward wastes of the "dark continent." This is part of the self-delusion that imperialist races use(d) to make themselves feel better about taking over someone else's land and resources. It is a mere justification, even if there might be a hint of fact in it at the same time. After all, when the white people showed up to bring all things wonderful to the benighted Africans, and the Africans resisted, the white people didn't humbly go away, deciding that their gift wasn't wanted or needed. Nope. They slaughtered or enslaved those who resisted.
The same thing happened in North America. And I have ancestors who were on both sides of that long-term, ongoing issue. Clearly, to resist white Manifest Destiny was to prove that you were inferior to the whites. Right?
In Burroughs' story, the baby in the crib, the one loved and mothered by Kala, the female ape, is not only white, he is English and he is the heir to the title Lord Greystoke. Clearly, behind his pulp-fiction veneer, Burroughs is dealing with questions of who "real humans" are. Perhaps he decried the racism inherent in subjugation of native peoples by European invaders. But there isn't evidence of that in the book. It is possible to infer both possibilities, but nothing is certain.
Over the years I've wondered many things about the set-up and plotting of Tarzan books and films. Maybe you have, too. If the original novel has any literary themes that we as readers can impose, can we layer on the notion that Burroughs was exploring whether a pampered white man could travel to Africa, lose his life and leave behind an infant capable of becoming a wild man? Well, of course the white writer in the 1912 USA has to assume that the superior white dude would become the Lord of the Jungle.
Or is it just a fantasy for white boys in the USA and England to have, about how they could go whup up on lions and tame some elephants and wreak havoc on crocodiles and trounce black natives? You cannot read about the things Tarzan does and not get around to a whites are better than blacks premise, can you?
There is no way to take the attitudes of the early 20th century out of the books that Burroughs wrote, of course. He was a product of his time. He was a white man, therefore he had a white man's fantasy.
Yet the films were not necessarily cast in the same mold. Sure, the blacks were like Star Trek redshirts. But the villains that the screen Tarzan fought were nearly always other white men, come to rape Tarzan's jungle home of its wealth. Tarzan protected the animals and the native humans of the jungle from these evil men. So, I guess you have to look at the racism through an equitable lens of some sort. And perhaps the racism of the book was mitigated in part because of the lens taking in the scene in the studio. Film amplifies whatever is there on the screen, remember? It makes nearly everything so much easier to see. Perhaps it became clear that some ideas needed to be left out. Or altered.
But, this is the main thing: Tarzan was, and is, a white man. Always a white man.
So, have you ever wondered why the baby in the crib wasn't taken and mothered by a black woman? A black human woman. Well, it's because the books are fantasies, in part. And it's because Edgar Rice Burroughs' story probably wouldn't have sold to a magazine in 1912 if an African native woman had adopted the white infant. You can guess the reason.
Ape foster parents are, no doubt, more of a fantastic turn of idea for the story than a human foster mother could ever have been. But, then, why wasn't Tarzan a black kid whose parents got killed and who was raised by an ape?
Ever wonder that? Could someone make such a film now? Could they redirect the story so that Tarzan would be a muscular, tall, intelligent and athletic black English youngster raised by great apes? Is anyone bold enough to try that? Would the ERB estate even allow it?
But if someone called the character by another name so the film could be made, I would most definitely buy a ticket.
I don't know whether Edgar Rice Burroughs was a racist, all I know is what he wrote in the books. I grew up in the US South and did not become racist (I understand that is a dangerous claim to make about yourself) perhaps because of the strands of Native American culture and threads of experience that came in from my mother's side of the family. To whatever extent I could, I tried to make my sons immune to racist ways of thinking. For example: describing the only African American man in a room full of men as "the man wearing the black and blue checkered shirt." My older son had only one white friend during his 12 years of school in Memphis, TN. He had uncountable black and Hispanic friends. Sure, in public schools he was surrounded by black people; he could easily have turned away from them, or developed a chip on his shoulder. Some of his white classmates did. But he didn't. If I had any part in his accepting attitude, I am thankful for that.
I think that developing color-blindness is not the same thing as being anti-racist. No, what you need to do is remain aware of the color of the other person, but to keep in mind that the color is not a signifier of the person's worth or intelligence, or an indication of the value of their soul or accomplishments. Persons who are your color are some of them educated and some of them not. The same goes for all men and women of all colors around the world. Others, whether they look like you or not, can have experiences and experiential knowledge from which you can benefit. No one is at the top of the social heap by virtue of virtue. Don't let them grind you to the bottom. Your nobility is inherent. Only you can make it null and void, by replacing it with an air of your own superiority over anyone else.
Now, that last part didn't have much to do with Tarzan, I know. But it follows from an investigation of racist attitudes in...anything...I think.
Tarzan of the Apes and Darwinian Racism. From Marissa: Thoughts on everything from psychology to Star Wars to Jesus. 'Yet shadowed by these descriptions of a super human Tarzan is a disturbing form of racism. Racism is evident from the moment the first black characters appear in the story, yet it goes far deeper than a matter of antiquated ideas about race popping up in the way a Classics author writes descriptions. Burroughs’ racism in Tarzan represents a mindset heavily influenced by evolutionary ideas about biology and race.'...'On the back of my Penguin Classics edition, it says, “Tarzan of the Apes was part of a powerful Renaissance in the United States of popular interest in primitivism, born out of a complex reaction to the industrial revolution and Darwinism.” The introduction, written by John Seelye, describes Tarzan as “the image of a white man living with easy superiority among ferocious examples of brute creatures.” In the book, “brute creatures” doesn’t just include animals — it includes non-white people as well.'
I didn't have a place to use all the images I found for this essay, but you can see most of the ones I used and didn't use by following the links below. There are some very cool works of art that I didn't get to put in the graphics!
TarzanTriumphant-01.jpg Drawing of Tarzan triumphant over a lion from gutenberg.net.au TarzanTriumphant-01.jpg from the HTML version of the novel. Drawing of Tarzan triumphant over a shifta chieftan from gutenberg.net.au TarzanTriumphant-04.jpg from the HTML version of the novel. Drawing of Tarzan holding a man above his head from gutenberg.net.au TarzanTriumphant-03.jpg from the HTML version of the novel. Cover illustrations for serialization of Tarzan Triumphant in Blue Book Magazine
Jeffrey Catherine Jones died today - 5/19/2011 from bpib.com 'Since he left the studio in New York, Jones has lived in Woodstock, NY. In 1995 we saw some of his pleine air paintings which he was kind enough to show us at San Diego. I hope somewhere out there is a publisher with the courage to produce a book devoted to this type of work. These small paintings, mainly landscapes done outdoors, are precious jewels that shouldn't be hidden away. They're one more side of a multi-faceted talent. One of our favorites.' Source of watercolor of Tarzan perched on a tree trunk.
Tarzan from badassoftheweek.com. Source of illustration of Tarzan knocking a guy backwards, and one of him saving a woman from a lion.
The Secret Origin of Tarzan’s Trunks. from Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin August 15th, 2007 Filed under tarzan. 'So I’m flipping though a 1971 hardcover of Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan of the Apes, which details the beginnings of the Ape Man…it is, being Hogarth, beautifully and lavishly illustrated. And since Tarzan has been raised by apes, he of course spends the majority of the book runnin’ around in the altogether. Eventually he encounters Kulonga, the tribesman who slew Tarzan’s adoptive ape mother Kala, and kills him.' Source of comics panels of Tarzan killing Kulonga.
The next one has a lot of it behind a spoiler tag. Mainly because I'm not sure what people consider NSFW, so I'm trying to not take a chance. I've no idea what the people in your workplace are like. If you work at a pornography distributorship, or production company, you probably wouldn't need the NSFW tags at your workplace. But if you work in a Mormon insurance firm in Utah, you probably would. I you have a job at The Atlantic's website, you might not need the NSFW warning, but if you are a secretary at a Pentecostal Church in Alabama, you probably would.
A Comparison of Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Greystoke (1983)
Swimming Naked SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW! NOTE: very few of the images in this essay, even those behind spoiler tags, show frontal nudity. But the essay is behind spoiler tags just in case your workplace is filled with people who would be offended.
While researching topics for essays in this Round Four of the Remake Rematch thread I ran into some perplexing information. Some of it is difficult to process. For example, I thought nude scenes in movies began in the late 1960s. And I never imagined nude scenes with kids as early as 1918. But I had a fleeting acquaintance with a practice that I thought was restricted to the Little Rock YMCA pools. Being required (if you were male) to swim without a swimsuit.
Consider this essay inspired by a thought that occurred to me when I was watching the 1918 Tarzan film.
Two of the Tarzan films in this Rematch have young Tarzan without any clothes. I can't imagine something like that in a 2017 Tarzan film. In the 1918 film the boy Tarzan steals the clothing from a native boy who has gone swimming. The native boy and his pal swim naked, of course. Thus, little Tarzan has only to wait until they are away from the shore a good distance, before he swoops in to take one set of coverings. The moral lesson here is that skinny-dipping can lead to prolonged bare-assedness.
In the War of the Buttons Rematch there is another essay about the nude battle scene from the novel that appears in three of these Round Four films (and four of the five films made from the novel). The scene is comic. In that respect the depictions aren't at all like the several nude scenes in Contempt (Le Mépris, 1963) by Jean-Luc Goddard, where we get to see Brigitte Bardot in the altogether. And the last time we see Bardot nude, she is swimming. Swimming naked in the sea.
On the other hand, in these producer-mandated shots we get to see only her backside, in the same way that we see only the backsides of the little boys in the adaptations of La Guerre des Boutons, and one of the Tarzan films. Rear elevations are considered less naughty than frontal exposure for both males and females.
Some might argue that the Tarzan screen phenomenon was merely an exercise in putting a buff man on screen wearing hardly any clothing. The 1918 Tarzan film never shows anything but bums and sides. Nothing frontal. The 1983 film shows a few distant full frontal shots of the lads who play young Tarzan. Only literal flashes, and nothing close up enough to show any real detail. But in both films it is still a kid who is shown on screen naked. The adult Tarzan always has at least a loincloth.
For several decades having nude actors in film scenes such as this was considered rude, naughty, uncalled-for, and so forth. The most negative adjective that might be applied was "illegal." But Bardot had a beautiful young figure, and of the limited number of US theaters that showed Contempt, the places located near me showed the film with the provision that no one under 21 be admitted to the theater. In those days the art-movie theater was becoming a venue where on-screen nudity was permitted at times, nudity that would not be tolerated in real life, in public spaces, of course. At least not in the USA. But on the movie screen there was a chance to show images of nude people.
Nowadays, especially in America (I don't know about other countries) we don't expect or approve of naked people in public, even naked children in public, naked students in schools, or naked children on the screen, or even understand that there wasn't always a compunction to find this creepy or strange. People probably didn't get too riled by the 1918 Tarzan-boy nudity. For many situations in real life it wasn't even thought to be inappropriate for boys to be naked. Even in front of girls or women. Mainly, boys weren't thought to be bashful, even when nude, although it was understood that all girls were. One single-sex situation that quickly comes to mind is the gym showers at school. And that kind of group nudity remains a practice even today. See the page image below, from LIFE magazine January 13, 1941.
But I don't expect that boys or girls would be required to take a shower after gym class in most US schools in the current decade, if they found nudity in front of others to be embarrassing. Body image issues apparently afflict many people, and possibly most teenagers. For all I know a majority of schools have partitions or individual booths in gymnasium shower rooms now. I haven't been in one since 1972 when I was at university.
As the result of some Google search I made late in 2015 while preparing for these essays, a topical site appeared in the list of links: Historic Archive - Nude Male Swimming (the NSFW link is among those at the bottom of this post). For decades, many schools and public pools required males, but not females, to swim naked. That's right, in the buff in public.
As I read the posts and looked at the images I realized that, although it ended around the time I finished university, this practice was something that I had brushed up against. So I know it was a real thing. I simply didn't have knowledge of the broader examples that show up on the website. And I realize that most of those reading this essay will be too young to have ever experienced this, even in the form of a rumor, because I just don't think it's done anywhere in the US at this time. Naked swimming is still undertaken in many places in the world, though. Although I doubt that it's mandatory nudity in any case.
I can corroborate the stories of boys being required to swim naked in public, although my only recollection of the practice was the result of my parents' decision that my brother and I should have YMCA swimming classes in the summer of 1964. (The photo on the right is from Walla Walla, WA, not Little Rock.) I had already heard a rumor that the boys' swim classes at the Little Rock Y required swimming without trunks. In truth, I learned, it was a fact. To take the YMCA swimming class I would have to appear in the altogether in front of a bunch of strangers. Not my sartorial style at all. So, knowing that this was a fact, my plans were to refuse to attend the classes! More on this after some general background.
You can learn all you want about the historical topic of swimming naked, and even more than you want to, if you peruse the site linked below. That's where I got some of the information and images for this essay. The site is amply illustrated, with pages of demonstrative photographs. My illustrations are spoiler-tagged. Theirs are not. But beware opening that site if you are at work. From reading that one website I had confirmation that the rumor (that turned out to be true) about the Little Rock YMCA in the early 1960s was a more wide-spread practice, and lasted for more decades than I had ever imagined! You may be surprised to learn that naked boys IRL were not as rare before 1980 as you might imagine. And skinny-dipping was largely a male practice (although we know from the film made at Woodstock (and Godard's Contempt) that some women and girls certainly availed themselves of the opportunity).
Yet, in fact, for decades millions of boys attended school and YMCA swim classes without needing to remember their swim-trunks. They were forbidden to wear any. Even over the objections of the parents in some locations. The practice existed mostly before my time as a school student, and was practiced geographically slightly beyond where I grew up. But many people are astounded to learn that in much of the United States up into the 1970s, boys were required to swim naked in swimming classes and competitions, while girls, in separate class groups, of course, were allowed swimsuits provided by their schools.
Yes, that's right. Boys weren't given the option to skinny dip in the school pool, they were forbidden to wear anything other than their skin while they swam. The "logic" was that it was more hygienic. In some cases it extended beyond school classes, to certain areas of public swimming pools, especially where females were not present. Neither my junior high school nor my high school had swimming pools.
Thomas Eakins made a famous 1895 painting called "Swimming." The marvelous historical photo website Shorpy.com has several early 20th century photos of young men and boys skinny-dipping. It seems an amazing thing to think about boys taking communal swims in the 1940s, in rural areas when girls were not around, and just shucking off all their clothes, to be donned again afterward. And that it was considered ordinary behavior. The Ol' Swimmin' Hole sort of thing. This would be voluntary, private and sort of a bonding thing among friends and relatives, I guess. To require that they swim naked in school classes would be humiliating for some, wouldn't it?
Of course it would (thus, the headline from Menasha High School, above). But boys were expected to not be modest, while girls were thought to be naturally modest. Boys were assumed to not mind having to be naked around others with the same equipment. Girls were expected to be sensitive to such situations, and their delicate feelings were spared by allowing them to be clad while swimming. In fact, boys were thought to be sissies if they were reluctant to bare it all in front of other boys. Outside the gym showers, girls were not asked to do such a thing. All boys were thought to be one way, and all girls the other way, and that led to some practices that seem sexist and discriminatory, nowadays. Among them: requiring males to swim naked at school and the YMCA, and some other locations.
In terms of my only brush-up with required naked swimming, I lucked out. My brother and I were enrolled in a Saturday morning co-ed swim-class session at the YMCA, and because girls were present for the class, we boys got to wear swimsuits, too. Yay! We wore our swimsuits beneath our regular street duds on the way to the Y, and sat on towels when we rode home in the car afterward. (Once again, not a Little Rock photo of the co-ed swim class.)
I also remember that at the swimming pool at Fair Park, men and boys had to strip bare and shower, then rinse swimsuits under the shower, then put on the wet trunks and join their less-inconvenienced female companions at the poolside. One of the boys in our neighborhood group merely twirled through the shower water while wearing his trunks. But I was already bare-assed, red-faced and showering when he pulled his brilliant alternate version of compliance. I really wished I had thought of that. No cops came to make him re-do it without a suit on. My father was there, and he made 13-year-old me shower in the required way because that was the rules. The young neighbor had no parent there to make him comply. His mother was already lounging beside the pool. I was mortified by having to shower naked. Well, the one time we went there, I was mortified.
Fortunately, the rest of the time we went to the Boyle Park Pool to swim. It was newer, near where we lived, and there you simply wandered in already in your trunks, and jumped into the water. No showers, no forcible nudity. That one-time Fair Park pool shower seemed even worse to me, because I took band in Junior High school just to avoid having to shower after gym class. Taking band counted as the PE credit, you see.
Swimming naked in rural creeks and ponds and lakes was not uncommon back in the days when my parents were kids. My mother and aunts have no tales to tell of taking nude swims, but my father and most of my uncles did. I had five natural uncles, and they are all dead, now, along with dad. But my father used to get extra mileage out of recounting the time when he and two of his buddies were shucked off for a swim in a creek near where they lived, only to look up and see a whole class of school girls parading along the trail at the top of the creek bank. The boys pretended nonchalance, and quickly ducked to shoulder-depth in the creek, waved at the girls, and turned beet-faced. The female teacher hurried the girls along, warning them not to look at the boys in the creek. They looked anyway, of course.
I never was in any swimming class like this one shown in the Oct. 16, 1950 issue of LIFE magazine. The Swimming Naked website includes someone's reminiscence, pointing out that such practices were so common, and were thought to be so uncontroversial, that family magazines like LIFE and LOOK and others would feature such photos as this one and the one from Jan. 13, 1941, above.
By the time I was in calisthenics classes at university I showered after class because there was a young woman I liked in my next class, and I didn't want to leave a sweat-stink impression on her. But it took that kind of an interest to make me shower naked in front of other guys, and I really wasn't too keen on it, even then. The only upshot from those days showering, I guess, was that I learned that the African-American kid with red hair who was in the same class was a natural redhead (unless he also had his pubes and armpit hair dyed).
I certainly have nothing against those males and females who wish to skinny dip. As long as it's voluntary, of course. All this is not meant to imply that swimming naked was the rule for boys everywhere or all the time. As you can see from these Shorpy.com photos: historically, even groups of boys without any females in sight most often wore swim trunks. That's no surprise. The surprise is that there were places where the adults in charge believed that lint from men's swimwear would clog the pool filters. Why the girls' swimsuits wouldn't shed lint and cause the same problem is one to puzzle out when you have some spare time!
Honestly, I'm surprised that the practice lasted as long as it did.
NSFWHistoric Archive - Nude Male Swimming. "The number of news articles and editorials we have discovered that discuss the common practice of how men swam nude at community pools, schools and civic organization were too numerous to list only but a few that had particular interest. The voluminous archives of such accounts on the Internet that are available to anyone evidences that men swimming nude at such venues was extremely common in most countries through the mid 20th century. Therefore, our focus has been more directed on the more controversial topic, and that is the presence of females at the venues and locations where men and boys swam nude. We have concluded from them that during the first half of the 20th century, although uncommon, there is documented evidence of such things as females teaching swimming classes where boys were required to be naked, and in some cases, swim meet exhibitions where boys swam nude while being watched by mixed-gender audiences. We also offer photographic evidence and videos that explain the reasoning behind customs that resulted in most school programs and civic organizations mandating all males to swim nude whereas females never did."
Barely in Prison: Brief Nudity. 28 Oct. 2013. The Corrierino Forums. "We all know that "nudity" is not the same for male and female actors. If you can see what would normally be hidden by boxers, or more specifically a Speedo, and the actor is male, that's nudity. So nudity for male actors means simply that the buttocks or genital area are on display. If the actor is female, even if only her chest is bare, that's nudity. Naturally, a bare-naked male chest is not considered nudity. Neither is a bikini clad woman."
Contempt (film). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "The film received universal acclaim from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported 93% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 43 reviews, with an average score of 8.6/10. The critical consensus is: 'This powerful work of essential cinema joins "meta" with "physique," casting Brigitte Bardot and director Godard's inspiration Fritz Lang.'"
Possibly NSFWLIFE Jan 13, 1941 from Google Books. "Democracy in U.S. Schools" pp 61-71. Photos on pg 66. You'll have to scroll down, or find the article in the "Front Cover" drop-down menu at top, click the title and then scroll. 'The school showers are a steam-heated melting pot for boys of all classes and races. One boy provided a caption for this picture. He wrote: "The example of democracy the boys displayed was that they did not shove each other around to be in the picture or underneath the shower. They awaited their turns instead."'
Possibly NSFWLIFE Oct 16, 1950 from Google Books. "A Good High School" pg 101-106. Photo on pg 106. You'll have to scroll down, or find the article in the "Front Cover" drop-down menu at top and then scroll. Enjoy all the old advertising! 'New Trier's pool, cost $400,000 even in the days of the early 30s, is probably the best high school pool in U.S. It measures 60 by 75 feet (this view is across the short sides) and has helped make swimming a major New Trier sport. These students are warming up for water volleyball, one of schools 32 sports.'
Probably NSFWMoon River: 1935 from Shorpy.com. Three boys diving from mudbank circa 1935, location unknown. 5x7 safety film negative, Acme News Photo archive, Library of Congress. Source of a skinny-dipping photo.
Skinny Dippers: 1910 from Shorpy.com. Detroit, Michigan, circa 1910. "News Tribune newsboys' plunge bath." Someone make these kids a sandwich. Detroit Publishing glass negative. Skinny kids with trunks on at public pool. Photo source.
The Boys of Summer: 1923. 'Washington, D.C., 1923. "Opening of Potomac bathing beach." Everyone say "yaaaay!" National Photo Company Collection glass negative.' Source of a clothed boys swimming photo.
All right, two of four have been posted. And this one is another kind of skewed topic, but the opening paragraphs attempt to explain how it came about.
It's the third of four for today, and the first to be from the Rematch for La Guerre des Boutons. I have no idea if others have most pleasant memories of looking at the illustrations in books when they were children, but I certainly do.
A Comparison of La Guerre des Boutons (1962), The War of the Buttons (1994), La Guerre des Boutons (2011) and La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons (2011)
I looked at some websites I found that feature illustrations from a couple of editions of Pergaud's book, and I knew that I wanted to present these illustrations in an essay. It's visual, like film, although it isn't audio-visual (unless you read aloud). But this turned out to be a difficult essay to write and put together. The skeleton was composed in late 2015. When I set out to gather all the downloadable imagery I needed on 25 February 2017, I found nine more illustrators represented online. And it seems unfair to talk about the breadth of presentation without showing most or all of the 11 artists whose work I've discovered. I will admit that my sense of proportion may be askew, but I forged ahead with the broader mandate.
The "beloved tale" is the kind of story with the most widely attempted visual supplementation. Now, we know that for most of human history since the invention of writing there were only the drawings of an artist to enhance the reading experience. It is easier, cheaper and much faster to illustrate a short story or novel than it is to create a motion picture adaptation. Eventually, I fancied that I had grown "too old" for books with any pictures at all. I was convinced that the images should be in my head, and placed there by my own imagination, long before I realized the connection that specific pair of words have to one another (those words being "image" and "imagination").
This essay will be presented a bit differently. I place certain of the images borrowed from the internet in theimage blocks. To others I place inline links, instead of putting them only under Weblinks at the end of the essay. This allows you to see the original size of the images, if you wish. Below, there are links to the original French and Italian language blog posts about these illustrations. If your language is some other, just copy and paste the entire title line to Google, and select "Translate this page" from the list of results, to see if you can read it in a functional, though probably technically incorrect page, built in your own tongue. My Turkish ESL students tell me that Google translate for Turkish...well, it results in gobbledygook much of the time. Thus, I can't vouch for your language being well-done by the algorithm. I understand that the latest Chrome browser can be told to automatically translate pages as you go to them.
A few years ago, when I was a boy, I became fascinated by the amazing quality level of the artworks that are used to illustrate books intended to be read to or by children. For one thing I wondered how the grown-ups who made the paintings, drawings and sketches knew just what events to select for their illustrations. My father's reading of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was noticeably expanded when he would turn the book around and show my brother and me the illustrations that occupied the extent of certain pages. I certainly remember the words, and they have lasted in my memory; but based on my recollections of drawings that I saw and studied as a young boy, and have not seen for decades, I know that these images can have just as lasting an impression on young minds.
Ultimately, the five films made from its story are illustrations of Louis Pergaud's 1912 novel. But before there was a film of the book, readers enjoyed seeing small drawings to help them imagine what they were reading about. Most books intended for kids, and even some intended for adults, contain drawings or paintings that are reproduced on the pages alongside the words that carry the story. Pergaud's La Guerre des Boutons has enjoyed a rich publication history in its century of existence. I found 11 editions with graphic illustrations by different artists, not including the recent output of graphic novels.
Louis Pergaud's words have been illustrated many times; at least since a 1927 edition with the images of Joseph Hémard were added into the mix for expository advantage. There are many famous editions, illustrated by plates, or by edge drawings. And, recently, the addition of comics-style graphic novelizations of his story, or of the movie adaptation have made the drawings the equal of the words, or perhaps their dominator.
One well-known illustrator for the Pergaud novel is the aforementioned Joseph Hémard, whose 1927 edition has been scanned, and images of some illustrations put online. This was the earliest illustrated edition I could find anything about, but there may have been others that aren't represented on the 'net. Most of what I found exists because someone wanted to sell the book, and has put up images of the pages to help a prospective buyer decide to make the purchase. Hémard was a rather prolific artist who crossed genres easily.
More recently, Claude Lapointe drew pictures to accompany the words by Pergaud. M. Lapointe has illustrated the beloved French novel by Pergaud, but he is also known as the illustrator of a French translation of the beloved US English novel by Mark Twain: Tom Sawyer. And Lapointe has also drawn pictures to augment others of Pergaud's works. Editions with his illustrations were reissued in 2011. One release was by Gallimard Jeunesse.
As 2011 approached, and the special editions of the novel with Lapointe's images were brought to market, a slightly different kind of illustrator took over the duties of drawing the story: the graphic novel illustrators worked feverishly to bring several editions to market. Some are single-volume graphic renderings. Others are divided into more than one volume, and were issued over the course of two or more years.
I bought the Kindle edition of the 2011 Delcourt graphic novel by Philippe Thirault (Scénario), Aude Soleilhac (Dessin) and Isabelle Merlet (Couleur). See if this link to See Inside still works for the cover and three pages. The grapics are sprightly, and contain all the tweaks that I love about Hergé's Tintin books. Oddly, there is a character named Tintin in Pergaud's story. I wonder if Hergé used that for his character's name in homage to Pergaud's novel. No online source I found reveals the answer to that question. The Thirault-Soleilhac-Merlet volume is a blend of the novel and the 1962 film, but has an ending like neither.
Other graphic novels were published in 2011. Among them was Vol. 4 of Editions Petit à Petit, completing a set with the three prior volumes which came to market in 2005 (Vol. One), 2006 (Vol. Two), and 2008 (Vol. Three). The artists vary over the 6-year course of production. Only the page for Vol. Two offers See Inside, but when you click, you see inside the Larousse Kindle edition that I bought and read last year.
A Dargaud edition 2-volume set created by Olivier Berlion was issued Vol. One in 2011 and Vol. Two in 2012. These pages both feature See Inside. The artistic style is an elaboration on what readers of Peanuts would be familiar with.
A volume by Christophe Lemoine, Cécile and Kaori appeared in January 2012. Prior to publication, Cécile blogged about progress on the book. The Amazon sales page doesn't have See Inside activated, but you can click to see five images from the book. The cover and four story pages. Cecile's graphic and coloring show a good sense of shot distances (if we were talking cinema). There is a certain sweetness to the design, but it doesn't seem to overwhelm the inherent darkness of the story, in the samples we can view.
The volume illustrated by Vanessa Hié has See Inside on the Amazon Fr. page. Her work is rather childlike and simply-styled, although on purpose. It is charming, although not as detailed as some of the other illustrators have produced. Her La Guerre volume is not a graphic novel. Hié is a prolific illustrator; a large number of her works are listed on Amazon Fr.
I'll leave it to you to do the research in Google image search, but I can tell you that a surprising number of these La Guerre des Boutons illustrators also created a large number of what we would nowadays dub NSFW artworks. I ran across them as I was searching for photos of the artists. Not all of them delved into the erotic, though. Only some.
Longeverne Archignat, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Google Map view of Chemin de Longeverne. I guess in English that would be "Longeverne Rd." The map search string is CHEMIN DE LONGEVERNE, ARCHIGNAT, Auvergne, France
Longeverne vs Velrans, première bataille from paris-normandie.fr. Pauline Lefrançois Publié 13/09/2011 Mise à jour 13/09/2011. 'Si l'histoire manque de solidité et de profondeur, le film est divertissant. Le jeu des enfants (tous débutants en tant que comédiens) est agréable à regarder même si on ne comprend pas toujours ce qu'ils disent. Et si certaines scènes arrivent comme un cheveu sur la soupe, on comprend bien, à sa façon, les messages que Yann Samuell a voulu faire passer : les difficultés du passage de l'enfance à l'adolescence et l'âge adulte.' via Google Translate: ' If the story lacks solidity and depth, the film is entertaining. The children's game (all beginners as actors) is nice to watch even if you do not always understand what they say. And if certain scenes arrive like a hair on the soup, one understands well, in its way, the messages that Yann Samuell wanted to pass: the difficulties of the transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood.'
Merceries from Fait d'images, le blog de françois forcadell – l'image dessinée dans l'actualité. 27 septembre 2011 à 9 h 44 'La « guerre » de la « La guerre des boutons » a eu lieu au cinéma avec la sortie en salles de deux adaptations, mais également dans les librairies de BD avec la parution de deux albums adaptés de l’œuvre originale de Louis Pergaud. Aux éditions Dargaud avec un album d’Olivier Berlion (scénario et dessins) et aux éditions Delcourt avec un album de Philippe Thirault (scénario), Aude Soleilhac (dessins) et Isabelle Merlet (mise en couleurs).' and from Google Translate: 'The "war" of "The war of the buttons" took place in the cinema with the release in theaters of two adaptations, but also in the bookshops of comic strips with the publication of two adapted albums of the original work of Louis Pergaud. Editions Dargaud with an album by Olivier Berlion (scenario and drawings) and Editions Delcourt with an album by Philippe Thirault (screenplay), Aude Soleilhac (drawings) and Isabelle Merlet (coloring).'
Le avventure di Tom Sawyer (a disegni) from asecondadcometirailvento.blogspot.com. posted by the Italian Professor lunedì 12 dicembre 2011. from Google Translate: 'I had an idea! Leafing through a magnificent edition of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (Edition PIEMME, Classics Steam Yacht), I saw that each chapter is illustrated with beautiful drawings by Claude Lapointe, a French illustrator that can be considered the "father" of many illustrators of children's books, and I thought I'd bring them (without permission! I run the risk?) in our blog, so that it becomes a kind of summary for designs of our book of fiction. Through the designs it becomes easier memorize what happens chapter by chapter. The idea came to me, however, it is broader: it is one that you should do your designs chapter by chapter, in order to post them on the blog. I'll talk to the teacher. Art (talk to him you too) and see if it works and can be evaluated as a true and proper school work.' There are 36 illustrations by Claude Lapointe in this blog post! All for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Pergaud's War Diary from MO(T)SAIQUES 2 blogspot. There are reviews of the book Carnet de Guerre, which is Pergaud's written musings about the real life war he was in the middle of. The blog entry also has sections from Pergaud's logbook that he kept while in WWI. They are in French, of course. '"Canonnade - le beau temps revient - nous recherchons nos blessés (...). On est en admiration devant nous, n'empêche qu'il y a 111 morts - 250 blessés et autant de disparus. Et pourquoi, pour que le con sinistre qui a nom Boucher de Morlaincourt (1) ait sa 3e étoile. La prise de Marchéville ne signifie rien, rien. Il est idiot de songer à prendre un village et des tranchées aussi puissamment protégés avec des effectifs aussi réduits, chaque poilu fût-il brave comme 3 lions. Le soir, la 1re Cie seule doit recommencer l'opération. C'est ridicule et odieux ! Et le 75 nous a tapé dessus achevant les blessés de P3. Deux malheureux avaient réussi à se rouler dans la même couverture attendant des secours. Un 75 les fait sauter en miettes. C'est horrible.' from Google translate: '"Cannonade - good weather is back - we are looking for our wounded ... We are in awe of it, but there are 111 dead - 250 wounded and as many missing. A sinister whose name is Boucher de Morlaincourt1 has his third star.-The taking of Marcheville signifies nothing, nothing.-It is idiotic to think of taking a village and trenches as powerfully protected with such small numbers, He brave like 3 lions.In the evening, the 1st Cie alone has to repeat the operation.This is ridiculous and odious and the 75 tapped us on completing the wounded of P3.2 Two unfortunates had managed to roll in the same cover Waiting for some help, a 75 of them blows it up, it's horrible.'
Un siècle de Guerre des boutons Par Stéphane Gobbo - Mis en ligne le 14.09.2011 à 15:57 from L'Hebdo archives. Does not include illustrations, but has the text of the article quoted in the Ricochet entry above. NOTE: L'Hebdo stopped publication on 3 Feb 2017. '«Quand j’étais enfant, on se battait comme dans le livre. Alors que les adultes pensaient que l’on jouait, on avait vraiment peur de mourir.» Illustrateur en 1981 du roman, le Lorrain Claude Lapointe avoue s’être plus retrouvé dans les pages de l’écrivain que dans l’adaptation de Robert.' from Google Translate: '"When I was a child, we fought like the book. While the adults thought they were playing, we were really afraid of dying." Illustrateur in 1981 of the novel, Lorrain Claude Lapointe admits to have found himself more in the pages of the writer than in the adaptation of Robert.'
Wow. That one has so many graphics it might not even load on some tablets, or if you have a slow internet connection.
The final of the four essays to be posted tonight deals with another topic that might be NSFW depending on your company policies and the attitudes of coworkers. So, it is also behind spoiler tags. Which makes the immediately visible, censored graphics look kind of weird. But the night I put it together I was too tired to get back and make different graphics for either the first or last graphics block.
I hope no one decides to sue me over obvious design mediocrity.
It started off as an offering about the naked battle scene in the book and four of the five films. But it evolved.
The buttons are removed from the images inside the tags below.
It is standard practice for me to begin each Rematch with Google image searches in order to find posters and CD or LP artworks to illustrate the Find It post for each rematch. In the case of The War of the Buttons, I was stunned when I first saw the photo chosen to become the cover of the soundtrack LP from Yves Robert's 1962 French film La Guerre des Boutons. An image from the end of the nude battle sequence, it shows Tigibus naked, cupping his hand over his most private parts, and ... well, it just isn't "21st century!" It made me feel a touch uneasy; there is a conflict between this era and the era when I was a boy, and didn't know such things were being put on record sleeves. Maybe it's a European cover, made for people who aren't so squeamish about nakedness. Or...was it, perhaps, sensationalistic marketing?
The 1962 trailer features the nude battle scene as the backdrop for the title at the end of the trailer. And the 1994 trailer and poster include the nude battle as well. When I saw the 1994 film (my initial introduction to the Pergaud story, in 1997) it was rather astounding to me to see all the boys from Ballydowd attacking their foes while wearing only shoes and socks. Both of the 2011 film trailers feature that battle scene, but without revealing exactly how revealing it becomes in Samuell's adaptation.
As sometimes happens with these essays, the original idea is focused on the films under examination, but the research leads us into a wider world than we expected. That happened here, and also with an essay in the Tarzan Rematch. It was natural to wonder if the naked Tigibus LP cover was rare for the era, or if it had company. And why does this one scene in the story merit so much attention over the years? Many of the illustrated novels that have been published since 1912 (prior to the modern graphic novels) feature drawings of this battle. That one scene from the book isn't the weirdest thing that takes place in La Guerre des Boutons by Louis Pergaud. But it is weird enough to garner a lot of notice.
You may wonder why a novel written in 1912 would feature dozens of boys attacking dozens of other boys, while selecting the "birthday suit" as their uniform of the day. Shock and awe value for the attackers? Crazy, boyish audacity? No doubt. But there is more to the selected "a poil" (in the skin) uniform than shock and awe.
This might be a case of purposeful (or inadvertent) symbolism. Soldiers of the time went into modern warfare, such as the conflict that was about to rage throughout Europe when Pergaud was writing his tale, and they may as well have been naked for all the protection that was afforded them by then-modern armor. The weapons of the day (gas, shells, bombs dropped from airplanes) would find them. There was likely no protection that was infallible.
In Pergaud's novel Le Brac gets the idea of fighting sans clothing as a consequence of having been the recipient of a stripping and beating when captured by the Velrans warriors, and a subsequent beating from his father for having worn home the destroyed clothing. Thus, he suggests that the Longeverne army go "a poil" in their next campaign. The others are not immediately persuaded. "Tout nu?" one of them asks. And Lebrac explains his reasoning. This portion of the novel takes several pages. Well, the disrobed attack takes place, and it is a victory, so he must have been persuasive enough.
Another possible symbolic meaning to the battle: Soldiers who would fight naked because their general commanded it, would do anything they were ordered. After all, some of the boys question general Lebrac's idea. But he harangues them, and they accede to his plans.
The films leave out the moment of persuasion. All five film versions include the naked attack scene to one extent or another. The "full frontal" assault is not the crux of the movies, but it is included. If I were a young Longevernian involved in that tale, or a young actor in a movie of the story, I would not have participated in such an attack or the scenes of such an attack, without trepidation.
No doubt a substitution could be made for the unusual wardrobe aspect of the scene. But the nakedness of the young warriors is not merely hinted at in the 1936, 1962, 1994 or the Yann Samuell 2011 film adaptations of La Guerre des Boutons. The boy characters who are naked in the novel for the short scene, are naked on the screen for the same scene. All the audience sees are rear elevations, of course, but the scene is still there. The PG rating of the 1994 film is explained in the MPAA logo: "Michievous conflict, some mild language and bare bottoms."
None of the girls in the villages turn out bare to wage the war of the buttons. But on the Longeverne side all the boys do, one time. It's tactical, and easy to understand: when the prize is to capture parts of the enemy's clothing, going bare removes any chance of the opposing army winning! The audience, seeing the cleverness of this tactic in a war where buttons are the medallions of victory, cannot help but chuckle. The Velrans boys run away not because their opponents are nude, but because they are wearing buttons, laces, belts -- all the prizes of war that the Longevernes want.
So, if all we understand when we watch these movies is that this is a nude scene with young boys, we've missed the point entirely.
Neither Barratier nor Samuell had their 21st century actors replay that scene in exactly the way it was done three times before. Yann Samuell has his nude boys running through a field of wheat so that we don't see their defining parts. But as they run away from the camera we can see that they are wearing nothing other than, perhaps, their shoes. Samuell retains the bare-assedness of his young actors, so the comic potential of the scene is intact.
Barratier, on the other hand, takes the substitute wardrobe route that I acknowledged above, and has his Longevernian boys wear undershirts and briefs when they attack the Velranians. This costuming approach removes some of the tactical cleverness from the story. I thought, why bother including this if you aren't going to do it like the book?, although I understand the reasons for not doing so in 2011. True, these boys in underwear also don't have buttons, but they are wearing belts, and other items that could become spoils of war. The coyness of the Nouvelle adaptation makes it very clear why the three earlier directors, Jacques Daroy, Yves Robert and John Roberts, and to a subdued extent Yann Samuell in 2011, chose to have the scene performed much as it was originally written. To do otherwise makes the scene pointless in terms of the story. It's just another battle.
So why didn't Barratier simply drop the scene from his film if he was going to cover up the main point? After all, it's a short scene, meant to be comic, and not having it wouldn't cause anything to be missed...unless it was a chance for audience laughter. I'm not arguing that Barratier's costuming choice isn't more realistic. In real 21st century life it probably is loads more realistic. But this part of the film is a fantasy, as is the entire plot.
To include an a poil attack in the novel, and to show the naked battle in a movie seems weird to modern sensibilities, but it reflects a general mindset that prevailed for a very long time. Until recently, boys were not thought to be modest. "To be naked in a group or in public is not an affront to boys," was the way people thought. Thinking has changed, of course.
This old-timey mindset is pertinent to The War of the Buttons because of the depiction of the naked warriors that appears in four of the movies. In 1912 people would not have been very surprised by this type of behavior from boys fighting a faux war. By 1936 when the first movie was made, attitudes had not changed. It all came across as innocent play. Except the parents in the story don't take the destroyed clothing very lightly. Many bare bottoms are left reddened in the aftermath.
None of the films in the Rematch thread were chosen in order to include this particular costuming option, but this kind of scene appears in a number of the Remake Rematch movies. Remember that we've also seen naked boys and men in other films in this thread, including: Lord of the Flies (1963), Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Romeo & Juliet (1968), Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan (1984), and a few naked or near naked men in the two Scum films (1977 & 1979), as well as the inpired-by-them, Dog Pound (2005). Guei wanders ignorantly and innocently into a spa in Beijing Bicycle (2000), where he is required to be naked in order to enter.
An essay for the Scum Flashmatch discusses the difference in perception between male and female bodies, in terms of what's considered "nude" and what's not. And the Round Four Tarzan Rematch has an essay about the odd practice of making boys swim naked at school and the YMCA for decades. Even though Americans don't require or expect boys to swim naked in this era (at least I'm not aware of it if that is still done anywhere in the US), we still have different ideas for males and females about what can be shown in public without generally crossing a line into indecency.
Consider that the placement of the line is sex-based, not based on what you see. Otherwise, girls would not have to wear tops at the pool or beach before they reached puberty. But they do. Simply because they someday will have something on their chest to hide, little girls are required to wear something to cover up what ... isn't there yet.
And in the US, it is always important to know the sex of the child, whether it is a male or a female child. So the top for girl's signals "this is not a boy." Thus, we know how to interact with the child, and what to expect of "him" or "her." This is considered tremendously important to know in the modern US. I'm not sure how other countries treat the gender of children, or the relative importance they assign to sure knowledge of what kind of kid you're talking to, in terms of easing social interaction.
Although I cannot be sure it's true, I've always believed that Americans are the most squeamish about nudity; in art, in person, in the imagination, even. Many Americans equate nudity and pornography for some reason. The export of that false equivalency may be the reason Barratier did the naked battle as an undies battle.
But my 21st century self has to wonder: in 1962 didn't it seem over the line to put that photo of little Tigibus on the cover of the LP? Maybe not so much. It was intended to grab attention, after all. A few notable modern CD covers have featured naked people. And there is a link below to a website with dozens of LP sleeves that feature nudity. Many of them were banned. They all feature adults, not 6-year olds. September 2016 was the 25th anniversary of the Nirvana "Nevermind" CD cover that featured 4-month old Spencer Elden swimming in the altogether. I included a link to an article or two about the marking of that anniversary. This photograph and the Bat For Lashes "The Haunted Man" cover photo (and others) were controversial, and audacious, but not banned.
Well, that's all under the tags. Back to the buttons, below.
An article (that I provide a link to below) deals with the psychological idea of "concept-creep," which isn't what it sounds like. The article appeared on the website for The Atlantic. It talks about how over time the definition of a particular activity can expand (or contract), sometimes for the benefit of society, sometimes to its detriment; and it may explain why the idea of boys being required to swim naked in phys ed classes seems weird and uncalled for to us, but didn't seem at all strange to people fifty or sixty or more years ago. And if it explains that, it will also explain why Philips corporation put a picture of a naked little boy on the record sleeve for the music from the Yves Robert La Guerre des Boutons; this particular photo, out of all the possible photos that they could have selected from the film! The same image was used on a Japanese language poster. I cannot imagine a similar photo appearing on a poster or CD cover these days! But in 1962, the laugh-out-loud humor of the naked battle scene was one of the most memorable moments from the film.
Barely in Prison: Brief Nudity. 28 Oct. 2013. The Corrierino Forums. "We all know that "nudity" is not the same for male and female actors. If you can see what would normally be hidden by boxers, or more specifically a Speedo, and the actor is male, that's nudity. So nudity for male actors means simply that the buttocks or genital area are on display. If the actor is female, even if only her chest is bare, that's nudity. Naturally, a bare-naked male chest is not considered nudity. Neither is a bikini clad woman."
Probably NSFWbat for lashes the haunted man Google search results. 'The Haunted Man is the third studio album by English singer and songwriter Natasha Khan, professionally known as Bat for Lashes. It was released on 12 October 2012 by Parlophone. Wikipedia'
Probably NSFWNirvana baby recreates iconic album cover 25 years later. From NYPost.com. By Natalie O'Neill September 23, 2016 | 6:43pm 'In 1991, photographer Kirk Weddle asked Elden’s parents if he could use the baby for a photoshoot for the then-unknown band, according to Time magazine. A fish hook with a dollar bill was later added digitally to the image.'
NSFWThe history of nudity on RECORD SLEEVES. from RREVERB info 2016/05/23 Information (English) 'Nudity on record sleeves has always been regarded as very audacious. Many records have been banned from the shelves as they were too gross (The Beatles’ first edition of “Yesterday, and Today” with bloody baby dolls is a famous example), or too sexy. But we have found nudity on albums that date way before Sky Ferreira’s 2013 album “Night Time, My Time” which featured the young blonde singer topless in the shower.' Does not include the Nirvana cover, or the 1962 La guerre des boutons LP cover. No surprise.
How Americans Became So Sensitive to Harm. From The Atlantic.com, Conor Friedersdorf 8:37 AM ET 19 April 2016. "A recently published paper explains how 'concept creep' in the field of psychology has reshaped many aspects of modern society."
A Comparison of Tom Brown's School Days (1940), Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951), Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971) & Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005)
The Legacy of Tom Brown's School Days
The Find it post for this Rematch makes the bold claim that without Tom Brown's School Days there may never have been Harry Potter. The basic format of the British public school genre of stories grew out of Thomas Hughes' 1857 book, as far as I can tell with the power of the Internet. Who knows? Hughes may have been inspired by some tale that we don't know about, here in 2017. There were as many as 90 boarding school stories published between 1749 and 1857, according to Wikipedia. But generations of youngsters have read Tom Brown's story, and it has been transformed into motion picture form five times so far.
You can get your hands on it pretty easily. There are ways to get the text for free, ways to hear it read to you for free, and plenty of opportunities to buy ebooks or paperbacks.
None of the adaptations to film has dealt with the entire story (naturally). Only certain episodes are selected in each case, and each adaptation treats somewhat different parts of the story. The BFI website suggests that the 1916 silent film more or less requires knowledge of the novel in order to understand what is going on up on the screen!
In terms of films, the screen adaptations of the novel may have inspired the 1968 film If... just as much as Jean Vigot's 1933 film Zero de Conduit did. Whether the novel influenced Vigot to make Zero de Conduit may be in question, but unless the 1916 silent treatment gave him ideas, it is certain that the film adaptations had no influence on Vigo. Now, whether Vigo's screen treatment of his own story influenced Robert Stevenson's 1940 US film, or the later UK adaptations, we can't say.
That such a widely-known book as Tom Brown's School Days may have had an indelible influence on J. K. Rowling as she conceived of and wrote the Harry Potter series is not out of the question. It is also not a certainty.
And I'm not the only one to think so. As I was researching the music tech post I ran across a blog post by Kathryn Hughes of The Guardian website (link below) in which she does a retrospective on the novel. And she sees the connections between Tom Brown and Harry Potter, as well.
Some analysts have taken pains to point out the many parallels in plot structure and character content between the first Potter volume and the book that introduces Tom Brown to the world. In a list of admitted and possible influences that Wikipedians have put together, she doesn't list Tom Brown's School Days, herself. Well, the influence is no doubt a background thing, a way that she was taught to think of stories involving English public schools as she grew up.
Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes Published July 24, 2008 Usage Public Domain, from archive.org. "LibriVox recording of Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes. Read by icyjumbo (1964-2010)."
Tom Brown's School Days. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "Tom Brown's School Days has been the source for several film and television adaptations. It also influenced the genre of British school novels, which began in the 19th century, and led to fictional depictions of schools such as Billy Bunter's Greyfriars School, Mr Chips' Brookfield, St. Trinian's, and Harry Potter's Hogwarts. A sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, was published in 1861." and "Although there were as many as 90 stories set in British boarding schools published between Sarah Fielding's The Governess, or The Little Female Academy in 1749 and 1857, Tom Brown's School Days was responsible for bringing the school story genre to much wider attention."
Harry Potter influences and analogues. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "Both Tom Brown's Schooldays and Harry Potter involve an average eleven-year-old, better at sport than academic study, who is sent to boarding school. Upon arrival, the boy gains a best friend (in Tom's case, East, in Harry's case, Ron Weasley) who helps him adjust to the new environment. They are set upon by an arrogant bully – in Tom Brown's case, Flashman, in Harry's case Draco Malfoy."
Back to school by Kathryn Hughes from The Guardian.com. 'Tom Brown's Schooldays is more a junior Pilgrim's Progress than the jolly romp most of us remember. Kathryn Hughes on the moral fable written for a son who died before he was old enough to go to Rugby'
A Comparison of Tom Brown's School Days (1940),Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951),Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971) & Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005) Soundtrack
It is amazing (or maybe not so amazing) that none of these films' soundtracks is available to buy. This is understandable for the earlier versions, 1940 and 1951, but by 1971 popular television series music was sometimes offered on LPs, and certainly by 2005 you'd expect to see CDs and mp3 files.
But there aren't any. I did find photos of the composers, though!
-----1940----- Someone put the 1940 opening title music on Youtube. The composer is Anthony Collins who has 27 IMDb Composer credits between 1937 and 1954. His tenth film score was for Tom Brown's School Days (1940). He had already scored Swiss Family Robinson (1940). He has 50 credits for Music Department, which might mean that stock music from his scores was used in a later film, or he composed and conducted, or merely conducted the music, or he was the composer for studio stock music that was incorporated into the soundtrack. Many of those credits are for B-films and serials. These gigs ranged from 1940 to 1957. Among them is the Herbert Wilcox film Odette (1952), about a WWII heroine. Collins lived until 1963, but his musical legacy continues to grow. In Soundtracks, for which he has 10 credits, there is a cut used in Citizen Kane (1941), and a 1995 Ren & Stimpy episode, as well as The Woman Chaser (1999) which used Collins' theme for Macao (1952) for part of its score. Presumably, you can hear the entire score as you watch the full 1940 Tom Brown film on Youtube, here.
-----1951----- Richard Addinsell composed the 1951 score. He lived from 1904 until 1977, but his music has been in use through 2011 (My Week with Marilyn). Addinsell's 57 Composer credits at IMDb include some rather famous movies: Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (1945), A Christmas Carol (1951), Beau Brummel (1954). Many of them became well known as TV-fare in the 1960s. Addinsell composed for television films and shows, alongside his theatrical features work from 1946 to 1977. His posthumous music career began in 1980 when a clip was included in the soundtrack of The Sea Wolves. Collins and Addinsell both show that you don't have to be Bach or Mozart for your music to outlive you. A recording of the "Overture" is on YouTube. If that link doesn't work for you, try this one. You can hear the entire soundtrack in the colorized 1951 version posted on YouTube. There is no copy posted in the original B&W. And it's hard to come by on DVD in the US.
-----1971----- The IMDb Full Cast & Crew page for this TV miniseries lists no composer or anyone involved with music at all. The DVD set reveals that none of the five episodes' credits reveals who did the opening and closing music bits. It is clearly some classical march or processional, or a piece from a stock music library. The 1971 series is not available on YouTube. But if you simply can't live without hearing that piece of music (hell, maybe you can identify it for us) here's the opening five minutes or so of Episode Two on YouTube.
-----2005----- Since 1985 John E. Keane has been composing music for motion pictures. But most of them are television films and series. Nothing wrong with that! He's a working composer. He is often credited without his middle initial. Apparently his longest gig was as composer for the long-term Hornblower TV film series that ran from 1998 to 2003. Among his many television films is the 2005 Tom Brown's Schooldays, the first of five pictures he scored that were released in that year. The score is very nice for the most part, but the only place I find it on Youtube is in the full version of the TV film. I must admit that I cannot be sure the man represented above as this John E. Keane, is actually the John Keane who worked on the 2005 score. But of all those in the confusing and jumbled Google Image search results for the name with the word "composer" attached, he seems the most likely. Who'd have thought that "John Keane" would be such a common name?
Another one ready. Posting as fast as I can because I don't know how long it'll be before I get another break in other things to do that will let me proceed on this here thread.
Some of these old films are frustrating for the tech posts. As you've noticed, there often aren't pictures of people who worked on crew before the 1950s or 1960s in most cases.
And trying to Google Image search for "Robert Stevenson" failed, due to so many images of Robert Louis Stevenson being on the 'net. In a mindless moment I even added "Kidnapped" to the search terms...yeah. That didn't sort out anything. I finally decided that there is no internet photo of "Robert Stevenson screenwriter" that I can find with the key terms I could think of. So...ad libbed. I did.
And then I remembered that he was a film director! Not the most photographed one ever, apparently.
Turns out he was named after Robert Louis Stevenson, although there is no relation.
A Comparison of Tom Brown's School Days (1940),Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951),Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971) & Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005) The Writers
Adapting a beloved story is an undertaking that someone has to embrace in order for any popular novel or short story (more recently: comic strip, graphic novel, video game) to become a motion picture. Here is a short list of people who decided to try their hand at turning Tom Brown's School Days into a movie script. Of course we don't include the person who did this for the 1916 silent film feature.
-----1940----- Thomas Hughes is always credited as the author of the novel. But the 1940 film had a crew of writers: Walter Ferris, Frank Cavett, Gene Towne & C. Graham Baker (as Graham Baker)(adaptation) plus Robert Stevenson (additional dialogue). Many of these men worked together on other films, not always credited as, or only as writer. Most of this writing staff had worked together on the Swiss Family Robinson (1940) script, for example.
Walter Ferris got his first writing credit for adapting Death Takes a Holiday (1934). His last screen credit during his life was in 1952 for a dramatic television series. But his first work became the inspiration for Meet Joe Black (1998), which gives him a posthumous credit, the last of 23 writing credits for the screen. Or, perhaps, we should say his "currently last" writing credit. Ferris lived until 1965.
Frank Cavett won Oscars for Best Writing in 1945, for Going My Way (1944) and in 1953 for The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). He was nominated in 1948 for Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947). In all three cases he shared the nomination with other writers. In all, Cavett had only 12 screen writing credits from 1932 to 1952. 25% Oscar noms for his trouble is...pretty phenomenal. Maybe he had connections. Or maybe he was simply quite talented. He lived to be 67, passing on in 1973.
Gene Towne started out writing titles for the silents beginning in 1921. His first adaptation was from a play to a screenplay for Ladies' Night in a Turkish Bath (1928). In 1958 he earned his 28th and last screen writing credit for Yasamak hakkimdir (English title: You Only Live Once), a Turkish film directed by Atif Yilmaz. Towne died in 1979 at age 74.
C. Graham Baker is said to have made his first mark as a newspaperman. But he wrote the story for Fits and Chills (1915), a short film. That year he wrote two other shorts. His screen credits for writing short films increased to an additional 27 in 1916. The Singing Fool (1928), with Al Jolson was Baker's first talkie. Although Baker died in 1950 three of his scripts were produced posthumously. Not many of Baker's 180 writing credits translated into lasting films. He was also a producer, for example Little Men (1940) and Tom Brown's School Days (1940). Four producer credits. His strong suit was as a writer.
Robert Stevenson directed 62 titles, but has only 27 writing credits. There is less overlap than I expected, although my examination was cursory at best. Balaclava (1928) was one of those transitional films that was shot to be a silent movie, then was reshot with sound. Stevenson wrote the scenario for the movie along with two others. A further trio of writers are credited with the story. Twelve years and 21 writing credits later, he added some dialogue lines to Tom Brown's School Days (1940), which he also directed. By the mid-1940s Stevenson had transitioned again, mostly directing rather than writing films. He was the writer for Walt Disney's Kidnapped (1960). Stevenson lived until 1986, serving as writer last in 1977 for the "Penny's Christmas" episode of Good Times.
-----1951----- Thomas Hughes once again receives credit for the novel, while Noel Langley has sole credit for the screenplay. Also active on a smaller scale as a director and producer, and credited twice for lyrics to songs in films, Langley mostly earned writing credit for the screen. For King of the Damned (1935) he wrote additional dialogue acording to IMDb. Langley was the top-credited of 19 writers on The Wizard of Oz (1939). He went through 12 other projects over 12 years, and then in the same year was a writer for A Christmas Carol (1951) and Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951). The following year brought Ivanhoe (1952), and The Pickwick Papers (1952) which was his first directorial credit. Over the next five years he would direct three more of his screenplays. From 1957 until his death in 1980, all his screen credits are for writing.
-----1971----- All five episodes of the television adaptation were written by Anthony Steven, but Thomas Hughes gets credit, once again. Steven, who lived until 1990, has 53 writing credits, many for multiple episodes of television series. His first credits are for documentary short films in 1949 and 1950. By the mid-1960s Steven was penning episodes in rather prominent TV adaptations. He was writer on The Forsyte Saga (1967) which crossed the pond to North America. He scripted The Man in the Iron Mask (1968) another BBC property that was successfully imported by PBS. Steven's final credits were for All Creatures Great and Small (1978-1980). Among his credits are four episodes of the 1984 Doctor Who series, "The Twin Dilemma" Parts 1-4. He might be best known in the US as the screenwriter for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1978).
-----2005----- Just below Thomas Hughes' credit for writing the novel, Ashley Pharoah gets the adaptation credit for Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005). Born in 1959, Pharoah is still working, having recently created a series, The Living and the Dead (2016). Pharoah is co-creator of the BBC series Life on Mars (2006-2007) and its US-produced 2008-2009 followup. He doesn't always receive writing credit episode to episode. The year before Life on Mars he wrote the adaptation of the Hughes novel that we're examining here. As for awards, he has been nominated 12 times, and has won thrice, once for Life on Mars (2006) and twice for Ashes to Ashes (2008).
Note: all images used were located using Google Image search terms including the name of each subject, or the name plus the word "poster." If you want credits, simply follow the same protocol, and the used images will no doubt be in the list of images returned.
A Comparison of The Devil's Backbone (2001) & Dorm (2006)
IMDb link 7.5/10 with 49,879 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer 92%/user rating 89% with 34,610 votes
Year: 2001 Director: Guillermo del Toro -- Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Muñoz -- Cast: Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi, Eduardo Noriega, Fernando Tielve, Íñigo Garcés, Irene Visedo -- Length: 106 min. Color/Stereo -- estimated budget: $4,500,000
I will warn you up front that this is one of the films in which I can find only a single thing that I dislike intensely enough to list it here. So it will be a fanboy type of review. I have now seen the movie six times, and it has never failed to get better with each re-watch. It is a film with children as characters, but is most decidedly not a children's film. That is, not a film meant for children to watch.
The Santa Lucia School has a ghost, and some strange goings on among the living. Carlos has been dropped off by his tutor, and abandoned unexpectedly, because his father has been killed in the Spanish Civil War. Some of the boys at the orphanage seem to dislike any stranger, but many of the boys are as welcoming as those who are hostile. Carlos wins over his detractors by refusing to divulge the names of other boys who were with him when he was caught out of bed and in a place he wasn't supposed to be at night. The cruel handyman at the school, Jacinto, has it in for Carlos from the start. He is afraid that a curious boy might discover what Jacinto is hiding. The war doesn't stay far away from the school, either, arriving in the form of some questionable friends of Jacinto's. Eventually, Carlos not only sees the ghost boy, but is confronted by him! There are long-term cases of bizarre situations that we learn about, but I'm not sure young Carlos ever does.
The film immediately poses the question, "What is a ghost?" But it sounds so much better in Spanish than in English. («¿Qué es un fantasma? Un evento terrible condenado a repetirse una y otra vez. Un instante de dolor quizás. Algo muerto que parece por momentos vivo aún. Un sentimiento suspendido en el tiempo, como una fotografía borrosa, como un insecto atrapado en ámbar.») The film never actually answers the question, although the inquiry and the speculations are repeated at the end. There is a twist ending, but it is so smooth that you take it as a natural sort of ending. And you've already been told what it is in a throw-away line.
For me, even after six viewings the scenes with Santi, the boy ghost pursuing young Carlos, retain their tension. That's probably because even on the first viewing you know generally what's going to happen with Santi. The solo, well-placed jump shot is one that you almost demand. Yet, the first time you see it, it will still make you jump, in the same way that Dr. Casares jumps with each bullet from an executioner's pistol during one village scene in the film. Nothing happens that doesn't need to happen in service of the story. There are bit parts, but no wasted characters. And, oddly, even the throw-away characters seem to have been given some roundness by the casting choices, del Toro's direction, and their placement within the film. There is basically only one flat character in this movie. An obvious stylistic choice.
If you were in a terrible bad mood, were very tired and hated films with children in the cast, then I would recommend that you give this one a miss. If you like films that stretch their genre, offer exactly what you want to see without seeming to be paint-by-number, then I would recommend that you give this one a viewing.
I've been shown by every film that he has directed (that I have managed to see), that Guillermo del Toro knows what he is doing, and he is good at hiring people who can help him find ways to do what he knows. Pacific Rim was an effort that went too far (as does Hellboy) in the direction that it goes. But one of these is based on comic books, so it and its sequel are supposed to be that way. The other should be based on a graphic novel, although it isn't. For those two films I could list a lot of things that I don't like. But for del Toro's sixth work, not a thing offers itself as a horrible choice.
Here are some aspects of the film and why I like them:
Like: This is a European film, but it doesn't feel as disjointed as many European productions do. The story is tight. The production is thorough. You don't get a sense that scenes are missing (although the Criterion disc has deleted scenes that we can watch).
Like: No one in this film is precisely "ugly" among the major players. But each boy has something a bit different about his face. Not classically handsome, but oddly handsome, you might say. Del Toro seems fascinated with faces that are like this. Even the adult actors are all merely better-looking than average. The only truly beautiful face belongs to Irene Visedo (Conchita). The rest are too well-formed to be "ordinary" but not quite symmetrical enough to be extraordinary. The character actors, and the two older characters are distinguished in appearance.
Like: The special effects, at least the CGI effects, are anything but flashy. They serve the story to a line of code. Not a thing that doesn't seem to fit is tossed into any design. And the practical special effects follow suit.
Like: The villains are villainous without seeming to be cardboard bad guys (except for one of them).
Like: Del Toro's script tosses in little twists of weirdness here and there. Such as a bomb that fell from the sky on the night Santi disappeared, but has never exploded. It sits lodged in the courtyard, allowing Carlos to introduce himself to the viewer as a fearless, curious boy. Carlos walks up to the beast, raps it with his knuckles a few times, and listens to the interesting, rumbling echoes from within.
Like: The set design is (much like that in others of his films) elaborately lived-in. In this case, there is the patina of poverty everywhere. But beneath this patina there are a dozen ingots of gold bouillon.
Like: Javier Navarrete's musical score finds all the right beats. It is not intrusive. It is amorphous, brooding, yet lyrical, but finely-tuned to mimic what you are undoubtedly feeling at any given moment. There is nothing that becomes earworm, in my experience. I notice its presence, this music, but it doesn't overwhelm the other sounds or the images at any time. It evokes what one might think of as "Spanish" music only occasionally. When the moment on screen is magical, so is the music. When it is tense, so is the music. When heartstrings are being tugged, the music evokes this feeling. And five diagetic pieces heard from old scratchy clay discs serve to set the time frame quite well.
Like: Del Toro must have written his kids' dialogue in such a way that it would be easy for the boys reciting it to come across as natural. Now, perhaps it's my low level of Spanish experience that makes it seem like these are real kids instead of like kids attempting to make you think they are real kids. If that makes any sense. The two major leads, Carlos and Santi are played by young'uns who still have acting careers going on. And I saw an older Junio Valverde (Santi) playing another Santi character in Eskalofrío (Shiver, 2008) as a boy with intense photo-sensitivity. It's a clever scary movie, and Valverde carries his part quite admirably. As he does in Del Toro's little horror flick.
Like: There are dialogue lines that telegraph plot points...without telegraphing them. You won't notice until the second viewing. But that, my friend, is good writing. And Del Toro would be telling you the end of the story with the opening narration...but only if you knew the ending already. One of the major ending plot points is hinted at by a line that Carmen delivers, but it seems like a poetic emotional expression at the time she says it. I enjoy writing of that type.
Like: Del Toro subscribes to the old school way of building a script that allows you to almost figure out what's going on. The result of this is that the plot twists that a lesser director would attempt to mold into a large stone club, and whap you over the head with it at the end of the film, are delicate "I knew that was going to happen" moments in The Devil's Backbone. You don't see them coming with your eyes, but your nervous system knows what to expect. And you feel happy when the mostly-expected finally takes place. It's a surprise when it does, but not totally unexpected. Night Shyamalan might try to put a knot on your head with the identical surprise plot points that Del Toro uses. But Del Toro's approach is to say, "You were pretty sure that was going to happen, weren't you?" And Del Toro's ace up the sleeve?: the expected does not always happen!
Like: The orphan boys have tenuous and sometimes ragged relationships, but they do have relationships. They are like brothers in that they all have no living parents, don't know where their siblings might be, and however grudgingly, must turn to one another for camaraderie. The script, the editing, the acting all work together to show that point through little suggestions, never blatant lines or actions. Unless those blatant actions would seem perfectly natural, never forced. This goes beyond writing into the dual arts of casting and directing.
Like: Counter-intuitively, the lighting in the film suggests that even the scary rooms within the run-down orphanage are more inviting than the harshly-lit exterior world. Even the courtyard, on which the same sun shines that overwhelms and over-bakes the world outside the walls, seems less harsh, friendlier. Possibly, this could be due to the courtyard being a set on a sound stage, but I don't know that it was, in fact. The shots I found make it look like an exterior set.
Like: Along the same lines, the shots outside the orphanage in the surrounding flat, dry plain, have a visual quality that suggests intense solar heat, but at the same time, a world filled with coldness. Intense coldness, most likely the emotional state of that wilderness. It's the opposite of the lush forest that surrounds the set for Pan's Labyrinth.
Don't Like: only the things I am supposed to not like, for the most part. The characters who are treacherous. The situations that are nail-bitingly tense. The fact that Jacinto comes too close to being a totally flat villain is a Don't Like. But it was Del Toro's idea that I should find him unimaginative, shallow, reprehensible, and I do! As I wrote above, it is an obvious stylistic choice to make him that way.
It almost disturbs me that I cannot identify the flaws that must be in this film. I know nothing is flawless, but repeated viewings may have numbed me to anything that approaches a flaw in this movie. Must have, in fact, because there is nothing I can point to and say, "I don't like that." Now, I don't necessarily love every moment of the movie, but for me it's a 5/5 star experience every time.
This is one of del Toro's finer efforts. I learned of it when I rented Cronos (1993), the man's first feature film. The trailer for El Espinato looked very interesting, but it was years before I could see the movie. In fact, I saw Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth before I got to see El Espinato.
For as many special effects shots as it contains this is a very low budget movie. Yet the casting is excellent. The set design is nearly perfect. The photography is fantastic. And the overall effect is that not only were skills present in those who appear in and worked behind the scenes on this movie, but there was luck at every turn in precisely the directions and doses needed to make the film work perfectly.
Del Toro later moved into huge budget, high-tech special effects films. He has retained his fascination with the visually perverse, and the odd faces. Many of his later works are enjoyable to see once. But they kind of feel a bit travel-worn upon second viewing. Still interesting, but not getting better in the way that The Devil's Backbone gets better for me with each viewing. If Guillermo Del Toro never makes another film this expertly done, and on the human scale that this one clings to, at least we have El espinato del diablo.
The Devil's Backbone. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Del Toro wrote the first draft before writing his debut film Cronos. This "very different" version was set in the Mexican Revolution and focused not on a child's ghost but a "Christ with three arms". According to del Toro, and as drawn in his notebooks, there were many iterations of the story, some of which included an antagonist who was a "doddering ... old man with a needle," a "desiccated" ghost with black eyes as a caretaker (instead of the living Jacinto who terrorizes the orphans), and "beings who are red from head to foot."'
The Best Movie You Never Saw: The Devil's Backbone from JoBlo.com 12.03.2015 by: Alejandro Stepenberg. I found a review by a guy at JoBlo.com who totally agrees with me about the perfection of this movie. 'Made on a budget of $4.5 million, took the film to Cannes with just enough funds left for, in del Toro's words, "ten posters and a roll of scotch tape." Released on November 21st of that year, it went to receive critical acclaim and bring in a box office total of nearly $6.5 million. A callback to it can be seen in one of the final scenes from del Toro's most recent work, CRIMSON PEAK.' Source of image devilsbackbone-bmyns3.jpg.
The second review in the War of the Buttons Rematch may not be as considerate of spoilers. I can't remember. Actually.
This will make two fanboy reivews in a row. Then again, I picked all these rematches, so it's probably natural that I would really like a lot of the films, and sometimes both or all three or four included in the investigation. Right?
A Comparison of La Guerre des Boutons (1962), The War of the Buttons (1994), La Guerre des Boutons (2011) and La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons (2011)
IMDb link 7.5/10 with 3,326 user votes -- RT-link Tomatometer not available/user rating 92% with 6,026 votes
Year: 1994 Director: John Roberts -- Writer: Collin Welland -- Cast: Gregg Fitzgerald, Gerard Kearney Gerard Kearney , Brendan McNamara Brendan McNamara, John Coffey, Liam Cunningham, Colm Meaney, Eveanna Ryan -- Length: 94 min. Color/Stereo
"I've downloaded a movie from the internet that I think you'd like," a friend told me. I had no idea that you could download movies from the internet. I don't recall how many CDs it split over, but I watched it on his computer screen. The image was all right, but not terribly clear. It was not quite as good as VHS quality, but not too much worse. I assume that transfer was from VHS, based on the 4:3 aspect ratio. But I got drawn into the story and the telling of the story. The mono sound quality was good, at least. The kids' brilliant Irish accents made it worth suffering through the occasionally blocky compression artifacts that marred the images. In fact, the basic Irishness of the film is one of the things that made me like it from the start.
But this was November 1997 CE, and DVDs had existed for only a few months in the US. But, by the year 2000 the film was totally out of print. Even VHS copies of the film cost as much as $145.00 on Ebay and such sites. DVDs were even more costly, when you could find them. In only 6 years the film had come into existence, and then almost vanished, except in the realm of deep-pockets collectors.
What I didn't know then, was that the 1994 English-language film was a very close remake of Yves Robert's French movie from 22 years before. Sure, the opening credits include "Based Upon the Film La Guerre des Boutons by Yves Robert," but I couldn't see that film. I had no idea that the Irish film adaptation by Colin Welland didn't add much to François Boyer's adaptation of Pergaud's novel. Nor did it add back much from the novel that isn't in the 1962 film. The movie is widescreen, but Robert's film is, too, with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The 1994 movie is color, but so are almost all 1994 movies.
Welland transformed the story into a bromance, a thing that didn't exist in the 1960s as far as I know. Fergus of Ballydowse and Geronimo ("Jerome, to you.") of Carrickdowse are rivals, but they also each admire the other tremendously. More so as the film progresses. The John Roberts film also introduces a traditional budding romance between Marie and Fergus. This is hinted at in Pergaud's novel as an interest that is there (but not there) between Marie, who is Tintin's sister, and Lebrac, leader of the Longeverne army.
The Irish film retains the rapid pace of its French predecessor. It is for kids, so must move quickly in order to keep young viewers' attention, I suppose. But more importantly it's about kids, and the young are always off to something else. There is no time to lose. The film has the point of view of this kid's world, and is true to that framing nearly all the way through. The existence of the earth seems minuscule to them, and time is burning. Unless, of course, there is nothing to do. Or chores to do.
I apologize to those who enjoy my listing of things I don't like about a film, because this is another one that I just enjoy and can't find much to complain about. Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: Roberts and Welland kept the additions to the story that Robert put into his 1962 film. In fact, as I wrote above, the opening credits give the source of this film as the Yves Robert production. At the same time, just as the Robert/Boyer version is terribly French, the Roberts/Welland version is terrifically Irish. One of these additions is the expanded role of Marie, Tintin's sister. Another is the almost de novo role of Petit Gibus (Tigibus), the younger of two brothers, as a major character in the 1962 movie. In the Irish film they become the Connal brothers: Big Con and Little Con. Tintin becomes Tim. L'Aztec becomes Geronimo. Lebrac is renamed Fergus, whose last name we never hear, and whose father believes that he is the bastard spawn of Fergus' mother and some unknown other man. Lebrac's father never makes such a claim in the novel or the 1962 film. (To my fellow Irishmen I want to point out that I am not suggesting that being a bastard is more Irish than not being a bastard, or that illegitimacy of birth is a common situation among our fellows.) Some have thought that the man is Fergus' stepfather, but the cast listing on the film says, clearly, "Fergus's Dad."
Like: Composer Rachel Portman paraphrases a John Williams motif from the Indiana Jones title theme. But she quotes only the rhythmic pattern, although the tones are closely paraphrased, and then she derives a variation to echo the paraphrase. In this brilliant way she evokes the idea of high adventure, which is what the war of the buttons is to these kids. It is serious, not play. The seriousness is why, in the novel and the films, the conflict escalates to such a crazy extent.
Like: Welland's adaptation adds three girls from Ballydowse (the counterpart of Longeverne) who take place in the battles. No girls from Carrickdowse are in that village's army. The Bally girls are silent, except for Marie, but they fling sticks and fruit with the boys in all the battles except the naked battle, which gives them the role of closing off the route of retreat for the Carricks.
Like: Welland and Roberts transform the French film into an Irish film partly by converting the pejorative uttered by the Velrans boys "couille molle" (soft balls, translated as "spineless wimp") into "toss pot" which is the vessel into which one craps and pisses. It's not a direct correlation, but it plays just as well. Who wants to be called a chamberpot, after all? But the translation of the term from the English of the 1500s to modern English is "habitual drunkard." Just as in the French language film, where the boys have no idea of an exact meaning for couille molle the Irish lads don't have the slightest notion what toss pot means. But in both films they can tell from the reaction of an adult to the phrase under investigation that the words are not to be uttered by kiddies.
Like: The 1994 film adds Fergus' imagination into the aspects of his character that we see. In the novel, Lebrac gets the idea of the naked battle from his mother's satirical suggestion that because his clothes are in tatters, they could just send him to school naked. Same thing happens in the 1962 adaptation, and in this film. And a battle that is staged at the ruins of a castle in the 1994 film is inspired when there is a study of an ancient Irish battle at school, which includes slides of artwork. We are shown the moment when Fergus gets his inspiration, and then we see the result.
Like: The setting of the film seems more or less timeless. I can't tell what year it is, with everything burnished by age and wear. It could be 1994. It could be 1964. Even the newest thing we see, Mr. Riley's new tractor, although shiny and fresh, doesn't necessarily look new in a modern sense. Then again, it does seem like a 1990s farm tractor with its enclosed cab. Except, you learn the oddest things when you're researching for a film review. In 1938 Minneapolis-Moline had an enclosed cab tractor on the market! It didn't sell. Regardless, 1994 is now in the past. Distant past for some of you readers.
Like: In the added scene from Yves Robert where Tigibus gets soused at L'Aztec's house, the 1994 version adds the line by Big Con, "Me broodder, he's as droonk as a skoonk!" which sounds so charming in the young actor's Irish brogue. The addition of little touches like this is what I mean by Roberts and Welland making this film "so terrifically Irish."
Like: The screenplay manages to keep the battling "real" and to also show that with violence there is often regret. I've seen documentaries about soldiers (US soldiers) who killed someone in combat, and then relive that moment with regret for all the rest of their lives, usually in their nightmares. Along these lines, one of the Carrick boys guarding Tim lets fly with a missile from his slingshot. When it hits Tim in the jaw, the boy immediately blurts out, "Sorry!" A perfect example of doing something because it's "right" and then realizing afterward that the "right" thing you did was actually "wrong." Maybe the moment says that social pressure is powerful, but not all powerful.
Don't Like: It isn't a major gripe, but besides the just fine additions of the romance and bromance aspects of the 1994 film, Roberts also makes it a class struggle. Carrickdowse is much better off than Ballydowse. Their village school requires matching uniforms, and every boy has one, sharp and clean. The struggle becomes wealth versus poverty to an extent. I don't say that it poisons the film, very little is made of it by the kids. The only financial means-based scene is set in Ballydowse, involving the haves and have-nots from that village. In the novel and in Yves Robert's film version, both villages are poor. The socioeconomic equality of the two villages makes the war of the buttons that much more outlandish -- because there is no easily discerned reason for it. The class warfare taint makes the Irish war of the buttons a bit more "reasonable" in the way we are taught to see the world these days. Perhaps that cultural bias is the reason for Roberts' decision.
Don't Like: Again a small quibble, but Roberts uses a much stronger community insult in his film than Yves Robert does. Robert quotes Pergaud's own phrase, which translates to "All Velrans are jerks," and Roberts transforms it into "All Carricks are assholes." Now, the French for "jerks" can be peigne-culs which transliterates into ass combs, or combs of asses, or something similar. But as used, the translation given for peigne-culs is "jerk." Jerk is much less insulting than asshole in English. Perhaps by 1990 Yves Roberts would have also chosen something stronger. Maybe it was the zeitgeist that led to the choice of assholes. But it seems funny that Roberts went softer on the soft balls taunt, and steered into harsher territory with this one.
Don't Like: Again, a mild disenchantment. But some of the battles depart from reality far enough that they become fantasy. No major prob. This is a fantasy movie to begin with. I get that. But the battle at the castle has way more banners on sticks than it seems the kids of a poor village could rustle up. Oh, sure, there is an earlier establishing shot showing these banners hanging in the army's HQ, but even in that scene it seems a step too far. On the other hand, the scene where the Ballys come marching up with their too-many banners is well-staged, and looks quite arresting.
The voters at Rottentomatoes agree with me more than those at IMDb. A 92% positive rating sounds about right.
Go back using these buttons.
War of the Buttons (1994 film). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The film has been classified as a drama and comedy, and the tone is frequently light and humorous. It examines issues of conflict and war, the actions and consequences of violence, and how it can divide and oppose people who can be friends as easily as they can be enemies.'
1938 Farm On! - 1938 Minneapolis Moline UDLX Comfortractor. From Hemmings.com. 'Under the impression that farmers while plowing their fields-subjected to intense cold, sheets of rain, frying sun and hail that hurts like a continuous shotgun blast-would like a little shelter from the extreme elements, and that farmers could use a vehicle to handle both the duties of a tractor and of an automobile, Minneapolis-Moline began work around 1935 on a completely enclosed tractor, the UDLX (U Deluxe), that would enable farmers to plow the fields during the week, then hose the tractor off and head into town on the weekends.'
Tractor. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'The word tractor was taken from Latin, being the agent noun of trahere "to pull". The first recorded use of the word meaning "an engine or vehicle for pulling wagons or ploughs" occurred in 1901, displacing the earlier term "traction engine" (1859).'
Dorm suffers from its small budget. Yet it is striking what Songyos Sugmakanan and crew were able to do with the money they had. Still, it has moments that come across as amateurish in execution on first viewing, perhaps because there was not budget (time) to make them better.
If you have seen El espinazo del diablo (The Devil's Backbone, 2001) by Guillermo Del Toro, you will no doubt find parallels when you see this film, which was produced later. And director Sugmakanan acknowledges in the commentary track that when the film was first shown outside Thailand, people noted the parallels between it and The Devil's Backbone. But you will also find parallels between Dek Hor (Dorm, 2006) and any Tom Brown's Schooldays film, since each is set in a boy's school. There are parallels between Dek Hor and the Harry Potter series. Or with any other boarding school-set story.
I'm pretty certain that this film is not only about kids, but is made for kids, at least older kids. The story is not as complex as that of The Devil's Backbone, but it operates on many levels at once, and it reveals some of the darker aspects of being alive in this world. Other cultures don't struggle against young people learning about the hardships of life the way the US does, so I find my self unequipped to judge a film from another country and what its target audience might be, in terms of age.
Dek Hor has moments that range across emotions. Sometimes it will tug at the heartstrings. At other times make you laugh. Its characters are nearly as filled out as those in Del Toro's film. But there is an occasional sweetness to this story that doesn't really exist in The Devil's Backbone. Many of the film incidents are cinematic recountings of incidents in writer/director Sugmakanan's childhood as an inhabitant of boarding schools. He says in the commentary track that he is not imaginative enough to make up the ghost stories, so they are all stories that he heard in the past.
Here are some aspects of the film and whether I like them or don't care for them:
Like: Thai. The language. Its sounds. I can't understand a word, but I can't stop listening. I even watched an entire Thai movie once (Onthakan, 2015), without subtitles, just to hear the words without having to read English subtitles getting in the way. Then I watched with subtitles so I'd know for sure what was going on. When I first saw Dorm in November 2011, I was fascinated by the sounds coming from the characters' mouths. If you're not fascinated by human language to the degree that I am, this probably won't be a big plus for you!
Like: The film does manage to raise hackles a few times. I'm not sure it wouldn't make a tense 12-year old hide her or his eyes behind a protective hand a time or two. For adults there is nothing particularly frightening about the movie. And there is only one jump cut with sound effects guaranteed to make you, well, jump. And that's cheating in my book. But it doesn't detract very much from the general climate of uneasiness that we experience alongside Chatree. In fact, in that case, Chatree's widening eyes predict the jump cut.
Like: Just as Del Toro uses CGI technology to enhance the look of Santi, the ghost in his film, Sugmakanan uses the same technology to enhance the experience of the ghost's backstory. The appearance of Vichien is deceptive. He appears to be a normal boy, except in one or two underwater shots. This saves budget bucks, of course, but it also serves a purpose in the story. Still, the production manages to use compositing and CGI to create a nifty sequence that details how Vichien spends his evenings trapped in the between-world of the no-longer living.
Like: Although Vichien usually looks like he did when a student at the school, in certain moments his face or body becomes decrepit in death. Those moments are brief, possibly because of budget, but also possibly because they might be very frightening to little ones. They are merely creepy to adults. What I like is that the Thai film eschews the now standard Asian use of the J-horror makeup trope of having pasty white ghosts (except for one female ghost), and lets this one be a little boy...most of the time.
Like: The color-sapped and color-washed portions of this film seem to use those effects to the end of making the moment seem discordant. Sometimes the color is almost realistically saturated. At other times it is pale. At other times it has a green cast to it. These visualizations seem to carry meaning, and did even when I was only vaguely aware of the color shifts on first viewing. I learned from the commentary that these effects were done in the film camera, with lighting and choice of film stock, but intensified a bit for the video version of the film that is on the DVD. Overall the film uses a chilly blue-green color scheme.
Like: Sugmakanan frequently builds a scene in such a way that you expect to see something shocking, but it never comes. In that way he builds tension that dissipates, rather than tension that is sprung free with the sudden appearance of something ugly. It works, amazingly enough.
Like: Immediately upon arriving at the school, Chatree is summoned by Peng ("Master Peng has summoned you.") another student in his dorm. He sits in the dark with five other boys, and is subjected to a round of ghost stories. Of course, all these stories focus on the school itself. And, of course, one of the ghosts is said to inhabit that very dormitory!
Like: There is a mystery about why Chatree's father decides to send his son to a boarding school mid-term. At school, Ton (Chatree's nickname) won't take calls from his father. When his father asks Miss Pranee to say that the call is from Ton's mom, Ton bristles at the deception and won't speak, eventually hanging up the phone in the middle of his father's monologue. Scenes sprinkled through the film eventually show us exactly why Mr. Anantpitisuk has removed his son from the house. And it makes it clear to the viewer why Ton seems to hate his father.
Like: As with The Devil's Backbone where Del Toro's young actors do an amazing job with their roles, the casting for Dorm yields amazing performances from the youngsters in its tale. Challee Trairut manages to convey very much with his expressions; and Sirachuch Chienthaworn is the friendliest little ghost you ever saw. Yet, at times he is as creepy as Santi. There is a chemistry between the two friends in Dorm that helps carry the film, too. It also doesn't hurt that they have both been performing in front of cameras since they were toddlers.
Like: The film doesn't belabor the attempt to delay introduction of the ghost character as a ghost. We meet Vichien in his teenager appearance. He is then revealed to Chatree to be a ghost, using a Thai customary belief. If you hold your breath, a ghost cannot see you. ("Hey, where did you go?" he asks, when Ton stops holding his breath and becomes visible.) After this he appears very briefly with his death-face. All this takes place before the film is half over. After all, the story is not truly about scaring the pants off you.
Don't Like: [original thought]There must have been reshoots because Chalee Trirut's hair, as Chatree "Ton" Anantpitisuk, changes length throughout the film. It's too great a difference for the hairdresser or the studio janitor to have not noticed. I figure the skinhead look is the reshoot footage. [revised thought] I think this is to give us a sense of the passage of the school term. The story takes place over several weeks. During that time Chatree would have his hair grow out, and might get it trimmed again. Or, this could simply be a continuity error. It seems that the out-of-sequence production schedule could have called for the shots with his hair longer (later in the school term) to be filmed first, and then his head was trimmed for the opening shots with the freshly-peeled hairline. And reshoots might have been made with his hair partially grown out, with a length in between the two? Anyhow, it didn't bother me as much on viewings after the first one.
Don't Like: After Ton becomes terrified of Vichien, and then reconciles himself to the sad fact that his only friend at his new school is the ghost, the scene where they reconcile has Vichien conducting a quartet of dogs in a howling session. Vichien clowns in this scene by pretending to dance ballet, and by playing air guitar. On first viewing this kind of galled me. But after I knew exactly what was happening it ceased annoying me and seemed to be a character-building scene.
Don't Like: This has nothing to do with the film itself, but with the marketing. Dek Hor is not a horror story. It is a ghost story. More precisely, it is a coming-of-age story that happens to have a ghost (Sugmakanan says that in the commentary track, and many other reviewers picked up on that). My expectations being steered by the trailer I saw before I watched the film, I was somewhat disappointed. I knew I had seen a well-told tale, but I had anticipated more moments with hairs standing on end and such. In truth, the same comment might apply to El espinazo del diablo. It is also a coming-of-age story with an auxilliary ghost character.
Don't Like: Fridge logic, here. In some cases Ton is able to hand material objects to Vichien. Vichien handles objects in the material world. In other cases Ton is unable to grab the ghost's immaterial hand or ankle. It might be nicer if the interface between the ghost and the world of material things and people were consistent. Then again, what does it matter? It all serves the story, and it is a fantasy, after all.
Both Dek Hor and El espinazo del diablo are dark films thematically, and in execution. There are parallels between the two which are apparently total coincidence, yet are purposeful on the part of the writers and directors (we get writer/directors in both cases). The parallels help to tell the story of a boy learning to be a young man, to make his own way in the world, and who makes contact with the haunting deceased. But Dek Hor features a main character whose best friend is a friendly ghost. Dek Hor has more comic moments, and more faint light coming in between the cracks. In both cases the resolution of the ghost's continued attachment to the world of the living is resolved in similar ways.
My initial reaction to Dorm was that I had seen a good film, well-made. The performances by the juvenile cast are always competent, and sometimes phenomenal. The adults handle their roles very well. There are Thai stars in the cast, after all. In fact, "Nack" (Challee Trairut's nickname in real life) is an accomplished and well-known Thai actor, and was even in 2006. Sirachuch ("Michael" is his real life nickname) has a face known from commercials and short films in Thailand, although this was his first feature film role.
There is a link below that explains why Challee Trairut is called Nack, why Sirachuch Chienthaworn is called Michael, and why the fictional Chatree Anantpitisuk goes by Ton. One of the interesting things I learned about in the course of making this Rematch was the existence of Thai nicknames. Unlike Western nicknames, these have nothing to do with anything! They are chosen for infants. The traditional reason they are used has now turned into use of nicknames for the purpose of...keeping tradition.
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Dorm (film). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'Dek hor (also Dorm or My School) is a 2006 Thai horror-drama film.'
Dorm (aka Dek hor) DVD Review. From horrortalk.com. Category: Movie Reviews Published: Wednesday, 24 June 2009 Written by Steve Pattee. 'Dorm is pimped as a horror film and, while there are a few scares, it's not a fair representation of the flick by a long shot. It's more of a coming-of-age drama. But it's my favorite kind of coming-of-age story: the dark kind.'
The Dorm (Dek Hor). By midnightmovieswithjamie. July 23, 2011. 'The Dorm is less a horror film and more a coming-of-age story mixed with a ghost story. Having limited experience with Thai cinema, I was thoroughly impressed with this film. The most shocking part was how good the young children are in the film.' and 'SPOILER ALERT: ... As their friendship grows, we learn that Vichien is actually a ghost. We learn this because the boys at the school are watching a movie screening, and apparently if people hold their breath in Thai lore, ghosts cannot see them. When they are done holding their breath, Vichien asks where they went. Chatree realizes what is happening and flees in fear.'
Why Chatree Anantpitisuk is his name, but people often call him Ton: The crazy world of Thai nicknames. From into-asia.com. 'Just about every Thai person has a nickname by which they are known informally, given to them by their parents at birth. The pervasive use of nicknames in this way apparently comes from the old belief that evil spirits are constantly on the lookout for newborn children to snatch away and control, but using a nickname instead of a normal Thai name confuses the spirits and helps to keep the child safe.'
A brief chronicle of my 2-hour quest to translate the title: Thai words and their meanings. From thailand-uk.com forums. '(dek) in this sense means young' and 'Bifftastic, Going back to the "hot heart" thing. I remember seeing a documentary once where an expat who had been in Thailand for thirty years plus, said " The way to understand the Thai people is that they think with their heart, and not their head." It would therefore make sense that "jai rawn" would be taken as meaning "hot-headed". I always thought that "angry" was something that sounds like "mor hor".' But I still don't know a meaning for 'hor'. And how would the 'tower' translation below fit with 'angry?'
Thai Useful Words. From Accessible Thailand. 'Mai kow jai: means I do not understand'
hor nokhook. From thai2english.com. But this doesn't translate 'hor', either.
dek hor translation from Thai. 'dèk: [to be] childish; immature; child ; children' and 'hor: ho (transliteration)'. So this doesn't translate the title for me. (sigh) NOTE: The text to be translated no longer appears when you click on the link!
dek hor (in Thai characters) from translation.babylon-software.com. 'Dek hor' to 'children the tower'. This might make some sense, because a climb to the top of a tower figures in this film. But it still doesn't seem quite accurate. Apparently there is no direct English translation for 'hor'. NOTE: The text to be translated no longer appears when you click on the link! But you might play with the boxes if you are so linclined.
children tower from Google Translate. Similar to what babylon software produced. So 'hor' must mean 'tower', at least in one of its translations. NOTE: The Thai text to be translated still appears when you click on the link.
A Comparison of La Guerre des Boutons (1962), The War of the Buttons (1994), La Guerre des Boutons (2011) and La Nouvelle Guerre des Boutons (2011)
About the Book La guerre des boutons (1912)
This book is a story about revenge. How there can never be "one last act" of revenge. The attempt to "get even" is interminable.
The boys that Pergaud invents get into this round of Velran vs Longeverne because the Longeverne "General" Lebrac decides to slice the buttons from the clothes of prisoner Mige la Lune, to cut his belt into pieces, to sever his shoe laces, and to slice open all the buttonholes on his shirt and pants.
When Lebrac is later caught by the Velrans, they do the same to him, leaving his clothes tattered, and him effectively naked in the countryside. This all escalates. When, eventually, Lebrac's lieutenant, Tintin, is captured by the Velrans, they take his coulotte (underpants) and send him out with his long t-shirt "not quite covering what is ordinarily hidden from view," and in tears. The boy keeps muttering, "My underwear, my underwear." He relates to his friends that L'Aztec, the general of the Velrans has declared that because the Longevernes had taken his underpants when they captured him, he would confiscate Tintin's, and they would serve as a flag!
Not only that, as much as Pergaud allows these little boys to be "manly" in their endeavors, there is the recurring specter of parental reprisals for clothing ruined. They are playing at an adult game called war, one which adults barely understand. They are merely the latest manifestation of a centuries-long agitation between Velran and Longeverne. And to make matters the worst of all, Tintin's mother sent him out with clean clothes on the very morning of his capture and the ensuing confiscation of his undergarments, with the warning that if he came home and his clothes were soiled, he would know what he would have to pay.
Not only are they soiled, they are--gone!
Like their adult counterparts, the boys cannot figure out how to stop what Lebrac began. They cannot figure out how to stop what L'Aztec has kept going. The trouble with revenge is that it is thought to stop "after we get even." Only, the other side does not see things as even; your side has committed one more atrocity that must be avenged. And then your side sees their "evening up of things" as another atrocious act that must be avenged.
For this reason the entreaty "turn the other cheek." That's the only way to stop the endless cycle: for you to not seek revenge. For you to not get even. They won't go along with your desire to end this. Another act by your side ensures retaliation by their side.
On top of that, vengeance can become so much the focus of your day that needful things are left undone. For the Longeverne students, their studies take a backseat to planning and executing the next battle. How to get even with the Velrans boys. They sneak moments to make these plans during class time at school, when they are all together.
Pergaud taught school in a rural precinct for about two years in the 1890s. He wrote La guerre des boutons (War of the Buttons) and published it in 1912 when The Great War (yet unnamed) was in the offing. It is possibly his best-known book, and from what I have learned, it is a dearly beloved French tale. The war in the story is a foreshadowing of what seemed about to happen in Europe. And it did happen; and Pergaud died in the conflict only three years after La guerre des boutons was first published.
From an adult perspective what happens in the book seems ridiculous; it is often quite funny. But those things that look funny from the perspective of having been there and done that so long ago, can seem deadly serious to the youngsters caught up in it all. So when Camus, overwhelmed by the misfortune of his "cul nu" friend as Tintin reappears from the Velrans camp, yanks his own pants down to bare his ass in solidarity (similar to a team shaving their heads when a teammate loses her hair due to chemotherapy) it just looks silly to us. But to Camus, it is an act of greatest sympathy.
The boys concoct a way to "hide" their transgressions from the adults, because for people this age there is always the parent in the background. They put together a war chest of buttons, suspenders and the like. Some of this is purchased with purloined coins taken from home. Lebrac positions this as a tax among the youngsters of their kid's Republic. As an additional hedge, they enlist Tintin's sister Marie to mend their garments following each battle. And they quite competently construct a little cabin in which to hide their war booty from the prying eyes of all the adults in Longeverne.
The characters are starkly drawn, and seem rather human on balance. They are flawed to a boy or girl, man or woman. No goody-two-shoes can be found in these pages. That isn't true of the films, of course. This is likely a property of film that you don't have to have in a book: some characters need to be flatly benevolent when you can see them move and hear their voices on screen. In print you can get away with characters such as those in James Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.
We and the narrator are constantly in the mindset of Lebrac, the Longeverne "general," and the hero of the novel. Only once in a while does Pergaud step back and become a narrator outside these confines. The rest of the time he and we are treated to the "fact" that the Velrans are "ass combs" (which translates to English as "creeps" or "jerks"). The Longeverne boys are almost always referred to as warriors by the narrator. It is only in the final chapter of the book that Pergaud reveals the truth: these are little boys playing at war in a very realistic way, but despite that, they are little boys, still subject to the world of adults.
Thus, it makes sense that Lebrac leads his raiders on a quest to recover the purloined culotte. And recover the undies, they do. In the third book of the novel, there is also the destruction of the Longevernes' hut. And the perpetrator needs no tractor to do his dirty deed in the 1890s. He simply lets the Velrans boys know where the hidden cabin is located in the nearby quarry. But his payback from the other Longeverne kids undoes their conceit that they are living in a world without parental authority, their delusion that they are waging a war as warriors, and returns them to the reality that they are little kids. And that the adults don't look so favorably on their rivalry with Velrans.
Things blow over during the subsequent week. And there is the final escapade of the boys at the end of the novel. Gambette recovers the war treasure stolen by the Velrans, and he and Grangibus[?] destroy the weapons of the Velrans by stamping, until breaking them begins to hurt their knees.
Yves Robert wrote his screen adaptation 70 years after Pergaud concocted the fictional world of the Longevernes, in which voiture still meant a horse-drawn carriage; no one communicated by telephone; there was no radio, much less television; no film in their part of France; automobile tractors might have existed in some parts of France, but not in the boonies. Robert reconfigured the story to fit not only the advances in technology, but the changes in sentimentality of the 1960s. First, he elevates the Gibus brothers to the near-top of the heap, giving them roles that they never had in the novel. Tintin's sister Marie becomes a major player. The broad strokes are retained from Pergaud, but the way the story unfolds is not only trans-medium, it is trans-historical.
Lebrac is never threatened with being sent away to school in the novel. He and L'Aztec do not become friends in the novel. Marie, sister of Tintin, has a very small part in the story, as do the brothers Gibus. And the boys of 1962 do not see girls as mere servants, as more or less walking dirt the way the boys in the book see them. Robert's additions and changes don't harm the story, although they serve to make it a bit more sanguine than the book is. And, since my way into the story was the 1994 Irish film, based incredibly closely on Yves Robert's film, the novel seemed vastly different to me. I had to remind myself as I struggled against deep lack of knowledge of the French language and French culture, that Pergaud made up the story. Robert and Roberts and Samuell and Barratier only adapted it. Transformed it.
I love the original book. It is easy to see why it is something to France akin to what Mark Twain's novel Tom Sawyer (1876) is to the US.
Reading a novel that is well-written in a foreign language that I had not studied is an honor that I never undertook before. This is one of the moments (well, what ever the equivalent is for "moment" if the period lasts four months!) of my life that I'm sure I will remember fondly until I draw my last breath. And it is a book that I'm glad I took the time to read.
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