Monday, 20 February 2012

Can film be used to illustrate the past or is it more dangerous than useful?

Postmodernists claim that feature films are just as a valid source at discovering history as any other methods of gathering evidence to create a bigger picture of the past. Cinema and film are undoubtedly of huge cultural and social significance, millions of people go to the cinema, in 2011 1.28 billion tickets were sold in the US alone[1], to watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster, so what better place is there to contain a message or tell history? The audiences look on as films look into the past telling us stories of the Second World War, Vietnam War and of racial injustice in America. However, can feature films such as Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986), Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) be used as evidence to paint a picture of the Vietnam and Second World wars? Or do films like the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation (a film undoubtedly racist but also one of the most important films in American cinema for its technical innovations) present difficulties at using film as a historical source? There are many issues at using film as a historical source, however, there are also many positives and these positives outweigh the dangers of using film as a historical source.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Woman in Black

It's 11 days into the shortest month of the year and The Woman in Black is the first 2012 film I have actually seen, of course Britain often gets films after the US, but from the 2012 films released so far, very few have been of particular interest to me, and some I have not had the time to see. Anyway, many will know of the stage play of The Woman in Black, which is the second longest running play in the history of West End, which has been terrifying people for the past 23 years, both the book and the play are held in high regard, can the film do both the novel and the play justice?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

No Beginners luck required for Sean Durkin as Martha Marcy May Marlene is superb, but The Debt he owns Lizzie Olsen is huge. (Sorry, best I could do.)

Directed by John Madden (the director of the 1998 Best Picture Winner Shakespeare In Love )The Debt is a rather forgettable story of revenge. The Debt is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film of the same name and stars Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas as MOSSAD (the Israeli intelligence service) agents planning to kidnap notorious war criminal Dieter Vogel – aka The Surgeon of Birkenau – played by Jesper Christensen. These three agents wish to bring back this Nazi war criminal to Israel and give him the justice he deserves. The story is told in a nonlinear narrative as the plot flashes back from the early 60s to the year 1997, and this is done with some success in terms of narrative, but does present some clear casting issues. Within the hour the film loses its spark and its power to entertain despite the rising tensions and tempers between the central characters as they spend far too much time cooped up in a dingy little house.  The two male agents, Stefan Gold and David Pertez (Csokas and Worthington) are rather unprofessional as they develop feelings towards Rachael (Chastain and Helen Mirren) who swings between the two male characters, but this melodrama is rather tiresome and mundane. The performances are fine as the cast is made up of some well known stars (Chastain, Helen Mirren and Worthington) but the older versions of the characters look nothing like their younger selves so, at first, one cannot be certain to who is who, with the exception of Rachel Singer. One does wonder why they couldn’t use make up. That aside The Debt is still rather uninvolving due to the fact that these characters, who we spend a great deal of time with, just are not interesting enough.