The Battle of Algiers is known for its neorealism, cinema verite as they say, images so real that we have to be told they’re not.
Its strength, however, lies not only in its images.
But in its development of a central theme: our inherent inhumanity to one another.
The chaos of knowing that.
And that it will never change.
It’s not the story nor the setting nor even characters that make Howard Hawks’ 1948 Red River an epic, but the images of the cattle drive.
A herd of 9,000 used in shooting this iconic story element. Nothing compares to these images throughout the 133-minute film.
Except maybe Montgomery Cliff sucking poison out of Joanne Dru’s shoulder.
That’s pretty good too.
Birth of a Nation had promise – a compelling narrative most of all – but fails. Instead of exploring the contorted depths of American history, Parker trains the camera on himself, too often in close-up, reacting to repetitive brutality. Violent images dominate – people’s teeth getting hammered out, exposed brains – when the story of a remarkable man, Nat Turner, could have been developed, asking who really spoke of this: As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death. The film does not elucidate nor does it have vision, as did Steve McQueen in 12 Years a Slave, but is solely a chronicle of violence, flat and tediously rendered, craft-less as anything of the Superhero genre.
I dream of looking outside the image.
F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (1927)
Escaping from the frame.
Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” (153)
Considering what could be.
Agnes Varda’s “Le Pointe Courte” (1954)
Getting my head on different.