Now that's a Film!

There is progress in the publishing after all. Recently, a cluster of my favorite films have been released in splendidly crisp DVD editions:

Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

The Regle du Jeu edition is probably the nicest, with a really wonderful transfer. I had previously seen it and the Antonioni on aged, blurry VHS only. The transfer in the Bergman is very good as well.

Persona haunts me. I remember when I first saw it (thanks to Michael Anderson): I felt like the victim of a cruel psychological prank, perhaps bordering on rape. That was about 10 viewing ago. I remember a prof of mine once being quoted as saying that, after many viewings, he still did not understand what L'Avventura. While I no longer feel that way about my favorite Antonioni, it does pretty much sum up the ineffable ambiguities that inhere in Ingmar Bergman's greatest film.

The color in Blowup is quite remarkable. Certainly more effective than that in Il Deserto Rosso. Of course, it does lack Monica Vitti (surely one of the most muselike actresses to ever grace the screen) and I can't help but see a bit of Gladiator's senator in David Hemmings. Overall, a pretty remarkable film, and one that can't help but grow on you.

The 1939 Renoir is as "classical" as film can get. While I idiosyncratically prefer the Romantic expanses of Vertigo or L'Avventura or Jules et Jim, Regle du Jeu stands as an equal triumph of auteurism, not by virtue of its prophecies or its egomanic vision, but on its strength of construction, its elegance of bittersweet wit, its perfect melding of the comic and the tragic, and by reason of its truth--even more than those other epics of the ennui or the Liebstod--to human life.

I do need to take Marsha to see the Passion. But, quite frankly, we've both been avoiding it. I wonder why?

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