Plus ça change…

Today, while doing the ironing, I watched two railway/railroad based films/movies.

The first is typical of its time, featuring a multi-racial cast, and depicts an initial corporate failure leading to a disaster with actual massive loss of life, but in our story, after several personal triumphs by our hero the final result is a happy ending for most of the group we are following.   There are some humorous moments and many of high tension.

The  second is typical of its time, featuring a multi-racial cast, and depicts initial failures by two individuals leading to a potential disaster with massive loss of life, but in our story, after several corporate failures the final result is a happy ending for most of the group we have been following.  There are some humorous moments  and many of high tension.

The films?

Dunkirk – two short film reviews

Whilst doing my ironing today I started to watch the 1958 film of “Dunkirk” with John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Robert Urquhart et al.

I know that this was a post-war semi-propaganda version, but it is far more believable, despite the clipped language, than the absolute rubbish perpetrated by Christopher Nolan in 2017,

It appears that the major claim to fame of the latest version appeared to be: “We did not use CG”. Nor did the earlier version (simply because they could not), and in their day they did not need to show huge cardboard cut-outs of queueing soldiers or very obvious buildings from the 1970s or later.  But the 1958 producers could get a large quantity of extras who had actually been under fire in WW2.

It appears to me that the producers of the 2017 version were too carried away with  filming at the location to notice that it has been rebuilt since 1940.

The earlier producers/directors also seemed to have researched the number of bombs that a JU88 “Stuka” could actually carry, unlike their later “let’s aim for maximum effect” counterparts.

My vote?:  1958 version: 4/5, 2017 version: 1/5.

“Denial”: A film review

I started to play this DVD in the background while painting model soldiers, but very soon had to sit and watch it.

I don’t know if this story was ever presented on the stage, but it would make an excellent stage presentation. Based on a true story, most of the story is centred around how lawyers handle a significant case in the British High Court, almost to the exclusion of the client.

The case is a complex libel accusation about holocaust denial. The central characters, played with great skill by Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Spall, who interact – or do not – brilliantly. The supporting cast add to the film with great performances.

The title “Denial” becomes more relevant as the story progresses. It becomes clear that it can mean many things.

I know nothing of the actual court case, but it all looks very believable.
And the visit to Auschwitz depicted in winter made it more poignant.

An excellent film.  One that I will watch again and again, even if I now know the outcome.

A film for Christmas

.Yesterday I watched one of “must view at Christmas” films: “Joyeux Noël”.  More about this film here, but beware spoilers in the synopsis.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyeux_Noël

I find this movie interesting from a historical viewpoint, schmalzy in places and unbelievable in a couple of plot concepts, but I will watch it, and be reduced to tears, every Christmas.  Each time I watch I see a little more into the main characters and gain a little more understanding of the (French) director’s idea.

The story is excellently portrayed by the director and all the actors.  It is in English, German and French (normally subtitled).  Naturally when the main protagonists interact the language switches to the one who understands least of the other two, so there is a lot of English with a strong clipped Scottish accent!  Daniel Brühl, as the German officer, acts a lot of his rôle in French or English.

What I take from this film is that if it were left to the front line troops the Great War would have been over by the first Christmas – or New Year at the latest, but those in command had no idea how to end it once it had been put in motion by those above them.

It is a film with realism, pathos, romance, occasional comedy, social criticism and above all humanity.  And recommended for Christmas viewing, expecially this year as we remember the end of the Great War.

 

A poor documentary

If anyone wants to watch a highly oversimplified Germano-centric and, from my other reading, somewhat inaccurate documentary of the first part of the Second World War, I can grudgingly recommend the Lamancha Productions “Visions of War” series, Galaxy Film 1983 presentation of “Blitzkrieg” by Karl Ullman, directed by Wolfgang Richter.

On the other hand if you want to view some excellent archive footage of the same period I can heartily recommend the same film without the soundtrack.

In its defence I would say that it is good to see anything from the other side of the hill.