Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

A couple of interesting notions crossed my mind in the past few days. I was presenting Elie Chouraqui's O Jerusalem at the Westchester branch of the cinema club of which I am a guest speaker and I got into an amusing sidebar on the choice of directors today to depict the recent past in desaturated color. Not black-and-white, not sepiatone, but the sort of washed-color that you get from a very old print of the early two-strip Technicolor. (If you was Mystery of the Wax Museum on TCM last week, you have some idea of what I mean.)

Of course, as Margo drily noted, "It's a convention. Why are you looking for a logical explanation?" Sure, it's a convention, like all film grammar, like all grammar, the product of the arbitrary nature of the sign. I get that. But this one strikes me as particularly odd. We don't actually remember the past that way -- well, I don't -- and it's not the way we see the past when we look at old films. Why not depict the 1940s in black-and-white, the '50s in the supersaturated color of Technicolor in IB prints, or the redder-than-normal color of the various Eastman color processes. By rights, a film like O Jerusalem should look more like Pork Chop Hill or The Quiet Man than Schindler's List.

That's the crux of the matter right there. It's the Spielbergization of mainstream film. He did in Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (and to a less obtrusive extent in Munich), so it must be right. Well, I may be heaping opprobrium on Steven S for the wrong reasons here, but I think he was one of the first filmmakers to choose the desaturated color palette for an historical film.

Or is my memory playing me false? Dear readers, enlighten me. If you can think of another example of an early use of this device, clue me in.


Getting myself ready for the Sembene series at Film Forum, I was looking at a excellent anthology of essays on Sembene's films (A Call to Action: The Films of Ousmane Sembene, edited by Sheila Petty, published by Praeger), and I found myself thinking about one of my favorites from his work, Guelwaar. Given that the film's central concern is relations between Christians, animists and Muslims, it should be required viewing these days, especially since the film counsels patience and tolerance, two commodities in scarce supply right now. (Islamofascism Awareness Week. my ass).

Which, in turn got me to thinking about political films, that is, fiction films about the political process as experienced by people caught up in its gears. I wouldn't want to put together a ten-best list, but Guelwaar would certainly be on mine, alongside several Francesco Rosi titles, two films by Park Kwang-su, To the Starry Island and A Single Spark and Preminger's Advise and Consent. That's a pretty good start right there.

Anybody want to take up the challenge?


Anonymous said…
Muslims Against Sharia congratulate David Horowitz FREEDOM CENTER and Mike Adams, Tammy Bruce, Phyllis Chesler, Ann Coulter, Nonie Darwish, Greg Davis, Stephen Gale, David Horowitz, Joe Kaufman, Michael Ledeen, Michael Medved, Alan Nathan, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Daphne Patai, Daniel Pipes, Dennis Prager, Luana Saghieh, Rick Santorum, Jonathan Schanzer, Christina Sommers, Robert Spencer, Brian Sussman, Ed Turzanski, Ibn Warraq and other speakers on the success of the Islamofascism Awareness Week.

Islamofascism (or Islamism) is the main threat facing modern civilization and ignorance about this threat is astounding. We hope that this event becomes regular and reaches every campus.

A great many Westerners do not see the clear distinction between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism). They need to understand that the difference between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism) is the same as the difference between Christianity and Christian Identity Movement (White Supremacy Movement).

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