Charlotte's Blog

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Moscow Does Not Believe In Good Movies

May 17th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears was possibly the most depressing movie that we watched in class for the simple fact that Katerina, a strong woman with a career, has to find her happiness in Gosha. What I don’t understand is why she had to get married in the first place. She had her own apartment which, I thought, was relatively nice. She had a good set up, a beautiful daughter. What did she need a man for? Do all women just automatically need men? If we can have a woman shooting a machine gun in Chapaev, is it really so ridiculous that Katerina would live her life out without a man?

I did not like Gosha whatsoever. Not only did he creep me out, but he didn’t like that Katerina made more money than him. You would think that he could just be happy with another decent income in the house. You would also think that having another breadwinner would give him more time to go off and be in the woods with his buddies. He was also generally a creepy guy. I couldn’t really pin his personality down, and it seemed highly fake to me that his friends were giving him such glowing praise all the time. I kept thinking that he was going to turn out to be a villain. In my estimation, he was – any man who would take offense at a woman’s income clearly has no place among the ranks of decent men.

The other man in the movie upset me as well, but this time, I can understand that Russians also would not have liked him. He was a rapist and an all around bad guy. Perhaps the only time I thought he was about to redeem himself in the whole movie was when he told Gosha that Katerina made more money than him. This only made things worse, apparently.

I was entirely upset that Katerina took Gosha back at the end of the film. If I was Katerina, he would have been gone for good. I would have lived out my days happily, I’m sure, without needing a man in my life. Katerina, I guess, is not that kind of woman. Perhaps that is what depressed me about this film.

If this was Star Trek, he would totally be the villain; just look at that mustache!

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The Cranes are Flying

May 17th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

The Cranes are Flying was another movie that I genuinely liked, but only after it had sunk in. The first time I watched it, it was not clear to me that Veronika had been raped; I thought she was just afraid to die, so she decided to go ahead and get married. I thought perhaps she had been raped, but I wasn’t 100% sure, so I couldn’t really label her husband as some kind of villain.

I thought that the movie was aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps my favorite part of the film was the train scene, in which she becomes dizzy or such. I thought that the camera work was very interesting, and I definitely recognized the Anna Karenina moment. In fact, I think that the reason I liked this film was because of its relation to Anna Karenina. It was a love story in which two men and one woman were involved, and the woman nearly killed herself. She had to go through humiliation and outcast status, but she still had a large enough heart to care for the people around her; like Anna, she believed in love until the end. Perhaps this could be read as a reversal of Anna Karenina, that instead of falling in love with a man once she is married to a man she does not love, then proceeding to follow Karenin around, eventually killing herself, this story pushes the protagonist from a man she does love into the arms of a man she does not love, forcing her to marry him while she continues to search for the man she really does love. The shame that Anna felt in the novel at her rejection from society also comes in in this film, but instead of being shamed by her friends, it is the family that shames her. Russia, in the end of the film, is her solace, and the Russian people are who she ends up adoring.

The end was completely unsatisfying. So Veronica decides that the death of the man she loved was okay because she still had Russia? Because she could still love Russia? No one does that. The speech was also a terrible way to end the film. We’ve just seen this very personal story that follows a young woman through the toughest time in her life, and it ends with propaganda? She gives away the flowers she meant for her dead boyfriend to the people of Russia? I think that the ending puts shame to the ties to Anna Karenina that the film has. While this Anna does not die in the end of the film, she may as well, since she decides that it’s okay that her love died because she has enough love for all of Russia. I thought that the ending was terrible, and I never want to see it again, regardless of how much I enjoyed the rest of the film.

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May 17th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

Chapaev was my least favorite film in the class. Perhaps this was partially because I couldn’t read the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, being an atrocious white on white, but I was never able to make out exactly what happened in the film.

I brought in from the outside that Chapaev was supposed to be some kind of war hero, so I certainly was expecting a great deal of action. The film, however, didn’t really deliver. I expected the film to be a lot more intense, showing Chapaev in fight scenes with the enemy, leading the Russian people to victory. What I got from the film was that Chapaev was a man who played with potatoes for some reason and only had a young couple for friends. I also got that the woman was operating a machine gun in this very early film, something that did, in fact, surprise me, but in a good way.

The one extended scene that I actually was able to understand was that of Chapaev swimming in a river and dying. This confused me, since he is supposed to be the hero of the Russian people. Why did he die in a river? I understand that he is supposed to be a historical figure and that, as a real person, he is the emblem of a hero for the Russian people, but jumping into a river did not seem like the best move for him to make at the time. I wasn’t sure why he didn’t stand his ground and fight when given the chance. To me, it seemed extremely silly and I still am not sure how the film depicted him in a positive light. Again, I had an extremely hard time reading the subtitles so, sadly, I feel I missed a lot about this Russian classic.

After searching both the film and the movie online: I still have nothing. The Wikipedia page tells me that he fought for the poor, so I suppose it makes much more sense that he was demonstrating battle tactics, not playing, with the potatoes. Besides that, the film still does not make that much sense to me.

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May 17th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

Another of my favorite films from the class was Circus. The first time I saw this film, I absolutely hated it. I thought that it was a lot of spectacle with little substance, and a surprise propaganda message tacked on at the very end to give viewers a message to take home. Given time, however, I was able to think more about the film and to give it more of a chance to sink in for me.

The first time I watched the movie, I didn’t really enjoy it. I thought that the middle section of the movie was very pretty, and I enjoyed all of the circus acts, but I didn’t really understand that the beginning was connected to the end. I heard a baby but, since I thought she was just paranoid or something at the beginning of the film, I thought that the baby belonged to her maid, since that was the only time that the baby ended up crying throughout the whole movie. I thought perhaps the bundle she had carried at the beginning was a sack of clothes or other necessities, and I didn’t immediately connect the woman in the circus acts with the woman at the beginning of the film. It was a huge surprise to me, at the end of the film, when she pulled a baby out of nowhere and told everyone it was hers. I thought, in the first watching, that the propaganda was tacked on and didn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the story. In my first watching, I was very surprised at how blatant the Russian propaganda seemed.

After meeting in class and giving the film a second screening, it sunk in that this was a movie about a young woman who escapes from the racism in America to find a huge, happy family in Russia. I still saw the propaganda, but only with a second watching did I realize that there was any kind of a story involved. I thought that it was a beautiful film, and I thought that both performances in the circus were beautiful and spectacular.

Though I was able to find a plot and a great deal of aesthetic beauty in a second watching, I also found that the propaganda still seemed tacked on, that it seemed like a weak gimmick to focus a movie around, and I would have been far more entertained had the central conflict of the film been something else, perhaps something that was less based on politics and propaganda and something that was more emotional in nature. I understand that, back then, it would have been good propaganda to see the villain of this film acting like a racist, and the Russian people backing up the poor mother, but it still seemed to me that the film could have had a more complex storyline or perhaps should have made it easier to emotionally connect with the heroine.

Either way, I did like the film. I thought that it was beautiful and, even if I didn’t like the story, it was not a difficult film to sit through whatsoever.

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Brief Encounters

May 9th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

Brief Encounters was probably my favorite film in the entire class (with the exception, perhaps, of Mr. West and Circus). I thought that it was shot beautifully, and that the small cast of characters really gave the film a level of intimacy that was of great credit to the film itself.

I thought that Muratova’s acting was beautiful. I wasn’t enthralled with the work of the other two actors, however. Muratova’s character really seemed to have depth; while her character is focused on her work and is designed as a professional woman with many responsibilities and her own apartment, I found her to have a great amount of depth. Although her primary focus is on her professional life, Valentina cannot help but be affected by her personal life. Her memories of Maksim are not fantastic, and her entire role in the movie seems to pivot around the night that she lost him. The date on which he went away remains so ingrained in her memory that, even when she is presented with a record player from Maksim, she checks what date the purchase was made on. Even though this does not seem to be an incredibly emotional scene (with the record player and the checking of dates), it is revealed how truly important the date is to her later in the film; the fact that she remembered it shows that she truly does care about him, so much so that she cannot forget the date on which he left her, yet her composure during this scene proves that she is a professional. She has strong emotions, even when she doesn’t show them. She chooses instead to repress a potential emotional outburst at the arrival of the record player in favor of checking as to whether or not this means that Maksim is actually going to return to her. At the beginning of the film as well, we see Valentina in a shoddy state of disrepair; when Nadja arrives, she sees that everything in the house is either broken or dirty. When the viewer comes to learn more about Valentina, it is shocking to realize how she has such little control over her personal life, yet how well she remains composed in her professional life. She is incredibly adept at dealing with problems at work, refusing to argue or get emotional, yet her home life is full of hidden emotions and a love and devotion to her Maksim that is truly impressive. When Valentina asks Maksim why he always has to sing and make music, Valentina’s personal belief in love is revealed. What Valentina wants out of a man is something steadfast and serious; though she has a great deal of love for Maksim and is, eventually, able to overcome this dislike for his vagabond, gypsy-like way of life, she clearly desires stability and a love that will last for a long period of time without being absent. I was stunned by how well Muratova played the character. Though the character was her own, I believe that Muratova truly captured an emotional depth and inner beauty to the character that made her one of my favorites in the entire class.

Maksim, Valentina’s love, was a character I really didn’t have any love for. The only reason I liked him was because I enjoyed the songs that he played. Other than that, I found him, for most of the movie, to be a somewhat flat character, nonchalant and full of wanderlust. He was viewed mostly through memories of the two women, which was strange for me. Seeing him through the eyes of two women who loved him should have made me love him, too, but I had no real attachment to him. The thing that frustrated me the most about him was that he came back at the end of the film. I wish there was some kind of a sequel to the film so that I could figure out whether or not he stayed with Valentina. Because he made Valentina so happy, I would have loved for him to stay, but that’s the only reason. I thought that he was a lousy guy, and I really didn’t understand why any of the women in the film liked him at all. He was probably never going to want to settle down, it seemed; if he had gone through the marriage rituals only to up and leave, how was he ever going to want a family and stability, everything that Valentina seemed to want out of life? His character left, it seemed, on the smallest whim, and I thought he was an absurdly hollow character with little to offer anyone.

The other character who I was not altogether pleased with was Nadja. I do realize that the two women were meant to portray different ways of life, that Nadja was a country girl without roots, wandering around looking for a job, and that finding a permanent residence was not really the most important thing to her, but I couldn’t really relate to her. She only seemed to have a crush on Maksim, so I didn’t really witness any emotional depth to her character. I thought that Nadja was silly and young, and that she really did seem better suited for Maksim than Valentina because they were both such silly, impulsive people. Perhaps that’s why Maksim returned to Valentina; perhaps he needed a degree of stability in his life, and his opposite personality worked well with Valentina’s. Nadja only displayed a distinguishable character when she left. I was entirely pleased that she chose not to stay at the household and cause a mess. She clearly was not devoted enough to Maksim to fight for his love; either that, or she grew to care about and understand Valentina enough to realize how truly lost she was, in her personal life, without Maksim. Either way, I thought that it was the first mature decision she made in the entire film, and I was all too happy to see her go.

The editing style of the film was one of the things that I really did like about the movie. I thought that it was edited beautifully. Though the cuts to the past with Maksim were peppered throughout the film at seemingly random intervals, I thought that it remained true to reality. Because Nadja was only in Valentina’s house to find Maksim, it made a whole lot of sense that she would be reflecting on her relationship with him to determine what to do in the awkward situation she found herself in. Thinking about him would have been a constant for her as well as for Valentina. Because she seemed to truly love Maksim and because she was a mess without him around, it made a lot of sense for thoughts of him to interrupt her throughout the day. I thought that it was incredibly true to life that these women would be going through their daily lives and would stop what they were doing, or continue what they were doing, and think about Maksim. I definitely saw the cuts to the past as actually happening for these women. I thought of them as memories that they were recalling, and I thought that they were done very well. Because Maksim permeated the story of the two women, it made sense that cuts to memories of him permeated the film itself. The sometimes abrupt and unexpected cuts to the past made sense to me as well; even when the timing of a cut to the past seemed out of place or random, it seemed to me that it was also quite true to life. Though the women tried to live out their lives without Maksim, their routines would often be interrupted with thoughts of him, perhaps because some little thing triggered it or perhaps their mind just wandered in that direction. I know that, in my personal life, when I hear a song or see something that reminds me of someone I’ve known and cared about, I immediately begin to think about them, as though it’s the only natural thing to do, even if it is abrupt. I think that this is what Muratova was attempting to capture, and I think that she did it beautifully.

Overall, I thought that Brief Encounters was a beautiful film that really captured what it meant to be these two different women and to have to cope with personal and professional lives all at once. I believe that this was one of the first films in the class that genuinely captured human emotion and dilemmas; up until this point, the films seemed to deal primarily with Soviet ideals or the benefit of the group rather than the emotional dilemmas of each of the individual characters. The psychological depth exhibited in this film was, I believed, unique out of all the movies we had seen up until this point, and I was stunned by the craftsmanship and care that went into the creation of this film.

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Little Vera

May 9th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

The title of the film, Little Vera, at first seemed to me to be a nickname for the film’s title character. Coming into this film, I was somewhat expecting to get am exciting story about a young Russian girl whose life was full of American/Western ideas (because of the inclusion of “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” on the front of the case). I expected the generational gap between the parents and the child; it seems that most movies at least somewhat confront this issue when the title character still lives at home. I figured that Vera herself would be a likable character who got swept into a world that she never intended to be a part of, and it would be her job to come to terms with a new world and a new way of life. What I got instead was a completely different film, one that displayed a new way of life in Russia and dealt with a young girl, but she certainly was not likable, and the end of the film certainly did not have the satisfying result I was hoping for.

Thinking about the meaning of the name Vera gives a whole new meaning to the title of the film. Meaning “faith”, the title subtly warns the audience of the nature of the film. The creators of the film seemed to have “little faith” in the youth of Russia; throughout the film, it seemed clear that the younger generation was not going to turn out any differently than the previous generation. Vera has the world in front of her and she refuses to take hold of a future that will help her provide for herself. Instead, she seems content to mooch off her parents, to hold no job, and to date and have unprotected sex with the first cute boy that comes along, regardless of how much she knows about him. To be honest, didn’t have faith in Vera. I didn’t actually care about Vera as a character. She was reckless and didn’t seem to care about repercussions of her actions. The suicide scene was not actually that shocking to me. Although it probably would have been mind blowing in Russia for the time, it seemed to me that Vera was absolutely out of control, that she didn’t really know what she was doing, and that she wasn’t really thinking about anyone but herself anyway.

Could it still be a nickname for Vera? Could we think of it as though her parents still think of her as a little girl? In the film, it does seem the case that her parents treat her as though they have much control over her. The fact that she is living at home seems to indicate that she has to follow the rules her parents set forth; because she does not have her own home, unlike Valentina in Brief Encounters, she cannot choose what she does and when. When she does attempt to take this liberty, her drunken father and her stressed mother step in to remind her of her place. The father in particular bothered me; although he was a drunken mess, it was still a shock to hear him yell at her. Instead of being happy for her when he found out that she was to be married, he cruelly told her that he would beat that nonsense out of her. Constantly throughout the film, he only gives Vera negative reinforcement. While he seems to only have her best interests at heart, he certainly does not go about telling her his opinion in the proper way. Perhaps the lack of faith has something to do with the parents as well as the child. Perhaps they have little faith in their daughter, and perhaps they believe that they must threaten her to keep her in line.

The phrase, “Cherish your youthful innocence” is also uttered throughout the film. This also has to do with the generational gap between the parents and Vera. Vera’s parents have gone through everything that Vera has, presumably; they have had to grow up, find someone they believe they could spend their life with, and make what they can of the life they have created for themselves. Vera’s parents are no longer young, nor are they happy and carefree. They, instead, are constantly yelling, it seems, at everything around them and becoming frustrated with the stresses of family life. Vera seems to be unaware that her life could easily become very similar; though her parents are of a different generation, it seems that their story will happen once more in Vera’s life. Though Vera says that she is in love with Sergei, he seems to be a suspect character. All that we really learn about him is that he will marry Vera, that he is defined as the “sexual pulse” of the house he lives in before he moves in with Vera, and that he has a youthful sass that allows him to disregard, for the most part, anything that Vera’s parents have to say. It seems that Vera will probably learn to hate him once they are married; the innocent belief in love at first sight will dissolve once they are no longer carefree and have to take care of a household and a family. Because they don’t really have responsibilities, they don’t really have any way to measure how good of a family they will make in the future. I don’t believe, personally, that either one of them is very responsible. This is mostly because Vera does not want to go to college, but rather to party, get pregnant, and commit suicide, and Sergei somewhat passively condones and endorses this way of life. Vera is innocent of what responsibilities lay in front of her. She is innocent of the fact that her parents do actually know what they are talking about some of the time, flawed though they may be, and she is innocent to the fact that she really would be hurting everyone around her by killing herself.

The sex scene was one of the most disturbing things about the film, and not because of the nudity. There was absolutely no sensuality in the sex scene whatsoever, no passion between the two. It seemed the case to me that, if this is the most intimate part of the lives of the two characters and we, the viewers, are getting a window into this new love, it should be full of passion and life. Instead, the two have a conversation, which is incredibly off-putting. The nudity really isn’t that tasteful; it honestly seemed gratuitous to me. Thinking about it from a Russian point of view, having this be one of the first instances of sex in cinema makes a bit of sense. Because the movie is about loss of hope and about generational differences as well as children who don’t realize how good their lives are, it makes sense for the main characters in the film to have such lifeless sex. Because it wasn’t in the film so much to titillate the audience as to do the exact reverse, it does prove a point that these two have just met and still are not happy. They will, it seems, probably get to know each other after they are married, will find out things that they don’t like about the other, and then will become as miserable and terrible at coping with life’s stresses as the older generation was. The lifeless sex proves that the tradition of loveless marriages will continue, and that there is little hope for an improved condition of family life in the next generation, at least in this case.

All in all, I found Little Vera to be an unrealistic portrayal of family life. While it is true that all families have moments of disagreement alternating with moments of genuine affection, and while families all do have to deal with the onset of adulthood in once-young children, it seems overly dramatic to take the film this far. While the film blatantly highlights generational differences, it seems a little ridiculous that no single person in the house can stop what they’re doing, think about it for a second, and change the way they approach life and the other members of their family. To me, this movie is harder to believe in than the youth of Russia after seeing the film. Though the family dynamics in the film seemed to have an element of truth to them, the portrayal was far too bleak and overly dramatic to sway me one way or the other about the condition of the youth and generational differences. Perhaps were there a bit less yelling and a bit more to like about Vera, the film would have made a bigger impact on me.

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Prisoner of the Mountains/Caucasus: People as Other/Currency

May 6th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

One of the things that I found the most striking about this film was the way in which people were treated as currency. Perhaps the most striking moment in the film, for me, was when the father of the young girl met with the mother of the young soldier. Despite the fact that they were in the exact same situation, the two could not compromise. Instead of coming to an understanding over the extreme situation that their children both were in, they chose to remain enemies instead. They did not trust each other whatsoever simply because of the strife that they both were undergoing, both on a national level and on a personal level.

The one major divide in the film, in relation to the ways in which people are treated, did seem to be the same; while the people in the film seemed civil enough to each other regardless of background, the involvement of national identity was the thing that caused violence and chaos, even among those who were not involved in the war. The mother is able to stroll into the village without being attacked. The villagers must have realized that she was Russian, but they treated her with kindness and civility, directing her in the right way. Although the father at the beginning of the film was immersed in an act of war when he abducted the two soldiers, he allowed both of them to live, albeit out of concern for his own son. The daughter remains kind and compassionate to the young soldier throughout the entirety of the film; although she realizes that their nations are at war and that she cannot marry him, she does not wish for him to die because of her human decency. Being the youngest character in the film, she has known of the war for a shorter time than anyone else, yet even she knows who the enemy is. When the realm of the military and politics are entered, that is when things get crazy. When the mother confronts the sergeant emotionally to save her son and he refuses, she flies into a frenzy, hitting him. When the men try to escape to return to their nation, they kill an innocent shepherd they probably otherwise would have been civil towards. When it is discovered that the older, mustached soldier has killed, he himself is left to die in a field with his throat slit.

The use of people as currency throughout the movie can be seen in several ways. The daughter is rejected by the village boys because she does not have enough of a dowry; while it is true, and confirmed by the young soldier, that she is beautiful, what is more important is what a husband would get for her. The two sons who have become prisoners will only be traded for each other; to the military, their lives seem meaningless currency, and they are willing to risk trickery with the villagers. On the other hand, the civilians are far less willing to play around. They are emotionally invested and only want their children back. I would imagine that this is where the rumors come from. Each nation seems to have its own rumors about the enemy, usually that they castrate their POWs or that they slit throats – in cases of war, this is true. Yet this seems to be true of anyone willing to go to war; to defend what they love, they will sacrifice anyone else, even if someone else loves their enemy. Above all, the nation and the cause of war is seen as the most important, not because of any kind of devotion to the state, it seems, but rather because of rumors and because of emotional devotion to those who are involved.

The man with the mustache says that he joined the army to gain money and to travel – in essence, he sold himself as a mercenary. He was clearly the more experienced of the two soldiers in the pair and, although he never seemed to like the younger man, he did seem to try and share experiences with him as a kind of mentor. Despite his attempt at mentoring him about the ways of the world and of war, the true lesson that the younger soldier seems to learn at the end of the film is the power of individuals and their emotional ties and reasoning. Because the older soldier was so brutal, he was rewarded with a brutal end. Because the younger showed compassion and refused to murder, because he looked past national identity and became friendly with people who were supposed to be his enemy, he was allowed to go home at the end of the film. He himself was shown compassion by another who understood how horrible it is to lose someone to war.

The true enemy in the film, it seems, is the state, which turns people into currency and causes people to forget about compassion and humanity. It seems that this is the case for both state systems, and the victims of war in both cases are mourned with human grief.

I can’t believe this actor died! I loved him in this movie and was hoping to watch many more of his films. Plus, he looks exactly like Danny, one of my best friends.

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Tarkovsky: Ivan’s Childhood

April 11th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

I have to admit, I was confused by this movie at first. I suppose one of the things that kept me from enjoying it as much as I could have was the fact that I didn’t know where dream sequences started and stopped. In retrospect, however, I guess this did add something to the film. Because the protagonist of the movie, Ivan, is just a young boy, it makes sense for his experience not only to include his day-to-day life, but also his dreams. The dreams themselves work as a great foil for Ivan’s life; because his life is such a bleak one, it was refreshing for the film to think about what Ivan’s dreams might have been about.
I thought that it was shocking for the other characters in the film to treat Ivan like an adult. From the beginning of the movie, I wasn’t sure that the other characters weren’t insane, or whether or not Ivan was actually an adult who thought of himself as a child. I’m only fortunate that Wikipedia knew better than I did; I eventually had to check the internet to make sure that they really were sending a child out on reconnaissance missions. Even when I did find out, it didn’t seem natural to me for this young boy to be going out on such dangerous missions. It was only when he was treated as a son that I believed that Ivan was really a little boy.
As other people in class have said, I did think that the movie was very beautiful, even if the shots were uncommonly long. I thought that the scene with Masha in the birch grove was particularly well done, even if I wasn’t 100% sure on what she was doing in the birch grove to begin with. The problem I suppose I had with the film was that it was, at times, difficult to figure out what the plot of the movie was. I felt as though it became more of a portrait of what life was like for this one boy rather than a film with narrative. Thinking about it that way makes it easier for me to think about what happened over the course of the film, since I was even confused about the dream sequences.
The ending I must have missed. Something must have been on my mind at the moment, but I also didn’t realize that Ivan had died. I only noticed the beach scene, which I took as either a dream or some kind of a delusion, since his mental state did seem to be rather unstable throughout the film. When I looked up the actual story and found out that Ivan had been killed, I wasn’t shocked. It did make sense to end the film that way, since the portrait itself was incredibly tragic and since he was treated, to a degree, like any other soldier.
I liked this movie, although I am going to have to watch it again. I think that, now that I have an idea of what it is about, I would enjoy it a lot more a second time. I thought, in my first watching, that it was mostly a very compelling movie, so I will have no trouble watching it once more.

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Burnt by the Sun (Spoilers)

April 11th, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

If anyone else would like to work on this supplementary movie with me, I think it would definitely be worthwhile. The movie starts out slowly, observing this tiny family who seem to be on vacation. The main character is a famous hero from the war, Kotov, who is advancing in his years. The movie is, in the beginning and throughout a large part of the film, a portrait of him and his family during one day of their vacation. During this time, they have a visitor, Mitya, who used to be enamored with Kotov’s wife, Maroussia, before she married. In the very end of the film, it is revealed that Mitya has come to take Kotov away to an uncertain fate because he, allegedly, plotted to kill Stalin and was a traitor to his country.
The movie is really quite fun to watch and is relaxing. Watching it, I definitely felt as though I was a part of this intimate family setting that the movie portrays. The viewer knows that the family has secrets, but it’s still shocking at the end of the film when Mitya drives off with Kotov, eventually killing him and then himself. It is interesting to compare and contrast Mitya’s character while he is with the whole family, or any of the characters as part of the family really, and then each character as being separate from the family. Maroussia seems to be a happy mother who is a good wife to her husband, but she has a history of suicide attempts. Mitya seems to be happy as the Uncle character, always charismatic and charming, yet he is at the house to take Kotov away and kill him. Mitya himself commits suicide at the end of the film in the same way that Maroussia attempted. Kotov plays the happy father on vacation, even letting his daughter drive the car that will take him to his death, though all the while he knows that it is probably the last day he is going to spend with his family.
The movie has a bleak ending, yet it is definitely interesting. I think that, if someone else would like to work on it with me, we definitely could come up with something to say in class about it.

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Man with a Movie Camera

March 22nd, 2011 by Charlotte · Uncategorized

I enjoyed watching Man with a Movie Camera. I thought that it seemed to be a much longer film than it probably was because of the lack of a storyline, but it was all very interesting. I thought that the special effects that were used in the film were innovative for the time, and did much to benefit the film. I mean, a movie that runs for an hour without any real plot has to have something inventive or unique about it.

I had a somewhat different movie-watching experience, however. I sometimes watch movies with my roommate, Ian, who is a film major. He’s usually interested in seeing movies more than once, if he has the time. When it came to watching Man with a Movie camera, he wanted to give it another shot. Convincing me that the sound didn’t matter to the movie halfway through, he decided to make his own soundtrack for the film and play it in the background while the images played on the screen. The modern music that he juxtaposed with the film made the movie an entirely new experience; having watched half of it with the original sound, it was interesting to see what sort of a difference the music really did make. I think that, with a movie that has no arc and differs from what the modern viewer may think of as a film, the experiment of setting the movie in an entirely different realm with new audio did much to help me understand what sound means for a movie.

I hope to watch the film again with the original sound; I know that someone in class said that it made a lot of difference in the movie and gave it a kind of story arc. I really would like to hear that. Hopefully I will get a chance to blog again, this time after having watched the movie with the original sound all the way through, so that I can compare and contrast the movie-watching experiences.

I don’t think my first experience was a bad one; it kind of reminded me of this. While the images and the song were never meant to fit together, there’s a kind of invented harmony in the synchronization and juxtaposition of the picture and sound. But I guess there was some editing going on there that we never really did before inserting our own sound into the film.

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