Salò or The Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom" by Gary Indiana
95 pages | English | 2000 | ISBN: 0851708072 | PDF
Salò or The Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom (Salò o Le centoventi giornate di Sodoma, 1975) is one of the most controversial and scandalous films ever made. It was Pier Paolo Pasolini's last film; he was murdered shortly after completing it. An adaptation of Sade's vicious masterpiece, but relocated to Fascist-ruled Italy, Salò is an unflinching, violent portrayal of sexual cruelty which many find too disturbing to watch.
But insightful artworks are often disturbing. Beneath the extreme, taboo-breaking surface of Salò, Gary Indiana argues, is a deeply penetrating account of human behavior that resonates not only as an account of fascism but as a picture of the corporate, morally compromised world we live in today.
Andrei Rublev" by Robert Bird
87 pages | English | 2008 | ISBN: 184457038X | scanned PDF
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) was one of the great poets of world cinema. A fiercely independent artist, Tarkovsky crafted poignantly beautiful films that have proven inscrutable and been bitterly disputed. These qualities are present in abundance in Andrei Rublev (1966), Tarkovsky's first fully mature film. Ostensibly a biographical study of Russia's most famous medieval icon-painter, Andrei Rublev is both lyrical and epic, starkly naturalistic and allegorical, authentically historical and urgently topical. While much remains mysterious in Andrei Rublev, critics have recently begun to reappraise it as a groundbreaking film that undermines comfortable notions of life and spirituality. Robert Bird's multifaceted account of Andrei Rublev extends this reevaluation of Tarkovsky's radical aesthetic by establishing the film's historical context and presenting a substantially new reading of key scenes. Bird definitively establishes the film's tortured textual history, which has resulted in two vastly different versions. He relates the film to traditions in Russian art and intellectual history, but finally his analysis focuses on Andrei Rublev as a visual and narrative artwork that treats profound existential questions by challenging conventional notions of representation and vision.
"Blade Runner" by Scott Bukatman
96 pages | English | 2008 | ISBN: 0851706231 | scanned PDF | 6,4 MB
Blade Runner has proved to be one of the most enduring and influential films of the 1980s. In his innovative reading, Scott Bukatman details the making of the film and its steadily improving fortunes after its initial release. He situates the film in terms of the debates about post modernism that have informed the large body of criticism devoted to it. Although Blade Runner explores the tensions fundamental to a postmodern era of bewildering technological change, Bukatman argues, it derives from the quintessentially twentieth-century, modernist experience of the city-the experience of a space both imprisoning and liberating.
Michael Eaton, Chinatown (BFI Film Classics)
1997 | ISBN 0851705324 | 97 Pages | PDF | 7.4 MB
Directed in 1974 by Roman Polanski from a script by Robert Towne, Chinatown is a brilliant reworking of film noir set in a drought-stricken Los Angeles of the 1930s. Jack Nicholson, in one of his most celebrated roles, stars as a Private Eye who, despite his best intentions, can only bring disaster upon the enigmatic woman he has come to love. The reassuringly familiar conventions of the thriller are dissected to expose a chaos of political corruption and violent sexuality lurking beneath a glittering, sun-drenched surface. Michael Eaton analyses Chinatown in the context of the figure of the detective in literature and film from Sophocles to Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock. In a searching detailed and entirely absorbing account of the narrative development and visual style of Chinatown, Eaton uncovers both the film's relationship to the pessimism of American cinema in the 1970s and its veritably mythical structure and power.
L'Argent (BFI Modern Classics) By Kent Jones
2008 | 96 Pages | ISBN: 0851707335 | PDF
Illustrated The career of Robert Bresson (b. 1907) is one of the richest in the history of cinema, but also one of the most enigmatic. For some commentators, Bresson is a severe moralist who's almost medieval in his concern for the darker aspects of Catholic theology. For others, he's best seen as a stylist whose work has consistently anticipated cinematic trends. Just as Bresson's 1959 Pickpocket was remodelled by Paul Schrader as American Gigolo (1980), so L'Argent (1983) is a study of spontaneous murder and a meditation on evil that has a striking kinship with contemporary vigilante and serial killer films. Kent Jones disputes some of the received wisdom about Bresson's work as it's epitomized by L'Argent: the work can't simply be reduced to its austere, pessimistic, or religious elements. By exploring the many dimensions of L'Argent, Jones finds other elements: beauty, compassion, an overriding concern with the meaningful depiction of experience. L'Argent is the culminating work of one of the select group of directors able "to push the cinema, through the force of their own genius, onto a new plain."
L'Année dernière à Marienbad (BFI Film Classics) By Jean-Louis Leutrat
2008 | 72 Pages | ISBN: 0851708218 | PDF
Illustrated A quintessential work of 1960s European art cinema, L'Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year in Marienbad, 1961) was a collaboration between director Alain Resnais and 'New Novel" enfant terrible Alain Robbe-Grillet. Three people, known only by their initials, move through the sprawling luxury of a mysterious hotel and its ornamental gardens. Perhaps M is A's husband and X her lover. Perhaps '"last year," A promised X she would leave with him. Or is there something more terrible in the past? An abstract thriller, a love story, a philosophical puzzle, the film's deviations are, for Jean-Louis Leutrat, as complex as those of the human heart.
Elsaesser, Metropolis (BFI Film Classics)
2000 | ISBN 0851707777 | 96 Pages | PDF
Illustrated Metropolis (1925) is a monumental work. When it was made it was Germany's most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang's increasingly extravagant ambitions (it took sixteen months to film). Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family. In this book, Thomas Elsaesser explores the cultural phenomenon of Metropolis: its different versions (there is no definitive one), its changing meanings, its role as a storehouse or database of the 20th century.
Braudy, On the Waterfront (BFI Film Classics)
2005 | ISBN 184457072X | 88 Pages | PDF
"I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody." So speaks the haunted former boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) to his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) in a scene from On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954) that is one of the most famous in all cinema. Set among unionised New York longshoremen, Kazan's film (from a screenplay by Budd Schulberg) recounts Terry's struggle against corruption and his ultimate, hard-won victory. The marvellous performances of Brando, Steiger and Eva Marie Saint (as well as Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb), Boris Kaufman's photography and Leonard Bernstein's score all justify the film's fame. But On the Waterfront is also notorious, regarded by many as an attempt at justifying the decision on the part of Kazan (and Schulberg) to name names before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. That controversial decision is still incendiary today (as was evidenced in the furore that surrounded Kazan's Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999). With Kazan's death in 2003 and Brando's in 2004, a reappraisalof On the Waterfront is timely and necessary. In this definitive study, Leo Braudy tells the complicated story of the film's production. He revisits the facts behind the controversy of Kazan's testimony but, above all, he analyses the elements which contribute to the enduring appeal of On the Waterfront: the Method-inspired acting, the music and cinematography, the use of authentic locations and its powerfully symbolic depiction of post-war American values.
Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues, Red River (BFI Film Classics)
2001 | ISBN 0851708196 | 70 Pages | PDF
Illustrated Red River (1947) is one of Howard Hawks' near-perfect films. A sweeping, fast-moving Western, it's stunningly shot and stars John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in complex roles set off by typically fine ensemble acting. In her study, Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues explores the thematic complexity of Red River as well as its historical resonances and its place in film history. She focuses particular attention on the actors' contributions and on Red River's relationship to other Hawks classics.
Sean French, The Terminator (BFI Modern Classics)
1996 | ISBN 0851705537 | 72 Pages
20 b/w photographs Made on a low budget, The Terminator was one of the most influential films of the 1980s. Combining explosive special effects and an intricate time-travel plot, it set Arnold Schwarzenegger on the road to superstardom and allowed its director, James Cameron, to go on to make some of the most expensive films of all time. Resolutely populist, accomplished, and instantly memorable, The Terminator has dramatically outlived its humble beginnings. Sean French places The Terminator in the context of the exploitation films in which both Cameron and Schwarzenegger learnt their craft. French discusses the making of the film, its sources, and the extent of its influence. He argues that The Terminator's visual flair, stylized acting, and choreographed violence are so compelling not so much because they offer intellectual rewards but because they traffic in the darker, more visceral pleasures of movie-going.
Paglia, The Birds (BFI Film Classics)
2008 | ISBN 0851706517 | 96 Pages | PDF Camille Paglia draws together in this text the aesthetic, technical and mythical qualities of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), and analyzes its depiction of gender and familial relations.
The Night of the Hunter (BFI Film Classics) By Simon Callow
2008 | 79 Pages | ISBN: 0851708226 | PDF
Illustrated The Night of the Hunter was Charles Laughton's only film as director. Adapted from a bestselling novel by Davis Grubb, it is part expressionist horror movie, part luminous fairytale, and contains some of the most haunting images in cinema: Willa (Shelley Winters), her throat cut and hair streaming out like seaweed, sitting in a submerged Model T Ford; her children, framed by looming animals, in a downriver flight from Preacher (Robert Mitchum), a silhouetted threat on the horizon. The Night of the Hunter is revered today, but it failed on its first release, and Laughton never recovered from the disappointment. Simon Callow explores Laughton's transition between film actor and director, and examines the considerable influence the film has had on subsequent filmmakers such as Neil Jordan and even Callow himself.
The Searchers (BFI Film Classics) By Edward Buscombe
2008 | 80 Pages | ISBN: 085170820X | PDF
This is a detailed commentary on all aspects of the film, "The Searchers", and makes full use of material in the John Ford archive in Indiana, including Ford's own memos and the original scripts, which differs in vital respects from the film he made.
Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) (Bfi Film Classics) By Robert Gordon
2008 | 96 Pages | ISBN: 1844572382 | PDF
Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) Vittorio de Sica, 1948 is unarguably one of the fundamental films in the history of cinema. It is also one of the most beguiling, moving and (apparently) simple pieces of narrative cinema ever made. The film tells the story of one man and his son, as they search fruitlessly through the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle; the bicycle which had finally freed him from the poverty and humiliation of longterm unemployment.
One of a cluster of extraordinary films to come out of post-war, post-Fascist Italy after 1945 – loosely labelled ‘neo-realist’ – Bicycle Thieves won an Oscar in 1949, topped the first Sight and Sound poll of the best films of all time in 1952 and has been hugely influential throughout world cinema ever since. It remains a necessary point of reference for any cinematic engagement with the labyrinthine experience of the modern city, the travails of poverty in the contemporary world, the complex bond between fathers and sons, and the capacity of the camera to capture something like the essence of all of these.
Robert S. C. Gordon’s BFI Film Classics volume shows how Bicycle Thieves is ripe for re-viewing, for rescuing from its worthy status as a neo-realist ‘classic’. It looks at the film’s drawn-out planning and production history, the vibrant and riven context in which it was made, and the dynamic geography, geometry and sociology of the film that resulted.
Geoff Andrews - 10 (BFI Modern Classics)
2005-04-19 | ISBN: 184457069X | PDF | 88 pages
Iranian Abbas Kiarostami burst onto the international film scene in the early 1990s and--as demonstrated by the many major prizes he has won--is now widely regarded as one of the most distinctive and talented modern-day directors. In 2002, with 10, Kiarostami broke new ground, fixing one or two digital cameras on a car's dashboard to film ten conversations between the driver (Mania Akbari) and her various passengers. The results are astonishing: though formally rigorous, even austere, and documentary-like in its style, 10 succeeds both as emotionally affecting human drama and as a critical analysis of everyday life in today's Tehran.
In this study, Geoff Andrew looks at 10 within the context of Kiarostami's career, of Iranian cinema's recent renaissance, and of international film culture. Drawing on a number of detailed interviews he conducted with both Kiarostami and his lead actress, Andrew sheds light on the unusual methods used in making the film, on its political relevance, and on its remarkably subtle aesthetic.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (BFI Film Classics) By Lucy Fischer
2008 | 79 Pages | ISBN: 0851706681 | PDF
Illustrated Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) is one of the most historically pivotal of all films. A lavish and sumptuous production, it was the first film made in America by the celebrated German director F.W. Murnau, who also directed Nosferatu (1922). Sunrise mediates between German expressionism and American melodrama, the Avant-Garde and popular fiction, silent cinema and "talkies." Lucy Fischer's book is a model of film analysis, locating Sunrise in a fascinating range of historical aesthetic and philosophical contexts.