penda’s fen is a rich and strange film that deserves a more thorough analysis of all its parts but at the moment i would like to give special attention to the film's portrayal of edward elgar since not every cinephile has knowledge of classical music. penda's fen treats elgar’s music sincerely, realizing the passions it can stir in an intelligent young mind, whereas most films would have dismissed elgar’s music merely as an imperial relic. it's also striking to only…
scattered images: a soldier solemnly playing cello against a vivid red sunset. the moon, always bright and full, seen through small round windows, almost portholes. young men idling nude against a backdrop of shooting stars and fireflies. lush fields full of singing children and scarecrow soldiers, both doomed to war.
(this is my first attempt at a review, so please be kind!)
robert bresson presents his moralistic revisionism of arthurian myth to the viewer of lancelot du lac from the start. the film opens on a hand gripping a sword, wearily struggling to swing it. we are witnessing two knights in combat. the camera obscures their heads until one knight decapitates the other. blood oozes out from the defeated man’s corpse. men do not die with honor; they die ignobly,…
while 'dust in the wind' does bridge hou’s early semi-autobiographical narratives and his more formally pronounced 90s films, it’s not a transitional work, in the sense that that label implies a journeyman quality. hou’s nuanced and varied approach to lighting should alone dispel that notion. hou’s staging often transforms relatively small areas into vast spaces. within these spaces the protagonists are often crowded by people, architecture, and ordinary objects. this strategy, employed both laterally and through depth of field, underscores the couple’s insignificance and malaise.
(i'd really like to read an in-depth treatment of this film because i feel incapable of properly writing about hou hsiao-hsien.)