a miracle of wuxia that indeed has delights of kinetic friction in its fight scenes but resonates most as a sort of eclogue. the middle of the movie becomes a travelogue told on horseback--a white horse with a red velvet saddle trots through the woods, on the beach, and in fields (fields which are abundant with yellow flowers and white rabbits). lanterns make the fishing village resplendent in the night scenes like a bygone paradise. one can sense the anxiety…
one of the rare films that seems to operate on a self-contained, almost oneiric plane (e.g. melo, la captive)
most relevant new detail in my second viewing:
the nude scenes, absent from the censored version i had seen previously, are noticeably restrained. von sternberg depicts his lead actresss, akemi negishi, almost like a renaissance nude. the narration stands in for the male gaze, a collective of anonymous horny sailors with an old new york accent, but the camera's neo-classical poise…
(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.)