Tag: epic

August 17, 2010 / / Main Slate

There Will Be Blood – 2007 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A film such as There Will Be Blood only comes around every decade or so.  It is a picture that transcends the contemporary (and often times, overemphasized) allusions to current issues, eventually revealing the true heroics of man.  Usually, films such as these relish in the battle of man with the world around him.  This time, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a step back, graciously inviting his audience to participate in his fantastic allusion.  There Will be Blood is our modern American epic.  Already resonating with films such as Citizen Kane, the personal psychology has an intrinsic connection with today’s audience.  All corporate evil aside, this is film is about competition.  To go even farther, There Will Be Blood is an objective look at the driving force of ambition, and the right of man to climb to the top, however he may get there.  It all starts with Daniel Plainview.

March 29, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

Seven Samurai – 1954 – dir. Akira Kurosawa

The philosophical insight Akira Kurosawa unleashes in his epic Seven Samurai stands above most war films ever produced.  Though the portrayal of war is common among films, the true essence of conflict itself is often times overlooked.  The manner and tempo with which Kurosawa delivers his epic is where the message emerges.  With a steady pace and extensive view into every facet of struggle, the director breaches the threshold of cinematic philosophy into a new realm of artistic meaning.  In 16th century Japan, the framework of conflict is embodied within seven selfless warriors who use all of their abilities to defeat a clan of bandits.  Kurosawa’s stark vision of life itself is extrapolated in the picture.  Constantly put into question by smaller battles along the way, the director paints a decadent landscape of morality, giving audiences the very essence of cinema and story in its most ancient form.  Seven Samurai is a perfect step-by-step guide into the very heart of conflict.

January 15, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Peggy Nelson

Dr. Zhivago – 1965 – dir. David Lean

There are many characters in David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago (1965), the sprawling, epic portrayal of people caught up in the Russian Revolution, the least of which is, surprisingly, Dr. Zhivago himself.   In addition to Zhivago, Lara, Komorovsky, Pasha, and a host of others, there is the land, the weather, the first World War, the mountains, the interminable train ride, the tide of political events, the Five-Year Plans, even the giant posters of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, all playing their parts and threatening to upstage the action.  Beside all these a small story about love and betrayal should pale; as Strelnikov claims in the film, “the personal life is dead in Russia.”  But it is Lean’s achievement that it is not: it more than holds its own, and forms the core around which the rest crash and swirl.

January 15, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Peggy Nelson

Lawrence of Arabia – 1962 – dir. David Lean

Size DOES matter.

Some films need to be seen on the big screen.  I first saw Lawrence of Arabia (dir. by David Lean, 1962) on one of the biggest, the UC Theatre in Berkeley, California.  A giant screen is not only the appropriate frame for the stunning cinematography in this film, it is the only canvas large enough for its title subject.  T. E. Lawrence was one of those rare people whose life comprised a perfect storm of circumstance and talent, creating a man worthy of a 70mm, almost 4-hour film; a figure truly larger than life.

November 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Peg Aloi

Excalibur – 1981 – dir. John Boorman

John Boorman’s lush treatment of the Matter of Britain, Excalibur (1981), is awash in color, magic and eroticism. Viewers who were of a certain age when this film was first released may recall its popularity among a certain college-age element, namely, the weirdos and geeks (not me, of course, but I, um, knew some of these people) who played Dungeons and Dragons, attended Renaissance fairs, and belonged to the Society for Creative Anachronism. This film may in fact have single-handily ignited a Celtophilic obsession in America, with medievalism becoming a romanticized, nostalgic window to Ye Good Olde Days. The Dark Ages, stinking and pox-ridden though they might have been, were suddenly revered and became a cultural phenomenon. The lead actors playing Arthur and Guinevere in this film (Nigel Terry and Cheri Lunghi) even starred briefly in a short-lived medieval-era television series…broadcast on an American network. Boorman’s film inspired a love of this period not merely because of the exciting scenes of swordplay and sex: rather, his expression of this period captivated audiences because his film imbued this far-away era with sensuality and mystery.