Tag: Fantasy

August 28, 2006 / / Film Notes

USA, 1953. 89 min. Stanley Kramer Productions. Cast: Tommy Rettig, Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy, Hans Conried, John Heasley. Music: Frederick Hollander and Nelson Riddle; Cinematography: Franz Planer; Art Direction: Cary Odell, Rudolph Sternad; Produced by: Stanley Kramer; Written by: Dr. Seuss and Allan Scott; Directed by: Roy Rowland.

I first rediscovered director Roy Rowland’s 1953 film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T years ago, tracking it down based on vague recollections from childhood. I remembered a very strange and very dreamlike movie, and, upon watching it again, I found my remembrances confirmed. In the years since it was released to relatively little acclaim, an appreciative cult following has sprung up around 5,000 Fingers, and It’s easy to see why. For lovers of unusual cinema, this is a real find. Right from the start it’s clear that 5,000 Fingers is something left of center, a more twisted take on standard Technicolor musical fare like MGM’s singing sailor flick Hit the Deck, which Rowland would a direct a few years later. Where did this oddity spring from?

August 23, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Andy Dimond

UK, 1985. Rated R. 142 min Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm Michael Palin; Music: Kate Bush, Michael Kamen, Ray Cooper; Cinematography: Roger Pratt; Produced by: Patrick Cassavetti, Arnon Milchan; Written by: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown; Directed by: Terry Gilliam

“8:49p.m., somewhere in the twentieth century.” A meek Ministry of Information file clerk named Sam Lowry sits at his desk and daydreams. In his mind he is a winged knight, charging boldly to the rescue of a beautiful blonde. By the end of Terry Gilliam’s zany 1985 chef d’oeuvre he will find that damsel in “real life” — which here consists of vicious corporate politics, grotesque plastic surgeries, even more grotesque food, propaganda posters, and mountains of paperwork, all taking place under the constant threat of government-sponsored torture, and punctuated by the occasional terrorist bombing.

August 8, 2006 / / Film Notes

“I’m not a storyteller, I’m a man who draws pictures,” says Hayao Miyazaki the super-director of some of the highest grossing Japanese films of all time, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and most recently, Howl’s Moving Castle.

In Hollywood, children’s films in general and animated ones in particular follow the classical storytelling mold. A state of equilibrium is disturbed, the protagonist faces difficulties attempting to restore order, and the protagonist secures a new equilibrium, overcoming said difficulties and, in the process, learning something about him- or herself. While the world that is built around these stories may be enchantingly detailed and richly populated—I’m thinking of the talking furniture of Beauty and the Beast or the fun forest friends of Bambi—the story arc of the protagonist is central to the film and the tapestry is for show.