Movies I’ve seen thanks to my course 1.: Hitchcock, The French and the Missed One

Since I’m studying Film at the Middlesex University, it’s not really surprising that – be it in classes or at the BFI Southbank – we watch a lot of movies. I’m really happy that the school has connections with the British Film Institute, and thus I could easily become a member. In the future there will be plenty of occasions to go to the Southbank cinema for certain screenings, but let me talk about that topic a bit later.

Now, I’d like to do a quick recap of the films I’ve seen so far thanks to the school and its opportunities to watch great movie classics. Here we go:

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

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One of the first experiences of mine was this interesting movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock himself. And here comes my confession: I’ve never seen a Hitchcock-movie before, which is a shame. So this was actually my frist Hitch-movie ever. We watched it in BFI Southbank, and what a great place that is! Let alone it (the BFI) being one of the most prestigious film institutions of our time, the whole building itself has a very good atmosphere. Pictures from great and classic movies on the walls, very nice theatres and the Archive where (if I got it right) a huge amount of movies are available for watching – some feature films, too.

So, that’s how we got to watch The Lodger, which is a silent film from Alfred Hitchcock. It’s one of his earliest movies. I’ve never actually seen a silent movie before, so this was really a first time experience in a lot of ways. I don’t want to review it in detail, all that I can say is that it was a really nice experience and really made me love the BFI and its really atmospheric screenings. I’ll come back for more, that’s for sure!

La Jetée (1962)

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On one of the first classes ever on this course we watched a short film called La Jetée, which is known in English as The Jetty or The Pier. It was a really interesting, and kind of experimental short movie. It consists only of still images (there was only one actual moving footage) and a narrator. The story is a real sci-fi premise, it’s set after World War 3 and it’s about people sent back (and forward) in time. I don’t want to reveal too much, but it’s important to note that this short film was a huge inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. The movie itself was very disturbing sometimes, especially those really bizarre voices talking in German.

Here comes the Missed One: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I wanted to watch this film for a long time now, and then here came the opportunity… but sadly I missed it! 😦 I was ill at that time and couldn’t go in the school, where on the Storytelling for the Screen module they watched it… what a shame. I really have to watch it now.

Rear Window (1954)

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Another Hitchcock-classic, this time with speech and in color. Rear Window is a really terrifying movie that towards the end builds on the suspense so much, it actually makes you afraid. The whole movie to me is like a “movie in a movie”, where the protagonist played by James Stewart is watching a movie about his neighbours through his window frame. We never really see anything that Jefferies cannot see (although there are a few, really few exceptions), so the whole narrative is really restricted here to what the protagonist sees and hears. This way the music in the movie becomes diegetic: every musical piece we here can be heard by Jefferies, too, like, for example, one if his neighbours playing his piano or listening to the radio, etc. But in the end he’s forced to play a part in this movie, too, as he gets pushed through the window by the antagonist. By the way, that scene where the two confront each other is really mind-blowing. Both of them in the dark, not really seeing each others faces. Everything’s so quiet and so tense. A really great scene and a great movie.

Wasp (2003)

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Another short film which has actually won an Oscar-award. A really frustrating tale about a single (and troubled) mother who tries to care for her children in a poor district of a city (maybe London? I don’t know, sadly.). What is frustrating about this movie is how credible this poor family looks like. You can see people like these every day and you cannot help but feel sorry for them. I felt sorry for this family in the film, too. Don’t want to reveal the plot, you should just watch it. Very realistic, very interesting stuff.

Le ballon rouge (1956) & The Stag Without a Heart (2010)

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Le ballon rouge is another French short about a child who finds a beautiful red balloon. They became friends and follow each other in “their everyday lives”… well, only the balloon follows the kid, but still. You could say that at first glance it’s kind of your “generic” (strong word, sorry) story about a friendship that is not really accepted by the environment of the two, but it’s really more than that. The ending really made me think of a well-known story about a man who gets killed, like, as a sacrifice, and after that he ascends to heaven… I’m sure you know this one, too 😛 You should watch it, it’s a very nice tale and it features a very realistic approach to special effects.

The other short film is The Stag Without a Heart. I will say nothing about it, just please, for my sake, watch it. Watch it and witness one of the best ideas in filmmaking. Truly amazing and clever. I’d like to do something like that as well 😀

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