Classic European Film Festival

Thursday 26 March 2009

University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education held its first Classic European Film Festival last weekend. They had put a lot of thought into the films chosen, selecting pieces that are good examples of particular film movements or periods. For example, the man co-ordinating the discussion panel freely admitted to not liking Breathless, but argued (when someone in the audience said they thought the film was nothing but French trite and was even disgusted that it was included amongst the others selected) that you have to at least acknowledge the importance it had at its release and, more importantly, the influence that it still maintains (see: Tarantino). Personally, I’m glad I’ve finally seen Breathless, but would live to be a very happy penguin if I never have to see it again. Anyway, I viewed the weekend as an opportunity to see a bunch of great old films I’ve read about and to be able to tick off another six from the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die (I’d already seen M and Cries and Whispers).

A couple of Sydney Film Festivals ago, in an attempt to stop the effect of the previous year’s where all the films amalgamated into one rather large strange plot-line, I wrote a series of reviews and posted them as entries on the SFF webpage, but also collected as one of my “What I Dids”. I’ve never uploaded it here but I’ve dissected it when in need of a blog; the Can’t Stop the Music review was from that. So, after a weekend of “reading movies” (as a certain someone used to call them), and inspired by a book the lovely Brenda gave me a couple of years ago, One Hundred Great Books in Haikuplease enjoy…

Eight Classic European Films in Haiku

Day One


Germany, 1931, d: Fritz Lang

I wander the streets…
“Like a lolly, little girl?”
Oh damn, they’ve got me! 


The Bicycle Thieves (Ladri Di Biciclette)

Italy, 1948, d: Vittorio de Sica

A father and son.
What’s it all about? One word:

Breathless (A Bout de Souffle)

France, 1960, d: Jean-Luc Goddard

Cop-killing Frenchman
loves an American girl
in a boring film. 


Closely Watched Trains (Ostre Sledovane Vlaky)

Czechoslovakia, 1966, d: Jiri Menzel

Pigeons, Nazis, bombs,
attempted suicide, and
a girl’s bottom stamped. 


Day Two


Italy/France, 1973, d: Federico Fellini

Hate 8 1/2,
but this “memories of youth”
film is delightful. 


Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine)

France/Italy, 1973, d: Francois Truffaut

Auteur Theory asks:
Am I Director or God?
They’re much the same thing. 


Cries and Whispers (Viskningar Och Rop) 

Sweden, 1972, d: Ingmar Bergman

All around is red:
the walls, the floors, the curtains,
and my grieving soul.


Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes)

West Germany/Peru/Mexico, 1973, d: Werner Herzog

Hi, I’m Aguirre.
I’ve gone completely insane!