A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Letter Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1960)

Sabinin: Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy
Tanya: Tatyana Samoylova
Andrey: Vasiliy Livanov
Sergey: Evgeniy Urbanskiy
Vera: Galina Kozhakina

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Screenplay: Grigoriy Koltunov, Valeri Osipov, Viktor Rozov
Cinematography: Sergey Urusevskiy
Production design: David Vinitsky
Film editing: N. Anikina
Music: Nikolai Kryukov

Letter Never Sent tells the story of a team of Soviet prospectors and geologists searching for diamonds in the Siberian wilderness who are trapped when a forest fire breaks out. A beautifully filmed adventure story, it's also overlaid with Soviet patriotism, from an opening title sequence that lauds the heroic pioneers of Soviet exploration and the space program, to occasional interpolated speeches in which the characters extol the country's shining future. The diamonds, it seems, are not bourgeois capitalist gemstones but minerals essential to the advancement of Soviet industry. Fortunately, the adventure story overwhelms the propaganda.

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