PR, Films and Fantasies

Film Appreciation at The Guardian with Danny Leigh – part 1

Posted on: February 1, 2011

This weekend The Guardian organised the first Film Appreciation Masterclass, part of a series of workshops, talks and short courses on different topics. The two days were put together by famous film critic and BBC 2011 presenter, Danny Leigh and were meant to take us (60 students coming from a variety of fields and backgrounds) through the history of films, genre by genre, director by director and masterpiece by masterpiece.

A few facts about comedy – The Guardian and Xan Brooks

Saturday morning started with comedy and a short talk by Xan Brooks who introduced us to silent comic geniuses of the first screenings ever: Linder, Lloyd, Buster Keaton and obviously the amazing Chaplin. They all had vaudeville  backgrounds as most of the stars back then when stage still had a major influence on the big screen productions. As comedy is a universal language, their works were incredibly well received all over the world and thus gained them fame and recognition. However, with the introduction of sound in cinema, the silent comics gradually disappeared making way for incredibly talented groups such as the Marx Brothers or the hilarious Laurel and Hardy.  By the 1940s the history of comedy has been written and all films that followed in the genre were and still are bastard offsprings of the original acts as they have all been influenced throughly by the original acts. We couldn’t have gone through comedy without mentioning Woody Allen with Annie Hall or the more recent Farrelly Brothers There’s Something About Mary.

Obviously, once you start analysing comedy it slowly dies and looses its charm because in the end it is the stereotypes, little disasters, violation of social rules and hilarious chaos in the lives of others that make us smile. Seldom do we see 5* ratings on comedies or award praise due to the fact that they generally go a bit too far in touching taboos, but they are there to amuse us and we should just relax and enjoy them. Also, one key aspect when watching productions from this genre (and actually any other film) is the communal experience, as fun is always fun-er  when the laughter is shared.

Oh and if you wonder where all the recent American comedies get their inspiration from, well try Freaks and Geeks.

Love stories in films – with Danny Leigh

I absolutely loved when Danny said that “the history of film is in fact a great gallery of faces” as that is in the end what cinema is all about: the face. And where else are faces so expressive and incredibly touching than in love stories?

Many times, it is not the 3hours productions about love itself that touch our hearts but the emotional scenes scattered throughout all genres (let’s say in The Bride of Frankenstein for example). However, the romantic titles we’ve been through at the course are brilliant in terms of exploring human relations and feelings. We started with Munrau’s Sunrise as the silent love story which didn’t hit the BO or became a hit back in the 1920s as it was launched one week before the first film with sound and therefore lost all public attention. The 30s and 40s were famous for their romanticism (Hell’s Angels, Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, La Belle et la Bete the original). We couldn’t leave Marilyn out of the talk and explored a bit the stereotype of the man and the woman who can’t stand each other but develop a burning desire for one another in Some Like it Hot. We also had a bit of destructive and mad love in Laura where a detective falls in love with the woman whose murder is investigating.

A few more titles that are on my must see list include: the neurotic Les Amantes Du Pont Neuf!!!!!!, Bonnie and Clyde and Before the Sunrise and Before the Sunset.

As there is quite a lot to include, I’ll leave reality films, horror, sci-fi and thrillers for parts 2 and 3 of Film Appreciation at The Guardian with Danny Leigh.

However, until then, please feel free to tell me your favourite titles on the comedy and love story list!

 

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1 Response to "Film Appreciation at The Guardian with Danny Leigh – part 1"

[…] know I promised a sequel for Film Appreciation part 1 so, almost a week later, here it is. Sorry for the delay but dissertation issues as well as […]

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