Two down, forty-eight to go in Eliot’s Xmas gift — The Essential Art House — 50 Years of Janus Films.
He started me off with Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 Fires on the Plain, (Nobi) a grueling Japanese war film about the horrors endured by a Japanese soldier trying to survive the final days on Leyte in the Phillipines. I have never seen a war picture as unflinching and brutal.
“It is the Philipines, 1945. The Japanese Imperial Army has been reduced to a ragtag mob hiding in the jungles. Among them is Pvt. Tamura. The situation goes from bad to worse and in the face of the brutal conditions facing the men, some go insane and resort to murder and cannibalism. In the midst of this, Pvt. Tamura tries to survive without giving up his principles.”
That was followed by a Technicolor antithesis — The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp — the 1943 story by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger of Clive Candy, the quintessential stiff-upper lipped British Army officer. The film follows the arc of his career from the Boer War to the Home Guard in WW II. The writing and wit was superb. Even though the film could be regarded as semi-propaganda coming as it did in the midst of the war, it paints a picture of service and devotion to country that is stereotypical today, but interesyting in the sense that this is the film that defined the cliche.
More films today, but with some moderation so I don’t completely go the way of the couch potato. I am still having serious back issues and have to restrict my sitting time, especially when I sprawl and let my posture go to hell. Off to the neurologist this afternoon for some more tests and consultations.