Eclipse 1933: 君と別れて

This film is marred with many technical problems (much like the first Naruse film, but not the subsequent ones). Like that first film, most of the cuts is followed by a judder, which makes things rather unpleasant to watch. A new issue seems to be that they’ve apparently fired the focus puller — a number of scenes are totally out of focus.

Like most of the other Naruse movies, this is about women working as geishas.

OK, the focus puller is back from his holiday.

This is a quite touching movie, really, but the pacing is so frenetic that it’s hard get into it.

The casting is also odd — I wasn’t at all sure who this guy was at first, but he’s the son of one of the geishas, and since he’s in a school uniform, he’s probably meant to be 16 or something? 18?

It’s a nice little movie — I like it. But it just doesn’t quite work.

Apart From You. Mikio Naruse. 1933.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1974: Cartesius

I really enjoyed Rossellini’s Blaise Pascal, and I really disliked his Medici, and this one was made between those two — so what’s it going to be like?

So this one is about Descartes… and it seems more like the Blaise Pascal film.

In this scene, they’ve put Descartes before the horse.

Very odd makeup on Descartes — it’s like they just smudged his face with ashes?

This is very much like Blaise Pascal — the same acting style, the same meticulous, stylish sets — and it’s just as fascinating.

Now I’m starting to wonder whether I was too rash in ditching the Medici thing… I think I’ll give it another go.

Is that Prince?

I love the subtle soundtrack — Rossellini mostly uses unsettling drones in dramatic scenes. It’s positively Lynchian.

Yeah, it’s in two parts and two and a half hours in total.

I really love the set designs, the great sense of colours and the straightforward cinematography.

However, this isn’t quite as good as Blaise Pascal. That one really kept the interest up… I almost wrote “tension”, but that’s not quite correct, because these films don’t have much tension. Instead Blaise Pascal took us from one scene of intense interest to the next until it was done. This one has some flabby scenes that don’t seem to have much reason to be there — it’s almost as if Rossellini was just padding the length or something. Which he probably wasn’t!

It’s getting repetetive — we’ve gotten the “sure, sure, I’m gonna publish this; I just need to think about it a bit more” a dozen times now, and Descartes’ incessant travelling — it’s like a running gag, but not funny.

This film portrays Descartes’ intellectual life as a tragedy, I guess — he goes from his youthful optimism in deriving everything logically to his glib sophistry once he finally starts publishing.

Cartesius. Roberto Rossellini. 1974.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1933: 夜ごとの夢

Why haven’t those devices (for holding chilled water bags on foreheads) taken off all over the world?

Anyway, I’m having a hard time getting into this movie. There’s scens that are really fun (especially involving those sailors), but the main plot (about an out-of-work father and a geisha mother) just isn’t all that interesting. The cinematography is often quite accomplished, but there’s also a lot of scenes that are really indifferently filmed.

In short, it just seems like a film that’s been dashed off quickly (and Naruse did six films per year at this point).

I’m being a bit too critical here — this film has many good qualities, really. But this is what I feel like right now:

Every-Night Dreams. Mikio Naruse. 1933.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1972: Blaise Pascal

So this is another one of these made-for-TV historical things Rossellini was doing? The first one, L’età di Cosimo de Medici, was horrible.

This looks a lot less something you’d punish school children with as homework for a history class and more like an actual movie.

The acting style is an odd hybrid — it’s not naturalistic, but neither is it just people declaiming their lines without emotion. Instead, they act like their natural state is to speak well-formed literary quotations — they speak in entire paragraphs.

So somewhere half-way between Bresson and Brando.

It’s cool.

This film is inexplicably entertaining. The mix of well-presented scientific theories and the general drama of Pascal’s life is just kind of gripping.

And it looks really good, so:

Blaise Pascal. Roberto Rossellini. 1972.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.