Friday, 10 February 2012 07:00

The Dreamers

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"The revolution is not a gala dinner" - or is it? In the late sixties Mao Zedong's words were on the lips of every French revolutionary. And with the occupy movements still going on all over the world today, it's a good time to take a look at a European predecessor of these protests: in "The Dreamers" (2003), Bernardo Bertolucci, best known for his "Last Tango in Paris," retells the story of the events that shaped the understanding of politics of today's young generation in France.

It's springtime 1968, and Mathew, an American student, strolls the streets of Paris. Mesmerised by French cinema, he spends his days at the Cinemathèque Française. The minister of culture André Malraux has just dismissed the director of the Cinemathèque, Henri Langlois. The building is closed and young cinephiles -  called the "Cinemathèque rats" - gather in front of it to put up banners with political slogans.

The period between March and May 1968 is abundant in student strikes all over Europe in capitalist as well as in communist countries. French students are starting the movement that will become the largest general strike in Europe. The students were backed by most of the French society, and the strike, which included approximately 11 million workers, paralysed the country for several weeks.

Many young French people still aspire to reproduce the spectacular events of their parents' generation. Each year, during strikes, the walls of French universities are covered with classic '68 slogans such as "It is forbidden to forbid" or "be a realist, ask the impossible."
Friday, 03 February 2012 09:57

Remakes: Tested in Europe and Sold to America!

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"She's different." - "In what way?" - "In every way."

"Lisbeth Salander," played by Rooney Mara, is the main character in David Fincher's new film "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." This description of her, taken from the film itself, is actuallypretty accurate. The motorbike-driving computer nerd is a paradox and that makes her "different." However, she may be different from ordinary people but she's not different from someone in particular: the 2009 version of herself.

Lisbeth already hit the screens in Niels Arden Oplev's version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in 2009, a Swedish production. The version that is in cinemas right now is an American remake with the same title; both are based on Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy." They hardly deviate from each other and given that the Swedish original is only three years old, it is hard to understand why we already need an American remake.

American remakes of European movies are not a new phenomenon. It's a well-established method applied by an American film industry that is running out of ideas. Not to remake a successful European movie is like letting money slip through your fingers. Of course, buying the film rights is expensive, but you get a viable asset in return, the guarantee of success. European ideas that have already proved their value on the European market are profitable and safe material.

Friday, 13 January 2012 06:32

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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Europe's most famous detective is back! Sherlock Holmes once again tries to save the world from evil! This time, in A Game of Shadows (2011; dir. Guy Ritchie), he goes after his fiercest enemy: Professor Moriarty, a criminal mastermind and Sherlock's long-time nemesis. Of course, Sherlock does not have to face Moriarty alone and as always, his dear friend Dr. Watson is with him. They have worked together for 125 years and so far they haven't lost their passion for the game.

A Game of Shadows takes you back to the world of 19th century Europe. Perfect animations and costumes give a glimpse of how London looked during the Victorian age. Little details catch the atmosphere of the time, like a construction site of the London underground. The first cars appear in the city and you see either people with huge top hats, or soldiers in brightly coloured uniform.

The historical characteristics of the 19th century are also part of the plot itself. While the story is not particularly witty, it does show the distrust between the European nations at the time. At the turn of the century, war was indeed looming between the great powers in Europe, fought primarily over colonial issues. Germany wanted to build up a naval fleet and expand its imperialistic interests and an arms race ensued that increased the mutual distrust. In that aspect the plot of the movie is not far away from reality, or from nowadays.

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