Thursday, November 16, 2006

From Lumière to Tawny Kitaen

Recent films seen:

on Monday, Just Jaeckin' s (of the Emmanuelle fame) Gwendoline. It's based on John Willie's famous bondage cartoon from the 1930's, but takes many liberties with the original text. The film was probably made in 1984 to capitalize on the success of Spielberg's and Lucas's Raiders of the Lost Ark: there's the same locale in South-East Asia, the same cynical hunk adventurer (played by very handsome Brent Huff). The sadomasochist imagery, however, was pure Willie and Jaeckin who'd directed also The Story of O couple years earlier. I don't know if this was a good film or not - it has a pretty big budget and lots of action going on, but the erotic content - save the sadomasochism - is pretty naïve and laughable. Tawny Kitaen in the lead has a stupid 80's haircut - but then again she was the wife of the Whitesnake lead singer! The Finnish censorship had been quite harsh on this and several of the fighting scenes had been cut severely. It was enjoyable and funnily entertaining, though, and the audience was having lots of fun - they even started applauding and clapping hands when the film was over!

On Wednesday, the reconstruction of the first film screening ever showed in Finland. This was already in 1896, in Helsinki's Kaivohuone, and consisted of the films by the Lumiére brothers. The Finnish Film Archive had done some research and ordered the most likely films from the Lumière estate. The new screening consisted of 22 films and was accompanied by the lecture of archivist Juha Kindberg. There was one very interesting point in the lecture: The most famous train-arriving-on-a-station film wasn't the first film ever, as is often being said, as it was possibly made only in 1897, based on the the age of the Lumière kids shown in the picture. Lumières had made earlier some train films and one of these was shown yesterday - it wasn't as striking as the most famous one, which probably explains the error is still prevalent.

Some other, rather trivial points: the Lumière films seemed to be precursors of many home movies to come. Maybe someone could write a history of home movies and start it from Lumière (and perhaps some others who preceded them; I haven't seen enough specimens to really suggest anyone). It would seem that the same narrative regulations are at use both by Lumière and many 8mm and VHS photographers who capture only random shots of family and domestic life and travel scenes.

Lumières didn't really succeed at bringing humour to their pieces. Especially the slapstick scenes are very, very bad. However, one of the films that shows some soldiers trying to get up on a horse reminded me of Spede Pasanen (note to foreigners: Spede Pasanen was a famous Finnish TV and movie humourist; not a very good one, in my mind). The gag just keeps going on and on and on... Vesku Loiri tai Simo Salminen olisi hyvin voinut olla siinä hyppimässä hevosen päälle.

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