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com Summer 2013
The Cinema of Escape
Published as a bi-monthly, Film International covers all aspects of film culture in a visually dynamic way. This new breed of film magazine brings together established film scholars with renowned journalists to provide an informed and animated commentary on the spectacle of world cinema.
Issue Twenty. Summer 2013
06 | Spotlight Silent Runnings: Great Movie Escapes 14 | Art & Film Out of This World: The Extraordinary Artwork of Laurent Durieux 18 | Architecture & Film When Tomorrow Comes: The Future Onscreen 20 | Fan Phenomena The Dark Arts: Scott Allie, Senior Editor Dark Horse Comics 24 | Widescreen Reya of Hope: 'Based on A True Story' 30 | 1000 Words Where There's Smoke: The Lasting Legacy of Fire!
DIALOGUE AROUND THE MOVING IMAGE
cover image into the wild (2007) ©Paramount Vantage, Art Linson Productions
'It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west.' Christopher McCandless – Into the Wild
04 | Reel World Shawshank Convention 28 | Four Frames The Poseidon Adventure 34 | On Location Marseilles, France 38 | Screengem Charlie's Golden Ticket 42 | Parting Shot All Fall Down 44 | Competition Picture This 46 | Listings A roundup of this issue's featured films
The Big Picture ISSN 1759-0922 © 2013 intellect Ltd. Published by Intellect Ltd. The Mill, Parnall Road. Bristol BS16 3JG / www.intellectbooks.com Editorial office Tel. 0117 9589910 / E: email@example.com Publisher Masoud Yazdani Chief Editor & Design Gabriel Solomons Editor Neil Mitchell Contributors Nicola Balkind, Dean Brandum, Rob Beames, Jez Conolly, Scott Jordan Harris, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Neil Mitchell, Cleaver Patterson, Chris Rogers, Jennifer K. Stuller Please send all email enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.thebigpicturemagazine.com l The Big Picture magazine is published four times a year
f i l m b e yo n d t h e b o r d e r s o f t h e s c r e e n
Image © 2005 saradelta9 (Flickr)
the shawshank redemption
r o b be a mes follows a real life trail that leads all the way back to the site of one of cinema's most memorable escapes.
is a visceral, sometimes disturbing Stephen King adaptation about man's inhumanity to man and the perseverance of the human spirit. Frank Darabont's movie has emerged so far from under the shadow of its initially lukewarm reception in 1994 that it now basks in almost unanimous critical and popular sunshine, regularly topping "best film of all-time" polls. It's, at times, a harrowing watch and one wouldn't imagine it'd be a boon to tourism in Mansfield, Ohio, where much of it was filmed. But the very opposite is true. "The Shawshank Trail" is listed between "Sports & Recreation" and "Shopping" on the "What to Do" section of the county's official tourism website, which in August and September of this year is gearing up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the shoot. In fact, amongst the
location maps, photos and a series of dedicated podcasts, there's even an impassioned video plea from actor Bob Gunton - who memorably portrayed the corrupt prison warden - inviting visitors to this year's big event. But what can Shawshank's legion of dedicated super-fans expect to see after schlepping their way to this remote part of Ohio? Well, there are no less than 14 sites of significance along the suggested driving route. These include the park bench where Brooks (James Whitmore) feeds pigeons, the Renaissance Theatre - "a historic 1928 movie palace" - where the film's premiere was held -"Sit in the very same seats" - and, of course, the Ohio State Reformatory which served as the dreaded prison. [tbp]
left Historic Ohio State Reformatory above Renaissance Theatre (home to the premiere of the film in 1994)
The Shawshank Trail: tinyurl.com/bnsjkk6
cover feature Y
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
opposite and below Teresa Izewska and Tadeusz Janczar
N ei l M i tc h ell and Dea n B r a nd um turn a searchlight on a varied selection of movies that all feature escapes – physical, emotional and spiritual - as their driving narrative force.
Dir: Andrej Wajda
Kanal is an enduring, emotionally exhausting reminder of the shattering, inhumane experiences suffered during wartime.
The middle film in Polish director Andrej Wajda's War Trilogy, which began with A Generation (1955) and was completed by Ashes and Diamonds (1958), is a symbolic representation of Hell on Earth. Set during the final days of the Warsaw Uprising, Kanal sees its central protagonists, a ravaged company of Home Army resistance fighters, attempt to escape from the Nazis via the city's sewer system. Their doomed venture, signaled as such by a narrator at the film's outset, descends into a Dantean vision of self-sacrifice, madness and death. Far from aiding their escape, the labyrinthine sewer system leads the fighters to dead ends, mental disorientation, booby trapped exits and execution. The first film to be made about the Warsaw Uprising, Kanal is an enduring, emotionally exhausting reminder of the shattering, inhumane experiences suffered during wartime. That Kanal was based on real events makes it all the more powerful. NM
Images © 1957 Zespól Filmowy
Images © 1963 Vic Films Productions, Waterfall Prouctions / 1982 United Artists Corporation
spotlight silent runnings
Billy Liar (1963)
Dir: John Schlesinger
The Plague Dogs (1982)
Dir: Martin Rosen
After his much loved animated take on Richard Adams' Watership Down, Martin Rosen adapted the novelist's tale of two dogs who break out of an isolated animal testing laboratory in the Lake District. Rowf and Snitter, voiced by Christopher Benjamin and John Hurt respectively, seize an opportunity to escape from the facility where they have been subjected to tortuous scientific experiments. Determined to never go back, the dogs are aided in their attempts to evade their relentless pursuers by The Tod (James Bolam), a fox experienced in countryside survival. Though Rosen described the film as an 'adventure', the deeper issues it touches on are impossible to ignore. Vivisection, political machinations and the media's handling of public interest stories are all addressed as Rowf and Snitter are (wrongly) branded as Bubonic plague carrying, killer dogs. By literally giving the dogs a voice, Rosen, like Adams in the novel, employs anthropomorphism to engender empathy, and it's done to heart-breaking effect. NM
billy's comedic flights of fancy are tinged with the realization that attempting to escape may result in the dismay of seeing one’s dreams crushed.
left a salute to freedom top right canine getaway
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
Keith Watherhouse’s 1959 novel told of a young Yorkshireman working as an undertaker’s clerk. The titular character's ambitions of an exciting life in London as a writer for a famous television comedian enmesh with his fantasies of the mythical land of Ambrosia. As postwar austerity measures faded, Britain in the 1950s was enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, and under Macmillan’s Conservatives it was true that many had “never had it so good”. Yet for many outside of London and other major centres the affluence and excitement teased from a distance of both region and class. When John Schlesinger’s film version was released in 1963, it was imbued with the realism of the British ‘New Wave’ movement that accentuated Billy’s dreary surrounds and bleak prospects. Yet his comedic flights of fancy are tinged with the realization that attempting to escape may result in the dismay of seeing one’s dreams crushed. Is it safer, perhaps, to exist in the realm of imagination? DB
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
Images © 1997 The Feature Film Project; Harold Greenberg Fund / 2002 Rumbalara Films; The Australian Film Commission
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
Dir: Phillip Noyce
In adapting Doris Pilkington Garimara's Follow the RabbitProof Fence director Philip Noyce revisited a shameful chapter in Australia's relatively short history. The practice of removing mixed race Aboriginal children from their families, under various misguided Government initiatives, led to those forcibly separated from their parents being known as the Stolen Generation. After being placed in the Moore River Native Settlement during the early 30s, Garimara's mother, Molly, Molly's sister Daisy and their cousin Gracie escaped, determined to rejoin their families. Following the rabbitproof fence that stretches North to South across Western Australia, the girls walked over 1500 miles in nine weeks to reach their remote home community in Jigalong. This incredible, inspirational feat of perseverance and courage was not without cost however. Gracie was captured by those sent to track the girls down and would later die never having returned to Jigalong. Noyce's film is a fittingly emotional representation of the girls' experiences. NM
opposite the great divide
the question becomes not a matter of ‘who’ of the protagonists will survive, but rather, ‘why’?
Dir: Vicenzo Natali
Six people wake to find themselves in a room. Where they are they do not know, nor why, nor how they arrived there. Each of the cube’s six walls has a small door leading to a near-identical room but they must choose carefully for, as it is soon gruesomely apparent, most of those adjoining are boobytrapped with inventive killing devices. Evidently it appears that each of the group were chosen for particular skills and personality traits that may facilitate or hinder their escape from the cube and in the process, preconceptions (theirs and ours) of leadership, expertise, strength and weakness are exposed and explored. Indeed, the question becomes not a matter of ‘who’ of the protagonists will survive, but rather, ‘why’? Conflated within the mystery is that of the final destination. For the filmmakers the puzzle is just as crucial: after designing such a tasty premise, can they escape diluting the mystery with the exposition and explanation that such genre narrative convention demands? DB
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
Images © 2007 Paramount Vantage, Art Linson Productions
Into The Wild (2007)
Dir: Sean Penn
the film enforces the belief that the purest spiritual quests are those with the inherent desire to benefit all.
The Earth’s topography has been charted and its terrain explored. For Chris McCandless, escape from the bitter and morally devoid family and social milieu of Atlanta means that he may only follow in the footsteps of Thoreau and London, discovering himself through becoming one with the natural environment. Weaving his way cross-country on several adventures, Chris eventually begins what will be his final trek, into the harsh Yukon wilderness. Yet even then he finds relics and memories of earlier adventurers. In writer-director Sean Penn’s, essentially romantic, vision of exploring frontiers both spatial and psychological, Chris’s journey may be one doomed through naivety (the locals he encounters admire his devotion but worry for his fate), yet his idealism cannot be challenged. That his final realization is one of the need to share his experiences only enforces the belief that the purest spiritual quests are those with the inherent desire to benefit all. DB
left running wild below emile hirsch is on the road
The Great Escape (well, duh!)
film in a wider context
The Mondo Gallery in Austin Texas, showcases film inspired fantasies by some of the most cutting edge graphic artists working today. A recent recruit to their ranks is the award winning Belgian illustrator Laurent Durieux whose interpretations of modern and classic films are, quite simply, out of this world. As Laurent explained to us, though his work is frequently ahead of its time, his inspiration is firmly rooted in the past.
Much of your work is inspired by film. What attracts you to this medium?
The beauty of cinema is that it relays all sorts of emotions notwithstanding your culture, age and background. It's a universal language, like art, which it is but probably in a more popular and broader way. I absolutely love working on film posters and always try to tell a story in a single image, not a thousand.
How would you describe your style?
How did your involvement with The Mondo Gallery in Texas come about?
Retro-futuristic perhaps would be about the best description of my work.
Is your retro approach an unconscious decision?
It's a very conscious decision. I love everything about the '30s or the '40s and '50s, the movies, the arts, the fashion design, the typography, the design, the cars, the architecture, the music ... What can I say? I'm old fashioned and loving it. That's, for all these reasons, why I will always prefer Vertigo, Rear Window and Rope to Torn Curtain, Topaz or Family Plot.
Well my first client who introduced me to the US market was in fact Dark Hall Mansion in Los Angeles. I did the Snoopy's Valentine's Day prints for them and it probably caught the attention of the folks at Mondo, because some time after the DHM release they contacted me to see if I was interested to work with them and they asked if I was willing to do a poster for Brad Bird's animation movie Iron Giant. I had recently been made aware of Mondo at the time and had the time to check out their archive section and I was literally floored by the quality of what they were releasing. I remember thinking to myself at the time, "wow if I had to work with a publisher, it would have to be these guys" as I thought they were the best in town. And I still do think no one is matching their quality, period.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
c l eaver pat t er so n chats to Belgian illustrator Laurent Durieux about his work for Mondo and his love of cinema.
opposite POSTER FOR THE MASTER
art&film Laurent Durieux
Your work has a lot of subtle, dark undercurrents (eg. the poster you did for Boris Karloff’s The Mummy). Is this deliberate?
Yes, especially when I was asked by Mondo to work on five of the eight Universal Monsters movies (The Mummy is one of them), four of which are darker in colours than anything else I did before or after (The Creature from the Black Lagoon set aside). The theme (creature / horror movies in black and white) probably influenced me to use a darker palette, which is pretty straight forward actually.
The recent poster you did of Jaws for Mondo attracted quite a bit of interest, not least from a certain Mr Spielberg?
One day Justin Ishmael, the C.E.O of Mondo, sent us a little e-mail telling us about Steven Spielberg buying a bunch of posters. Well to be more precise, Steven Spielberg had Universal contact Mondo in his name to purchase 25 copies for him and his friends. I don't have any more details than that, but that's enough for me. Steven Spielberg is such a big hero of mine and to find out that he was somehow appreciative of what I had done for his movie, that meant the world to me.
What is your favourite film and what one would you most like to create a poster for?
One that holds a special place in my pantheon is definitely Blade Runner. This movie is perfection. As far as creating a poster, I would love to do Casablanca, It's a wonderful Life, Sunset Blvd, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and so many more, I don't really have one favourite.
If you had to choose a favourite piece of your own work, which would it be?
Steven Spielberg is such a big hero of mine and to find out that he was somehow appreciative of what I had done for his movie, that meant the world to me.
all images © laurent durieux
That's hard, they are all my babies you know ... I love Iron Giant, The Mummy, Jaws, The Master, Buck Rogers, Things to Come, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz … you see what I mean I can't make up my mind on this … Sophie's Choice here! [tbp]
SEE PAGE 44 FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LIMITED EDITION LAURENT DURIEUX POSTER
Visit the Mondo website to see more of Laurent Durieux's work » www.mondotees.com/
architecture & film
a dv e n t u r e s t h r o u g h t h e b u i lt a n d f i l m e d e n v i r o n m e n t s
Top to Bottom Dredd / I, Robot / Logan's Run © 2012 DNA Films / © 2004 20th CEntury Fox / © 1976 MGM
In our continuing series ch r is r oge r s explores the world of the future as depicted in films that looked to create immersive and believable architectural landscapes.
Whe� Tomorrow C omes
d ep ic tion of the a r c hitec t u re of the future is the ultimate expression of the relationship between cinema and the built environment. Credible realisation on film required budgetary and technical restrictions to be overcome, but also an awareness of actual architectural achievement and an understanding that the distance between the present and any projected future is rather greater than commonly imagined. As such, designers began by borrowing structures from the real world. The exterior and reception area of the euthanasia complex in Norman Jewison’s Soylent Green were filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, an elliptical, covered hall whose Jetsons styling dated from the 1950s but still fitted ideas of ‘futuristic’ well over a decade later. The Arena’s architect was Welton Becket, who also designed the radical, A-framed Contemporary Tower hotel for Disney World Florida in 1971. With its sloping sides and the resort’s monorail train actually passing through the lobby, the hotel is an obvious influence on the buildings of the domed city in Logan’s Run, released five years later. Interiors for the film were shot at Dallas Market Center’s now-demolished Apparel Mart, whose textured, almost rustic wall surfaces leant a slightly eccentric look and avoided the slick smoothness normally encountered in
such portrayals. More of that city’s architecture informed the future a dozen years later in RoboCop. Detroit’s City Hall was in reality that of Dallas, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei less than ten years before the film was made, persuasively extended into a tower via a matte painting. One of the most fully convincing pieces of future architecture in cinema is entirely fictional, but still borrows recognisably from the real world. The knife blade-like, 108-storey headquarters of US Robotics in the Chicago of 2035 in I, Robot was created by production designer Patrick Tatopoulos. It has a lofty principal atrium, a secondary atrium running the full height of the building and a glazed executive office at the summit, all common in today’s commercial buildings. Even the mechanical garage in the basement draws on presentday automatic parking systems. Accurate simulation of familiar materials, including fair-faced concrete, frosted and clear glass and aluminium mullions for the cladding, aids the effect. Equally credible cities rather than individual buildings began to appear from the 1980s. The settings of films such as Akira, Cypher, Ghost in the Shell, Vexille and Minority Report were rendered far more realistic through referencing the real-life building boom that was beginning in the Middle and Far East. But they remain generic; only a handful of science-fiction films have succeeded in creating a specific and original mood with their architecture. Stallone’s Judge Dredd anchors itself in classic-period 2000AD strips more fully than is commonly believed, with a skyline of distinctively-profiled, sculpted City Blocks. Twenty five years later, Dredd made a virtue of its much lower budget by emulating the townships and suburbs of South Africa where it was filmed and the banlieue of France for
its Mega-City One, a Corbusian grid of near-identical rectilinear towers. The richly textured, multilayered Los Angeles of Blade Runner is rightly regarded as the most thoroughly convincing futurescape ever seen in film. This is achieved less through technical facility – though that is exceptional – than through extremely close attention to real architectural history. Extrapolating from this gave a simulated future that appeared to have sprung from a lived past and a believable present. As a result even the overtly futuristic Tyrell pyramid remains credible today. The fascinating process by which this was accomplished is explored in depth by the present author in one of a series of online pieces marking the film’s 30th anniversary. Similarly absorbing is the portrayal of Paris in 2054 in Christian Volckman’s animated Renaissance. Less a projection and more an imagining of the existing city as it might have been, this also borrows heavily but carefully from the city’s buildings as well as the work of Belgian graphic novelist François Schuiten, who does much the same in his own art. It assumes Haussmanian apartment blocks crowned by winter gardens of iron and glass clustering the slopes of Montmartre, the Seine deeply canalised with its quays glazed over, and cavernous Metro stations with sweeping iron staircases onto the platforms. In contrast the headquarters of pharmaceutical corporation Avalon describes a graceful, vertiginous arc over the La Defense business district, its executive office a glazed box slung beneath, like a tautly-strung bow. Ironically, developments over the last ten years in computeraided design, structural analysis and materials technology have allowed construction of the kind of buildings once found only in the more fanciful science fiction films. It is now architecture that has stepped beyond the frame. [tbp]
Dredd (2011) made a virtue of its much lower budget by emulating the townships and suburbs of South Africa where it was filmed and the banlieue of France for its Mega-City One, a Corbusian grid of near-identical rectilinear towers.
[web ] Read more 'Beyond the Frame' pieces on www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
How did you first come to be involved in the Buffyverse, and in particular, the production of Buffy comics? Were you a fan of the show? I was not. I hadn’t seen the show. We’d acquired the licence, near the end of Season 2, if I recall, and I heard the word ‘Vampire’ in the title, and, being a fan of the horror genre, jumped at it. I didn’t watch much TV at the time, or I probably would have already checked the show out for the same reason. How did Dark Horse come to take on the Buffy comics, and what was the process that led to the groundbreaking, and trendsetting, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8? It was a long time ago that we initially took it on, but I think it was another editor expressing a passion for the show. That was what I thought at the time, but lately I heard that it happened another way. That editor left the company, which led to me taking the comics on. We did a monthly comic for a number of years, and over that time I wound up working closely with Joss. When he told me the show was ending, I said I thought we should end the comics and restart them with a new directive from him. He agreed, and we started a long conversation about how we would do that, which went through a number of iterations. Ultimately,
he took me by surprise. He sent me a script one night, no warning, said, ‘We’re doing 25 issues (or maybe it was 22), I’ll write some of it, other guys from the show will write some of it, we’ll do a crossover with Fray, and oh yeah, we need Angel back.’ So it began … From letter columns in the back of comic book issues, to interviews with media outlets both professional and amateur, you are very much engaged in maintaining a dialogue with Buffy fans. What inspires your dedication to this engagement, and what do you get out of it both personally and professionally? What do the fans teach you about the spirit of Buffy? The readers have a certain sense of ownership over this stuff, and talking with them is informative, among other things. I meet a lot of people I really like through it, who teach me a lot about what the characters mean to people. The folks at Buffyfest are good friends, Michelle over there is
Scott Allie is Senior Managing Editor at Dark Horse Comics. Allie is intimately involved in the production of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and Season 9 comics – a groundbreaking project that has changed the game for transmedia storytelling. He shares how Season 8 got started, reactions from fans, and what’s gratifying about the Buffyverse. Interview by J enni f er K . S t u l l e r , editor of Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(opposite) BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 #16 © 2012 dark horse comics
fan phenomena buffy
someone I call just to check in with sometimes, not even about Buffy. I really like a couple people on Slayalive, Wenxian and Emmie. Emmie’s someone I don’t always agree with, she certainly doesn’t agree with me all the time, but I get a lot out of our exchanges. A woman named Maggie gives me great insight – again, we don’t always agree, but there’s a mutual level of respect that allows for a useful exchange of opinions that ultimately does more for me than it does for her. A lot of the Browncoats are among the best audience you could ever ask for, and there’s a great population of them in Portland, so I actually run into them at the grocery store. Then you get a lot of weird stuff. One reader will e-mail me to tell me that some other reader I’m corresponding with from a particular site constantly posts negative things about me there. I don’t know if it’s true or not, can’t take the time to check out the message board, but Jesus, guys, even these fictional characters have left high school behind. There’s someone who never fails to tell me I’m doing a terrible job, have ruined her favourite characters, have hurt her personally, says really insulting things about how careless and thoughtless I am at my job […] and then she comes up to me at a show, says it’s her birthday, and meeting me is the best birthday present she’s ever had. And she’s a grown woman, not a teenager. Do you find that most fans of the Buffy comics, canonical or otherwise, came from television fandom? Yeah, certainly they largely come from TV. Think about how enormous even a ‘cult’ TV audience is. Millions, right? At the peak of it so far the comic has sold 150,000 copies, and the bestselling comic today might peak around 300,000. So the untapped former TV viewer audience is a far bigger number than the entire
A new book series that ‘decodes’ icons of popular culture written by and for those of a passionate disposition
Fan Phenomena Star Wars Edited by Mika Elovaara ISBN: 978-1-78320-022-1 £14.95 / $20
Fan Phenomena Buffy the Vampire Slayer Edited by Jennifer K. Stuller ISBN: 978-1-78320-019-1 £14.95 / $20
Fan Phenomena Doctor Who Edited by Paul Booth ISBN: 978-1-78320-020-7 £14.95 / $20
untapped comics market audience. I would say a majority of the Buffy comics audience, or at least the audience I hear from, are not regular comics readers, or were not. Lots of anecdotal evidence suggests that, including the feedback I get from retailers about the buying habits of Buffy readers. Also anecdotally, from letters and the like, I might surmise that Buffy readers tend to be women, but I suspect that it’s fairly even and that the women are just writing in more. Certainly there are more female readers, proportionally, than on other comics. What are some of the more meaningful responses you’ve received from Buffy fans? Most discouraging? It runs pretty deep. Letters from gay kids or adults that thank us for what we do. The gratitude we got for addressing the abortion storyline. The most gratifying sort of response you can get is when someone writes in and explains exactly what they got out of a comic, and how it touched them, and what they got is exactly what you were trying to do. There are a lot of people who have gotten a lot of comfort from either the comics or the shows, who’ve felt the kind of pain maybe me or Joss or whomever felt at some point in our lives, and whatever catharsis the writers or artists got out of doing the comics, or the show, is reflected in the comfort that some part of the audience got. I don’t get nearly as much of that out of other books. I don’t get the sense of contributing on a social level from many of the other books I do. And it’s gratifying. [tbp]
'The most gratifying sort of response you can get is when someone writes in and explains exactly what they got out of a comic, and how it touched them, and what they got is exactly what you were trying to do.'
(above) BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 © dark horse comics
Fan Phenomena Twin Peaks Edited by Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulegue ISBN: 978-1-78320-024-5 £14.95 / $20
Fan Phenomena Star Trek Edited by Bruce Drushel ISBN: 978-1-78320-023-8 £14.95 / $20
Fan Phenomena Batman Edited by Liam Burke ISBN: 978-1-78320-017-7 £14.95 / $20
Read more of this interview in Fan Phenomena: Buffy
due out August 2013
For further information about the series and news of forthcoming titles visit www.intellectbooks.com Follow progress of all titles by liking the Fan Phenomena Book Series page on Facebook
R E YA
film in a wider context
below brozzi lunetta making his appeal in 2012
Nicola Balkind investigates a film for which the phrase 'based on a true story' carries added emotional weight for its director. Images by Brozzi Lunetta
it is a t r u t h universally acknowledged that a film “based on” or “inspired by” true events bears little relation to the truth. Mark Kermode often makes reference to this. Last year, Matilda Battersby of The Independent examined their use, referring to the phrase “Based on a True Story” as an overused tagline and a promotional ploy. Earlier this year, Jillian Rayfield wrote an article in The Week entitled ‘The 'based on a true story' fake-out: How 3 Oscar contenders misled audiences’, asking, “What did Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, and Argo embellish for the sake of a more dramatic story?” and lead a factcheck on the big films of the 2013 award season. But there is one film that defies this classification. Reya – a film written and directed by Brozzi Lunetta, is a film inspired solely by true, and truly personal, events. Named after, and dedicated to, the director’s daughter, it is described as “a fictional story with moments of undeniable truth.” More straightforward than a semiautobiographical novel, this feature film in production revolves around the true story of the abduction of Reya Lunetta in more ways than one. top camilla ellefsen, reya's mother above reya Reya was abducted by her mother, Camilla Ellefsen, from California after Lunetta was awarded sole custody of the child in 2002. June 2012 marked the 10 year anniversary ➜
Reya, named after, and dedicated to, the director’s daughter, is described as “a fictional story with moments of undeniable truth.”
of her abduction and disappearance. In the story of the film, the stakes are raised: a young woman has been murdered, and the detective on the case believes it to be his daughter who disappeared 20 years earlier. If truth is stranger than fiction, why does art continue to imitate life? For Brozzi Lunetta, film is another medium that can be utilized to raise awareness about the abduction and continued missing status of his daughter. Despite coverage in the media across the US, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Sweden, numerous reported sightings, and a decade of personal searching, his daughter has not been found. Lunetta told news sources, “It's my way to use a fictional tale to get the story out there again, to remind people that my daughter is still missing and perhaps if we could get Camilla's face out there it would lead to new information.” Ultimately, he hopes that word of the film will reach his daughter directly. The film’s trailer closes with the caption, “This film is dedicated to [Reya] and is a way for her to know that her father is alive and that he is looking for her.” (Lunetta has reason to believe that his ex-wife has told his daughter that her father died in a car crash in Los Angeles.) In his YouTube video call for funding to finish the film, he implies that the aforementioned “moments of undeniable truth” in the film are, in fact, quite literal. Nightmare sequences within the film feature his ex-wife Camilla, taken from home videos shot shortly before the abduction. More literal statements within the film include lines directed towards the protagonist like, “You have fallen in love with a dead woman who is not dead,” and, “When your daughter disappeared, you did everything you could to find her.” For this father, doing everything he can is a mission which has become an endeavour in film-making and viral marketing. Without having seen the film, it is clear that it is an intense, deeply personal, and emotionally charged drama. The trailer suggests echoes of crime dramas and a classic Hollywood narrative. It is a creative pursuit with real-world intent, promising to break the fourth wall in subtle and interesting ways. The wealth of Reya's plot is inspired by, if not based on, true events. Whether or not Reya herself is found, the adage holds true: truth really is stranger than fiction. [tbp]
p r o f i l e s o f t h e w o r l d ' s g r e at d i r e c t o r s
right David Lean directing Peter O’Toole in lawrence of arabia
For this father, doing everything he can is a mission which has become an endeavour in film-making and viral marketing.
above stills from the feature film
In an extract from Directory of World Cinema: Britain, davi d F or r es t looks at arguably Britain's greatest of all visual storytellers.
Read more about Brozzi Lunetta here » http://about.me/brozzilunetta
before becoming one of British cinema’s most important directors, David Lean served a prestigious apprenticeship in the industry, cutting his teeth as a clapper boy followed by a period as an editor - a profession in which he quickly distinguished himself. By the age of 30, Lean was working under Anthony Asquith, before assuming duties for Michael Powell. Arguably, Lean’s glittering fourteen film career, spanning almost 40 years, saw him usurp his masters to become one of Britain’s most celebrated and successful film-makers. That Lean’s experience of working under such substantial figures can be regarded as an interesting aside rather than a formative arc of any summary of his work, is testament to the way in which he marked out his own cinematic identity with his first feature, the wartime naval drama In Which We
Serve (1942). That film’s writer and star, Nöel Coward, looking for an accomplished technician, offered Lean the co-directorship and their subsequent collaborations - This Happy Breed (1944), Brief Encounter (1945) and Blithe Spirit (1945) - saw Lean assume sole directorial duty. While a far cry from the epic, exotic fare of The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962), those early films established many of the tropes sustained throughout the director’s oeuvre. [tbp] Read the rest of this article along with other director profiles and essential British film reviews in Directory of World Cinema: Britain edited by Emma Bell and Neil Mitchell. Available now from www.intellectbooks.com
t h e a r t o f a b b r e v i at e d s t o r y t e l l i n g
The Poseidon Adventure
Dir. Ronald Neame, 1972
j ez c on olly dives below the surface of Ronald Neame's classic disaster movie, and remembers an individual act of sacrifice driven by a collective will to surivive.
i t a i n ' t o v e r ‘til the fat lady swims: having been pushed and pulled through the inverted chambers of the upturned cruise liner Poseidon by her fellow survivors, corpulent Jewish grandmother Belle Rosen (Shelley Winters) finally gets to pull her weight. Brandishing her Women’s Swimming Association medal (gained when she was just seventeen) to prove her aquatic credentials, Mrs. Rosen reassures her devoted husband Manny (Jack Albertson) then dives into the icy waters of a submerged corridor to save the stricken Rev. Scott (Gene Hackman) and help lead the others through to the other side. It’s an act of bravery that costs Belle her life – she succumbs to a heart attack – but one that delivers the possibility of life to the remaining few. A corny, cliché-riddled, claustrophobic thrill ride it may be, but coming in the same decade as Dawson’s Field, Munich and Entebbe, the film’s theme of salvation at a terrible price, summed up by Belle’s sacrifice, resonates with the besieged Jewish milieu of the 1970s.
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Images © 1972 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Images © 1901 Williamson Kinematograph Company
m o m e n t s t h at c h a n g e d c i n e m a f o r e v e r
opposite james williamson right preparing the 'vehicles' below right A RESCUE ATTEMPT
Ale xandra He lle r- Nichol as explores the beginnings of continuity editing in an early silent short that influenced both the language of film and popular themes in them.
where theres smoke
d ir e c t e d b y Scottish-born Londoner James Williamson for the Williamson Kinematograph Company in 1901, Fire! is a short black and white silent film shot on 35mm. With movies such as Stop Thief! and The Big Swallow (made in the same year as Fire!), Williamson earned a well-deserved reputation as not only one of the of the most innovative and creative early film-makers, but as one of the forefathers of a film language still largely relied upon today. Fire! follows the rescue of the occupants of a domestic residency in Hove by the local fire brigade, but the simplicity of this narrative belies the technical significance of Williamson’s approach to editing in particular. Fire! marks a crucial moment in film history as it was one of the first movies where different shots were edited together to suggest narrative chronology. Filmed at the abandoned Ivy Lodge in Hove, this movie marks a growing trend in Williamson’s work that utilised editing in this manner as he sought to create engaging action narratives, as seen in his earlier work Attack on a China Mission (1900). It was much more than technical innovation that earned Williamson his contemporary reputation, however, and Fire! today is as significant for its deployment of disasteras-spectacle and the crucial
function of dramatic suspense in its popular success. Rescue narratives about fire were experiencing a period of extreme popularity at the time of the film’s release, not only in movies but also on stage and in magic lantern shows. The flames and smoke captured the imagination of a mass audience who by 1901 had already developed a taste for this kind of visual spectacle in other media. Film historian Charles Musser has suggested that in the United States, William Selig’s similarly themed multi-shot film Life of a Fireman preceded Williamson’s movie by some months, but it is Fire! that is most confidently presented as a complete narrative whole through basic elements of what would soon become known as continuity editing. Consisting of five separate scenes, the film begins as a policeman discovers a building on fire. Excitedly he blows his whistle in an effort to call for attention, and rushes off screen on the right of the shot, appearing from the left of the next shot in front of the Hove Fire Brigade building. So familiar are we today with this matching action from
So familiar are we today with matching action from one scene to another that it is perhaps difficult to appreciate the significance of Williamson’s radical approach to editing.
1000 words fire!
below life of an american fireman © 1903 Edison Manufacturing Company
Getting involved with...
one scene to another that it is perhaps difficult to appreciate the significance of Williamson’s radical approach to editing, but this precise type of matching cut would go on to become one of the staple features of continuity editing so crucial to the dominant language of the cinema as it developed over the following decades. In Fire!, the visual logic of this type of editing is complimented by the narrative cohesion of what we see unfolding before us: the policeman sees a building on fire and then rushes to the fire station to seek their assistance. There was of course a narrative justification for this technical innovation, as the move away to another location after this initial disaster-based spectacle creates suspense as we wonder: what is happening at the scene of the fire? Horses and firemen prepare their equipment and rush away, the speed and efficiency of the procedure emphasising their professionalism and dedication to their task. Once again, a matching cut creates a sense of continuing, fluid action as a long shot shows the firemen travelling along a road, which we assume rightly to be on their journey towards the fire. The next shot jumps dramatically to a man awaking in his bed to a smokefilled room and he rushes about hysterically, throwing water on the flames while he watches his curtains catch on fire. A fireman dramatically appears in the window and smashes his way in with a hatchet to both
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subdue the flames and to rescue the panicked man. This fireman climbs out the window with the man over his shoulder, again implying a sense of continuing action as in the next scene we see the fireman appear at the top of a ladder outside the building, again with the man over his shoulder. The fireman carries the man to safety as other fire fighters continue to battle the flames. Other rescued residents emerge from the building: one fire-fighter appears from the building’s ground floor with a child (delivered to the waiting
The roots of films including The Towering Inferno, City on Fire and later fire-based spectacles such as Backdraft all have their origins in Williamson’s early film.
top the towering inferno above backdraft
arms of the man we have just seen rescued), while another resident drops spectacularly to a large sheet held by the firemen from a first floor window, providing the short film with its narrative climax and sense of conclusion. Aside from the technical legacy of Williamson’s thenradical approach to editing and action, Fire! can be seen as an important early ancestor to what seventy years later would become known as the disaster genre. The roots of films including The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974), City on Fire (Alvin Rakoff, 1979) and later fire-based spectacles such as Backdraft (Ron Howard, 1991) all have their origins in Williamson’s early film. Its impact could be felt more immediately in movies including Edwin S. Porter's Life of an American Fireman (1903) that appeared only a few years later. Taking valuable lessons from theatre and literature, Williamson recognised even in the earliest days of the cinema that audiences were capable of emotionally investing in
characters facing the physical threat of fire, and that they were capable of identifying with those faced with sudden dramatic catastrophes such as seen here. Fire! built its suspense around a central narrative question what will happen to the people in the burning building? - a fascination that both justified his investigation into the professional activities of Hove’s hard-working fire-fighters, and—even more significantly— justified the film’s central focus on the spectacular and destructive display of fire itself. Over time, fire-based disaster narratives may have become more complex and the effects more technically advanced, but Fire! laid the foundations for a cinematic spectacle that would continue to awe audiences to this day. [tbp]
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Fire! features on 'The European Pioneers' volume of 'The Movies Begin DVD Box Set' released by Kino Lorber: http://www.kinolorber.com
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t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
m a r c elli n e b loc k , editor of World Film Locations: Marseilles, takes us on a tour of a city whose history, physical spaces and diverse populace has proved fertile territory for generations of film-makers.
the french connection (1971)
Dir. William Friedkin US, 104 minutes Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider
opposite GENE HACKMAN ON THE MOVE ABOVE A CITY OF SIN
Images © 1971 D'Antoni Productions
The French Connection, based on real Marseilles-New York City drug trafficking, received Oscars including Best Actor (Gene Hackman as Det. ‘Popeye’ Doyle), Picture (the first R rated winner) and Director. Central to its narrative is Popeye’s pursuit of dapper Marseilles drug lord Charnier (Fernando Rey). The Phocaean City is a locus of violence; its coastline and landmarks – the corniche, the Vallon des Auffes – forming sun-drenched backdrops for crime: the ancient ‘Panier’ district is introduced in the opening sequence when Nicoli (Marcel Bozzuffi) executes a rival, point blank, in broad daylight – then casually breaks off a piece of the baguette clutched in the dead man’s hands, munching on it as he leaves. Heroin smuggling plans are finalized on the iconic 16th century Château d’If, the fortress/ prison in Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and Jean Renoir’s film La Marseillaise; within sight, across the Bay of Marseille, is NotreDame de la Garde, the basilica known as ‘The Good Mother’.
t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
Three Places for the 26th/ Trois places pour le 26 (1988) Dir. Jacques Demy FRA, 106 minutes Starring: Yves Montand, Mathilda May, Patrick Fierry
Three Places for the 26th unites two legends of French cinema, Yves Montand and Jacques Demy. Demy’s last feature film is a musical comedy paying tribute to Marseilles and its (not quite) native son, Italian-born/Marseillesbred Montand, who – playing himself in this otherwise fictionalized narrative – returns to his childhood city to star in his musical autobiography, ‘Montand Remembers’. This musical-within-a-musical, staged at the Marseilles Opéra, depicts Montand’s trajectory to stardom from early days in Marseilles’ venerated music-hall scene. Marseilles is the backdrop for splashy, choreographed routines when the city is recreated onstage as well as in the film’s opening sequence, a song-and-dance extravaganza held on the ornate stairway of Saint-Charles station, transforming it into an outdoor theatrical space. By revisiting his stomping grounds, Montand – haunted by memories of a lost love – attempts to recuperate what he left behind in Marseilles: the buddy who remained a dockworker; the girl who got away.
Total Khéops/Total Chaos (2002) Dir. Olaf de Fleur Johannesson FRA, 90 minutes Starring: Richard Bohringer, Marie Trintignant, Daniel Duval
Total Chaos is adapted from Marseillais author Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy novels (1995–98), key Mediterranean noir texts. The film is infused with the socio-cultural atmosphere of The Phocaean City: the southern accent (du ‘Midi’); bouillabaisse and pastis, staples of Provençal cuisine, and crime (mafia factions, corruption, violence). As Detective Fabio Montale (Richard Bohringer) investigates the assassination of his childhood friend Manu, recently released from Marseilles’ Baumettes prison, he traverses the city, from its ancient heart to the sun-drenched Calanques on the coast. Showcasing Provence’s capital, Total Chaos is a quintessentially Marseillais film, albeit far removed from Marcel Pagnol’s Marius, Fanny, and César (1931-36) – the original, iconic Marseilles trilogy (remade on Broadway as Fanny, subsequently made into the eponymous 1961 film). Yet Total Chaos pays homage to Pagnol: for example, the character of Honorine, Montale’s elderly neighbour, is a reference to Pagnol’s trilogy, in which Fanny’s mother is named Honorine.
The Moon in the Gutter/La lune dans le caniveau (1983)
Dir. Baltasar Kormákur FRA, 137 minutes Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, Victoria Abril
The Moon in the Gutter is Jean-Jacques Beineix’s adaptation of David Goodis’ noir novel, transposing the book’s Philadelphia setting to the gritty docks of Marseilles, described in voice-over at the start of the film as “le port du nullepart”/“the port of nowhere”. Stevedore Gérard Delmas (Gérard Depardieu) makes a nightly pilgrimage, once the moon has risen, to the street near the docks where his sister Catherine was raped, after which she slit her own throat, her blood indelibly staining the street along the gutter where she perished. Interspersed with daytime scenes at the shipyard where Gérard works, most of the narrative unfolds during his nocturnal wanderings as he encounters bizarre characters and situations while searching for his sister’s rapist. Representing Marseilles as a surreal nightmarescape where reality and fantasy intersect, The Moon in the Gutter’s striking visuals – emblematic of Beineix’s Cinema du Look aesthetic – won the César for production design.
Images Opposite © 1983 Gaumont, TF1 Films Production Top © 1988 Renn Productions / Above © 2002 France 2 Cinéma
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e v o c at i v e o b j e c t s o n s c r e e n
CHARLIE'S GOLDEN TICKET
illust r at i o n by j ayd e p e r k i n
it is n ot a coincide nce that the glorious golden ticket needed to board the Polar Express run by Tom Hanks’s magical train conductor is almost identical to the glorious golden ticket needed to enter the ‘non-pollutionary, antiinstitutionary, pro-confectionery factory of fun’ run by Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka. In the 23 years between Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express (2004), the golden ticket became Hollywood’s ultimate expression of that chance we all want, but so few of us ever get, to realize our greatest ambitions. As Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) sings: ‘I never thought my life could be / Anything but catastrophe / But suddenly I begin to see / A bit of good luck for me / ‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket!’ Children’s stories frequently suggest that, aside from being unsavoury, greed and self-promotion generally go unrewarded. But the golden ticket tells us otherwise: Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) gets his because he is a glutton and Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole) gets hers because she is
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
sc ot t j orda n har r is peels the wrapper off an object that promised the world to a boy who's heart was so much larger than his stomach.
spoiled and her parents are wealthy. Had we not read the book, or seen the trailer, there are times during Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory when we would genuinely believe that Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) will never open a Wonka Bar to find that special prize. When he does, in that thrilling moment when he feels himself (and, by extension, we imagine ourselves) catapulted from ordinary to extraordinary, the film delivers a lesson: life is often better for the rich, and the privileged frequently have a monopoly on opportunity, but just occasionally that big break can come to someone like us. The ticket’s colour is crucial. Gold, of course, connotes wealth and therefore happiness, and – whether we dream of wedding rings or Oscars or Olympic gold medals – it is so often the colour that accompanies achievement. Roald Dahl understood this when he wrote Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and he understood it when he wrote the screenplay for this film adaptation. In Charlie’s golden ticket, he created the perfect passport to our dreams. [tbp]
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i m i t at i o n i s t h e s i n c e r e s t f o r m o f f l at t e r y
clockwise from opposite butch cassidy and the sundance kid the fugitive solomon kane
WHEN MOVIE CHARACTERS find themselves in the tightest of elevated spots often the only logical course of action left is also the craziest. Trapped and facing capture or certain death, but with a body of water far below them, all these unfortunates can do is jump and hope for the best. From a technical viewpoint, this vertigo inducing act of desperation is constructed by employing stuntmen, dummies or CGI and combining them with camera-trickery, editing and dramatic accompanying music. In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969), the titular Wild West outlaws find themselves trapped on a cliff high above a river with a posse of gunmen closing in. Butch (Paul Newman) convinces the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford),a non-swimmer, to jump for their lives with the line 'are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you anyway'. An old fashioned act of daredevil stunt-work - the kind Hollywood has always excelled at - sees Butch and Sundance evade their pursuers for one more day. For Harrison Ford's Dr Richard Kimble in Andrew Davis' The Fugitive (1993), a similar situation to Butch and Sundance's confronts him. Reaching the end of a drainage tunnel, Kimble is stuck with a dam below and deputy U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) to his rear. To the deputy's astonishment, Kimble, in the shape of a less than convincing dummy, plunges headlong into the cascading waters, somehow cheating death in the process. Of course, the narrative Gods demand that such a leap of faith has a positive outcome, and the opening sequence of fantasy epic Solomon Kane (Michael J. Bassett, 2009) ties an escape-jump into its tale of redemption. By jumping through the stained glass window of a cliff-top fortress to escape the Devil's Reaper, an act that sends him hurtling, with the help of CGI, down into the raging ocean below, merciless privateer Kane (James Purefoy) simultaneously begins a spiritual ascension towards saving his soul. Foolhardy or heroic, the escapejump is a last resort, a death-defying throw of the dice where the stackedagainst odds are always overturned to favour the brave. [tbp]
Foolhardy or heroic, the escape-jump is a last resort, a death-defying throw of the dice where the stacked-against odds are always overturned to favour the brave.
All Fall Dow�
Watch Butch and Sundance's escape-jump » tinyurl.com/9eweqvr
n e il mi tchel l takes a leap into the unknown to examine the most dramatic of escape routes onscreen.
Images © 1969 Twentieth Century Fox / 1993 Paramount Vantage, Art Linson Productions
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Fire! (1901) Dir. James Williamson
g see page 30
Dir. Frank Darabont
g see page 4/5
Each issue of The Big Picture is produced by Bristol based publisher, intellect.
Kanal (1957) Dir. Andrej Wajda
g see page 6/7
The Towering Inferno (1974) Dir. John Guillermin
g see page 32
Billy Liar (1963) Dir. John Schlesinger
g see pages 8
Backdraft (1991) Dir. Ron Howard
g see pages 32
The Plague Dogs (1982) Dir. Martin Rosen
g see page 9
Life of An American Fireman (1903) Dir. Edwin Stanton Porter
g see page 33
Cube (1997) Dir. Vicenzo Natali
g see page 10
The French Connection (1971) Dir.William Friedkin
g see page 34/35
Rabbit Proof Fence (1997) Dir. Philip Noyce
g see page 11
The Moon in the Gutter (1983) Dir. Baltasar Kormákur
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g see page 36 Renaissance (2006) Theree Places for the 26th Dir. Christian Volckman (1988) g see page 18 Dir. Jacques Demy Dredd (2012) g see page 37 Dir. Predrag Antonijevic Total Khéops (2002) g see page 19 Dir. Olaf de Fleur Johannesson I, Robot (2004) g see page 37 Dir. Tomas Alfredson Willy Wonka & the Chocolate g see pages 19 Factory (1971) Dir. Mel Stuart Logan's Run (1976) Dir. David Lean g see page 38/39 g see page 19 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Reya (2012) Dir. George Roy Hill Dir. Brozi Lunetta g see page 24 g see page 42
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Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Dir. David Lean
g see pages 27
The Fugitive (1993) Dir. Andrew David
g see page 43
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) Dir. Ronald Neame
g see page 28/29
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