One of the best things about films–both good and bad–is that they inspire us to inquire. We ask while watching them: Did it really have to happen that way? Or maybe: What’s with the lighting in that scene? How does so-and-so get out of that scrape? We’re always exploring this universe. There always are questions that come up during the course of a picture.
Recently, I began to wonder if the ones I’m asking while watching certain flicks are the same as those being posed by other viewers. Perhaps we’re all thinking similarly … or perhaps not. In that interrogative light, here are my latest musings, as unattached to each other as they may be:
Does anybody really like the character George Berger in Milos Forman’s film version of Hair?
Which is more disturbing: The discovery in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia that Gasim, the man T.E. Lawrence saved from death in the desert, has murdered another man, or Michael Corleone’s lie to his wife Kay in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather about killing his sister’s husband?
Would Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus be a heckuva lot better without Alex North’s excruciatingly bombastic score?
What would have happened in Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu if the eponymous character had rejected the advances of her suitor at the beginning of the film?
Where did Antoine Doinel go at the end of Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows? How about Kevin at the end of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits?
Couldn’t Louis Mazzini just have gone back into the prison to retrieve his memoirs at the conclusion of Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets?
I’m just wondering. How about you?
Fans of Pearl S. Buck’s classic set-in-China novel The Good Earth might remember a scene early on during which the farmer protagonist, Wang Lung, secretly admires a fabulous meal prepared by his wife, who brings out the best in the relatively unassuming ingredients provided. Such is my feeling about films that transcend their tight budgets–movies shot so brilliantly that you’d think they were bolstered by gold mines.
Oftentimes I wonder if these films are more satisfying than expensive ones, however good the latter may be. True, not all flicks made on a shoestring are successful, but those that work give me naches–especially if they’re photographed well.
Here’s a short list of some well-made low-budget movies that are also gorgeously shot. Bon appétit.
Chimes at Midnight
The Seventh Seal
Simon of the Desert
Night of the Living Dead
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The 400 Blows