Category Archives: Past Events

Monthly Film – December

Donkey Skin (Peau d’âne) 1970
by Jacques Demy

POSTER FOR MAILWednesday 16th December 2015 – 6.00pm
at
National Film Corporation Theater
303, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo 7.

 

 

 

Donkey Skin (Peau d'âne)
Peau d’Âne (English: Donkey Skin) is a 1970 French musical film directed by Jacques Demy. It is also known by the English titles Once Upon a Time and The Magic Donkey. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais, with music by Michel Legrand. Donkey Skin also proved to be Demy’s biggest success in France with a total of 2,198,576 admissions. The film was adapted by Demy from Donkeyskin, a French literary fairytale written in verse by Charles Perrault. It was first published in 1695 in a small volume and republished in 1697 in Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé. Andrew Lang included it, somewhat euphemized, in The Grey Fairy Book. It is similar in style to folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 510B, unnatural love.

Synopsis

A king had a beautiful wife and a rich castle, including a marvelous donkey whose droppings were gold. One day his wife died, after making him promise not to marry except to a woman whose beauty and attributes equaled hers. The king grieved, but was, in time, persuaded to seek another wife. It became clear that the only woman who would fit the promise was his own daughter.

She went to her fairy godmother who advised her to make impossible demands as a condition of her consent: a dress the color of the sky, a dress the color of the moon, a dress as bright as the sun, and finally, the hide of his marvelous donkey. Such was the king’s desire to marry her that he granted all of them. The fairy godmother gave her a marvelous chest to contain all she owned and told her that the donkeyskin would make an excellent disguise.
Illustration by Gustave Doré

The princess fled and eventually found a royal farm where they let her work in the kitchen, despite her ugliness in the donkeyskin. On feast days, she would dress herself in the fine gowns her father had given her, and one such day, the prince came by her room and peeped through the keyhole. He fell in love at once, fell ill with his longing, and declared that nothing would cure him but a cake baked by Donkeyskin, and nothing they could say of what a dirty creature she was dissuaded him.

When Donkeyskin baked the cake, a ring of hers fell in it. The prince found it and declared that he would marry only the woman whose finger it fit. Every other woman having failed, he insisted that Donkeyskin try, and it fit. When she had dressed herself in her fine gowns, his parents were reconciled with the match. Donkeyskin later found that her father had remarried to a beautiful widow and everyone lived happily ever after.

Veuf et inconsolable, le roi, qui a promis à sa femme mourante de ne se remarier qu’avec une femme plus belle qu’elle, découvre soudain la beauté radieuse de sa fille et décide de l’épouser. Horrifiée, la jeune fille requiert l’aide de sa marraine, la fée des Lilas. Celle-ci lui conseille de demander à son père d’impossibles présents. Mais chacune de ses exigences est aussitôt satisfaite. Pour finir, drapée dans les robes couleur de Temps, couleur de Lune et couleur de Soleil qu’elle a obtenues de son père, la princesse formule un dernier voeu. Elle exige la peau de l’âne qui, chaque matin, laisse des diamants et des écus dans sa litière. Une fois encore, le roi s’exécute. En désespoir de cause, la princesse s’enfuit, vêtue de sa peau d’âne…

Reviews of the film

Overall, this film, like the other films, has something for everyone – the touchstone of the well-constructed story. Demy’s easy camera and wistful use of Michel Legrand’s compositions belie the wonderful depth of his engagement with his materials. In this series that the film societies have been showing images that clearly owe so much to the French New Wave slip seamlessly past, tied to the music and song that Demy uses to at once engage and alienate us from the action, offering us so many other opportunities for interpretation. This, for me, has been a discovery, at once delicious and at the same time challenging – I love it.
Read more..

~ GREGOR CAMERON, The Lumière Reader

Jacques Demy est un maître doux qui se permet tout. Devenu cinéaste, le petit garçon qui croyait que la vraie vie était dans les contes transforme les contes en réalité. Sa fée des Lilas (« Un mélange de Jean ­Harlow et de Botticelli, un peu poule, un peu fleur », dira Demy) a des peines de coeur faiblement humaines et célèbre l’hymen de sa ­protégée en hélicoptère… Son roi se permet de beaux anachronismes, par exemple en citant des vers de Cocteau. Et Peau d’âne a parfois des allures de créature hippie, chantant à pleins poumons les vertus de la fumette !

Jacques Demy a dû attendre neuf ans pour tourner à Chambord cette féerie psychédélique inspirée du pop art, découvert pendant son exil à Los Angeles, et des marionnettes de chiffon du guignol de son enfance nantaise. Sa patience est récompensée : son film est un véritable enchantement, porté par l’inoubliable musique de Michel Legrand.

En savoir plus sur site

~ Marine Landrot – télérama.fr

Monthly Film – November

Contempt (Le Mépris) 1963
by Jean-Luc Godard

POSTER FOR MAILWednesday 18th November 2015 – 6.00pm
at
National Film Corporation Theater
303, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo 7.

 

 

 

Contempt (Le Mépris)
Contempt is a 1963 French satirical drama film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the Italian novel A Ghost at Noon by Alberto Moravia. It stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Giorgia Moll. Today, Contempt is generally regarded as a masterpiece of world cinema.

Synopsis

American film producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) hires respected Austrian director Fritz Lang (playing himself) to direct a film adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey. Dissatisfied with Lang’s treatment of the material as an art film, Prokosch hires Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), a novelist and playwright, to rework the script. The conflict between artistic expression and commercial opportunity parallels Paul’s sudden estrangement from his wife Camille Javal (Brigitte Bardot), who becomes aloof with Paul after he leaves her alone with Prokosch, a millionaire playboy.

Scénariste à succès, Paul Javal travaille à une adaptation de «L’Odyssée», qui doit être tournée par Fritz Lang. Il remarque bientôt que Lang est en désaccord avec Prokosch, le producteur américain. Ce dernier voudrait financer un film épique alors que le réalisateur souhaite faire un film psychologique. Camille, la femme de Paul, le rejoint à Cinecittà. Tous deux sont invités chez Prokosch, qui manifeste un vif intérêt pour la jeune femme. Paul la laisse partir avec l’Américain, espérant se faire remarquer par lui. Camille, qui aime son mari, est déçue. Elle refuse de jouer le jeu et change brusquement d’attitude vis-à-vis de Paul…

Reviews of the film

“Contempt” was Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 attempt at a big-budget, big- star production, and more or less satisfied his curiosity. It was not the direction he wanted to move in, and the rest of his career can be seen, in a way, as a reaction to the experience. Not that the film itself is a compromise; you can see the tension between Godard and his backers right there on the screen, and hear it between the lines of the dialogue, in this newly restored print.

As for Godard, he stays, as always, a little aloof. All of his films are, in a way, about filmmaking; he breaks the illusion of the fourth wall in order to communicate directly with the audience, usually in such an enigmatic way that he seems to be satirizing the whole idea of communication. He likes mannered shots that call attention to themselves, and here, faced with the great width of the CinemaScope screen, he has moments when he pans slowly back and forth from one side of the room to the other, using an unbroken take but refusing to place both characters on the screen at the same time.

When wide-screen movies are shown on TV these days, they are often subjected to the annoying “pan and scan” practice, in which the sides are chopped off and then the camera moves back and forth to show two people who were originally meant to be seen at once. I can only imagine how the pan and scan process would look if applied to this movie, in which Godard has built his own panning into the wide-screen compositions. The worst scenario: The movie pans in two directions at once.

“Contempt” is not one of the great Godard films, for reasons it makes clear. In a way, it’s about its own shortcomings. A drama exists at ground level involving the characters, while the film fights between the tendency to elevate them into art (Lang) or vulgarize them into commerce (Palance). It is interesting to see, and has moments of brilliance (the marital argument, the use of the villa steps), but its real importance is as a failed experiment. “Contempt” taught Godard he could not make films like this, and so he included himself out, and went on to make the films he could make.
Read more..

~ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Godard aurait pu baptiser son film « La Nuit américaine », dix ans avant Truffaut. D’abord parce qu’il précède son confrère dans la dissection du cinéma, monde parallèle tenté d’en envahir un autre, jaloux et jalousé : la vie. Et surtout parce qu’il affirme que le coeur des hommes peut s’assombrir en plein soleil, comme on peut filmer la nuit en plein jour. Godard contemple les déclins du cinéma et de l’amour, irrémédiablement liés. Une scène mêle à merveille ces chutes abyssales : Prokosch attire Camille vers une minuscule fenêtre, qui ouvre sur la mer, réduite à quelques centimètres carrés. Inconsciemment, le producteur balourd signe l’arrêt de mort du cinéma, remplacé par la télévi­sion, et celui de l’amour de Camille pour son mari, remplacé par le fourvoiement infidèle.

En savoir plus sur site

~ Marine Landrot – télérama.fr