Wednesday, 7 August 2013

''Gone with the Wind'' (1939 movie)- Review

Directed by: Victor Fleming
Released: 1939
Country: United States

Main cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Carroll Nye, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Harry Davenport, Ona Munson

Genres: Romantic drama, War

Rating: 5 out of 5


Scarlett O'Hara is certainly one of the most unique, one of the most memorable characters I've ever come across. At some point of the film, Rhett Butler makes a comment about her: ''What a woman!'' Scarlett O'Hara is indeed a memorable character, and through the film, her character undergoes a lot of qualities: flirtatious, romantic, kind, desperate, ambitious, vicious. Sometimes, she is an immensely likeable character, a character you feel kindness and sympathy for, and sometimes, she is unpleasant. She repeatedly reminded me of Becky Sharp. But no, she is not heartless as Becky Sharp. Scarlett O'Hara, the protagonist of ''Gone with the Wind'', is a character difficult to describe. She is unique.

The film starts in Tara, a beautiful plantation in Georgia. The film starts with two young men flirting with our protagonist, Scarlett, the daughter of Gerald O'Hara, the owner of the plantation. The people of Tara are going to visit the nearby plantation, Twelve Oaks, the home of the Wilkes. The two young men inform Scarlett that Ashley Wilkes has decided to marry his cousin, Melanie. Hearing this, Scarlett is shocked. She had always thought that Ashley Wilkes is in love with her.

The next day, at the barbecue in Twelve Oaks, it is evident that Ashley Wilkes will be marrying Melanie. Scarlett is disappointed, but flirts with every young men present. She is the subject of attention of every single young men present in the party. At the library, Scarlett confronts Ashley, revealing how much she loves him. The two have an argument, Scarlett slaps Ashley, who thereafter leaves the room. Their conversation, however, is overheard by a visitor, Rhett Butler. Scarlett, jealous and disappointed because Ashley is going to marry Melanie, marries Melanie's brother Charles, in hopes of taking revenge from Ashley. As the American Civil War starts, most men, including Ashley and Charles, enlist. However, Charles dies in the war, making Scarlett a widow.

But Scarlett has her plans, her ideas, of getting back Ashley again. She goes to Atlanta to live with Melanie, in hopes that when Ashley will come to Melanie and she (Scarlett) can woo him again. On the other hand, Rhett Butler also apparently is in love with her, though she knows that she only wants Ashley in her life.

The Civil War takes away everything: the glamor, the beauty of the South, the beauty of the plantation, and the beauty from the lives of people like Scarlett, Melanie, and Ashley. It is during this point that Vivien Leigh, the actress who plays Scarlett, gives perhaps the most memorable, most emotionally intense performance. The carefree, flirtatious girl with a lot of beaus, has to struggle with so much hardships, and her determination to take care of the pregnant Melanie. During this hard time, her taking care of everything so wonderfully, almost can makes us forgive her flirtatious nature. However, things change after the war. Having worked so hard throughout the time of the war to provide her family, she is now ambitious to get back the wealth that the whole South had lost during the Civil War, and will do anything for this. Her character takes a vampish, coquettish turn.

Scarlett O'Hara is a character not afraid to take any risks, even it is a great danger to her prestige and reputation. Her marriages for revenge and wealth, her wooing. 

How wars can affect lives, how wars can affect cultures- is so wonderfully portrayed in this film. The glamor of the lives of the people living in the South is portrayed very well at the beginning of the film, through the barbecue at the Twelve Oaks. And how all these charms, grace, are devestated, destroyed, burnt, are clearly portrayed.

Vivien Leigh's performance is so excellent, so touching. Clark Gable is wonderful as Rhett Butler. Olivia de Havilland as Melanie, is perfectly amazing. I liked each of the characters. I liked how they are well developed. Each of the characters, major, supporting or minor, are memorable, are important.

''Gone with the Wind'' is about Scarlett O'Hara, it is about the effect of love, it is about the devastating effects of war, it is about the devastating effects of ambitions. Gone with the Wind is certainly one of the most beautiful, one of the most depressing, and one of the best films I've ever seen.

5 out of 5

Saturday, 3 August 2013

''The African Queen'' (1951 movie)- Review

Directed by: John Huston
Released: 1951
Country: United States, United Kingdom

Genres: Adventure drama, War, Romance

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Morley

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The African Queen shows a lot of promise when it starts, and it definitely fulfills all the promises. It's an absolutely amazing, thrilling and tense adventure romance film!

Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) and her brother, Samuel, live in Africa. World War I starts, and the German soldiers start burning the house of the village. Samuel dies because of the shock that he receives, witnessing these incidences. The place is no longer safe. Rose starts a journey on a boat named ''African Queen'', along with the boat captain Charles Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), who drinks a lot. They begin a dangerous and thrilling journey, their aim being to destroy Queen Louisa, a German ship. A dangerous journey that makes them encounter waves, rocks,  leeches, and love.

This film was tense, thrilling, adventure packed, romantic, humorous, with EXCELLENT performances from Hepburn and Bogart. I liked both the main characters, especially Hepburn's character, who was brave, adventure loving, and curious. There are also many funny scenes (one of the scenes I found funniest was the scene where Bogart's character mocks the sound of the animals). And sometimes it gets sad and shocking, such as the scene with the mosquitoes. It was also sometimes touching, especially at the last few scenes. The screenplay was excellent, humorous at times, adventurous at times, thrilling at times. Overall, The African Queen is an excellent film!


Thursday, 1 August 2013

''The Lady Vanishes'' (1938 movie)- Review

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1938
Country: United States

Main cast: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Catherine Lacey, Josephine Wilson

Genres: Comedy thriller, Mystery, Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


I did hear a lot how remarkable The Lady Vanishes is. But I didn't have any idea that it would be SO good. I did hear that it was one of the best, maybe the best British film directed by Hitchcock, but I thought it can be almost called a classic. True, it is not an excellent film like Vertigo or Psycho or North by Northwest, but certainly, it is an early sign of the master of suspense's brilliance and excellence, which he would later prove with the beautiful Vertigo, the scary and suspenseful Psycho, and the suspenseful Rear Window.

The Lady Vanishes starts in an inn. Because of an avalanche, the train cannot run, so the passengers who would be in the train are forced to spend the night at an inn. Among the characters who stay at the inn are our protagonist, Iris (Lockwood), an elderly governess, Miss Froy (Whitty) and a musicologist, Gilbert (Redgrave). This part is filled with fun, jokes and comedy. The first twenty minutes or so of the film tend to be extremely light, without giving us a hint of how suspenseful it will become. The first shock comes as Miss Froy is standing at her window, hearing delightfully to a musician who is playing nearby, and when she looks away, a hand strangles the man who was playing the instrument...

The next morning, as everybody is preparing to get into the train and Iris is talking to Miss Froy, somebody throws something, apparently targeted at Miss Froy, and the thing hits Iris instead. Miss Froy, who is an extremely kind lady, takes care of her. In the train, Iris and Miss Froy have tea together, and then they go to their compartment. Iris closes her eyes, falling asleep...

Iris opens her eyes, and sees... that there is no Miss Froy in front of her. When she asks the other passengers of the compartment, they reply that there was no elderly lady traveling with her. And then she asks everybody who had apparently seen her with Miss Froy. And they also reply that there was no old lady with her, that she had taken her tea alone, the steward even showing the evidence that tea had been ordered for only one person. Where has Miss Froy disappeared? Has something terrible been happening to her? Is she in danger? Iris teams up with Gilbert, the young musicologist, to search for Miss Froy, and to save her from the danger that she is possibly facing.

The Lady Vanishes is really a suspenseful film. And there is a lot of comedy as well. The film is filled with humor and at the same time, with thrills. Humor is present in most Alfred Hitchcock films, but mostly they remain wry. The Lady Vanishes is meant to be a comedic thriller. It's meant to make the audience feel afraid and thrilled, and at the same time, laugh at the humor and the funny actions of Iris and Gilbert.

Margaret Lockwood gives a perfectly excellent performance as Iris, while Michael Redgrave is amazing as Gilbert. Dame May Whitty, as the kindly, warm, elderly lady Miss Froy, is perfect. 

The last scene was really heartwarming. The puzzle and mystery was excellent, and while I didn't think that the solution to the mystery was excellent, it was satisfactory and nice as well. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this movie. Filled with suspense, thrills and humor, this is a must-watch for all Hitchcock fans.

4 out of 5