Exploring the Artefacts #14: Jewels of Admiration Part 2 (of 2)
Exploring The Artefacts is a series in which I examine some unique and significant components, or by-products, of cinema storytelling that are often under-appreciated.
This is the second part in a tribute to directors who make most welcome enthusiastic comments on other filmmakers and their works. (A Link to Part 1 is here). These dedications are typically presented as supplements on a plethora of DVDs and Blu-rays. Here are a few more worth seeking out:
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Director: David Lean
The valuable recognition of David Lean's magnificent war film on this excellent Blu-ray transfer (released by Sony Pictures in the U.S.) is presented here as an 8-minute supplement by filmmaker John Milius (Dillinger, The Wind and the Lion, Big Wednesday). Milius delivers a brief but impassioned discussion of the film's realistic yet fictional commando mission, a vital comparison to the story's surrounding dire historical facts and examination of the principal characters' individual qualities amidst the tension-filled conflicts. The filmmaker wraps up his commentary by making a strong case for this motion picture's inclusion as one of the art form's most accomplished and timeless achievements.
There's Always Tomorrow (1956) Director: Douglas Sirk
The Australian DVD (Region 4 PAL) contains a 25 minute documentary entitled Perspectives on the American Family: Allison Anders on Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow. This is an insightful analysis by the director of Gas Food Lodging, Mi vida loca and Grace of My Heart. Sirk was known mostly for his melodramatic portrayals of women in various domestic crises' occurring in the American family. Utilising clips from There's Always Tomorrow, she digs deep into the film's table-turning depiction of familial life from the ignored and taken-for-granted husband's point of view. Anders' illuminating and socially relevant commentary points out the variable qualities between this motion picture and the rest of Sirk's filmography, in addition to a few other films made during the same time period. This is a worthwhile supplement to a bitter-sweet, heartfelt and highly distinguished motion picture.
The Big Heat (1953) Director: Fritz Lang
There are two seperate but fascinating introductions of this seminal film noir in this terrific box set from Columbia Pictures. The first is a 5 minute analysis centring on the film's strengths, sudden shifts in tone and the bold, maniacal behaviour of Glen Ford's police officer by Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Age of Innocence). The other is a 10 minute commentary by Michael Mann (Thief, Manhunter, Heat), who describes the genesis of film noir's German expressionistic influence deriving from the artists who immigrated to the U.S. including the director here, Fritz Lang. He also discusses, amongst other worthy contributions, the film's distinctively aggressive female characters, daring display of widespread Government corruption, boundary-breaking violent assertiveness of Glen Ford's character out to tear it all down, and adds a lucid account of what most defines films noir including their origins.