Sunday, 23 November 2014

The London Film Festival: 'The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands'

Apologies, again, for the lack of regular posts; the truth is I'm suffering from depression.  I'm not sure when normal service will be resumed.  Sooner rather than later, I hope.  This post was originally composed at the end of October.

On Thursday the bf and I went up to town to participate in the London Film Festival - he went to a lunch time showing of 'Why be Good?', (while I went up to Soho), and in the evening we both attended a gala showing of 'The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands' that took place in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank.  This screening marked the restoration of the film by the BFI National Archive.  Quite an event, then.  And one that did not disappoint.  A new score had been written by the young composer, Simon Dobson, and was performed on the night by twenty four musicians from the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.
The film tells the story of two naval engagements between the German and British fleets in the southern oceans in late 1914.  In the first, the Battle of Coronel, a German naval squadron under Admiral von Spree inflicted the first naval defeat on the British since, I think, the Napoleonic Wars.  Thereby marking the end of the British century.  The film gave a sense of the national response to the defeat; the avenging victory off the Falklands Islands being depicted as a collective effort by the British people.  In some ways it is hard to criticize films of this date because we are now so used to a much faster visual culture than existed then; to anyone brought up in this culture some scenes tend to lack drive.  However this film does possess a monumental quality at times simply because of that different, slower, visual culture.
The score was truly wonderful - brooding Shostakovian, intense, dramatic.  The film seemed to herald a number of aspects of British film making: the realist, the documentary, the 'collectivist' War film, even the sort of working class chit chat you find in Coward, and perhaps is even there in Shakespeare.  I cannot recommend strongly enough how rewarding it is to see a film like this with a live score.  Make every effort to do so.  You will be amply rewarded.

The DVD comes out in January 2015

'The Battle of Coronel and Falkland Islands'

Producer                H Bruce Woolfe
Director                  Walter Summer
Cinematographer             -

Friday, 10 October 2014

Own work - Life drawing III

Lovely to be back blogging, and as I've used my new camera for the first time to show you what I've been up to please excuse the photos.  Anyway here are my attempts for the last two weeks classes.  Enjoy.  The images, by the way, are in the order in which they were produced.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


I must apologize to regular readers for the lack of posts this week.  Things have not been good here, and in addition my camera seems to have given up the ghost, which has meant (me being totally cack-handed when it comes to technology) I have been unable to download the pics of my trip to Brighton last weekend.  I've also been unable to upload last week's life drawings.  I hope normal service will be resumed shortly, but in the mean time please be patient.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Own work - Life drawing II

Thursday and life drawing class.  Two poses today.  Here are the results.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

To the bf's at the weekend and another classic film - he must think I am in sore need of a cinematic education.  And perhaps I am.
This time it was 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'.  Funny, but the cultural ripples of this film, one of the most important examples of Expressionist Cinema, have been present in my life, (and probably all our lives) for years.  In particular I remember seeing a still of the film as a child/teenager when looking through our newly acquired edition of the 'Encyclopedia Britannica': an old man (turns out it was Dr Caligari himself) walking down some crazily angled corridor, the walls daubed with what looked like fragments of musical staves.  Like so many things in my life they have passed for years without me giving them due acknowledgement.  The price, perhaps, of being a carer.
Apparently this was one of the first films to frame the main action with scenes, a bit, I suppose, like a play or novel may have a prologue and epilogue.  In the prologue we meet the main protagonist - Francis, played by Friedrich Feher - and the woman, Jane, (Lil Dagover) who he claims to be her fiancee.  We are immediately intrigued because of the expression of mental exhaustion on her face. Francis then offers to tell his companion (and thereby us, the audience) the extraordinary events that have lead them to this present circumstance; and with that we are plunged into a distorted, claustrophobic world.  A painted world, and very painterly at that.  We are in no doubt of its artificiality.  The town is a heap of a late Medieval German city on a hill.  (The framing scenes however have a look of Symbolism.)  It is fair time in the city, and sinister Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss) has arrived with his 'act' to delight, bewilder and disturb the populace.  Dr Caligari has with him a somnambulist - a cadaverous young man called Cesare (Konrad Weit) who is an almost permanent catatonic state but whom Dr Caligari can momentarily rouse and get to utter predictions.  Slowly Francis and Jane are drawn into a spiral of horror and murder as their lives unravel at the instigation of Dr Caligari.
The film, which somehow crosses definitions - it is both horror and a detective thriller - explores the thin membrane between the occult and mental illness.  Sanity and insanity.  Who precisely is what? There are themes, also, shared with other contemporary German horror films - 'Nosferatu' and 'Der Golem'.  Interestingly the somnambulist, Cesare, is a paradoxical figure being both victim and perpetrator, a vampiric figure who stalks the night at the behest of his master, but can still provoke sympathy in the audience.
I am very pleased to have seen this film - I've always been drawn to the exaggerated lighting effects such as you can find in Film Noir, or some of the films of David Lean such as 'Oliver Twist'.  It must certainly must have had an effect on the whole Neo-Romantic scene here in the UK.  However I probably have enjoyed it more had there been a different score.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Producer               Rudolph Meinert & Erich Pommer
Director                 Robert  Wiene
Cinematography  Willy Hamiester

Monday, 22 September 2014

Own work - wrapping paper

Something I created last week to wrap a little something for the bf.

ADDENDUM 25.09.2014

I thought I'd quickly share with you a couple of images of the wrapped present.  The message is an allusion to a line in 'Houdini' by Kate Bush, from her Album 'The Dreaming'.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Own work - Life drawing

I have returned this week to life drawing after a number of years absent from that discipline. The first session was yesterday.  I had forgotten was an intense thing it could be.  Here are my awful efforts.