|Vittorio De Sica
|Where Is the Friend's House?
|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
|BATALLA EN EL CIELO
|The Headless Woman
Profoundly innovative, both for the themes it explores and in its use of cinematic language. Every time I rewatch the film I am fascinated by its straightforward approach to the most complex scenes – in terms of the cinematic language, the daring editing and the simplicity of the set up. This film is what cinema is for me, distilling everything down to the essential and having in the film only what is absolutely necessary.
One of my all-time favorite films. I first watched it as a teenager and was struck by the horrors of war. It was perhaps the first time that I saw war not as something horrible on a massive scale but as something even more terrifying, concerning private lives. The formal approach to cinema in this film is astonishing – despite the seriousness of the themes and the subject of the film, the visual language of the film is at times playful, then profoundly expressive and transcendent.
A beautiful, devastating masterpiece that shows how the time is experienced by an individual human – never as a linear sequence of events, but events experienced simultaneously through our emotions, thoughts and physical activities.
I watched this film as a teenager for the first time. I was thrown off balance. I did not know cinema could be so free and so beautiful. I have seen this film many times since. Still, I cannot say with certainty what this film is about. With every viewing it connects and evokes feelings and brings interpretations depending on my state of mind and emotional condition. More importantly, it is about the things that have no name, that I as an individual viewer have yet to name. This film, more than others, give me the space to dream, to be sentimental, emotional, and perhaps to stop making sense.
I am particularly in awe of the scene where Maria brings the bedsheets from her home to the pawn shop in order to get enough money for the new bicycle. That scene in its essence demonstrates the ability that cinema has to show the universal through a very personal event – through the small window at the pawn shop, in a room, the viewer sees the hundreds and thousands of other bedsheets brought by others, and the profound hardships of the post war Italy and Europe in general.
A troubled masterpiece. I watched the director’s cut in Lyon at the Lumière Festival. In this film, the technical skills of direction, in all aspects, are at their highest. Truly a splendid film, one of the best of American cinema in its craft and mastery of medium.
Where Is the Friend's House?
This film creates space for the viewer to bring their own dreams and thoughts into the viewing experience, and allows what I would call an ‘active viewing’. The less the film shows or tells the viewer, the more space is created for us to be actively involved in viewing the film. The texture of the image and what is left beyond the frame gives space for the mind to wander. The film consists of allusions and mystery, not in the frame but rather outside of it, created in the mind of the spectator.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Perhaps the first and so far the most profound and universal film that meditates on and transmits previously neglected parts of a woman’s existence – her everyday routine – smilingly uneventful and unromantic, but banal and normal, as our lives are. This ‘normality’ is monumental and universal at the same time. It is something familiar and yet usually hidden and neglected in cinema.
BATALLA EN EL CIELO
This film, at first glance very familiar in its approach to the language of cinema, experiments and tests the limits of the medium with courage and curiosity. For me, this film is as courageous and innovative as the early films made by the pioneers of cinema, who had a great enthusiasm to explore all the limits of the medium. Battle in Heaven is as transcendental as it is transgressive, but it is also a tender and sensitive exploration of human existence.
The Headless Woman
A minimalistic masterpiece. Yet again, what is unseen and not said builds up tension and a crisis – as in the character, so in the mind of the viewer. This film tests the possibilities of narrative cinema; what is not said in a narrative manner instead accumulates through what we as viewers experience while watching it. Perhaps it is one of the finest examples of the filmmaker respecting and trusting the viewer and their human capacity to empathize and relate through their own experiences, not those directly related to the experiences of the characters on screen.
A masterpiece that is a celebration of cinema itself. Every aspect of this film is an achievement on its own: the set, the use of sound and dialogue, and most importantly the approach to the craft and art of acting. Nothing is impossible for this film – it follows only the rules that it has itself created. Yet, it is subtle in its own way, and at the same the film plays with the possibilities of the medium – and I would say celebrates it.