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Poetry In Celluloid


Palmerin
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In the 1970s WIPR, the public TV station of my Puerto Rico, broadcast a series of classic films. Its organizer obviously loved Cocteau, for the series included every movie that Cocteau ever made. I was moved to tears by the beauty and poetry of those films, which I watched with great enthusiasm.

Which movies would you describe, praise and recommend as poetry in celluloid?

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You might like 'The Haunting of M' (1979).  Directed by Anna Thomas.  It's a ghost story that I think is poetic.  Takes place in 1906.  I've seen it twice, but it's been several years since my 2nd viewing.  I do not recall this movie containing anything explicit.  No bad words (or hardly any), no gory violence or naked flesh.  Just a good and interesting movie with a few intriguing jolts.  Anyway, it's the most poetic movie I can think of that I've seen. 

 

       I would recommend this movie to anyone.  Without looking it up, I believe it's set in Scotland.         

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What a lovely idea, Palmerin.

 

Yes, Jean Cocteau for sure, especially La Belle et la Bete. Someone else here (sorry, I forget who -slayton, maybe?) started a thread a while ago about "the most beautiful films". He cited the above film as "one of the most beautiful", and invited others to list theirs'. I think "poetry in celluloid" is the same idea.

 

Others, randomly ordered: Spirit of the Beehive, Badlands, Amarcord, The Go-Between, Pan's Labyrinth, Aguirre, Wrath of God.

Many others, I'm sure.  

 

Seems heavily skewed towards foreign-language films. That's not on purpose, those are just the movies that came to my mind. I know there must be lots of American movies that capture "poetry on celluloid" too.

 

 

It's something to do with the mystery and art that cinematography can create with visual images. Along with an ineffable quality of mood. And often music - but it has to be the right music.

The kinds of scenes I'm thinking of don't have dialogue in them (not that there's anything wrong with talk- but that's a different kind of poetry.)

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The Petrified Forest with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis;  Poetry is at the heart of this film.   It sets the stage for the attraction between the two main characters and ends with the reading of said poetry.   Also the way Howard reasons some of his lines sounds like poetry.  

 

This is my favorite film and I purchased the book of poetry used in the film for that reason.   

 

   

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What a lovely idea, Palmerin.

 

Yes, Jean Cocteau for sure, especially La Belle et la Bete. Someone else here (sorry, I forget who -slayton, maybe?) started a thread a while ago about "the most beautiful films". He cited the above film as "one of the most beautiful", and invited others to list theirs'. I think "poetry in celluloid" is the same idea.

 

 

You have a good memory, missw.  I even forgot about that thread.  The only comment I would have is that I consider Le Belle et al Bete as indeed the most beautiful.  And, paraphrasing, since beauty is poetry, poetry beauty; I would consider it the most poetic.  Cocteau is a good choice to look to for visual poetry.  Other directors I would go to include Michael Powell (The Red Shoes), Yasujiro Ozu (anything he did), or William Wyler.

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Silent films fascinate me because their combination of pantomime and music make them resemble ballet. The KING OF KINGS of De Mille has particularly lovely sequences such as when Christ saves the adulteress by writing on the ground the sins--THIEF MURDERER ADULTERER--of those who want to cast stones against her. My childhood parish priest, Father Pedro Gallo, referred to that sequence in one of his sermons.

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Yes, yes, yes. Silent films, for sure, really capture those magical cinematic moments we're talking about here.

Interesting, because in my earlier list, I did say that the scenes I'm thinking of in those films do not have dialogue.

 

As  you say,there are quite a few "poetic" moments in the silent "King of Kings". I think the mysterious lighting has something to do with it.

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That series of classic films that WIPR broadcast was very lengthy and very comprehensive, including several of the works of De Sica. I was particularly moved by MIRACLE IN MILAN, the enchanting story of an angelic young man whose good nature allows him to perform miracles. Who would have thought that a subject as downbeat as poor people living in a shantytown could inspire such a luminous funny fantasy?

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