I mentioned this project last week in Part I, here's my most recently veiwed foreign films as selected off the nomination list compiled by Edward Copeland of top non-English language films.
Au hasard Balthazar (1966) directed by Robert Bresson
While slow and boring at times, it also is uniquely moving and purposfully spiritual. The story is about a donkey named Balthazar and her first owner Marie. The story follows Balthazar amongst his various owners as well as Marie. Bresson is clearly drawing comparisons not just between Marie and Balthazar, but also between the full range of experiences that Christ experienced as man.
There certainly was no warning that said that Animals were not hurt during the making of this film, and the mild donkey abuse in itself makes this movie unique.
Beauty and the Beast (1946) directed by Jean Cocteau
This is not your 1991 Disney movie. No songs, no cartoons, and no tea pot played by Angela Lansbury. Although there are moving (not singing) candelabras. In fact, I'm sure some people were impressed with these special effects back in 1946, even though today the tricks are not greater than what you'd experience at a haunted house.
All the same the story is classic, and although Beast (la Bête) is certainly bizarre looking, the story's charm is still there. If only part of the movie was in color, I think the movie would remind me of the Wizard of Oz. Again, no singing, but the overacting and mystical storyline surely must have provided a nice since of post-WWII escapism.
Cries and Whispers (1972) directed by Ingmar Bergman
Sure the other movies are about a Christ-figure donkey and a prince with magic gloves, but this movie is the oddest of the bunch. The story is simple enough, one sister is dying while the other two sisters and their maid in their own depravity wait for their sister to die. In a couple very strong flashbacks the two sisters own immoralness is shown in contrast to the more innocent sister and maid.
What amazes me about this movie is that it received 5 academy award nominations, including Best Picture. I certainly wouldn't argue it's unique cinemotography with it's scenes saturating to red in between significant cuts, but I can't see this film impressing enough people for a best picture/best director nomination. The four women in this film do an excellent job in their roles, particularly Liv Ullmann as one of the sisters. But this movie certainly did not enchant me or grab me in anyway.
Related Tags: Foreign Films, France, Au Hasard Balthazar, Beauty and the Beast, la Belle et la bete, Jean Cocteau, Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, donkey, Christ Figure, fairy tale, morality, death, film