James Algar and Samuel Armstrong, Fantasia (1940),
The original version of Fantasia was never released again after 1941. The film was a failure, now it is viewed as a great film. That it has gained respect can be seen from the fact that "Fantasia and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are the only animated films and the only Disney films to be listed on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest American films of all time." (Turkcebilgi, Fantasia (film) All Movie Guide profile) The original music was composed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and had some unique features like a multi-channel sound format called Fantasound, now known as stereophonic sound. Most of the works played in the film are program music; that is, instrumental music that depicts stories in sound. The music pieces are eight in number and of them - Toccata and Fugue, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Dance of the Hours, and Ave Maria are in full. The other three, namely the Nutcracker Suite, March, the Rite of Spring, the Pastoral Symphony and the Night on Bald Mountain are not in full and are fragmented. (Turkcebilgi, Fantasia (film) All Movie Guide profile)
The film is unique in two features; one is that it is the only cartoon film that was used to interpret Bach's Toccata and Fuge in D minor. All the music in the film is classical. (Roman, 320) Secondly in the film, Mickey Mouse or any other character does not deliver dialogue, but the entire film is musical. The popularity of the cartoon characters being on wane, it was decided to base the performance first on a purely musical setting and thus it began with the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The entire film sequence thus was based on a ballad and it was Johann Wolfgang Von Gothe's classic "Der Zauberlehring" that formed the only background sound. Beginning there, the rest of the songs and music was then added to compose this composite film. The film also brought out technology in the form of stereo sound, and technically the use of the "click track while recording the soundtrack, overdubbing of orchestral parts, and simultaneous multi-track recording" were used for the first time. (Turkcebilgi, Fantasia (film) All Movie Guide profile) In other words it was a cartoon picture that was based on a musical, or many musicals and music based themes. The film though has Mickey Mouse, seem to be an opera and shows a distinct characteristic that must have been novel and intriguing to the music lovers of the time.
2. Baz Lurhman, Strictly Ballroom (1992) 94 minutes: M & A films
A comedy film that is set in the background of a ballroom makes it to be reviewed wrong at the first watch. It appears to be brash, loud and the comedy is not seen at a go. The probable reason is that it is an adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's "Strictly Ballroom- the stage play that was published in 1986. The film requires that the viewer orient to the settings of the film, which would have been easy to do in a stage play." (BBC, Strictly Ballroom (1992) Reviewed by Sandi Chaitram) A detailed view of the film however brings out the flavor of the film. It can be appreciated that the opposites- subtle statements and situations have been juxtaposed with glaring color and riotous situations thus bringing out irony and subtle and at times unfortunate humor. It has then gone to earn awards for the cinematic version, Luhrmann's film debut, it became a multi-award winner. The commendable part is the excellent cinematography where the use of brash colors and contrasts make the .needs and the 'rituals of ballroom dancing' look ironic all the time preserving the dignity of the performance. (BBC, Strictly Ballroom (1992) Reviewed by Sandi Chaitram) The actors Ken Railings, Pam Short, Scott Hastings and Liz Holt have put up a good performance. The story is set in a "Les Kendall's dance school." (Film.u-net, Strictly Ballroom (1992): A review by Damian Cannon)
There are rules set by the school and some of them become impossible. It reminds one of the catch 22 situation. There is also a love triangle, and even ' there is no way that news of the illicit dancing can get out though, so Scott still has to plough through the charade of trials' that is the irony and part of the sting in the comedy. (Film.u-net, Strictly Ballroom (1992): A review by Damian Cannon) There are also scenes that are serious with the characters exposing their love for the theatre and dance, is contrasted with the modern outlook where for example, Scott is told in the film by the character- Fran's father that the "passion and expression of dance as something to be lived and enjoyed, rather than as a clinical sport" is in contrast to the nature of Scott's family that values prizes more. (Film.u-net, Strictly Ballroom (1992): A review by Damian Cannon) This subtle feeling of satisfaction over competition and one-upmanship is the base of the comedy.
3. Marcel Camus, Black Orpheus (1958) 103 minutes; Public Media Home Vision
The analysis of racial issues and the problems within the family has largely been confined to research works and also books and stories. There is however a great difference between "sound and sense, between the semiotic sphere and the semantic sphere." (Pisters; Staat, 133) Researchers have gone on to explore this aspect of depiction of a dysfunctional family in a racial background on screen. The researchers have therefore conducted extensive study of the film Marcel Camus's film Black Orpheus (1959), that depicts dysfunctional families and a possibility of moving to a future family and ideal commune. Stories have depicted the way the community can be imagined. For example Benedict Anderson's work shows how fiction can create an ideal family by imagination. The film is a silver screen rendering of this imagined ideals of the family with the dysfunctional family as the pathetic background. (Pisters; Staat, 133) The film released in 1959 is an 'attempt at recreating the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in the Rio carnival'. (The Guardian, Why Obama is wrong about Black Orpheus)
It was awarded the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Golden Globe and Oscar. (The Guardian, Why Obama is wrong about Black Orpheus) The film was not considered much in the academic circles except for considerations of the theme: dysfunctional families. What made it comeback and revisited by the ordinary film goer was the interest shown in the film by President Obama. It is said that the film "apparently caused Obama to question his relationship with his white mother." (The Guardian, Why Obama is wrong about Black Orpheus) The movie Black Orpheus is about recreating the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in the Rio carnival; and the sequences made the President observe: "The emotions between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves." (The Guardian, Why Obama is wrong about Black Orpheus) Black Orpheus was just an essay in family, but the outlook of the President has now made it a film on difference.
4. Akira Kurosawa, Ran (1985)
Ran, the Japanese term means chaos. However the movie is an adaptation of Shakespear's King Lear set in the martial traditions of Japan. Shakespear's King Lear is transposed to a warrior chieftain and the handling of the subject does credit to the director Akira Kurosawa. Thus we have Shakespeare's King Lear transposed to sixteenth century feudal Japan. The land is to be divided among the three sons, the last gets banished for speaking the truth. The Samurai Hidetora becomes mad seeing the destruction of the land and the values of his sons. Being Japanese the film has the best battles…