Oct 29, 2012

A Room with a View

A Room with a View is a 1985 British movie directed by James Ivory. The film is a close adaptation of E.M.Forster's novel.
“Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone, the genteel Miss Bartlett, are frustrated in their hopes of obtaining a room with a view at the Pensione Bertolini in Florence. Offered an exchange by Mr Emerson and his son, George, Miss Bartlett's sense of social propriety is offended. She graciously accepts the proposal, however, after being reassured by a respectable acquaintance, the Rev. Mr Beebe. Lucy, innocent and impressionable, is shown around Florence by the lady novelist, Miss Lavish, one of the novel's many English ‘characters’ about whom Forster is gently satirical.
Venturing out alone, Lucy witnesses a quarrel between two Italians, one of whom is stabbed and dies in front of her. She faints, and recovers to find herself in the arms of George Emerson. Later, a party from the pensione joins an excursion to Fiesole. During the trip Lucy is again rescued, after a fall, by George and impulsively embraced. She and Miss Bartlett are affronted and take themselves off to Rome, then back to Surrey.
Lucy becomes engaged to the cultured, but shallow and over-protective Cecil Vyse. Her independent spirit is aroused and she eventually rebels. The Emersons, meanwhile, arrive to take up residence nearby. Lucy realizes with some perturbation that she loves George, not Cecil. She extricates herself from the relationship with Cecil, aided by Miss Bartlett, and marries George. The close of the novel finds George and Lucy on their honeymoon in the Pensione Bertolini” (Room with a View, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English). 
“In Forster’s splendid novel of initiation, Florence herself is transfigured and becomes a fiery metaphor for the enigmatic relationship between life and art, or between individual passion and social norms – and for their turbulent interrelationship” (Finkand Bernardi, It Happened to the Visigoths, Too: Florence in American Films). 

Italian for Beginners

Italian for Beginners (Italiensk for begyndere, 2000) is a 2000 Danish film written and directed by Lone Scherfig —  who, by the way,  "borrowed" her plot from the Irish novel Evening Class by Maeve Binchy.
“The film takes place in a squalid Copenhagen suburb where emotions and anxiety seemingly run amok. While the actual narrative is simplistic, it profiles six desperately needy and complicated individuals looking to fulfill themselves… Just as life shoots uncontrollable twists and turns at these folks, the characters also turn their attention into mastering the Italian tongue. The focus is meant to ease their frustrations over life and love, to the point where the 'beginners' literally beg for a whole new beginning. Conquering the foreign language is a metaphor for the mending of a broken heart or the escape from the vicious circle of daily life. And yet the universe ends up completely in balance” (Frank Ochieng, Filmcritic.com).
Six singles — whose sentimental life, in the cold and bleak Copenhagen, is in pieces — are “saved” by an introductory Italian class. Italian is synonymous with love, and the protagonists are novices in love as much as they are in speaking Italian. Italian language and culture is the catalyst for love and the chance for a new beginning. The plot — as we will see later during the course — is the classical “Italian (Romantic) Paradigm”: the typical representation of Italy in the Grand Tour narrative.
The movie follows the Dogme 95 movement developed by Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen. The objective of the Dogma 95 movement is to encourage a sense of plainness in filmmaking, free of postproduction alterations. Von Trier and Vinterberg formulated a set of ten rules that a Dogme film must conform to.
1.   Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
2.    The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.
3.    The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place.
4.     The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.
5.      Optical work and filters are forbidden.
6.      The film must not contain superficial action. Murders, weapons,  etc. must not occur.
7.      Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. That is to say that the film takes place here and now.
8.      Genre movies are not acceptable.
9.      The film format must be Academy 35mm film.
10.  The director must not be credited.
I cannot affirm that the eight “commandment” is not entirely maintained, but it is interesting to observe that the power of the Italian romantic myth “survives” to Dogme 95. Here you can find the entire script of the movie. Below the dialogue beween Jørgen and Giulia. Language barriers do not exists; we are in Venice, the city of romantic love.
Giulia, I know you can't understand what I'm saying. But I'll say it anyway.
I'm ten years older than you and I'm not really good at anything.
I've no relatives any more. I'm no good at my job.
I've no hobbies. Apart from doing Italian. And that's really for Halvfinn's sake, - because I'm no real good at languages. I can't even say anything to you.
Actually I think I'm rather dull. I certainly haven't your temperament.
And sex isn't something I feel confident about any more.
I know you don't understand what I'm saying.
But if I don't say it now I'll never get it said.
But I love you, Giulia, and I want to be with you for always.
I'd like to have children ...... and to watch you get older ... and grow old.
I'll love you every day from when I wake up till we do to bed at night.
I so much want to marry you, Giulia.
I do understand a bit of Danish. I just speak it very badly. Perhaps I would like to marry you. But I want to do to a church ...

Oct 18, 2012

Pearls from students...

The night before the midterm exam I have received this email from two of my students. 
I believe this is a "pearl" that I should share with all of you...