MADAME DE . . . (Max Ophüls, 1952)

Closer to Anna Karenina than any of the numerous film versions of Tolstoi’s novel, Madame de . . . actually derives from a trivial novella, set before the Great War in the early twentieth century, by Louise de Vilmorin. Arguably it is, apart from Battleship Potemkin, The Passion of Joan of Arc and Citizen Kane, […]

UNDERTOW (David Gordon Green, 2004)

Undertow is nearly as beautifully strange, rich and spirited a fusion of rural, isolated Americana and Southern Gothic fairy tale as Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955). David Gordon Green, in his twenties when he made it, had made four other films, the one of which that I have seen, George Washington (2000), […]

LA STRADA (Federico Fellini, 1954)

Many, perhaps most, of the world’s most beloved films revolve around children or childhood—or, as in the case of La strada, an innocent, childlike adult. It appears that a simple form of romanticism—romanticism as romance—is rooted in our most heartfelt experience. Even against our better judgment, we sometimes embrace the myth that the young and […]

RAN (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

Ran, which is Japanese for Chaos, is widely regarded as one of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces and one of the most fiercely beautiful films ever made. It is based mainly on two works: William Shakespeare’s King Lear, apart from John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost probably the greatest literary work in the English language; and a medieval […]