JOAN OF ARC AT THE STAKE (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)

Ingrid Bergman is a miracle of sensitivity, giving a luminous performance, in Roberto Rossellini’s Giovanna d’Arco al rogo. (Actually, I saw the French-language version, Jeanne au bûcher, but with Bergman’s irreplaceable voice, not Claude Nollier’s.) How can Bergman be brilliant here when she was dreadful in Joan of Arc (Victor Fleming, 1948)? Answer: Rossellini.      Like […]

PONETTE (Jacques Doillon, 1996)

Writer-director Jacques Doillon, who is the father of three girls, to his everlasting disgrace made Ponette, a pornographic exploitation of a four-year-old’s coping with the death (by road accident) of her mother. It’s a piece of “sensitive” trash.      Preposterously, Victoire Thivisol won best actress at Venice; the child does nothing but react as she has […]

DEVDAS (Bimal Roy, 1955)

Bimal Roy’s long, conventional Devdas is based on a 1917 novel by Saratchandra Chatterjee. The story is depressing. Wealth and class divide childhood sweethearts Devdas and Parvati (“Paro”), sending the boy into alcoholism and the girl into a forced marriage. Extremely sick, Devdas acts on a promise he once made to Paro to visit her […]