Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lolita: Student at the Department of Cinema Studies

How cool doesn't that sound? I still can't believe it's true.

This Monday I entered the building Filmhuset ("The Film House"), especially build for Cinema Studies in 1971, to attend by first film class. From the outside one could never guess what treasures are to be found there - a big ass block of concrete on the far side of a huge field, at this year almost impenetrable by 6ft of snow. (At least that's how it feels walking over it in the morning after only one cup of coffee in my blood stream.) It sure is a dream.

Filmhuset from the other side, and my every morning view from now on.

The usual school day contains of a two hour lecture in the morning, and then a screening in one of the two film theaters in the building in the afternoon. I bet everyone who was kind enough to write about their classic-film-at-the-theater-experiences on their blogs had to suffer my complaints about how I never will see a classic film on a big screen; Well, no more!

This Monday I lost my classic-film-on-the-silver-screen virginity with Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - a dystopia where the firemen no longer works with putting out fires, but rather break into people's homes to find hidden books and burn them. You see, litterature only makes people sad. Pretty cool film with Oskar Werner (from Jules and Jim) and Julie Christie (fresh from Doctor Zhivago), and the only English speaking film Truffaut made.

Pictures from Fahrenheit 451 (1966).
The title refers to the heat where books start burning.

Yesterday we watched Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006), which is (in my opinion) more of an eye candy film than a truly great one. It's cool, but a bit slow. But jeez, is it pretty!

Eye candy from Marie Antoinette (2006).

Did I mention that the movie theaters are named after the two great Swedish silent film directors, Mauritz Stiller (he who is responsible for Greta Garbo's arrival in Hollywood) and Victor Sjöström (Seastrom)? Did I also forget to mention that the Swedish film association Cinemateket show loads and loads of classic films in these theaters - in the very building where I study?

It certainly feels like I have entered a brighter era of my life, and I really hope that the feeling will last for a while. Tomorrow it's time to see Citizen Kane (1941) in the Mauritz theater, and on Tuesday we get the chance to watch a silent piece by earlier mentioned Victor Sjöström (in the Victor theater, of course), A Lover in Pawn (Mästerman, 1920) - with live piano music!

I did not mean this to become a "in your face" post (alright, I did) - but maybe I won't feel like this for a long time, so I better hurry to brag about it!

Polish film poster. Mr. Kane looks evil.

As a last addition to this post I would like to include two works by Frenchman Michel Gondry, the man behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). He experiments a lot with "video art", or what one should call it.  Today it becomes more and more popular to extend the film experience through multiple forms of media, something that is referred to as convergence culture. As I generally am quite uninterested in new films, I am quite surprised to find this phenomenon so fascinating. A good example is the Matrix franchise, that requires the viewer to not only see all three movies, but also play the games, read the comics and search the website to get a full idea (or at least, a broader picture of) what the Matrix is.

Michel Gondry and Eternal Sunshine screen wright Pierre Bismuth has created a video installation, a work of art, called The All Seeing Eye. They have filmed a room full of personal belongings and have let the camera swipe the room in 360 degrees seven times. For each turn some things vanish. There's a television in the middle of the room showing a scene from Eternal Sunshine, making it obvious for those who have seen that film that this room is more a memory of a room than anything else, and that the memory is currently being erased. The basic question that both the film and this art work is asking is What is a memory?, and if a memory were to be erased, how much else that associates to it must also be demolished?

(And no, these are not my own thoughts. I agree with them, but to come up with all this myself would take more time than I use for my spontaneous throwing together of posts on this blog. This is a subject that is discussed and related to a lot in cinema studies, and that is why I share it with you.)

Another cool Gondry work is a less than three minute long short that he made as a birthday present to his friend Karen, who loves to ride a horse. It was just so cute and disturbing that I had to share it. It is called Three Dead People., and the music is lovely.

I will be back with more normal posts when the hype of finally starting to educate myself in a subject I have such a strong passion for had calmed down!


Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

Fahrenheit 451 is a great book.

I also agree with you that MARIE ANTONINETTE is more of eye candy than an actual story, like Fallen Angels (1995, Hong Kong). It was still enjoyable to watch, though. Sofia Coppola would probably make great avant-garde films.

you are lucky to be in Sweden. I love Swedish culture!

Kim said...

Congrats & Good Luck on your venture into film studies. :)

I am sort of envying you now. I wish I had become a serious film fan a bit earlier in my life because I would have loved to have taken at least one course on the subject. Maybe one day in the future.

Elizabeth said...

Oooh it's looks great!! I'm so excited for you! :)

Christopher said...

good on ya...Have fun with it..and learn a few new things..but I doubt theres alot you don't already know. :o)
I really enjoyed Marie Antoinette much more than I thought I would.THought it was a good look at what goes on INSIDE the palace and courts in its fanastic way..

Tom said...

Hi Lolita,

What a great building, certainly filled with treasures! It sounds like cinema heaven! And how appropriate to watch one of Victor Sjöström's film in a theater named after him.

I wish you all the best in your studies!

Lolita said...

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist:
What a lovely alias you have! Haha.
I think I want to read the book, I haven't! But I did read Orwell's 1984, and there are a lot of similarities.
Yes, Sweden is quite nice, actually! :)

Thank you! Why not take a course in it for fun? There is one middle aged woman in my class and a 60 year old man, so it's not too late for anyone it seems :)

Thanks, sweetie!

Thanks! I guess I can learn a little bit more about European and Asian cinema, not to mention all technical stuff and film analysis :)
We got to watch some extra material from Marie Antoinette in class today, and it was really interesting. I love Coppola's idea of not aim to make a historically correct adaption, but rather try to bring out "the real" Marie Antoinette through surroundings, music and general mise en scene. Made me appreciate it more!

Thank you! Yes, that will be awesome

Meredith said...

this is so great lolita! how exciting. i love studying film in college and welcome you to the cool kids club. :)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Congratulations! Looking forward to hearing more about your class and the experience of seeing classic films on the big screen.

Lolita said...

Thank you! It actually makes me feel kind of cool ;) It's so fun to speak with other film nerds on the breaks, and notice how a conversation naturally can shift from talking about Nazi propaganda films to Terminator 4 within seconds! Haha.

Darsh said...

Never been to school myself, but if I had to pick the #1 source of movie information that's in my brain it would be the hundreds of hours I've spent reading and rereading Steve Puchalski's Shock Cinema Magazine. I literally have memorized every issue.

The Cinemaphile said...

Congratulations! If the planets ever align themselves correctly (or I win the lottery and/or marry rich) I would love to go back to college for a film studies degree. I literally salivate when I look at the class schedules and note how many of the textbooks are actually books I have in my bookshelves already.

Lolita said...

See that as a promise! I bet most films I will have time to see now will be in film class :)

Oh, that was a good book tip! Thanks ;)

The Cinemaphile:
Thanks! Marry rich is a good plan ;) I had that plan myself until I fell in love with a poor student. I still have it as plan B if he happens to leave me, haha.
The school literature is lovely! I try to afford buying them all so I can keep them :)

Princess Fire and Music said...

How exciting! It's wonderful that you have access to so much information about films. Studying film under the guidance of professors is so different from just watching and reading about them on the side. Have fun!

Mr. Even B. said...

Which books are the main ones on this study?
What about:
A History of Narrative Film by David A. Cook
Film Art: An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson

Those two were essential when I studied film theory at Høgskolen in Lillehammer, Norway.

Even B. Norway