Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘british film institute

Boy and Bicycle (1965)

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Well-known director Ridley Scott of Alien (1979) and Bladerunner (1982) began his career with this short film while he studied at London’s Royal College of Art. Starring his brother, Tony Scott, and employing the musical proficiency of John Barry (celebrated composer of the James Bond theme), this film includes visions of the industrial landscape that he would later include in his famous feature films. Slant magazine blogger Rob Humanick says this of the film in a review of the Cinema 16 DVD:

The style-over-substance director’s first work is indicative of the heavy-handedness exhibited in many of his feature films, here following the adventures of a young boy who decides to play hooky as a respite from both overbearing parents and the educational system. The director’s younger sibling, Tony, plays the nameless title character and also provides the full-length narration. While the film’s meandering approach doesn’t lack for a sense of adolescent earnestness or spirit, its perpetual sense of self-satisfaction makes for an alienating experience.

While the reviewer doesn’t seem to love Scott’s work, he has a point. Indeed, the stream-of-consciousness voice-over, without any sort of narrative focus, is difficult to follow and leaves the viewer to write the protagonist off as, simply, a teenage boy. This is almost the unsuccessful version of J.D. Salinger’s immortal Holden Cauffield. You can find more information on Boy and Bicycle on blogs like Flickering Myth and the British Film Institute Online.

The Most Beautiful Man in the World (2002)

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The beauty of this five-minute film by Alicia Duffy lies in its ambiguity, and I confess, that is also the reason that I felt compelled to research this film in order to better understand it. It is intentionally ambiguous. The director uses barely any dialogue, preferring to tell a story with imagery and atmosphere. Short of the Week blogger Jason Sondhi writes:

The outdoor scene is wonderful with the soft sounds of the wind, the birds and the bypassing cars. They help add to the lazy Sunday languor of the piece, yet rather than be mere background they draw you into an immediacy of the moment,  sharply attuning you to the vibrancy of a place and time. The care and attention to the details in both image and sound is not merely stylistic, it places us into the mind of the young girl, simultaneously oblivious and yet hyper-aware,  providing us with the vividness and romance which so often are the lasting hallmarks of momentous encounters for lives so young.

Duffy uses lingering shots, extreme close-ups, and glowing sunlight to pull the viewer into the moment this girl experiences with extreme delicacy. The girl obviously does not feel threatened, but her mother’s reaction sends her running back toward her house. The British Film Institute’s website offers some insight to the filmmaker and the production of the film. There is also a list of the awards the film was nominated for and won.

I don’t think it’s as important to know the “truth” of the film as it is to consider the “truth” for each character. The girl experiences a beautiful moment with a beautiful man. The mother experiences a moment of fear. We don’t know the truth of the moment for the man, whether he was innocently befriending a girl and her dog or if his intentions were more sinister. I prefer to consider this moment from the girl’s perspective, when on a boring summer day she came across the most beautiful man in the world.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

March 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

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