Tag Archive: Egypt


Simon Emanuel, Chewbacca, Joonas Suotamo & Thandie Newton at the event of Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018), at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Everything that has a beginning, has a an end; as does this prestigious, 71st Cannes Film Festival, of May 2018!! It ends tonight, and am really looking forward to finding out who’s won what? I couldn’t check out the Cannes updates properly this year, for various reasons, but below are some fashionable highlights from various days & nights at the Film Festival.

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

German Film Director, Wim Wenders

Spanish Husband & Wife: Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz

From the Land of the Pharaohs: Austrian/Egyptian Film Director, A.B. Shawky, with Egyptian Actress, Shahira Fahmy

Mexico & India: Salma Hayek & Nandita Das, were among the 82 women that marched for Gender Equality in the Film Industry, at Cannes this year (Inset: Director Das with her lead star, of Manto (2018), Nawazuddin Siddiqui)

Brazilian Filmmaker, Joe Penna, and Danish Actor, Mads Mikkelsen

Young Russian Film Director, Kantemir Balagov

International Belles: Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o (Cannes 2018)

The Frenchmen: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Honoré and Vincent Lacoste

Solo Guys (Day & Night): Donald Glover & Alden Ehrenreich; with the cast and crew of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo Wookiee: Finnish Actor and former Basketball Player, Joonas Suotamo, with his ”Star Wars” character ‘Chewbacca’

Jackson Lee (son of Spike Lee), Topher Grace, Adam Driver and Director Spike Lee, attend the screening of Blackkklansman (2018)

Former First Lady of France (and Italian Singer/Songwriter), Carla Bruni Sarkozy

From Russia with Love: Katya Mtsitouridze, in a neatly tailored White attire

Chique Chic: Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival this year

More Marion Cotillard (Cannes 2018)

Newly Married, Bollywood Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor, in a White Bridal Lehenga (Cannes 2018)

From the Silk Route: Melissa Zuo, shimmers in Silver attire

Walk for Gender Equality: Jury President, Cate Blanchett, with Feminist Film Director, Agnès Varda (of the French New Wave fame); the first woman to receive an honorary ‘Palme d’Or’, at a Cannes Film Festival

Pretty in Pale Pink: Bella Hadid at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Chinese Actress, Bingbing Fan

Cannes 2018: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; seen here with her daughter, who accompanied her up to the Red Carpet

Winnie Harlow goes Green @ Cannes 2018

Knife + Heart: French Film Director, Yann Gonzalez, with Kate Moran & Vanessa Paradis (Inset: Nicolas Maury & Vanessa Paradis)

American Actress, Amber Heard

80 year old, Jane Fonda, graces the Red Carpet with charm, at the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival (Mai 2018)

Deepika Padukone in Hot Pink Ruffles (Cannes 2018)

More of Daring Deepika: Deepika Padukone in Purple Pant Suit

A Sad Affair: 72 year old Helen Mirren, in a comfortable trouser suit, walks away after she tripped and had a bad fall

John Savage @ Cannes 2018

Milla Jovovich looking like a Greek Goddess

Defying Protocol: Kristen Stewart makes a statement against the Cannes Film Festival, by walking barefoot

Lebanese Film Director, Nadine Labaki, with her young actors; Zain Al Rafeea (a Syrian refugee) & Yordanos Shifera, from Capharnaüm (2018)

Franco-Swiss Model, Nabilla Benattia poses near some Stormtroopers (Cannes 2018)

From Deep Down Under: New Zealand Female Model, Georgia Fowler (in a black sheer Saree dress), with Australian Male Model, Jordan Barrett

Goodbye Cannes Film Festival (for )

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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A LETTER TO VIOLET EYED HEAVEN: TO ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN THAT GRACED THE HOLLYWOOD SCREENS

Elizabeth Taylor with her two great Loves
Left: Mike Todd (1950’s)
Right: Richard Burton (1960’s & 70’s)

Dearest Ms. Taylor,

              First of all, let me thank you, for contributing so much to the world of Cinematic Arts; with your marvelous performances; working tirelessly to bring us, film buffs, joy for eternity.

              Born in United Kingdom, to two American citizens, on the 27th of February, 1932; you moved to the United States of America, at the age of 7; in April 1939, as tensions of another war gripped Europe. Couple of years later, you started working in Hollywood, as per your mother’s wish. You were adored by Hollywood for your unique sharp features, raven hair and fair skin. Specifically it was your unique eyes, a genetic mutation; that grabbed their attention. Blue eyes that appeared Violet, and a double pair of natural eyelashes. A rare beauty, and a natural acting talent; proved through your first auditions. Casting directors found you different to other child actors of the time; and some were afraid of your direct open attitude. Growing up, you survived through many hurdles and hardships. Two of your baby teeth were pulled out, before they were ready to fall; to make you seem more mature. By the age of 12, you had no free time at all, as you attended school in the studio lot itself, and then you had to practice singing, dancing and the lines for next day’s scenes. You never really had a childhood, as you mentioned once, that your childhood ended, when you became a child star, as MGM controlled every aspect of your life. Born with scoliosis; in your preteens, whilst filming for National Velvet (1944), you had a bad fall and fractured your back, which went undetected for many years; for which you suffered in silence, your entire life. Yet the worse was yet to come.

              In May 1950, aged only 18, you married heir to the Hilton Hotels chain, Conrad Hilton Jr.! Beaten black and blue on your wedding night; and having gone through abuse at his hands, your parents were horrified when they found out. Eight months into your marriage the two of you divorced. This caused a public scandal, and it sadly reflected badly on you, not on the man who abused you. Then a year later, you were back in the United Kingdom; this time working on a British Film Ivanhoe (1952). During the filming of Ivanhoe, you met  the newly divorced actor, Michael Wilding (20 years your senior). He thought marrying a young innocent starlet like you, would aid his failing career; and you felt being an older gentleman he’d be kinder, and you’d feel secure. But ’twas far from a happy marriage. Egoistical men, little understood your compassion and sympathetic nature towards people suffering; including your kindness towards gay actors, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson and James Dean; to name a few. One of your main co-stars, of the epic, Giant (1956), James Dean was killed in a car crash, on 30th September 1955; before the movie was completed (although Dean had finished working on his scenes). You were devastated. Soon, yet another young actor was almost killed in a car crash, but you weren’t going to let history repeat itself. On 12th May 1956, during the filming of Raintree County (1957); when close friend and co-star, Montgomery Clift had a terrible accident (soon after leaving a dinner party at Wilding and your Beverly Hills home; when Clift fell asleep whilst driving); you rushed to his aid, and saved his life by literally shoving a hand down his throat, and pulling out his teeth, he was choking on. Your husband was not impressed. After giving Wilding two sons, and his philandering ways reached scandal magazines; you couldn’t take it anymore, and divorced him, in 1957. Having suffered through two bad marriages, you wouldn’t have wanted to experience that pain again. But then came Mike Todd (an even older gentleman, born on the 22nd of June, Year 1909; who had been married twice before, who’d lost his first wife to death, and next to divorce), an American Theater and film producer, who swept you off your feet. The first great love of your life.

              You and Mike Todd had a whirlwind romance. Married on 2nd February 1957; it was a third marriage for both, a 24 year old, you, and 47 year old Mike Todd. For the first time in your life, you were truly happy and deeply in love.You traveled around the world in Todd’s private jet, named The Liz (a.k.a. The Lucky Liz); a testament to your love for each other. In fact, Todd had released a film, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), based Jules Verne’s classic novel; which ended up winning five coveted Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’; just over a month after you were married; at the 29th Annual Academy Awards. You were lucky for him; and you were lucky in love, for the very first time in your life. For once, both Todd and you, were in happy, like never before. Later that year, you gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; your very first daughter. A child born out of marriage filled with love and joy. On the first anniversary of the release of his Oscar winning film, Todd threw a grand party, as a celebration of his love for you. 18,000 of close friends were invited to this Madison Square Garden extravaganza. A live coverage of the event was held. Todd loved to boast, and why not, he was jubilant, as were you. A 14 foot high cake was made for the event, and you had to climb up to cut the cake. It was all show and pomp; but ’twas wasn’t hypocritical function in the name of traditions or customs you were carrying out; but a fun filled party. Apparently the party ended up with a very Hollywood  slapstick style food fight, thanks to a rowdy crowd; but you, Todd, your close friends and other elegant guests weren’t part of that. The television coverage of the party made it an Hollywood event of the century; and the function was deemed a flop. But did it matter, not really. This was your great love story, and you felt safe that nothing could ruin this euphoric romance. But then tragedy strikes…..

              On 21st March 1958, you were to fly with your husband to New York, where the Friars Club was to honour him the next night as Showman of the Year. But you were suffering from a bronchitis cold and a temperature 102°. You really wanted to go, but Todd insisted you stay at home and rest. Added to that there was a rainstorm outside. Actor, Kirk Douglas, your next door neighbour, was to accompany your husband. But, Anne Buydens (Douglas’ wife) had a bad feeling about the plane ride. They argued, but Buydens won, and Douglas missed the flight, and was mad at his wife for it. Mike Todd hugged you for a fifth time, part of him not wanting to leave you alone with your children. Even though ill, you were glowing with love and sadness and being apart. When Todd got onto his plane, he spoke to you once again, he called from the air-to-ground telephone, and told you he’ll call you once he lands in Tulsa, to re-fuel. But he never did. Despite the bad weather, the flight was considered safe enough, to fly smoothly. At 10:41pm (2241 hrs), left the airstrip , and headed to New York. The twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar plane suffered engine failure, went out of control and crashed killing all four people on board, including Mike Todd; the love of your life. It was 22nd March 1958, early morning, when the incident happened. Meanwhile Kirk Douglas recalls having missed the flight and mad at his wife, ” We were driving and not talking to each other, so we turned the radio on, and the announcer spoke of the shocking news of the plane crash. At the same time, you, sick in bed, unaware called up Todd’s personal secretary, as you were worried you hadn’t heard from him. Soon you got the shocking news, and your world came tumbling down.

              Your close friends, actresses, Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine, rushed to your side; staying there for a few days, and helping taking care of your three kids. Liz Todd was still a baby (she would never get to know her wonderful dad). Film director Howard Hughes, lent you his jet. There was hardly much left of Todd’s remains, as the plane had exploded on impact. The only items recovered from the wreckage were Todd’s wedding ring, and a pair of platinum cuff-links, gifted by Todd’s friend, actor and singer, Eddie Fisher (Debbie Reynolds’ husband). The funeral was in Chicago. You were so distraught, you threw yourself over the coffin. The pain of loss of someone you loved so dearly would have been unbearable. Two decades later, grave robbers would desecrate his remains, due to rumours of a $100,000/- diamond ring, said to have been placed in his coffin by you, before burial. His remains would be found, have to be reexamined by dental records once again, and reburied, in a secret location.

              Your next marriage, was the biggest mistake you made. You were grief stricken at the loss of Mike Todd, and Eddie Fisher, took advantage of it, and proposed marriage to you, admitting he had always been in love with you. You accepted without thinking of the consequences. You did not marry him for love, but for marriage security (this was still the 1950’s and marriage was considered, one of the main criteria for a woman to gain respect; today a woman does not need a husband anymore). But by accepting, you hurt your best friend, Fisher’s wife Debbie. Soon your image turned from grieving widow to homewrecker, in the eyes of the public. Both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (Fisher and Reynolds  daughter); would eventually forgive you (Eddie Fisher is the one that abandoned them); but for the world to do so, it would take some more time (both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher died in December 2016). To add salt to your wounds; Mike Todd had accumulated a lot of debt, which meant you would have to earn to pay it back; due to pressure from film studios. Added to which, being on a contract, meant you owed MGM; to work for them. You had no choice but to work on a film you detested, due to this contract; BUtterfield 8 (1960). But you managed to convince them to cast husband no.4, Eddie Fisher, in a sympathetic role. Having a kind heart, you were more concerned about his image, than your own. Then you won an Oscar for BUtterfield 8! Even though you were nominated thrice for ‘Best Actress’, it was finally for the film you hated, that you bagged the award. You went crying up to the stage. You were definitely not thrilled; as you were forced into working for this movie, not ’cause you wanted to. Added to which your marriage to a spineless man, wasn’t working. Even though you’d give the marriage six years of your life. But, you needn’t fret, for your next great love, was just around the corner.

Elizabeth Taylor was no doubt THE most beautiful Cleopatra to grace the cinematic screens ever!

              Now, in 1961; you had finally completed your MGM contract, and were free of it. Not only that, you had won an Oscar, for ‘Best Actress’. 20th Century signed you on for their next big venture, a historical epic on the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra. This would be your biggest venture yet, and a crucial turning point in your life.

              You became the first Hollywood actress to be paid $1 Million for the role; and this expensive production, of Cleopatra (1963), would be among the most loved Historical epics of all time. You’d end up being so closely identified with role; when film buffs hear the name “Cleopatra”; it’s your bewitchingly beautiful face, in ancient Egyptian garments, that come to mind. Cleopatra today is synonymous with your portrayal of her on celluloid (a role you almost lost the role, when you suffered from pneumonia). Added to which, you’d end up meeting the second love of your life, Richard Burton. The Burton-Taylor romance is one of the most talked about love stories, in the world of cinema (also see my Blog-post, Sexiest Couples of Hollywood from July 2016). Your violet eyes sparkled when you saw him, he felt the same, sparks flew; you were both unhappily married to different people. An extra-marital love affair started to ignite on the sets of Cleopatra. Like the character you were portraying, you were neither young nor innocent; but a bold brave new woman, afraid of no man. Like Cleopatra, who had two great loves in her life, Cesar and Anthony; you found your next great love, the actor playing Anthony, opposite you. In a sense, it was real-life, imitating reel-life; a reel life, based on a real life historical account from an ancient civilization. Soon paparazzi snapped you and your new lover, on a yacht in Ischia, Naples, Italy in 1962. Your scandalous new romance was out in the open. People, who hated your marriage to Fisher, started enjoying this affair with Burton. Whilst, the love story, with Mike Todd, turned you into a happily married family type of woman; this new romance showcased a side, people had never seen before. A sizzling sexy side of your persona. Your steamy romance was the talk of the town. Soon you divorced Fisher, in 1964; and married your new love, Richard Burton. 

Dubbed at Liz & Dick, you two would end up doing some of the greatest performances in your lives. You ended up appearing in 11 films together, and stage plays. The most notable film of which, happens to be, Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966); for which you won your next ‘Best Actress’ award, at the 39th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars 1967). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? also happens to be among my Top 10, all time favourite movies. The movie itself, felt like reel-life, imitating real-life (a reversal of fortune from the time you filming Cleopatra). You two loved each other, were perfect for each other, bickering and fighting; you loved each other. You had a tempestuous relationship; mainly thanks to his alcoholism. Nor matter how much you loved him, you could not handle his drinking; and he was alleged to smoke at least a 100 cigarettes a day. Thus, after completing one more movie with him, coincidentally titled, Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), you finally divorced your second great love, in 1974.

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton on the cover of NOVA (October 1966 issue)
Photographed by Douglas Kirkland

              But, both Burton and you, loved each other way too much. And reconciled, married in 1975. But this second marriage to Burton, wasn’t to last too long. You two divorced once again, this time for good, in 1976. Post that you married twice again; but that was more for companionship; and less to do with love, sex and romance. You were married to Republican politician, John Warner, and helped him with his electoral campaign. Meanwhile, you became an advocate for HIV and AIDS awareness, in the 80’s; along with actress Doris Day. You spent the 1980’s onward, raising money for various causes. You bravely persuaded President Ronald Reagan to acknowledge the disease for the first time in a speech in 1987, and publicly criticized presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for lack of interest in combating the disease. You awarded for your humanitarian efforts, as well as for your contribution to the arts. You were the first celebrity to create a signature line of perfume. Soon other stars followed suit. And you founded a jewelry company, House of Taylor.

After having suffered most of your life, to physical ailments, mental depression and prescription drugs; you finally left the world of the living, aged 79, on the 23rd of March, Year 2011. But you live on, in our hearts; through your great cinematic ventures. You left behind a great legacy; as one of the last stars of classical Hollywood cinema, and also one of the first modern celebrities of Hollywood. You were among the lead actors, at the time Hollywood, and the world, went through a major transition. The 1960’s & 70’s decades.

               Here’s to you Ms. Elizabeth Taylor, a beautiful heart, and an equally beautiful actress. Thinking of you, on your 86th Birth Anniversary.

                                                                                                            Thanking you,

                                                                                        with Love, from one of your ardent fans, 

                                                                                                                             Nuwan Sen

picmonkey_image (12)

This Blog Post, in the form of a letter, is my contribution to the, THE ELIZABETH TAYLOR BLOGATHON, hosted by Crystal Kalyana of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood!!

 

Thank you Crystal, for letting me take part in this beautiful Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Cannes 70 ~

The 70th International Cannes Film Festival has come to an end. Unlike previous years, I couldn’t follow the festival properly this year, due to various reasons [well, the country is submerged in water for one thing; although the weather alone, in it’s entirety, is not to blame for it. The way the drainage systems here are built, covered with heavy cement slabs, there is no place for the water to go/seep through, but get stuck within the country, like a massive tank (added to which, there is a land mass being constructed into the ocean, in Colombo, which was on a standstill for way over two years, as the governments changed; and now they’ve restarted working on the stupid project). The way this country has gone to ruins, in every way possible, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole country drowns into the bottom of the ocean, some day (fine, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; or is it?). Of course the monsoon rains and landslides are to blame too. Sadly a number of lives were lost, not just humans, but innocent animals, including cats and dogs, getting stuck in these drainage systems, and drowning. Many of these animals are ill treated in this inhumane country, as it is; but specifically on days like these, innocent animals suffer the most. People somehow manage to find food and shelter. Especially from aid, not only from us, from other countries, as well. Of course, Sri Lanka is not the only country facing a tragedy at the moment. What happened in Manchester, UK, and Beni Suef, in Egypt, are just as tragic]. But on a brighter note getting back to the Cannes Film Festival, this year. It wrapped up last night. And I patiently waited, till past midnight, in this watered down land, of this side of the ocean, to hear the results, on FRANCE24. And at 12 mid-night, the news started with it’s Encore at Cannes, special; with Lisa Nesselson and Eve Jackson announcing the great winners at Cannes 2017.

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Gold palm leaf sprinkled with Diamonds

The Palme d’Or, this year, was a special trophy, with the Golden Palm decorated in snow speckled drops of diamonds on the leaf. This beautiful award went to, Swedish film director, Ruben Östlund’s, The Square (2017). Loosely based on Östlund’s own experiences, this Swedish film is about an Art curator, who is mugged, and decently hunts for the perpetrator, ending up in situations that make him question his own moral compass. The ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’ awards, went to two Hollywood stars; Joaquin Phoenix, for the English language film, You Were Never Really Here (2017), and Diane Kruger, for her native, German movie, Aus dem Nichts (2017), a.k.a. In the Fade. The Grand Prix, the second-most prestigious honour, went to the French film, 120 Battements par Minute (2017), in English, known as, 120 Beats per Minute. Directed by Moroccan born, Robin Campillo; 120 Battements par Minute, also took home three more awards, including the Queer Palm. Sofia Coppola bagged the ‘Best Director’ award, for  The Beguiled (2017). ‘Best Screenplay’ was tied in; for Greek screenwriters, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, for The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017); and Scotland, UK’s Lynne Ramsay, for You Were Never Really Here. The Russian drama, Нелюбовь (2017), English title, Loveless, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, won the Jury Prize. A special 70th Anniversary Prize was given to Nicole Mary Kidman, who had four releases at Cannes this year.

Another year of the chic n’ classy Cannes, came to a cool finish, and I can’t wait to check out these films that made it to this fashionable festival, in the French Rivera. Love the Côte d’Azur. ❤

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

And for more…..let the pictures below, do the talking!!!!

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Gold n’ Diamonds

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Ruben Östlund

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Diane Kruger

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Joaquin Phoenix (with Jessica Chastain)

Cannes 70 ~ Italian Actress, Monica Bellucci & President of the Jury, Spanish Film Director, Pedro Almodovar, walk on the stage, at the opening ceremony,of the 70th International Cannes Film Festival

Cannes 70 ~ Catherine Deneuve (Then & Now)

Cannes 70 ~ Robert Pattinson

Cannes 70 ~ Cool n’ Classy: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel & Charlotte Gainsbourg

Cannes 70 ~ Adèle Haene of 120 Battements par Minute (2017)

Cannes 70 ~ Director Sofia Coppola, with the cast of The Beguiled (2017)

Cannes 70 ~ Sonam Kapoor in Gold n’ Diamonds

Cannes 70 ~ Indian Film Actress n’ Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor

Cannes 70 ~ Julianne Moore

Nuwan Sen (NSFS)
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

Three more nominations (June 2015)
I’ve been nominated yet again, within this month itself, for three Blog Awards; again!!! This time by one Blogger, Akhiz Munawar. An interesting, deeply thoughtful, Blog, of poetry & prose. Literature buffs would love it, especially if you are into poetry.

The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger award (2015)

Real Neat Blog Award

 Neat Blog– and –

Beautiful Bloggers Award

Beautiful Bloggers Award
Thank you Akhiz Munawar for complimenting my Blog(& me), with a triple nomination.

This is my 2nd Versatile Blogger Award (different logo though) and Beautiful Bloggers Award (which I nominated Akhiz for, 10 days ago, and now he’s re-nominated me for it). And my 1st Real Neat Blog Award.

So here are the instructions (as most of you, my blog-pals, are already aware of)

*Thank the person who nominated me, and add the pictures of the awards above. (DONE)

*Answer the 7 questions prepared by Akhiz Munawar, for me.

Q°1. What’s your Favourite Genre of Music ?
A°1.  All sorts. From Classical (Piano, Sitar, Violin, Flute et al), to Pop, Rock, Country, Jazz, Disco, to New-age, to Fusion, Opera even (Opera not to the extent of others, as I wouldn’t really sit in relaxation listening to it, but I do enjoy watching an Opera on stage, the performance along with the Operatic music; or even in film, with an Operatic background score). Am generally not a fan of Rap and Hip Hop (there are few exceptions of course).

Q°2. Name of your Favourite author, your favourite book?
A°2. Within the last five years, I’ve been in love with Christopher Isherwood novels (am reading one at the moment). But it use to be Agatha Christie for a long time. My all time favourite novel happens to be, City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre (English Language version), which I read 20 years ago. And that’s the only published work of Dominique Lapierre I’ve read till date.

Q°3. What’s your favourite TV show ?
A°3. Currently nothing specific, but from more recently, within the first five months of Year 2015 (January to May), I’d say, Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015) & The Newsroom (2012 – 2014).

Q°4. What advice would you like to give yourself if you get a chance to travel; 10 years back in time?
A°4. Am drawing a Blank!!! Can’t think of anything that I haven’t already tried, and failed (unfortunately), that could make my life any better today.

Q°5. Again if you are given a time machine to see and visit the wonders of these civilization at their prime where will you go?
a. The Egyptian Civilization
b. The Mayan Civilization
c. The Mohenjodaro (Indus valley) Civilization
d. The Middle Ages (Europe and central Asia)
e. The Mughal Empire
f. Jurassic Period
A°5. Oh! I’d love to visit them all, but I’d most probably change the order, to my preference, beginning with….
(i) The Egyptian Civilization
(ii) The Middle Ages (Europe & Central Asia)
(iii) The Mughal Empire
(iv) The Mayan Civilization
(v) The Mohenjo-Daro (Indus valley) Civilization
……………..and, last but not the least,
(vi) Jurassic Period, or ‘Jurassic Park’ will do!!!

Q°6. Your Favourite Quote?
A°6. I have so many, but since my blog is primarily a Film Blog, I’ll go with a section (last line) of the famed cinematic quote, by my all time favourite Film Director, that I used, atop my introduction, for my final dissertation, Marriage in Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie, for my MA in International Cinema, at the University of Luton (2002-2003), in Luton, UK.

‘‘ What is drama, but life with the dull bits cut out’’
– Alfred Hitchcock

Q°7. What are your thoughts on Coffee?
A°7. Love it – with a creamy soft blend (By the way I know what you mean by coffee 😉 – of course I haven’t made my coffee yet!!!)
(DONE)

*Nominate 7 Bloggers for all three awards pictured above.

1. Alex of Alex Raphael
2. Reut Ziri of Sweet Archive
3. Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (for Real Neat Blog Award)
4. Jonathan & Aaron Ferrara of Husband & Husband (for The Versatile Blogger Award & Real Neat Blog Award)
5. Robert of Righteous Cinema (for The Versatile Blogger Award & Real Neat Blog Award)
6. Vinnieh of Vinnieh (for Real Neat Blog Award & Beautiful Bloggers Award)
7. Ruth of Silver Screenings (for Real Neat Blog Award)
(DONE)

*List 10 questions for my nominees

Q°1. Which city/town, that you’ve lived in, is your favourite ?
Q°2. Which continent, that you’ve never travelled to, would you like to visit the most? Any specific country/countries?
Q°3. What’s your favourite English language novel, written by a non-British/American/Australian born author?
Q°4. What’s your favourite non-English language novel, translated into English?
Q°5. What’s your favourite non-fiction book?
Q°6. If Hitchcock were alive today, which Hitchcockian classic, would you like him to re-make, with the availability of  modern day technical wizardry, that didn’t exist back then?
Q°7. Who would you like, to be the new Hitchcockian blonde, from the 21st century, working in this new project of his?
Q°8. Which is your favourite decade, from the previous century? Which is your favourite decade in film, from the previous century?
Q°9. What 21st century film, set in the decade from 20th century that you love, is your favourite?
Q°10. From films made in the 21st century, within the last 15 years (rather 14½ years, ‘cause we are still in the  middle of 2015), which non-English language film, from which country, is your favourite?
(DONE)

Thanks again Akhiz Munawar for honouring my Blog, with a triple nomination.

*Special Note: As I stated, back in January 2014; after working on 8 nominations, within one month; kindly refrain from nominating me for any more Blog awards. At least for a while.

Thanking you
Nuwan Sen
(No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen)

Guess these international films, from around the globe, released between 1949 and The Year 2000 :-

Q1. Q 40'sQ2.Q 50'sQ3.Q 60'sQ4. Q 70'rQ5.Q 70'rsQ6.Q 70'rszQ7.Q 70'sQ8.Q 80'sQ9.Q 90'sQ10. Q 90'z……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Clues:-

  • Check out Tags for hints on various genre’s, stars et al

Answers:-
I shall provide the answers myself, once some of my fellow bloggers have given this a try

Have Fun with the quiz

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Six Degrees of Separation: from Emile Hirsch to…

Emile Hirsch 6°

…Barbara Stanwyck
Hirsch played the lead in the tragic true-life adventure flick, Into the Wild (2007), which was directed by actor, Sean Penn (1), who was married to pop diva, Madonna (2), whose second husband was British film director, Guy Ritchie (3), who directed Sherlock Holmes (2009), which was based on notable author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s (4), famed fictional sleuth, as was The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), directed by Billy Wilder (5), and Wilder also directed the noir classic, Double Indemnity (1944), starring Barbara Stanwyck (6).

…Diego Luna – Ang Lee vice versa (vv)
Hirsch appeared in the bio-pic, Milk (2008), in which Diego Luna (1,6), co-starred as an insecure, unconfident, paranoid, vulnerable gay lover, of the lead political figure of this tragic movie, who commits suicide, and Luna has been best friends with Gael García Bernal (2,5) since childhood, and García Bernal starred in surreal fantasy flick, The Science of Sleep (2006), which co-starred Alain Chabat (3,4), who directed the French comedy, Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (2002), a fictional account of, cartoon characters, Astérix & Obélix’s meeting the famed Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra (4,3), who was portrayed by Italian actress Monica Bellucci (5,2), who starred in the Italian movie Malèna (2000), which was nominated for two Oscars, in 2001, in the ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Original Musical Score’ categories, but lost out to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), in both categories, along with two more Oscar wins, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was directed by Ang Lee (6,1), with whom Emile Hirsch had worked with, in, Taking Woodstock (2009).

…Norma Crane
Hirsch appeared in, the waste of time, film, The Darkest Hour (2011), which co-starred Olivia Thirlby (1), who appeared in the excellent comedy Juno (2007), for which Diablo Cody (2) took home the Oscar statuette for ‘Best Original Screenplay’, and Cody also wrote the screenplay for the teenage horror flick, Jennifer’s Body (2009), which also starred Johnny Simmons (3), who is currently working on the project Frank and Cindy, to be released next year, which also stars Rene Russo (4), who came in the re-make art heist flick, The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), and original 1968 version, was directed by Norman Jewison (5), who also directed the musical, Fiddler on the Roof (1971), starring Norma Crane (6).

…Yoko Ono
Hirsch appeared alongside Penélope Cruz (1) in Venuto al Mondo (2012), and Cruz starred along with Rebecca Hall (2) in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), and Hall acted in Frost/Nixon (2008), a feature film focusing on the, post-Watergate scandal, television interview by the illustrious British talk-show host, David Frost (3), of former president, Richard Nixon (4); the only president of the United States till date to resign from office; and the well-known Beatle, John Lennon’s (5), song ‘Give Peace a Chance’; written during the famous ‘Bed-In’ of May/June 1969, and which soon became an anti Vietnam-war anthem, and was sung by half a million demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at the ‘Vietnam Moratorium Day’, on the 15th of October, 1969; shook the Nixon government, and Lennon staged the famous ‘Bed-In’s’, for peace; which gave birth to this song; along with his newly married bride, Japanese artist and peace activist, Yoko Ono (6); whom he married, in March the same year, 1969, and they staged their first ‘Bed-In’ on their honeymoon, in March 1969 itself.

…Gloria Swanson
Hirsch in his teens, played a sensitive, effeminate, lonely, farm-boy; who seeks companionship with a chicken, he associates with his dead mother; in The Mudge Boy (2003), directed by Michael Burke (1), which was a feature length re-make of Burke’s own earlier short film, Fishbelly White (1998), which starred Jason Hayes (2), who appeared in Andrew Jackson (2007), a television movie about the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson (3), who was portrayed by Charlton Heston (4) in the re-make of The Buccaneer (1958), and the original 1938 version was directed by the luminary Cecil B. DeMille (5), who had a cameo, playing himself, in Sunset Boulevard (1950), where screen goddess of silent era, Gloria Swanson (6), played a faded, ageing, silent movie star recluse; whose disintegration into nothingness, unable to accept the loss her stardom since the invention of sound in cinema, talking pictures, is inevitable.

…Madeleine Carroll
Hirsch played the younger version of the eminent, Hungarian-American, illusionist, Harry Houdini (1), in the television movie, Houdini (1998), and in the past, Tony Curtis (2), was the first actor to portray Houdini, on the screen, in Houdini (1953), and Curtis starred with Marilyn Monroe (3) in the sizzling comedy, Some Like it Hot (1959), and Monroe, appeared alongside Cary Grant (4) in another hilarious comedy Monkey Business (1952), and Grant starred in the classic Film-Noir, Notorious (1946), which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock (5), who had earlier directed Madeleine Carroll (6), in The 39 Steps (1935).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: from Logan Lerman to …

Logan Lerman 6°

…Elijah Wood
Lerman starred alongside Aaron Eckhart (1) in the hilarious comedy Meet Bill (2007), and Eckhart appeared in the magnificent satire that was Thank you for Smoking (2005); a humorous insight into the manipulative business tactics of a tobacco industry; which was directed by Jason Reitman (2), who later directed yet another comical brilliance that was Juno (2007), starring Ellen Page (3); who earlier played a very dark role, of an underaged teenager who has her heart set on castrating a paedophile who she suspects is responsible for the death of yet another underaged teenage girl; in Hard Candy (2004), which co-starred Patrick Wilson (4), who appeared in Little Children (2006) with Kate Winslet (5), and Winslet starred in, the surreal masterpiece that was, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), which also starred, former child star, Elijah Wood (6).

…Tom Sturridge
Lerman did one of the laziest roles ever in the pathetic flick called Gamer (2009), the only saving grace, of which, was the villainess character, excellently portrayed by Michael C. Hall (1), whose most notable role, happens to be, the titular character, of a serial killer, he plays in the television series, Dexter (2006-2013), and in the last season of which Sam Underwood (2) played his young protégé, and Underwood starred in a stage version of the play Equus, a play written by Peter Shaffer (3), and the 2007 West End and Broadway productions, of this same play, starred Daniel Radcliffe (4), who plays famed poet, of the Beat generation, Allen Ginsberg (5) in the movie Kill your Darlings (2013), and Ginsberg was also portrayed by Tom Sturridge (6) in On the Road (2012).

…Rudolph Nureyev
Lerman, as child artiste, appeared, alongside fellow child actor, Cameron Bright (1), in The Butterfly Effect (2004), and Bright played a kid who harassed a widow into believing that he was a reincarnation of her dead husband in Birth (2004), which co-starred Lauren Bacall (2), who was married to Humphrey Bogart (3); and together they were famously known as Bogie and Bacall; and Bogie starred alongside Ingrid Bergman (4), in the much loved tear-jerker classic, Casablanca (1942), and Bergman’s daughter, Isabella Rossellini (5), starred in White Nights (1985); which tells the story of a famed Russian male ballet dancer who had defected from the Soviet Union (USSR), who finds himself back in the USSR when a plane carrying him to Tokyo has to have an emergency crash landing there; the character of the defected dancer was loosely inspired by the renowned ballet dancer, Rudolph Nureyev (6).
Logayn Loveman
…Rock Hudson
Lerman appeared in the excellent re-make; 3:10 to Yuma (2007); of the classic western, 3:10 to Yuma (1957), and the original was directed by Delmer Daves (1), who made his directorial debut with Destination Tokyo (1943), starring Cary Grant (2), and Grant starred in the amusingly crazily splendid farce, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), which was directed by Frank Capra (3), as was the romantic comedy, It Happened One Night (1934), which starred Claudette Colbert (4); who was famous for playing the legendary ‘Queen of the Nile’; in Cleopatra (1934), as was Elizabeth Taylor (5) in Cleopatra (1963), who starred alongside Rock Hudson (6) in Giant (1956).

…Roger Vadim
Lerman played son to Renée Zellweger (1), in My One and Only (2009), and Zellweger starred alongside Tom Cruise (2) in Jerry Maguire (1996), and Cruise appeared in The Color of Money (1986) with Paul Newman (3), who starred alongside Robert Redford (4), in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Redford appeared alongside Jane Fonda (5) in Barefoot in the Park (1967), and Fonda was at one time married to director Roger Vadim (6).

…Tom Ford
Lerman starred alongside Emma Watson (1) in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), and Watson appeared in My Week with Marilyn (2012), which also starred Dominic Cooper (2), who came in The History Boys (2006), alongside Stephen Campbell Moore (3), who appeared in Bright Young Things (2003), which was based on Evelyn Waugh’s (4) novel Vile Bodies, and Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, was the basis for the 2008 movie starring Matthew Goode (5), and Goode appeared in A Single Man (2009), which was the directorial debut of fashion designer, Tom Ford (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Cleopatra**********
Since the invention of Cinema, there have been over a hundred actresses who’ve portrayed the Queen of the Nile. But there have been very few on screen Cleopatra’s, that have blown us away with their powerful performances.   
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Q° 1. Which of these stars did you feel was Cleopatra incarnate? Who was the most beautiful Cleopatra of the silver screen?

a) Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Cleopatra (VL)

b) Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in Cleopatra (1963)

Cleopatra (ET)

-or-

c) Another actress completely (Please Specify; e.g. Helen Gardner (1912), Theda Bara (1917), Claudette Colbert (1934), Sophia Loren (1954), etc etc …)

Q° 2. If there were a newer bio-pic on the life of this, pre-feminist era, bold feminist, Pharaoh, which one of these actresses should play the role of Cleopatra?

a) Angelina Jolie

Cleopatra (AG)

b) Kate Winslet

Cleopatra (KW)

c) Marion Cotillard

Cleopatra (MC)

d) Sridevi

Cleopatra (SKk)

-or-

e) Kerry Washington

Cleopatra (KZ)

Q° 3. If there were to be a new movie on the life of Cleopatra, which of these would you prefer to see?

a) a bio-pic on her life based on an original new screenplay.

b) another movie based on William Shakespeare’s 1623 play Antony and Cleopatra.

c) another movie based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1898 play Caesar and Cleopatra.

d) a mystical, fantasy, surreal piece of artistically and visually spectacular, intellectual piece of cinema.

e) a blockbuster, with a weak script, meaningless violence (an action flick), good looking bodies (sexualising the film’s characters with necessity for very limited acting skills), where the computer graphics dominate the entire premise of the movie; meant for the masses, just to make a load of cash; which would be here today and gone tomorrow.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Cleopatra (NS)

Elisabeth, the Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary, was known for her beauty, free spirited attitude, modernity, intellect, taste in fashion, diet, exercise, horse riding and her long dark tresses.

Empress Elisabeth

The elegant nature loving beauty, daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph and Princess Ludovika, of Bavaria, became Empress of Austria when she married her maternal first cousin, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, and later was crowned the Queen of Hungary (She subsequently held the titles of Queen of Bohemia and Croatia as well). Empress Elisabeth was assassinated, 115 years ago today, on 10th September 1898, by an anarchist named Luigi Lucheni, who had just wanted to kill somebody of royal blood, didn’t matter who.
Elisabeth, was affectionately called “Sissi”, by her loved ones and close friends, since she was a child. She was an Austrian icon during the Victorian era, and had a great role influencing Austro-Hungarian politics.

Romy Schneider as Sissi

Sissi et moi
Back in the 80’s & 90’s, our mother, who loved telling us intriguing stories of books and movies she had read and watched when she was younger, had mentioned many a times about this beautiful love story she had watched, back in the late 60’s, called Forever My Love (1962), when it was shown on the big screen in Colombo, which she had never managed to locate afterwards.
Thanks to the invent of the internet, and more specifically the Internet Movie Data Base site (IMDB), I realised Forever My Love was actually an edited condensation of the Austrian Sissi trilogy (dubbed into English); Sissi (1955), Sissi – Die Junge Kaiserin (1956) and Sissi – Schickalsjahre einer Kaiserin (1957); a trio of films based on the early life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
But it wasn’t until 2009, that I located the three films. Not that I actually went hunting for them, but I never accidentally came across them either.
It was by fluke, in late August 2009, whilst residing in Paris, I just happen to walk into the ‘Virgin Stores’, in the Champs Élysées (a favourite haunt of mine), to see what newer books and films they had in store. To my surprise, I came across the trio of Sissi DVD’s, dubbed into French, but alas there were no subtitles included. I mentioned this to my mum, when I called her up. She was delighted, and told me to buy them, it didn’t matter that it didn’t contain English subtitles, she knew the movie by heart. After all, she had waited four decades to re-watch it. The Sissi movies to my mum, were like what Woodstock was to the people who had witnessed it. In fact in 2009, Paris shops were celebrating 40 years of Woodstock and Summer of 69’.

Romy Schneider as Sissi

Romy Schneider as Sissi

Sissi Films
Before I bought these films, I had already watched Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig (1972), in Paris itself, a bio-pic on Ludwig-II of Bavaria, cousin of Empress Elisabeth. For Ludwig, Romy Schneider (who had previously played the role of Sissi, in 50’s Sissi trilogy) reprised her role of, a more mature, Empress Elisabeth. Schneider being more mature in age by then, she was perfect for role.
Unexpectedly, I really enjoyed the Sissi DVD’s, when we watched the films four years ago, sans subtitles.

The Real-life Sissi: From Duchess of Bavaria to Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary
On Christmas eve, the 24th of December, in 1837, Duke Maximilian Joseph and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria, gave birth to their fourth child, Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie (a.k.a. Sissi). Little did they know that someday she’d be amongst the most famous, pre-feminist era, feminist, a sovereign, a political mediator and a fashion icon. Maximilian was known for his love for circuses, and often travelled in the Bavarian countryside to escape his duties. The family lived in Possenhofen Castle, thus Sissi and her siblings grew up in a very unrestrained and unstructured environment, far from court protocols.
In 1853, Princess Sophie of Bavaria, the domineering mother of 23-year-old Emperor Franz (Francis) Joseph of Austria, wanted her son to marry her sister, Ludovika’s, eldest daughter, Helen. The fun loving 15 year old Sissi, who had no desire what so ever to be a queen, accompanied her mother and elder, 18 year old, sister Helen, on a trip to the resort of Bad Ischl, Upper Austria.
Helene was a pious, very quiet, young woman, and when she met the Emperor, the two had a tensed unease creep between them. Meanwhile the Emperor was infatuated with the innocent bewitching beauty, Sissi, and her perky carefree attitude. For once the Emperor defied his mother saying if he could not have Elisabeth, he would never marry, period. Five days later they were engaged and it was officially announced that Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria was to marry Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria. The couple were married eight months later in Vienna at the Augustinerkirche on 24 April 1854, changing Sissi’s title from Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria to Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
Post marriage, though happy with her husband, her life was made miserable by her mother-in-law, Princess Sophie. On 5th March, 1855, almost eleven months after her marriage, Elisabeth gave birth to her first child, a daughter. Sophie at once took away the new born baby from the mother, and named the child after herself, (Archduchess Sophie of Austria), without the mother’s (Sissi’s) knowledge. Not only did Sophie take charge of the new born, she didn’t let Elisabeth even breast feed the baby, nor allow her to see her own child. On 12th July 1856, when she gave birth to a second daughter (Archduchess Gisela of Austria), the same fate arose for the second child.
The fact that Sissi hadn’t given birth to a male heir made her more of an outcast in the royal palace. One day Sissi found a pamphlet on her desk, stating that,‘‘…The natural destiny of a Queen is to give an heir to the throne….she should by no means meddle with the government of an Empire, the care of which is not a task for women ….. If the Queen bears no sons, she is merely a foreigner in the State, and a very dangerous foreigner,….she can never hope to be looked on kindly here…..’’. The jealous mother-in-law, Sophie, is generally considered to be the schemer behind this malicious pamphlet to Sissi. When Sissi travelled to Italy with her husband, her influence on her husband, regarding his Italian and Hungarian subjects; where she persuaded him to show mercy toward political prisoners; was the accusation of ‘political meddling’ referred to in the pamphlet.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria
In 1857, when Elisabeth visited Hungary for the first time, with her husband and two daughters, she fell madly in love with the place. So much so, that she began to learn Hungarian. The Hungarian people reciprocated with their adoration of her. But this same trip proved fatal for her children. The two little girls became ill with diarrhoea; while the younger, Gisela, quickly recovered, two-year-old Sophie, died (today assumed that she might have died of typhoid fever). The death of her eldest child threw Sissi over the edge of melancholy and onto the brink of a deep depression, and became bulimic, which would affect her the rest of her life. By December 1857, Sissi was pregnant with her third child. Sissi, who was very close to her parents, was nursed back to health by her mother. On 21 August 1858, Elisabeth finally gave birth to a male heir, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. Once again Sissi was blocked from the upbringing of her new son. By now, more mature (aged 20), she openly rebelled, but to no avail.
Having no say in the upbringing of her children, Sissi decided that she would not have any more children and withdrew from her husband sexually, saying what’s the use of having children only to be taken away from her. Which upset Princess Sophie, as she had expected to have a new grandchild on a regular basis. Sissi took an interest in politics, helping paving the way for a peace negotiations between Austria and Hungary. And she started a beauty and exercise regime. She daily took care of her long dark blonde to chestnut hair, which took almost two hours, though she used very little cosmetics and she believed in her natural beauty; instead relying on natural products like sweet almond oil and rosewater.
Throughout the 1860’s Sissi was ill, with coughing fits, violent migraines, fever, anaemia, and had contracted a lung disease. Around this time there were rumours that Franz Joseph was having a liaison with an actress named Frau Rollthe. At this time Sissi left her husband for short period, as a fresh rest cure was advised, and she went off to Corfu Island. After a two year long recovery she came back just before her husbands birthday. But soon she was ill again. But now Sissi became more assertive than ever before in her defiance against her mother-in-law, and openly opposed her and the Emperor, on the subject of military education of Rudolf.
Meanwhile she warmed back to the Emperor, and she would soon be pregnant for the fourth time. She was in the frontline to political negotiations which ensured Hungary to gain an equal footing with Austria. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 created the double monarchy of Austria and Hungary, and Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth were officially crowned King and Queen of Hungary with the coronation held on the 8th June 1867.

Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary
Sissi gave birth to her youngest child, a daughter, Marie Valerie, on 22nd April 1868 in Budapest, ten months after their coronation. Sissi finally had her way as Sophie’s influence over her grandchildren and the court faded, and she died in 1872. Sissi poured her repressed maternal feelings, love and affection; which she wasn’t allowed to give her earlier children; to her youngest child to the point of suffocation, that Marie Valerie grew to resent her mother.
Meanwhile, Austrian subjects were resentful of their royals having two titles, and rumours of Sissi having many a lovers spread, including that of an affair with George Middleton, an Anglo-Scot, although there is no verifiable evidence of her having an affair with him or any one else for that matter. Meanwhile, to a certain degree, Sissi tolerated her husband Franz Joseph’s affair with yet another actress, Katharina Schratt.
On 30th January, 1889, thirty-year-old Crown Prince Rudolf (Sissi’s son), along with his young lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera, were found dead together at the Mayerling, Rudolf’s hunting lodge in Lower Austria. An investigation suggested it seemed like an apparent murder-suicide by Rudolf. This incident came to be known as The Mayerling Incident. Elisabeth’s life was shattered by the death of her only son.
Sissi never recovered from this tragedy and sank into a even deeper depression and melancholy. Within the span of a year, her mother, her father, her sister, and now her son, had died. From then onwards she dressed only in black for the rest of her life. Even this became her new fashionable trade mark, with her long black gowns that could be buttoned up at the bottom, a white parasol made of leather, and a concealing fan to hide her face from curious onlookers. From her 30’s she stopped sitting for portraits and wished not to be photographed. Only few photographs of her, taken later in life, by press photographers who were lucky enough to capture her without her knowledge, remain. (today they’d be called paparazzi pictures). These snapshots show a woman who was graceful, but almost too slim, and unhappy. Later in life she became bitter, avoided royal duties, and started to travel extensively. But towards the end of her life she became close friends with her husband and shared a platonic relationship with him, and continued seeing the world, and travelling to places like Morocco, Algeria, Malta, Turkey, and Egypt; countries where European royals usually didn’t travel to. Her favourite destinations includes the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), Lake Geneva in Switzerland and Bad Ischl in Austria.

Last photo of Empress Elisabeth, the day before her death, at Territet, Switzerland

Last photo of Empress Elisabeth, the day before her death, at Territet, Switzerland

The Assassination of Sissi
In 1898, Sissi travelled incognito to Geneva, Switzerland. On 10th September 1898, the sixty-year-old Elisabeth, and Countess Irma Sztáray de Sztára et Nagymihály, her lady in waiting, left the hotel on the shore of Lake Geneva on foot to catch the steamship Genève for Montreux. They were walking along the promenade when the 25-year-old Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni, stabbed Elisabeth. Unaware of how grave the situation, she still managed to walk and board the ship. Bleeding to death from a puncture wound, not noticeable due to the corset, Sissi lost consciousness and collapsed, when she regained consciousness, and was asked if she felt any pain Sissi died uttering her last words, ‘‘No, what has happened?’’

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