Tag Archive: Pasolini


The Swinging Sixties
1966 Blow-UpThe 1960’s was a very unique decade, of the 20th century, when the world changed for the better. An era, thanks to which, we live in (or rather should live in) a more open minded world, with a freer lifestyle, with lesser (or rather should, with no) prejudice. An era, which brought about Equal Rights, Feminism (Women’s Lib),  The Hippies, the second (and more worldwide) phase of The Sexual Revolution (as opposed to The Sexual Revolution of the Roaring 20’s, which was limited to certain regions in the western world), Black Pride movement, Gay Pride movement, Youth Rebellions of 68’, Woodstock of 69’, Stonewall Riots of 69’, Motown Records, Rock Music, Experimentation with Psychedelic Drugs, Birth Control Pill, Popular Music, The Beatles, The British Invasion of Pop & Rock, Ravi Shankar, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Pop-Art, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King, Jr., Socialists, Radical political influences, 32 African countries gaining Independence, The Indian ‘Hungryalist Quartet’, China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, The Vietnam War, The American Counterculture, The Kennedy’s, The Space Age (the world put a man on the moon), Supercomputers, Sketchpads, Spacewar (first video game), Japanese Cars, Summer of Love, Flower Power, Peace, Love and anti-war sentiments.

The beginning of the 60’s decade, and the latter part of the 60’s, were so different, as if they belonged to two terrifically different era’s. This was a period that globalisation actually took place. Added to which fashion, art and music, travelled beyond borders. The Beatles were influenced by Indian music, especially the sounds of the Sitar. Short Indian Kurta’s, Hindu beads, African Batik styles, South American Poncho’s, were loved by the Hippies. Similarly western geometric styles, and bright designs, were adapted to Asian clothing. The era was famed for, mini-skirts, of swinging London, and skin tight Salwar-Kameezes, in India (inspired by the western tight skirts). A very glamorous decade, with it’s massive bouffant hairstyles, tight clothes and short skirts. And as the decade proceeded, the hairdo’s went higher, as did the hemlines.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore, became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine, in 1966. This was an Independence Special issue.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore (though not the first Indian to wear a Bikini), became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine. In the Year: 1966. This was an Independence Special, issue of Filmfare (August 1966).

The modern Bikini, though invented in 1946 (prior to which slightly bigger, two piece swimsuits, baring the midriff, existed), gained popularity internationally only in the 1960’s. Prior to which, general women preferred traditional, one piece, swimwear, though a lot of glamour girls were seen in tiny Bikini’s in magazines, films, et al. Yet young men, were quite comfortable, in tiny swimming trunks. Today it’s the exact opposite.

And in Cinema: 1960’s

The invent of the Merchant Ivory Productions took place, making Indian English Language films, avec a highly international standard (started by a trio of well (western) educated friends, Ismail Merchant, James Ivory & Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). They brought something new to Indian Cinema, in the 60’s & 70’s (unlike the Western Orientalist craze for Bollywood today, and the assumption that all Indian Cinema falls under the category of Bollywood, whilst Bollywood only makes Hindi Language films (out of the 122 major languages, and many more sub-dialects, spoken in India), and is mostly associated with commercial cinema, mainly with song & dance), and a special, new-found, global admiration for mystic & spiritual India. The Hippie culture had a major influence in India and Nepal.

In the west, the 60’s, revolutionised Cinema. In Europe, Art Cinema, especially The French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague), brought out a modernist (non-commercial, yet loved by modern intellectual youths) form of film, as never before; with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard at the helm. Elsewhere, Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, Chilean film director Alexandro Jodorowsky, Polish film directors Roman Polanski & Wojciech Jerzy, Italian film directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini & Pier Paolo Pasolini, Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, and Indian film directors Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen & Ritwik Ghatak (all in the Bengali language) brought about their own masterpieces of Art Cinema, with an International standard, in their respective countries.

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Hollywood wasn’t far back, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), was America’s answer to the European Art House. Directed by Mike Nichols (this was his directorial debut feature), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal & Sandy Dennis, and based on a play by Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is today, considered a culturally relevant, a historically noteworthy, and an aesthetically significant, masterpiece of the American Art Film.

Movies also began to break taboos of sex, nudity and violence, with controversial directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini & Bernardo Bertolucci (in Italian Films), Roger Vadim (French Films), Roger Corman (American Films) and Raj Kapoor (Bollywood – Hindi Commercial Films), to name a few. The 60’s are also remembered in conjunction with the Spaghetti Westerns, a short lived trend, begun by Italian film director, Sergio Leon.

The Year: 1966

Tunisian-born Italian actress of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

Tunisian-born, Italian actress, of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

1966 saw, the Acid Test (a series of parties, in the mid-late 60’s, centred around the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, a.k.a. Acid) take place, at the historic music venue in San Francisco, California, The Fillmore. These acid trips lasted throughout the rest of the decade. The spy-plane, SR-71 Blackbird (which had it’s first flight in 1964), started operation. Cabinet Member, Robert C. Weaver, became the first African American to hold a cabinet position in the United States. Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was elected Prime Minister of India, making her the first, and only, woman Prime Minister, in India, to hold office till date. She was also the second longest serving Prime Minister of India. Luna 9, an unmanned spacecraft landed on the Moon, making it the first controlled rocket-assisted landing. Later same year, Luna 10, was also launched, by the Russians. The Lunar Orbiter 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon, was also launched, much later, that year. A head to head space race. The Australian Dollar was introduced. John Lennon made the controversial remark, that ‘The Beatles were more popular than Jesus’; which, though there were no problems when it was first published in the United Kingdom, got him into trouble with Christian communities in the United States, when it was republished in the States. The Crown Princess of the Netherlands married a German, which sparked protests against the Groom. Meanwhile demonstrations were held, across the United States, against the Vietnam War. The opening of the Parliament of the United Kingdom was televised for the very first time. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were finally convicted, for the murder of three children, in UK. In New York, thirteen square blocks of low rise buildings were cleared for construction of the World Trade Center (Twin Towers), and groundbreaking for the construction began.

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue) YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue)
YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Star Trek (1966-1969), a sci-fi series, made it’s television debut, in America. The Black Panther Party was founded in USA. Japan introduced the Toyota Corolla. Chinese students were chased out of the Soviet Union. The Mothman was introduced, when a couple reported that they saw a strange moth like creature, in the States. Author Truman Capote, hosted a lavish, Black & White, masquerade ball, which was credited as being the Party of the century. Jack L. Warner sold Warner Bros. to Seven Arts Productions; And Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, was elected, as the Governor of California.

Sadly, 1966 also saw the demise of greats, such as; famed Swiss Sculptor Alberto Giacometti, notorious American gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, iconic Silent Film-star Buster Keaton, neo-classical Italian Artist Gino Severini, American Artist & Illustrator Maxfield Parrish, British Author Evelyn Waugh, German Expressionist Film producer Erich Pommer, Hollywood method-actor Montgomery Clift, American Poet & Art Critic Frank O’Hara, French Writer & Poet André Breton, Canadian Beautician & Entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, and Cartoonist Walt Disney (the most prominent figure of the animation industry worldwide); to name some.

Now let’s have a look at some of the films that were released in:-
1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex!!!

Hays Code was almost nearing it’s death (the dreaded censorship laws that could have, but thankfully didn’t, kill off, the cinematic arts; with it’s silly rules and regulations), and Hays (the man who implemented these rules) himself had already been dead for just over a decade. The world was going through a new found sexual revolution, as was the film industry, especially Hollywood. And the out-dated production code by William Hays, was getting impossible to enforce (which was finally, completely, abandoned in 1968).

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was a quite hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis &  Jerry Lewis in the lead. Though released in 1965, it's film posters, hinted what the following year should be known as.

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was quite a hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis, in the lead. Though released in 1965, it’s film posters, hinted at, what the following year, should be known as.

In April 1966, at the 38th  Annual Academy Awards, the family entertainer, Sound of Music (1965), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar, winning five out of it’s ten nominations. Fred Zinnemann’s, A Man for all Seasons (1966), a historical biographical movie, based on an excellent play by Robert Bolt, ended up bagging six Oscars, the following year, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’, at the 39th Annual Academy Awards. Thus making it the best film of 1966. Love the movie, love the play. But let’s have a look at some of the movies, that defined the 60’s, and more specifically, Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex.

Blow-Up (1966), a near excellent British Film, by Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, is no doubt the perfect insight into the latter half of 60’s decade. Fashion, fashion photography, and sexy sizzling costumes of Swinging London, it encompasses the late 60’s to perfection. A very 60’s, Sexty Sex, film, set in the world of modern fashion, with a modern, youthful and open-minded, insight into the changing world.

Blow-Up (1966) - a movie that defined the 60's!!!!! TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings BOTTOM RIGHT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff  BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

Blow-Up (1966) – a movie that defined the late 60’s!!!!!
TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles
TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings
BOTTOM LEFT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff
BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless – Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

The plot deals with a fashion photographer, who one day accidentally takes shots of something, he shouldn’t have, in a park. Then a mysteriously beautiful woman walks into his life, under very suspicious circumstances. David Hemmings played the photographer, and Vanessa Redgrave, the mysterious beauty. The film also features a line of breathtakingly talented beauties, including Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin and German born fashion model, Veruschka von Lehndorff (daughter of a Prussian Count who was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and thus killed for it), to name some. In addition to that, the film has some notable cameo’s by several well known personalities from 1966. Especially, worth watching out for a performance, by English Rock-Band, The Yardbirds. Hemmings’ character was inspired by the real life, Swinging London, photographer, David Bailey.

Blow-Up dared to be quite sexually provocative, especially for that era, and when it was released in the United States, it was in direct defiance with the ridiculous Hays Code. In fact, Blow-Up’s subsequent critical, and box-office, success, was a crucial cinematic-historical moment, leading to the ultimate elimination of the out-dated production code, in 1968.

Next let’s have a look at Sexty Sex’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I mentioned earlier. One of my favourite films ever, which also happens to be among my own TOP-10 all time favourite movies (See my list Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB). Love the movie. Love the Book (Play).

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

The film is about, a miserable middle-aged couple, who regret their life together, having not achieved all they had hoped and desired for, when young. Set within one night, the older couple invite a younger couple for drinks, and play out their disappointments, with one another, at the younger couples’ expense.

Elizabeth Taylor, who was still in her early 30’s, at the time, is successfully turned into a bitter old frumpy woman in her 50’s. Yet, this violet eyed beauty, oozes with sex appeal, and easily seduces the younger married man. Taylor’s character, Martha, not only seduces the younger man, but the audience as well, openly, in front of her weak willed husband (played by real life husband, Richard Burton). Especially, watch out for her re-entry, after she changes her clothes; as the old woman, walks into the living room, in a low-cut, deep cleavage bearing outfit; she is still a far superior sexual being, than the mousy little wife of the younger man, Nick (played by George Segal), Honey (Sandy Dennis). Showcased with a shadowy outline, suggesting a sexual act in progress, seen through a bedroom window, this is another 60’s movie, which not only revolves around sexual human relationships; the older husband & wife, the younger husband & wife (a marriage based on a “hysterical pregnancy”), and the adulterous one night stand; but their vulgar tongued bitterness, is blatantly thrown at audiences, quite unapologetically. It’s an excellent movie, meant for mature audiences. Not just mature in age, but maturity of the mind, is a necessity, to watch an intellectual movie like this. Beautifully filmed in Black & White, the film is a complete psychoanalysis of the young and the old. The 60’s dared to release a movie like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which surpasses time, and can be relevant in any human relationship, in any era.

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Then there is a really seductively intimate dance number, between Taylor and Segal, which is pure sex on the dance floor. My favourite movie from Nineteen Sexty Sex, Mike Nichols’ directorial debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is a must watch, for any film buff, students of Cinema Literature, and students of Literature in the print form.

Natalie Wood was seen in two sexy releases, that year. One was the near excellent comedy, Penelope (1966), in which she plays a bored rich kleptomaniac, who robs her own husband’s bank (thus, the film/character namesake – is tagged as being, “the world’s most beautiful Bank-Robber”); and the other, a more serious, sizzling with heat, and female sexuality, movie, set in the depression era, in the Deep American South; This Property Is Condemned (1966). Another excellent masterwork of adult cinema. The latter film flaunts it’s female lead’s sexuality, thus feels more at-your-face sexual, than the comedy mentioned here. Also see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south and Mai May Movies 2015 from May 2015.

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Whilst the west, was coming to terms with exploring sexual topics in cinema, in the east, Indian cinema, specifically Bollywood’s commercial cinema, was starting open up topics of sex themselves. In Aakhri Khat (1966), we see a ditched beggar woman, die on the streets Bombay. Originally from Kulu district, of the state of Himachal Pradesh, she comes to Bombay, bearing child, to find the reason for her sufferings, Govind (Rajesh Khanna), a sculptor. Once the woman dies, the toddler is left on the buzy streets to fend for himself.

Directed by Chetan Anand, majority of the movie, is filmed with a hand-held camera, following a 15 month old infant, let loose in the city, taking in all the city sounds, under the cinematic direction of cinematographer, Jal Mistry. It’s an excellent movie. Am not going to go deep into the film. The implication of pre-marital sex wasn’t necessarily something new. But there is one beautiful scene, I’d like to mention. As the lost hungry child roams around the city, unaware of the death of his mother, he comes across a semi-nude statue of his mothers’, made by his father, Govind. The child at once recognises his mum, but doesn’t realise, it’s just a sculpture. The hungry crying child, is now delighted he found his mum, he feels safe, and slowly climbs it and tries to drink milk from her breast. That scene is so sad, so touching, your heart lets out. In one way there is a sense of eroticism, seeing a child trying to drink milk from a statue, but it’s also a heartrending moment in the movie. Aakhri Khat is an excellent movie, and this was superstar, Rajesh Khanna’s, very first role.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), based on the true life tragic story of a courtesan in 500 BC.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), in this historical epic, based on the true life, tragic story, of a courtesan, in 500 BC.

Bollywood actress, of southern Indian ancestry, Vyjayanthimala, appeared in two sexy roles, in 1966. One was, where she played a Princess, in Suraj (1966). An enjoyable enough movie, with beautiful songs, and an average story line. An OK venture, showcasing Vyjayanthimala’s sexy gait and bewitching beauty. But it was the historical epic, biographical movie, about a real life courtesan, Amrapali (1966), which was one of the best films she’s ever done, and encompasses her sexuality to the utmost. The concubine, mistress, of a tyrannical King, her dances, the beautiful body, is pure eroticism, and pure art. Set in 500 BC, under the rein of King Ajatashatru of Magadha empire, this is one of my favourite Bollywood films, and one of my favourite historical/Biographical epics. Amrapali was directed by Lekh Tandon.

Both these excellent Bollywood movies (Aakhri Khat & Amrapali), were selected as India’s official entry for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category at the Academy Awards, but neither were selected as Oscar nominees.

Besides these Bollywood commercial films, 1966, also so the release of the Indian Art House Film, from the state of Bengal (in Bengali); Satyajit Ray’s Nayak (1966). A feminist writer, played by Sharmila Tagore, and a Bengali film star, played by Uttam Kumar, meet by chance in a train, travelling from Calcutta to New Delhi. Reluctant at first, for the feminist writer is full of contempt towards film stars, she ultimately decides to interview him. The whole movie, is a train journey, mainly set the restaurant car, where she interviews him. But the film is also a journey of understanding one another. The actor, slowly opens up, without hiding behind a façade, whilst the feminist softens her outlook towards the world of showbiz. By the end of the journey, as they part their ways, both have improved, through this journey of self-discovery, and an understanding of a non-judgemental outlook towards fellow human beings. One of my favourite Bengali movies, by one of the greatest Indian directors ever.

Cul-de-Sac 66'

Heading back to the United Kingdom, Polish director, Roman Polanski’s, Cul-de-Sac (1966), is another interesting, sexual and psychological thriller. A very weird movie dealing with sexual frustration, alienation and of-course the input of horror. A very good movie, which has all the Polanski trade-marks, seen in most of his films. Also see my post Roman Polanski & His Films from a couple of years ago.

Getting back to Hollywood, my favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock’s, Torn Curtain (1966), a movie that deals with an American physicist defecting (in pretence) onto the Iron Curtain, more specifically East Germany. Set and made, during the Cold War, and starring Julie Andrews and Paul Newman, this is not considered among the best of Hitchcockian films. Yet it’s still an excellent movie. Hitchcock was intrigued by the defection of British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union in 1951, and thus the idea behind Torn Curtain was born.

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

The film has a very mild sex scene, with Andrews and Newman, in the beginning of the film. Yet, straight out of family entertainers like Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music, seeing Julie Andrews do a sex scene, was shocking for American audiences back then. But by the early 70’s, there were so much more, graphic, sex sequences, in movies like, A Clockwork Orange (1971), Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Don’t Look Now (1973), to name a few, that even the idea of being shocked at the sex scene in Torn Curtain was laughable. Paul Newman, also appears nude in a shower scene, but seen through a glass, the nudity isn’t that clearly visible.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

1966, wasn’t all about sex, there were some beautiful non-sexual family films like, Born Free (1966), Mera Saaya (1966), How to Steal a Million (1966), Anupama (1966), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966), A Man for all Seasons (mentioned above), for example. Yet the Audrey Hepburn movie, How to Steal a Million, can also be categorized as a  stylishly, sleek n’ sexy, movie of 1966. Other sexy films of 66’, include, Fantastic Voyage (1966), Teesri Manzil (1966), Frankie and Johnny (1966), 7 Women (1966), Love in Tokyo (1966), Teesri Kasam (1966), etc etc …

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Then there are Sexty-Sex films I haven’t seen, but would love to, like, Un Homme et une Femme (1966), Masculin Féminin (1966), The Battle of Algiers (1966), Voyna i Mir Part-I & II (1966), Alfie (1966), Shiroi Kyotō (1966), Persona (1966), Is Paris Burning? (1966), The Face of Another (1966), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Appaloosa (1966), The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), The Chase (1966), Madame X (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Any Wednesday (1966), Triple Cross (1966 ), Made in U.S.A (1966), Hawaii (1966), La Curée (1966), The Blue Max (1966), Sex Quartet (1966), Gambit (1966), Kenka Erejî (1966), The Trouble with Angels (1966), The Professionals (1966), Sedmikrásky (1966), Daimajin (1966), Trunk to Cairo (1966), Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), Incompreso (1966), The Deadly Affair (1966), Pearls of the Deep (1966), Harper (1966), Our Man in Marrakesh (1966), Grand Prix (1966), Khartoum (1966), O Slavnosti a Hostech (1966), Andrei Rublev (1966), Nevada Smith (1966), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Arabesque (1966), The Wild Angels (1966), Tokyo Drifter (1966), Maya (1966), Uccellacci e Uccellini (1966), Seconds (1966), The War Is Over (1966), Faraon (1966), Kaleidoscope (1966), Ah Güzel Istanbul (1966), The Poppy is also a Flower (1966), Ostre Sledované Vlaky (1966), La noire de… (1966), Mamta (1966), The Pornographers (1966), Le Deuxième Souffle (1966), Krylya (1966), The Sandwich Man (1966), Chappaqua (1966), Syskonbädd 1782 (1966), Yeh Raat phir na Aaygi (1966), A Man Called Adam (1966), Es (1966), Signore & Signori (1966), Onna no Mizûmi (1966), Apa (1966), Les Créatures (1966), Zatôichi umi o Wataru (1966), Footsteps in the Snow (1966), La Vida de Pedro Infante (1966), Kiba Ôkaminosuke (1966), The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966), Seasons of Our Love (1966), Una Vergine per il Principe (1966), After the Fox (1966), etc etc …. and so many more.

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

And then there are films that I haven’t watched, that am not that crazy about, but which are sexualised films (especially using actresses, with beautiful bodies, rather than acting talent – mostly B-movies, B-Horror/B-Sci-fi films), some of which were quite famous back in 1966, and some that sound so silly they were hardly worth mentioning, and audiences back then weren’t that crazy about checking out. The likes of, One Million Years B.C. (1966), Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Once Before I Die (1966), Blood Bath (1966), Queen of Blood (1966), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966), Kill Baby, Kill (1966), Take Me Naked (1966) and Single Room Furnished (1966), to name some.

The 1960’s: One Great Decade!!!!!
The Year 1966: One Unique Year, especially for Cinema!!!!!

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up  YEAR:1966

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
YEAR:1966

This post is about Sex in Film & the Sixties, and more specifically in 66’ (a.k.a. Sexty Sex); (Ironic, considering the fact, that my previous post, dealt with virginity, in Year 2015).

Meant for More Mature Audiences!!!!!
(Immature Adults – Stay Clear)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

This post, is my contribution for the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, organised by fellow Bloggers of, Silver Screenings (Ruth), Movies Silently (Fritzi) & Once Upon a Screen (Aurora); and sponsored by Flicker Alley.
History Project  (JUNE 2015) LOGOThank you Ruth, Aurora and Fritzi for letting me be part of this interesting Blogathon. It’s five minutes to Midnight !!!!! Good Night!!!!! 🙂

Regards
Nuwan Sen

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B.Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci & I
My introduction to Bernardo Bertolucci was as a teenager, back in the early/mid 1990’s, when I was awed by the spectacle that was The Last Emperor (1987). A movie I was reprimanded for watching, as supposedly it was not suitable for a 16/17 year old. Even at that age I was aware that I had actually just witnessed an artistic piece of cinematic excellence. What I should have realised at that age, but didn’t, is that I did not belong in this aesthetically depressive dump hole. But I knew that my taste was a bit high for these so called older and wiser idiots to ever comprehend. If they had a problem with me watching such a fine piece of cinema, ’twas because of their own perverted mentality, not mine. None the less, till date, I think The Last Emperor is the best film Bertolucci has made, and my second favourite, besides all the bad memories associated with watching it.
Next, still in my teens, was Little Buddha (1993), in 1994, when we went back to live in New Delhi, after an unpleasant hiatus of six years away from my country of birth to the country of unfortunate roots. Coming from a Buddhist background, minus the deep blinded faith of the religion, instead having a more open minded modern acceptance of the philosophical aspects of Buddhism, Little Buddha was a must watch for me. Though no where as near as excellent as The Last Emperor, I really enjoyed Little Buddha, and thought it was a very good movie.

Bertolucci (80's & 90's)

Bertolucci’s Childhood
Bertolucci was born in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in the city of Parma, in Italy, on the 16th of March 1940. His mother was a teacher, and father, Attilio Bertolucci, a reputed poet, art historian, anthologist and film critic. Bertolucci, also has a younger brother, who is a theatre director and playwright. Thanks to his family background, Bertolucci, started writing at a very young age and as a teenager, received several prestigious literary prizes.
Wishing to be a poet, like his famous father, Bertolucci, attended the ‘Faculty of Modern Literature’, at the University of Rome, from 1958 to 1961. But meanwhile, his father having helped, famed Italian film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, to publish his first novel, Pasolini reciprocated by hiring Bernardo Bertolucci, as a first assistant in Rome for Pasolini’s film, Accattone (1961), thus Bertolucci left the University without graduating.
At 22, Bertolucci directed his first movie, La Commare Secca (1962), for which the screenplay was written by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Post that, Bertolucci decided to leave behind ‘s poetic ideals, and make it on his own. Giving birth to his second, and more acclaimed, film, Prima Della Rivoluzione (1964), a.k.a. Before the Revolution. The rest, as we know, is history.

Prima Della Rivoluzione by Bernardo Bertolucci

Before and After The Sexual Revolution
After having watched two Bertolucci films, in my teens, the next one I watched, was The Sheltering Sky (1990), in 2002 in London, eight years after watching Little Buddha. A beautiful drama set in the deserted landscape of the African continent, where an American couple travel aimlessly searching for new experiences in the late 1940’s. The Sheltering Sky stars John Malkovich, who is superb as always, Debra Winger and Campbell Scott.
And then I watched the acclaimed, Prima Della Rivoluzione, mentioned above, in 2003, in Oslo, I loved this Italian classic, the only Italian language film of Bertolucci I’ve seen till date. The story is about a May/December romance, set in the backdrop of Italy’s ideologies (much like protagonist’s) torn between their comfortable Bourgeois lifestyle and flirtation with communist theory, released just before the sexual revolution of the 60’s. A study of youth at the edge of adulthood. The lead actress, Adriana Asti, was married to Bertolucci, later divorced.
Soon, in 2003, Oslo, itself, I got a chance to watch The Dreamers (2003), on the big screen there, when it premiered for an Oslo film festival. That was my first and only Bertolucci on the big screen till date. I fell in love with this film about three innocent film buffs, with liberated views, living in a dream world, as the 1968 riots unfold outside in Paris. Thus, set during the height of the sexual revolution. The movie starts with the sacking of famed French film archivist, Cinephile and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française, Henri Langlois, and ends during the Parisian ‘Student Occupation Protests’, of May 68’. The Dreamers, is my favourite Bernardo Bertolucci venture till date. And I’ve seen it numerous times since then. Post that I watched the controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972), in Oslo itself, and Besieged (1999), while residing in Portsmouth, UK, in 2004.
BB's The Dreamers (03')The Last Scandal of Bertolucci
Last Tango in Paris (1972), was a movie I didn’t really enjoy that much, but happens to be a very good movie, and worth checking out at least once. Made, based on Bertolucci’s sexual fantasies (apparently he once dreamed of seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was), it is the most scandalous movie Bertolucci has ever made till date, especially due to the graphic rape scene using butter. Actress Maria Schneider, was unaware of such a scene, and was told just before the take that her character was to be raped. She felt she was manipulated and forced to do a scene that was not on the script, and she later mentioned that in that scene, she was not acting but, ‘‘I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon (Brando) and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise.’’ She also added much later that her biggest regret in life was making this movie, and that it ruined her life. She never spoke to Bertolucci after that and never forgave him, even in death, for what she considered an emotional rape. Maria Schneider died of cancer, in February 2011. In 2013, Bertolucci, expressed sadness of his treatment of Maria Schneider stating that, Maria was just, ‘‘a 19-year old who, had never acted before. Maybe, sometimes in the movie, I didn’t tell her what was going on because I knew her acting would be better. So, when we shot this scene with Marlon using butter on her, I decided not to tell her. I wanted a reaction of frustration and rage’’. Yet Bertolucci also mentioned that even though he felt guilty, he did not regret it.
Marlon Brando too felt emotionally raped, and avoided contact with Bertolucci, but reconciled 15 years later. About Marlon Brando, Bertolucci had said that he is, ‘‘an angel as a man, a monster as an actor’’.

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Academy Awards & Recognition
Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Partner (1968), entered the 29th Venice Film Festival and the 22nd Cannes Film Festival. Amore e Rabbia (1969) entered 19th Berlin International Film Festival, where he was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear. Il Conformista (1970), earned Bertolucci, many award wins at prestigious ceremonies, including the Golden Berlin Bear, and Bertolucci was nominated for ‘Best Screenplay’ at the Academy Awards in 1972. His very first Oscar nod. Yet it was the controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972) that gained him international recognition (and notoriety), along with two Oscar nominations, for ‘Best Actor’ (to Marlon Brando), and ‘Best Director’ for Bertolucci. Many wins and nominations followed his work then on forward, but it was Bertolucci’s bio-pic, The Last Emperor (1987), gained him an even greater, better reputed, recognition, as one of greatest film director’s ever. It was the first feature film authorized by the Chinese government to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing. The film won all the nine awards it was nominated for, at the Academy Awards, including ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’. Bertolucci’s biggest Oscar triumph yet. He also won two awards at the Golden Globes. Post that he had many other wins and nominations for various films at various ceremonies, yet nothing broke the his record wins of The Last Emperor. Definitely the best film he’s ever made, and my second favourite Bertolucci. In 2007, Bertolucci won the Golden Lion for his career at the Venice Film Festival, and in recognition of his work, he was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d’Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

BB's Last Emperor

The Last Emperor (1987)

Bertolucci appeals for a fellow Film director
Director Bernardo Bertolucci, was among the people who signed an appeal to the Swiss government to release Roman Polanski, who was being held while waiting to be extradited to the United States, in September 2009.
(Also see my post Roman Polanski & His Films from September 2013)Director Bernardo Bertolucci - On the sets of ...

Bertolucci Films am yet to watch
I have so many Bertolucci, films I haven’t seen yet, including La Commare Secca (1962), Il Conformista (1970), Novecento/1900 (1976), La Luna (1979), La Tragedia di un Uomo Ridicolo (1981), Stealing Beauty (1996) and Io e Te (2012), to name a few.

Io e Te (2012)

Io e Te (2012)

Belated Birthday wishes to Bertolucci
Bertolucci celebrated his 74th Birthday on Sunday, the 16th of March, 2014. Wishing him all the best for his future endeavours. (Also see my list BB: Set Of Seven On IMDB, made on his 73rd Birthday, last year)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Six Degrees of Separation: from James Franco to

James Franco 6°

…Hilarie Burton
Franco portrayed legendary method actor James Dean (1), in the television movie, James Dean (2001), and Dean starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor (2) in Giant (1956), and Taylor was married to Conrad Hilton jr (3); son of the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, who was Taylor’s first husband, who was  a gambler, alcoholic and was very abusive towards Taylor, and his abusive behaviour towards her resulted in a miscarriage, Taylor’s parents were horrified, and soon Taylor’s first marriage ended after suffering, and surviving through, nine months of a miserable marriage to Hilton jr; and Conrad Hilton jr happens to be the great uncle of Paris Hilton (4), who appeared in the remake of a B-movie, horror classic, House of Wax (2005), which co-starred Chad Michael Murray (5), who starred alongside Hilarie Burton (6) in the television soap, One Tree Hill (2003-2012).

…Hattie McDaniel  
Franco starred in the bio-pic Milk (2008), which co-starred Emile Hirsh (1), who starred in an adventure flick, based on a real life story, called Into The Wild (2007), which saw, a yet unknown, young, Kristen Stewart (2) who gained fame through the series of five Twilight movies (from 2008 to 2012), which co-starred Robert Pattinson (3); as a kind-hearted vampire who falls in love with a human and is in constant loggerheads with a werewolf, who too has the hots for the same person; and Pattinson appeared in the tragic drama, Remember Me (2010), where Pierce Brosnan (4) played his father, and Brosnan starred alongside Halle Berry (5) in Die Another Day (2002), who was the first African American actress (black actress) to bag the Best Actress trophy at the Oscars, in 2002, for Monster’s Ball (2001), and the very first black celebrity, to ever win an Oscar, was Hattie McDaniel (6), for Best Supporting Actress, in 1940, for Gone with the Wind (1939).

…Laurence Olivier
Franco directed and acted in, the one hour long, short film, Interior. Leather Bar. (2013), a re-imagining of the lost 40 minutes, of the film-within-the-film, of Cruising (1980), which starred Al Pacino (1), who played the lead mafia boss, in The Godfather: Part – III (1990), which also starred Austrian actor Helmut Berger (2), and Berger came in the movie, The Damned (1969), which co-starred Charlotte Rampling (3), who had a cameo in Deception (2008) starring Ewan McGregor (4), who shares a close friendship with fellow actor Jude Law (5); who was at one time his roommate; and Law starred in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), in which CGI manipulated archive footage of the late actor, Sir Laurence Olivier (6), is used as the villain of the movie, in a hologram form; the villain of the movie too is discovered to have been dead for quite sometime towards the end of the film.

Jamesing Sixes

…Sergio Fascetti
Franco carried an entire movie on his shoulders, when he played the lead, in the biographical adventure film, 127 Hours (2010), which was directed by Danny Boyle (1), who also directed the zombie flick, 28 Days Later … (2002), starring Cillian Murphy (2), who worked with director Ken Loach (3) in The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006); about the Irish anti-British rebellion for independence in the 1920’s; and Loach also directed Poor Cow (1967), which starred Terence Stamp (4), who played a visitor that seduces a whole family in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s (5) Teorema (1968), an Italian classic, and  Pasolini also directed the very controversial Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (1975); set in a Nazi-controlled northern Italian state during the second world war, where four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth, and subject them to 120 days of physical, mental and sexual torture; in which Sergio Fascetti (6) played one of the victims.

…Tena Desae
Franco played the famed ‘Wizard’ in, Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), which happens to be a sequel/prequel to the children’s classic musical The Wizard of Oz (1939), which starred a teenaged Judy Garland (1), mother of Liza Minnelli (2), and Minnelli starred in the 70’s, somewhat campy, musical, Cabaret (1972), which was based on Christopher Isherwood’s (3) semiautobiographical novel, Goodbye to Berlin, and Isherwood’s novella, A Single Man, was the basis for the movie with same name, released in 2009, starring Nicholas Hoult (4), who appeared in the British television show, Skins (2007 till date), which co-starred Dev Patel (5) who starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), which also starred Tena Desae (6).

…Audrey Hepburn
Franco starred alongside Tobey Maguire (1) in Spider-Man (2002), and Maguire appeared in Ang Lee’s (2) The Ice Storm (1997), and Lee won his second Best Director Oscar, earlier this year, for Life of Pi (2012), in which Bollywood actress Tabu (3) played the lead character’s mother, and Tabu’s aunt, 70’s feminist actress, and social activist, Shabana Azmi (4) starred in the British movie Madame Sousatzka (1988), in which the titular character was played by Shirley MacLaine (5), who starred along with Audrey Hepburn (6) in the, very bold for that period, movie, The Children’s Hour (1961), where two school teachers are accused by a student of being lesbians.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Today happens to be the birth anniversaries of three distinguished artists from three different fields of the world of arts. One was a prominent British actor, Rex Harrison; another a controversial Italian film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini; and last but not least a teenage music sensation of the 70’s, Andy Gibb.

The Actor & The Film Director

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Rex Harrison (1908-1990)

I’ve known Rex Harrison, ever since I was a little kid, especially thanks to his roles of Professor Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady (1964), and Julius Caesar in Cleopatra (1963). I have a vague memory of having watched Doctor Doolittle (1967) as a kid as well, but I don’t remember it at all, except for a talking parrot, and lots of animals in a dried up deserted location. I’m not that familiar with Harrison’s works from the 1930’s & 40’s, but have loved most his work from the 50’s & 60’s.

My favourite Harrison character happens to be from My fair Lady.

Professor Higgins

Professor Higgins happens to be a very uniquely brash yet likable, highly sophisticated yet ill mannered, dignified yet indecent, eccentric yet admirable, Edwardian gentleman, who doesn’t know how to treat a lady. A Professor of phonetics, who’s appalled with the modern day butchering of the English Language, which he upholds with the highest regard.

Love the bugger !!! Whoops!! (my apologies to Professor Higgins) Mainly for his penchant for the highly polished use of the English Language. I wonder what he’d say, if he’s existed today. Worst if he were to meet an Australian. Higgins would die of a heart attack. “Poooor Professor Higgins” (sing along).

What’s most interesting is the fact, when Eliza Doolittle (played by my all time favourite star, the adorable Audrey Hepburn) has an argument with him, throws his bedroom slippers at him and leaves, for being treated as doormat, he genuinely has no clue as to why she was so mad at him. You actually feel sorry for “Poooor Professor Higgins”. And I love the way he screams for his “Mother!!!”. Well, they really don’t make such uniquely crafted, timeless, unforgettable characters anymore.

My Fair Lady, was based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (the title of the play’s refers to a tale from Greek Mythology).

Julius Caesar

Hail Caesar!! Another great role, where he is seduced by the bewitchingly beautiful Cleopatra (played by an equally bewitching beauty, Elizabeth Taylor). It’s not just Caesar and Marc Anthony (and the actor playing Anthony, i.e. Richard Burton), but we, the people who have watched this movie, too were seduced by both Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was Cleopatra incarnate, can’t think of any one better to play this milk bathen beauty. But Caesar wasn’t just seduced by her beauty, he saw her as an equal, an intellectual, powerful and fit to rule a country. He was seduced by her knowledge of the world, geographical locations, and her modernist views to have equality beyond borders so the world would be a peaceful place to live without any more wars. Yet, ironically, she ended up being the woman responsible for burning of a thousand ships. Very powerful roles from all three cast members. As a teenager I read Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, and for my Bachelors I studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Love both these plays, and Cleopatra, the movie that’s not based on these plays, but historical accounts. 

Rex Harrison also appeared in a pretty good (not great) Bollywood gem heist of a movie in the late 70’s, Shalimar (1978), with an international cast from various different countries. 

Rex Harrison Films

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Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Unlike Rex Harrison, film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, is not somebody I knew as a child. Makes sense as majority of his flicks happen to be not really eligible for innocent little minds. It’s somewhere in in the early mid-90’s as a teenager, that I first heard of Pasolini, but it was much later that I finally actually got a chance to watch his masterpieces, i.e. within last decade.     

Pasolini, and fellow Italian director Fellini, happen to be two of the most controversial characters of modern cinema, cinema of the 50’s, 60’s and the 70’s. They were a rare two, who dared to challenge censorship laws, and their works contained very graphic content, in reference to sex, nudity, violence and very mature unorthodox concepts itself. The two directors were also famous, having worked together a few times before,  for a spat during the making of a project called ‘Satyricon’ in the late 60’s, to the extent that Fellini renamed this surrealist movie and released it as Fellini – Satyricon (1969).  I’ve actually watched more works of Fellini than Pasolini. Like Salvador Dalí was to art world, both Fellini and Pasolini were supremacist surrealist in the world of cinema.

Two of the best films of Pasolini’s I’ve watched, happen to be, Teorema (1968) and Il Decameron (1971)

Teorema

Teorema, was unusual story of a stranger (Terence Stamp) who comes to live with a bourgeois Italian family in their beautiful luxurious villa, and manages to seduce everyone sexually. The father, the mother, the two teenage children and the family maid.

Il Decameron

Il Decameron is anthology film based on nine stories from Decameron, by the 14th Century poet Giovanni Boccaccio. Pasolini, himself was a poet and writer. Pasolini’s lover, actor Ninetto Davoli, appeared in small roles in many of Pasolini’s films, including a small role in Teorema, and a more significant role in Il Decameron. 

Am yet to watch his most controversial, and last, movie,  Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975), based on the famed Libertine novel by Marquis de Sade (18th Century French aristocrat, philosopher and writer). But I have watched a movie based the Marquis’ life in prison, called Quills (2000) starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in 1975 under mysterious circumstances, post the release of Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma.

Pasolini directed films

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Andy Gibb (1958-1988)

Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb was a teenage pop music sensation of the 70’s & early 80’s. The youngest (4th) of the Gibb brothers, the elder trio formed the band Bee Gees. Andy Gibb’s success was always overshadowed by the fame of his older brothers, and never got a chance to join the famed group. Especially as he was a whole decade younger that his three elder brothers (who were all born post WWII, mid to late 1940’s). Andy Gibb never got the recognition the Bee Gees enjoyed. Soon drugs and depression took over, and was root cause for his decline, and ultimate demise. Although towards the end of his life he did clean up, and drugs were out of his life, his depression remained, and just after celebrating his 30th Birthday on the 5th of March 1988, he was admitted to hospital for chest pains. Five days after his 30th Birthday Andy Gibb passed away.   

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Nuwan Sen’s Musical Sense

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