Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Testament of Youth


If I were to attach a single descriptive word to the cinematic style of a country, for French cinema it would be realism, for American cinema innovation, Italian cinema extravagance and for British cinema tradition. The simple elegance of British film is matchless, its storytelling whilst rarely novel is consistently poised, impeccable and boasts flawless sophistication. This is the simplest way in which I can illustrate the astonishing potency of the poetic war feature Testament of Youth. The film is richly character-based, the development of each individual character is patiently, even artfully crafted with leading light Alicia Vikander a visionary figure. The young actress can only be described as a vessel of high calibre cinema, slowly coming into full form. She is continuously expressive, poignant and marvellously composed. The cinematography adopts an elementary beauty, each shot intricate and detailed but always naturally constructed. Ultimately, Testament of Youth proves a worthy, moving tribute to a lost generation and tells a compelling story of the struggles of those the soldiers left back home.

Testament of Youth captures the life of writer Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) at a pivotal point not only in her own existence, but in world history. The sweet balance of her somewhat privileged life is lost when warfare triggers the passion, patriotism and vigour of the young generation. Suddenly, every young man in the life of Brittain is dropped into immediate danger as dreams of honour and idealism drive them to enlistment. Her brother (Taron Egerton), her lover (Kit Harington) and her friend (Colin Morgan) are all pulled into the destructive force of the First World War, and whether they emerge at its end is anyone's guess and everyone's most desperate hope. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Visual & Sound Diary: Three Colours: Blue (1993)


Visual & Sound Diary is a weekly feature where I explore a chosen film of distinctive cinematography and musical composition via the score, soundtrack and stills. This is how it works: click play on the link supplied of the selected music and scroll through the images. Be reminded and inspired of the cinematic splendour. 
Note: the last shot is my pick for the best shot.

Arguably the greatest trilogy of film history, Krzysztof Kieślowski's spectacular Three Colour series is a fine landmark of French cinema. The first instalment, Blue, is a sweeping look at grief as an aggressor of the human condition, carried by the sheer skill and veracity of ferocious talent Juliette Binoche. The film is patient and slow-moving, the story progresses in a wonderfully natural manner. The late Kieslowski's storytelling abilities can only be described as intuitive, wonderfully nuanced and rewarding throughout. The feature is also clearly distinguished by its innovative use of cinematography and music. A strange correlation exists between the visuals and the sounds for whilst the imagery is primarily mundane, the soundtrack is continuously dramatic and pronounced. Unlike the compositions I have selected previously which have been serene, tranquil and all primarily piano pieces, The Unification of France is extravagant and imposing.

Kieślowski''s trilogy is fundamentally based on the French Revolution ideals, represented by the three colours, Blue (liberty), White (equality) and Red (fraternity) as on the national flag. It is a retrospective, subtly patriotic look at the application of these values on France's modern society. The trilogy is a goldmine of material for a liberal arts student - it is continuously compelling, mysterious and philosophical - provoking endless discussion created of an ambiguity which cuts straight into poetry. Blue serves as the introduction to the series, presented as a melancholias tribute to the classic concept of "triumph over adversity". For Blue, the aesthetics are simple yet striking and ethereal, the story spirited, the central performance by Binoche transcendent and the payoff great.