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May 7, 2011

A couple of films

A Man Escaped. 1956, Robert Bresson. Original French title: Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut which Google translates as "A death row inmate escaped, or The wind blows where it wants." It's the story of an escape from a German prison for political prisoners in France during WWII. Unlike almost all other prison escape movies, this one focuses on showing the tedious patience required to escape. The only music comes at the end. There are no moments of humor. It is simply the claustrophobic fear of death. Considering that the 1956 audience would have likely included many people who had been German political prisoners, most of the details are probably accurate. Compared to today's prisons, there are a lot of security lapses in the one in this film. Of course, the physical prison was built by the French, but the Germans themselves seem to have become rather slipshod. Even so, the willing suspension of disbelief is required only when the prisoner, fed nothing but two meals of gruel a day for some unknown period of time, denied exercise, is able to kill an armed German soldier with his bare hands. And then he manages to scale himself across to the outer wall of the prison on a handmade rope. Well, maybe he was an acrobat before he took up espionage and sabotage.

In all, a stunning film. Life/death/Nazis. Life wins in the end.

Making The Boys, a documentary about making The Boys In The Band on stage and as a movie. I didn't fully appreciate its groundbreaking quality, opening in 1968, 14 months before the Stonewall riots. After Stonewall, it was regarded as dated and unsupportive of the new gay rights movement. Even so, it was possibly the most significant turning point in the portrayal of gay men in popular culture.

Telling moments in the documentary are interviews with young gay people who have never heard of or seen the film, and the listing of its actors who died of AIDS. Almost all of the gay actors in it died from AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s.

Only the hindsight of 40 years reveals what a groundshifting work this was.

Filed under Film/Movies,Gay Issues | permalink | May 7, 2011 at 07:36 PM


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