Roman Polanski Blogathon-Day 3
Niles Schwartz, blogs on movies at the NilesFiles, which in his own words are “A little long and wordy, assembled with too much haste, but this blog is like the Death Star, and it’s always under construction”. And here he explores Polanski’s 2010 political thriller The Ghost Writer, with it’s backdrop of No 10, Downing Street and the British PM. The opening quote by Georg Lukas on modernist literature, pretty much sets the tone for the review. In a brilliantly worded article, Niles explores The Ghost Writer, against a host of issues- Polanski’s conviction for the rape of a 13 yr old, and the public outcry, the end of history, moral ambiguity, left wing vs right wing politics, in one of the best pieces ever on cinema, a must read. In Niles own words
“The Ghost Writer is so sleek and efficient, so perfectly calibrated as a thriller that bids to be working on five cylinders when most others work on about two, that it may be easy to miss the theme within its formal perfection. This is a film about the end of history, the futility of recorded knowledge in a world overrun with machinery, hypertexts, and automation. Indeed all history, all story, is set into gear by the motions of machines which we see free from human hands in several instances. The sardonic ideas sewn into this overall sense is vintage Roman Polanski, where the story – history – must go on as the show must, but The Ghost Writer seems to be telling us through the travails of its almost comically unfortunate protagonist, “the Ghost” (Ewan MacGregor), that the organization of actual events as they happened with the integrity of moments kept intact and truthful is, ultimately, impossible. There are no solutions in The Ghost Writer, and even when the film’s central conspiracy is revealed, too many holes remain for us to be completely certain of what has happened.”
All I can say is of Niles review, is in two words “Freaking Awesome”, I mean there were just so many sub texts in that one review itself.
And following up on a superlative review from Niles was an equally brilliant one by Michael Alattore, of It Rains, …You Get Wet . In his own words Mike describes himself as a “Born in the 50s, grew up in the 60s, but I survived the 70s.” A working professional, who writes on movies, Mike is some one I can identify with personally. Having interacted with him earlier, had found we share a lot in common, and he has been a consistent contributor for my earlier blogathons so far. Here he explores Polanski’s horror classic Rosemary’s Baby, in his own inimitable descriptive style,of how Polanski manages to build up the sense of doom and horror, using visual imagery. In his own words
Rosemary’s Baby, for all its subtlety, still can play on the mind and ruffle those that view it (it’s why the movie still attracts attention all these years later). As a teen, I recall vividly my aunts coming home after seeing this in the movie theater and discussing it among themselves no end. That and looking over at their husbands for reassurance they, my uncles, weren’t secretly bargaining them away during the year of the Tet Offensive. Between Ira Levin’s story and Roman Polanski’s cinematic conversion of it, more direct and visceral stories of horror would spring in the wake of their work. Surely, the decade of the 60s’ horror offerings started with a pop with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) followed by The Birds (1963). Yet before this motion picture, horror films remained a ghetto genre even in an era known for its revolution. One left to those few who sought it out and enjoyed its offerings (which, usually, were a reflection of what people were anxious about at the time). However, I believe since Rosemary’s Baby was based upon a true bestselling book of the time it marked a point when this category of film (one historically made for the purposeful arousal of feelings of fear, shock, and disgust) really came into the mainstream. There were other notable horror films that year, like those mentioned, as well as The Devil Rides Out (see J.D.’s fine review of it here). Nevertheless, Rosemary’s Baby set the criterion for what became popular with a large number of moviegoers. Rather than catching the body counts on TV that week, people found they really enjoyed and wanted to be thrilled and disturbed with the unreal. Be it with The Devil, those they trusted, or with motherhood herself.
Thanks a tonne Mike and Niles, you guys have just raised the bar here at the blogathon, and hoping that future pieces come up to your high standards.