Posts Tagged ‘b&w’
Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Aesop, b&w, Benny Thomas, comic strip, comics, crapitalism, Greed, the monkey and the dolphin, the one percenters, toiling mass, workers on January 10, 2012| Leave a Comment »
The Dolphin and the Monkey
The ship went down with all the passengers except a monkey. He struggled hard to keep his head above water but went down once and managed to come up again. He cried, ‘Oh terrible to die!’ He went once more down and grew weaker with effort. ‘Had I only learned to swim!’he gasped and prayed. ‘As the captain of the industry I should have organized life guards to the ship. And I would have survived this terrible fate!’
The monkey cried bitter tears. At that moment a dolphin surfaced out of nowhere. He swam upto the monkey and said, ‘Don’t cry! you are making things worse.’
The monkey said,’I began as a bond trader. I made millions. If I die what will I do with my off-shore accounts? My private jet? Or fleet of limos waiting round the clock to take me to places?’
The dolphin was friendly and asked the monkey to climb on its back. ‘I am Mr. Silverbacks. CEO of Golden Showers.’
‘Real Gold, I suppose?’ The dolphin asked conversationally. ‘Yeah, the Bank.’
The dolphin said, ‘When the Lehman brothers went bust I knew my services would be needed.’
‘Sure you came not too soon.’ Mr.Silverbacks snapped, drying himself.
The dolphin went on with swimming, ‘Think of the bright things in life. It will take your mind off depressing things like death by drowning, starving poor, unemployment, recession’.
Immediately Mr. Silverbacks sat up erect. He chuckled and said,’You know what was my bonus last year?’
The dolphin said, ‘You tell me.’
‘390 millions.’ Dolphin whistled and said, ‘You must have really earned it?’
‘I sure did,’ Mr. Silverbacks said with a grin, ‘I took the risk didn’t I? Short term profits and public losses that came on a slow boat. Once I had taken my cut what do I care?’
The dolphin shivered and said he was carrying a dangerous cargo. He told his passenger,’ You are upsetting me, my morals I mean. Think of future, I helped since I have certain values in life.’
‘Values! Poppycock! Show me the color of your money. I will tell you what they are worth.’ The monkey was sure, ‘Don’t go through life on altruism. Greed made the world. I can help you make the switch.’
‘No you don’t!’ the dolphin just dived leaving the monkey to his fate.
The Third Man-1949
Here I shall give three scenes which stay on mind.
The American pulp writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) has come to bombed-out, post-war Vienna on the invitation of his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) but is told of his death under most mysterious circumstances. One night, Martins becomes aware of a figure in a doorway on the opposite side of the apartment of Lime’s girlfriend Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli). He spots her cat meow loudly. The animal rubs itself at the feet of the silent, motionless figure in the shadows of a doorway. Harry can see the big shoes of the figure picked out by slanting light. A mystery figure and he defiantly calls out to the figure to come out and reveal himself. Then, Holly momentarily and suddenly sees Harry, the ‘third man’ himself.
A light from an upstairs window briefly illuminates the figure’s face, shining straight across the street. The sight of the teasing, smiling face of his friend staring back at him packs a punch in the somber mood of the film. It lights up briefly Holly’s confused mind at a loss to explain the sudden demise of his friend. Amazed to see Harry still alive the viewer is given jab into sides hinting he being alive could only mean there is something evil in the air. Holly is startled and then the light is extinguished. Before Holly can reach his friend, a car approaches and blocks his path. The figure makes off and vanishes to the sound of retreating footsteps in the dark. Holly finds the doorway empty by the time he crosses the street.
Another scene that stays in my mind is the meeting of Lime and Holly atop a Ferris wheel above the Russian sector. In the light of the day, Lime emerges and greets Holly with a bemused look: “Hello, old man, how are you?” They both ride high above the ground on the ferris wheel that is still operating in the midst of the dark city – it is the last ride of Holly’s symbolic childhood. As they rise higher in the car which they have all to themselves, Harry shows how uncaring he can be about Anna’s predicament after betraying her to the Russians: “What can I do, old man? I’m dead, aren’t I?” Harry explains how he doesn’t wish to be a hero:
What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn’t expect me to give myself up…’It’s a far, far better thing that I do.’ The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren’t heroes. The world doesn’t make any heroes outside of your stories.
Holly confronts Harry with his disgust at his racketeering and corruption (the light side exposing the dark side) and how he has already informed the police and Anna about Harry’s charade and disappearance. Harry claims immunity in the neutral zones of Vienna. Knowing of his cynical dealings on the black market, Holly asks if he has ever seen any of his victims – children who populate the hospital wards [in a city and amusement park desolate of playful, happy children]. Harry looks contemptuously down from the ferris wheel at the scuttling mortals below, cheerfully calling the people unrecognizable “dots” from the height of the ride:
Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. (He opens the door to the car.) Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays.
They reach the very top of their ride on a child-oriented attraction, and for a few ominous moments [in a very different kind of amusement-thrill ride], Harry threatens Holly. He contemplates executing his uncooperative friend and making him one of the “dots” below because he is the only one with living proof of his existence: “There’s no proof against me, besides you.” Harry suggests that he could easily shoot him – a bullet hole in a corpse that had fallen from so high up in the wheel would not be found. Holly wraps his arm around a door frame and clutches it for protection:
Holly (looking out the window): I should be pretty easy to get rid of.
Harry: Pretty easy.
Holly: I wouldn’t be too sure.
Harry: I carry a gun. You don’t think they’d look for a bullet wound after you hit that ground.
But Holly counters the threat by mentioning that the police are already on his trail – they have dug up the corpse and discovered it wasn’t him but Harbin. Harry is startled that the body of his cohort has been disinterred and his voice suddenly drops. As the car starts its journey downward, Lime closes the door, discards his deadly plan to dispose of Holly, and then compares himself to governments:
Harry: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs – it’s the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.
Holly: You used to believe in God.
Harry: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much here, poor devils. (He traces Anna’s name and the image of a heart with an arrow through it on the window of the car.) What do you believe in? Oh if you ever get Anna out of this mess, be kind to her. You’ll find she’s worth it.
When they reach the end of their ride and exit the ferris wheel on the ground, Lime offers his boyhood pal a partnership in his illicit business:
Holly, I’d like to cut you in, old man. There’s nobody left in Vienna I can really trust, and we’ve always done everything together. When you make up your mind, send me a message – I’ll meet you any place, any time, and when we do meet old man, it’s you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won’t ya? Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Remember what the fellow says:
Then, he smugly delivers his famous and cynical monologue ad libbed by Welles and exactly in line with the whole mood of the film. The amoral Lime cynically justifies his black market criminal activities by recognizing that despite appearances, good and evil (black and white, peace and war, up and down, etc.) are complementary concepts. He puts his thesis in historical context:
In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.
The final closing sequence of the film is just as memorable: Holly leans on a cart and waits on the tree-lined cemetery road for Lime’s former lover Anna as she leaves Harry’s second funeral on foot. Off in the distance, she is walking and approaching toward him, first a dot, then a shadow, and then a full figure – in an extremely long-held stationary shot. As he seeks in vain for any response from her, she stoically ignores him and continues by, passing him without paying any attention – without a pause, a look, a word, or a gesture. Holly follows her with his eyes, but she stares impassively ahead, walking out of his life. He lights a cigarette as the film fades to black.
The opening scene shows a chapel with two figures lounging in the grass. In Poland the Church has always been a refuge in any crisis. However crisis for the two does not stem from their faith but has to do with their conscience: The war is over yet death does not stop.
One of them has to assassinate while the other is responsible for him..
Maciek: “I’ve waited for bigger things.”
Maciek(Zbigniew Cybulski) and Andrzej(Adam Pawlikowsky) are vetran Home Army soldiers, and friends,licked into shape by their struggles as members of a resistance movement. Maciek the assassin is young and is the responsibility of the older Andrzej who in turn is responsible to another. This however does not prevent an attack of conscience. It is an individual thing though Maciek pulls the trigger for the good of many. The dark glasses that Maciek wears is a metaphor: it cuts off clear moral judgment till he does what he is expected to do on a command passed through many hands. Maciek’s intended victim is one who also fought the war on the same side. In a fine performance Maciek brings out his dilemma and tragedy.
The Nazi Germany has just surrendered. The war is over. In such a case why carry on with killing in time of peace? This moral dilemma gives the film its internal energy and it gives each character a point of reference to a particular story set in Free Poland; it also stands true for cases that might be anywhere. Poland as a nation had for long been subjugated by other nations including Russia; in her terrible hour patriots fought side by side suffering the same pain and death; now with their freedom in hand as the Regional Secretary of the Communist says,’The end of war is not the end of our war. What kind of Poland we need to become.’ Szczuka (Waclav Zastrzezynski) representing the pro-Moscow People’s Army, has just survived an assassination attempt and he knows the two cement factory workers killed a little while ago died for nothing. War has decided the fate of nation very little; besides it spills over in times of peace killing the innocents as in time of war. So in the film Maciek gets another chance but very little time to sort out his moral confusion. To complicate matters he falls in love and it tells him that he ought to make some changes in his life. But does he really get that chance?
On May 8,1945 it is decision time: what kind of nation Poland should become. Throughout the night Reds had already fanned out occupying vital installations and deciding who gets what posts and other perquisites the new regime could give. The mayor for his loyalty to the Soviet Bloc has been elevated to a minister. His secretary Drewnowski (Bogumil Kobiela), a double agent dreams that it opens for him plenty of wealth. The newly elevated Minister and his cohorts, mingle with members of Polish bourgeosie during the banquet to celebrate the victory. Maciek and Andrzej slip among the crowd in the bar.
Maciek observes.”He has got a stupid back,” the guest turns around. Maciek tells Andzej,”His front is stupid also.”
There has been a complication in that Captain Wilks in whose detachment the two were members, is killed and Andrzej has to take his place by 4:30 in the morning. Maciek would like very much to go with him but he has to finish his assignment first.
The film resolves the fate of two representatives of the ideological divide Maciek and Szczuka represent. The irony of it all is that each is a double for the other: one could be the surrogate father for the younger. The younger within a span of day is at hand to give a match to light the cigarette of the older twice. Each time the viewer is left with no doubt the two exude certain empathy that only can be because of their close relationship by blood. Their political divide is as superficial as the Hungarian cigarette (‘because it is stronger,’) that Maciek smokes while Szczuka settles for the American brand. They both are Polish through and through and the ideology of old or new is like rustle of leaves. The tree must still stand whether winds of change came across the Steppes or not.
This film is one among 120 great films and is included in my Movie Lists.
Based on Jerzy Andrzejewski’s 1948 novel of the same name, Ashes and Diamonds is the Wajda’s last in the war trilogy, following A Generation and Kanal. Adapted for the screen by Andrzej Wajda and the author time and space have been condensed to less than twenty-four hours in and around a single location—the hotel Monopol. The title comes from a 19th Century poem by Cyprian Norwid ‘…Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond/The Morning Star of everlasting triumph.
In the town’s leading hotel and banquet hall, Monopol., a grand fête is being organized for a newly appointed minor minister by his assistant. Maciek having missed his mission manages to get an entry into a room with the desk clerk who was present in Warsaw even while the uprising resulted in the destruction of the Old Warsaw The old porter recalls ‘It is like losing your arm.’. He also remembers the chestnut trees in particular. This reminiscence echoes in the part of the Party secretary who we understand had taken part in Spain. His sad memories have a parallel in one of the dramatic moments at the bar, where Andrzej is nervously waiting for dawn Maciek lights glasses with alcohol as a memorial to their fallen comrades. Andzej snaps crossly,”We are still alive.” The realization Maciek played with his life and still he has to play with it is a turning point in the film.
Maciek: “I swear these violets smell sweeter and sweeter.”
The episode with hotel’s bar-maid Krystyna (Ewa Krzyzewska) begins here. Their love is physical as he is not totally at ease to receive her love. Even as she visits him in his room(right next that of his target) he is frantically trying to cover up his real mission.( He must similarly lie to the old porter who warms up to him.). His sense of responsibility will not allow him to becompletely on level. Nor the girl is free from her past ( She tells simply her father was killed by the Germans and her mother during the uprising) and it is she puts a full stop realising he is lost to her forever.
Maciek abruptly takes leave of her as his victim is anxiously waiting to reclaim his son Marek. He has been taken prisoner by the Reds. He also belonged to the detachment of Captain Wilks. By inference Maciek is almost like his son.
We are given to understand Marek is a child of Szczuka and his mother none other than the wife of Major Stanieswiez. who has given order for his elimination! Freedom for Poland cuts across love whether illicit or normal. There is a scene in which Maciek witnesses a domestic tragedy. Fiancee of one of the worker killed by him is comforted by one who is none other than her boss and he has nylon stockings as a gift. They are ready for a roll in the bed. She knows the men have only one thing in their mind. Yes social life, open or secret cannot run its normal course. The old order has been completely over thrown and is visually summed up in the broken down statue of Christ in the crypt.
Before the close we are given a chance to probe Maciek’s emotional undercurrents and his need to change his way of life. It underscores the pathos that the tragedy must awake in us. This crucial moment follows when Maciek goes for a walk with Krystyna and ends up in a bombed-out church. Maciek realizes what he had been missing in life. (He could have had an education or settle down to a regular family life every day warmed by love, awakened by his brief love-making with the barmaid.) The aridity of his past, a life of the mind is brought to him with a sledge-hammer force by the two innocent victims he sees in the crypt. The result of his botched attempt. It was all he had to show for his life as a sewer rat. But he is committed to fulfill his duty.
When he does and as Szczuka falls, it is a dramatic moment and the built up tension in the viewer literally explodes: fireworks celebrating the end of the war fill the sky.
At appointed time Maciek goes to where Andrzej awaits in a truck. From concealment he watches as the other accomplice Drewnowski is exposed. Andrzej throws him to the ground and drives off. When Drewnowski sees Maciek, he calls out to him and Maciek flees only to run into a patrol of Reds He is shot and ends up dying in a landscape strewn with trash.
No empire or old order however feeble passes away quietly but makes quiet a din. We have in our time seen in the Balkans and it was so when the Ottoman Empire came crashing at the end of WWI.
What a trash new emerging nations make of the fine ‘ideals’ of the old order!
Quote:’The measure of my satisfacton is that during the writing of the book I pictured Mack Chelmicky entirely differently. Now when I see the film I see him only this way, as Cybulski played him.” Andrezjewski
The entire film takes place over two days, May 8th and 9th 1945.
One of Martin Scorsese‘s favorite movies. He showed it to Leonardo DiCaprio while making The Departed (2006), as main characters of these two movies have to deal with the same dilemmas.
The title comes from a 19th century poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid and references the manner in which diamonds are formed from heat and pressure acting upon coal.
Director ‘Andzrej Wajda’ realized that his leading man Zbigniew Cybulski would be constrained by period costume so he allowed him to wear clothes that felt more natural to him.
After the film’s release, sales of sunglasses shot up because Zbigniew Cybulski wore them consistently throughout the film.
Wajda was particularly influenced by The Asphalt Jungle (1950).
Because of the film’s nihilistic tone, the Polish authorities were not keen on it being exhibited outside of the country. Until a low-level official had a print shipped out to the Venice Film Festival where it played to great acclaim.
René Clair was a particular fan of the film.
In a film where the eponymous heroine holds with her ‘feel good’ doctor the following dialogue :
Veronica Voss: You’ve given me a great deal of happiness.
Dr. Marianne Katz: I sold it to you.
one may be sure the film is going to be as dark as the soul of the dopefiend or of her ‘fixer.’ ”Veronika Voss,”is the second-to-last film of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It is a chilly, tough, wicked satire set in Munich some 10 years after the collapse of the Nazi Germany. Fassbinder’s movies like ”The Marriage of Maria Braun” and ”Lola” deal with the economic miracle of Post-war Germany. The American ideal of ‘pursuit of happiness’ is imported as Hershey bar is, and practiced in the city in no holds barred struggle. Veronika Voss is one victim. We see beneath the façade of prosperity wounded creatures like Veronika Voss and Lola. Both are pawns. Lola the singer is the pawn of a corrupt contractor who has all the powers- that- be in his pocket except the idealistic but wet- behind- the- ears- goodness of the new City planner. Progress for the Slum Lord is in that he can spread his money around. The politicians and pillars of the society also see it that way. So Lola is there to corrupt the idealism that doesn’t bring money to him in the way he wants it. He well knows the honest city planner shall be on his way, so Lola must entrap him. Whereas Veronika has the misfortune to fall in the clutches of an evil doctor. She peddles pleasure as indicated in the dialogue quoted above. Veronicka Voss (Rosel Zech), a once-popular German movie actress who is rumored to have been a close friend of Goebbels has not the staying power of a filmstar like Betty Davis or Joan Crawford. She is blond and something like a Harlowt (with t silent); and as far as her acting goes she is the type who cannot possibly survive, without some help like Goebbels. It was before the war.
In the Post War Germany an economic miracle is blowing across Germany and for her help comes in the form Dr. Marianne Katz.
When we first see Veronika Voss she is in a Munich theater watching her former self in an old movie, one in which she is surrendering to an evil woman doctor in return for drugs to support her habit. ‘As life sometimes imitates terrible movies, the story of Veronika Voss becomes much like the plot of one of her films’(quote: NY Times review-By VINCENT CANBY
Published: September 24, 1982)
While walking through a park, a chance rain drives Veronika Voss to the friendly Robert Krohn (Hilmar Thate), a sports reporter. He gallantly offers her protection at least for now from getting wet. He is one of the few people in Munich who doesn’t remember her face or her name. Intrigued Veronika telephones Robert a couple of days later and asks him to meet her for tea.
At the restaurant, Veronika charms Robert as well as baffles him. As lighting in a restaurant she gives a hint of her ambience derived from her ‘dark self.’ As if to prove the point she says ”I like to seduce helpless men,” and then borrows 300 marks from him to buy a brooch. She also proves her amoral side by whisking him off right in front of his live- in photographer who shall dearly pay for loving him unreservedly.
Veronika takes him to her country house where they make love and she reaches a kind of orgasm, given the clue of Fassbinder’s sexual predilections an anticlimax, she reveals her dark self. She is a morphine addict.
The rest soon falls apart from romance of an ageing coquette with a naïve sportswriter into the dark realms of mystery. There isn’t much of mysterywhen the has been actress doesn’t want to be rescued from’ her pursuit of happiness.’ The music and crisp black and white photography adds to the acidulous touch of Fassbinder. Since I had touched upon his Lola earlier I shall merely add ‘Lola’ is in color, and its psychadelic color palette still makes it black in its overall emotional intensity. I close this appreciation with a touch of regret that his genius was cut down in the middle of its full flowering.
Trivia: The film is loosely based on the career of actress Sybillie Schmitz. It is reportedly influenced by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.
Fassbinder has a bit part in the beginning of the film sitting behind Voss in a movie theatre and watching her old movie. Lilo Pempeit (also Liselotte Eder) who plays the manager of a jewelry store was Fassbinder’s mother. Günther Kaufmann for whom Fassbinder earlier had an unrequited infatuation, plays in all three films of the cycle. In this one he is an enigmatic African-American G.I. Juliane Lorenz, seen in the brief role of a secretary, was a close associate of Fassbinder and the editor of this film.(Ack: wikipedia, NY Times Review)
VERONIKA VOSS, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder; screenplay (German with English subtitles) by Peter Marthesheimer and Pea Frohlich; director of photography, Xaver Schwarzenberger; edited by Juliane Lorenz; music by Peer Raben; produced by Thomas Schuhly; a production of Laura-Film/Tango Film in co-production with Rialto-Film/Trio- Film/Maran Film; Running time: 105 minutes. This film is rated R. Veronika Voss . . . . . Rosel Zech Robert Krohn . . . . . Hilmar Thate Henriette . . . . . Cornelia Froboess Dr. Katz . . . . . Annemarie Duringer Josefa . . . . . Doris Schade Dr. Edel . . . . . Eric Schumann Film Producer-Fat Man . . . . . Peter Berling G.I.-Dealer . . . . . Gunther Kaufmann Saleswoman . . . . . Sonja Neudorfer Her Boss . . . . . Lilo Pempeit