Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Cinema du look Style

Del Toro on Fascism, Violence, Mexico, Kidnappings & Catholism - Auteur

  • Translation: What interests me about fascism is that it is a black hole of free will. It is a system which isn’t necessarily unique, but it absolves brutality, it absolves the lack of morals and it absolves people of their own decisions. When they tell you ‘you can kill these people because they are Jews, reds or homosexuals, or whatever!’ In this world you can permit a brutal action on the base of collective advice; that is what scares me. Interview with Guillermo del Toro on 10/23/2006. [3]

Fear they (fascists) inject into people - 2 farmers in Pans
Not allowing you to express yourself & an expression of masculinity juxtaposed with the innocence of a child
'we were only following orders' - Nazi soldiers

absence of father figure? Masculinity is tyranny

A dark fairy tale ... Pan's Labyrinth
For those with a weakness for the beautiful monsters of modern cinema, Mexican maestro Guillermo del Toro has earned a deserved reputation as the finest living exponent of fabulist film. Gregarious and personable, with an almost photographic recall of faces, he has charmed both the hardcore horror fans, who gave him a hero's welcome at London's Frightfest in August, and now the upmarket critical cognoscenti, who snapped to attention following his Palme d'Or nomination for his new film Pan's Labyrinth at Cannes in May.
  1. Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)
  2. Production year: 2006
  3. Countries: Latin America, Rest of the world, Spain
  4. Cert (UK): 15
  5. Runtime: 112 mins
  6. Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo del Toro
  7. Cast: Ariadna Gil, Doug Jones, Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdu, Sergi Lopez
  8. More on this film
Set against the backdrop of fascist Spain in 1944, Pan's Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale that distils his distinctive mix of fact and fantasy, poetry and politics, pain and pleasure. It's an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters - a transformative, life-affirming nightmare which is, for my money, the very best film of the year.
Since the early 1990s, del Toro has divided his film-making between personal European projects (the modern vampiric chiller Cronos in 1993; the ghostly Spanish Civil War fable The Devil's Backbone in 2001) and big-budget Hollywood hits (ongoing comic-book franchises Blade II in 2002, and Hellboy in 2004). Those familiar with the guilty ghosts of The Devil's Backbone will recognise key motifs in his new fable, about a young girl's exploration of a labyrinthine underworld in Franco-era Spain.
The young heroine of Pan's Labyrinth is Ofelia, whose widowed mother, Carmen, has recently married Vidal, a vicious captain in Spain's Civil Guard, involved in policing anti-fascist Maquis resistance in the mountainous wooded northern region. Vidal's housekeeper, Mercedes, befriends Ofelia, protecting her from her stepfather's wrath while maintaining secretive connections with the Maquis. Meanwhile, Ofelia meets an alarmingly devious faun who suggests that she may be the lost princess of a beautiful and terrifying netherworld. While Mercedes attempts to help the Maquis in their struggles, Ofelia embarks on a quest that will test her true nature.
This quest involves a journey through a labyrinth, a word with which the Civil War has become intrinsically linked (think of key historical accounts such as Gerald Brenan's The Spanish Labyrinth) and which served as the 'perfect metaphor' for del Toro's endeavours.
'A maze is a place where you get lost,' he explains. 'But a labyrinth is essentially a place of transit, an ethical, moral transit to one inevitable centre. You think of the transit of Spanish society from the 1940s to the incredible explosion of the post-Franco period. The 1980s in Spain were like the 1960s in the rest of the world! In the movie, Ofelia is a "princess who forgot who she was and where she came from", who progresses through the labyrinth to emerge as a promise that gives children the chance never to know the name of their father - the fascist. It's a parable, just as The Devil's Backbone was a parable of the Spanish Civil War.
'I was also trying to uncover a common thread between the "real world" and the "imaginary world"through one of the seminal concerns of fairy tales: choice. It's something that has intrigued me since Cronos, through Hellboy and now to Pan's Labyrinth: the way your choices define you. And I thought it would be great to counterpoint an institutional lack of choice, which is fascism, with the chance to choose, which the girl takes in this movie.'
Del Toro's faun is just one of the film's menagerie of fantastical creatures and monsters, drawn from sources that range from Goya's paintings to Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Amazingly for a film that features around 300 effects shots and boasts complex creature designs, Pan's Labyrinth was completed for a mere £10m, a feat del Toro attributes to the lessons learnt on Blade II and Hellboy ('I love to play with the big toys... and to learn from them'). As always, the director sketched each character in the notebooks that are his constant companions, extraordinary documents of his mind at work and his obsessive attention to detail. Here we find the original drawings for the 'vegetable baby' which Ofelia places beneath her mother's bed, nurtured with milk and magic, and the terrifying 'pale man' whose ire she arouses by stealing from his table.
'I wanted to represent political power within the creatures,' del Toro says. 'And that particular character somehow came to represent the church and the devouring of children. The original design was just an old man who seemed to have lost a lot of weight and was covered in loose skin. Then I removed the face, so it became part of the personality of the institution. But then, what to do about the eyes? So I decided to place stigmata on the hands and shove the eyes into the stigmata. Having done that, I thought it would be great to make the fingers like peacock feathers that fluff and open. That's how that figure evolved.
'The faun proved more difficult. The idea was to make him very masculine, not aggressively so, just sinuous. I remember talking to Doug Jones [who plays both the faun and the pale man] when he first started working on the role and saying, "More Mick Jagger, less David Bowie!" I wanted the faun to have a rock star quality. Everything about the faun and his personality needed to be masculine because you had to pit the female energy of the girl against something monolithic.'
In essence, del Toro is a divided soul, a realist attuned to the strange vibrations of the supernatural, a lapsed Catholic ('not quite the same thing as an atheist') with an interest in sacrifice and redemption who turned down the chance to direct The Chronicles of Narnia because he 'wasn't interested in the lion resurrecting'. Crucially, like the artistic refugees from Franco's Spain who first inspired him, the writer-director considers himself an exile from his home country, Mexico, not least because of the 1997 kidnapping of his father, at the height of a vogue for such ransomed abductions. He was released after 72 days.
'I was 33,' el Toro recalls. 'The perfect age to be crucified! I had lived my life believing two things - that pain should not be sought, but, by the same token, it should never be avoided, because there is a lesson in facing adversity. Having gone through that experience, I can attest, in a non-masochistic way, that pain is a great teacher. I don't relish it, but I learn from it. I always say, even as an ex-Catholic, that God sends the letter, but not the dictionary. You need to forge your own dictionary.'
This willingness to confront pain and to forge his own cinematic dictionary has informed the blend of innocence and brutality that is a trademark of del Toro's phantasmagorical cinema. From the crushing addiction of Cronos, whose ageing anti-hero is reduced to licking blood from the tiled floor of a public lavatory, to the redemptive fantasy of Hellboy, whose titular demon takes an industrial grinder to the horns on his head in a bid to take control of his destiny, del Toro has returned compulsively to these twinned themes. Now in Pan's Labyrinth, which he wrote, directed and produced, he has created a Citizen Kane of fantasy cinema, a masterpiece made entirely on his own terms.
Del Toro is working within the same tradition of cinematic horror that spawned A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven's seminal reinvention of the 'classic dark fairytale', in which Freddy Krueger emerged as an 1980s incarnation of the Big Bad Wolf. 'I think that really is one of the best fairytales of any decade, because Craven understands the roots of those myths,' says del Toro. Pan's Labyrinth is being promoted in America with a classic horror tagline: 'Innocence has a power that evil cannot imagine'.
That power is also self-generating. 'Pan's Labyrinth is a movie about a girl who gives birth to herself into the world she believes in,' del Toro continues. 'At that moment, it doesn't matter if her body lives or dies. And this is something I have experienced. I remember the worst experience of my life, even above the kidnapping of my father, was shooting Mimic [del Toro's first Hollywood feature, in 1997, which was severely compromised by producer interference]. Because what was happening to me and the movie was far more illogical than kidnapping, which is brutal, but at least there are rules. Now when I look at Mimic, what I see is the pain of a deeply flawed creature that could have been so beautiful.'
Pain and beauty, brutality and innocence - once again, del Toro's conversation finds a way back to the central duality of death and rebirth. 'Those things are one and the same,' he says. 'It would be a cliche to say that, because I am a Mexican, I see death in a certain way. But I have seen more than my share of corpses, certainly more than the average First World guy. I worked for months next to a morgue that I had to go through to get to work. I've seen people being shot; I've had guns put to my head; I've seen people burnt alive, stabbed, decapitated ... because Mexico is still a very violent place. So I do think that some of that element in my films comes from a Mexican sensibility.'
Like the heroine of Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro's career now seems to be at a point of rebirth and regeneration. 'Hopefully, this movie will allow me to start a new path,' he says. 'The way I see my craft, and the way I see the stories I tell, has completely changed as a result of this movie. Shooting Pan's Labyrinth was very painful, but it also became a war about me not compromising.
'I gave back my entire salary in order to get the film made the way I wanted it. I probably should have abandoned it the moment the funding fell through the first time, but I stuck with it for almost two-and-a-half years and refused to back down. It's the first time in the six movies I've directed where I've said: I'm doing this one my way, no matter what.
'Financiers ran out on me and everyone involved in my career was saying it was the biggest mistake I could make. But I'm very happy with the result. And for me, nothing will be the same again.'
· This is an edited version of an article from the December issue of Sight and Sound, on sale from Tuesday

Goya influence on Pans (Spanish Culture)

saturn.jpgThe dark Spanish melancholy that informs director Guillermo del Toro’s small masterpiece of magic realism, gives this film unforgettable power. As dark as any Zurbarán or Ribera, Pan’s Labyrinth interweaves two worlds and two realities — that of a child’s fairytale longings, and the ruthless fascism of Franco’s Spain.
If it sounds like a marriage of hope and hell, it is — but the ending alone, which spins yet another uncanny twist, is pure enchantment. Del Toro’s imagination (Hellboy) provides visuals that evoke Cocteau and Buñuel, with a healthy dose of Brothers Grimm as visualized by Frida Kahlo. The deeply saturated colors of the film stock add to the mood of otherworldly adventure.
Our protagonist is a dreamy young girl Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who goes to live at a rural millhouse occupied by Franco’s soldiers. Ofelia’s mother has married Capitan Vidal (the astonishing Sergi Lopez), a cold-blooded monster who cares only for the fact that the mother is pregnant with his child. Very quickly we, and Ofelia, encounter a secret underworld, complete with labyrinth, crumbling ruins, gossamer fairies — amazing art direction — and a spirit guide. The latter is the Pan of the film’s title, a harsh-but-kindly master who asks Ofelia to perform three tasks in order to take her rightful place as princess of a lost kingdom.
In Hollywood’s hands, such a scenario might amount to a sanitized Alice in Wonderland caper. In del Toro’s vision, the underworld mirrors the increasing danger to Ofelia’s household, and the brave partisans hiding out in the nearby forest. More psychological than political, Pan’s Labyrinth reminds us how we felt when we were 12-years-old, especially in dangerous, or unsettling circumstances —when we longed to slip into another realm where beauty and magic ruled. And where we felt safe. But this dialogue between fantasy and horror refuses to comply with our Hallmark needs, and the scenes of wartime brutality are echoed in demonic corridors beneath the floors, and behind the bedroom walls. Among the triumphs of this magical tour de force is the creation of what has to be the most grotesque and mesmerizing monster brought to the screen. Straight out of Goya, this macabre creature is more than matched by the human monster, embodied by the charismatic Capitan.
It will be clear to viewers who have encountered shamanic journeying, that Pan and his shape-shifting cohorts are spirit guides. On this deeper level, the film illustrates the subterranean psychology of secrets. Secrets — both isolating and comforting. On one level of the film’s oneiric odyssey, Ofelia’s secret life creates a refuge from the pain of her loneliness. On another, the secrets kept by her partisan housekeeper breed a dangerous isolation — and threaten the very possibility for survival during the last days of WWII.
Too harsh for young viewers, this is a film for those who believe in a harrowing, and bittersweet variety of redemption. Like Babel, Pan’s Labyrinth thrives on splendid casting and ingenious camerawork. And a ravishing score by Javier Navarrete. An Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Influences Spirit of the Beehive

With Pan’s Labyrinth, however, writer-director Guillermo del Toro has built on his proven skills in fantasy (Hellboy in 2004) and Spanish history (The Devil’s Backbone from 2001) to produce a work that is at once a logical development of his artistic trajectory and a wholly unexpected masterpiece from a director identified with such low-status genres as horror. Perfectly realized within its self-imposed limits of time and space, Pan’s Labyrinth has wider implications for the key questions of nationality, gender, and identity than the bloated, star-studded excess of Babel. And in the technical perfection of its plotting, shooting, and cutting (not to mention its meticulous art design and expert animatronic and digital effects), it suggests a new model for world cinema production.
The trend for major directors to make films outside Mexico (Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men [2006] is also cited in this context) has of course been controversial. Mexican critics such as Gustavo García have decried a “Mexican cinema in exile.” Del Toro himself, on the other hand, has spoken of film as “Esperanto,” a universal language which, ironically, would seem to be one answer to the supposed problem of non-communication between cultures at which Babel gestures so showily. As we shall see, del Toro’s practice is a valuable example of transnational cooperation. Eluding nativism (shooting “in exile”), he also avoids facile multiculturalism, engaging deeply with the culture, history, and cinema of his host country. When accepting several awards for Pan’s Labyrinth at the Spanish Oscars or Goyas (where his feature was accepted without controversy as a “Spanish” film) he proclaimed: “¡Viva México y viva España!” This is no facile slogan. Rather it should be taken in the context of del Toro’s vindication of the Spanish Civil War as an event of vital interest for the Mexico that welcomed so many exiles from the conflict. Far from reveling in Babel-style non-communication, Pan’s Labyrinth reveals that, given sympathy and attention, films based on local events can have immediate and profound significance for global audiences.
Pan’s Labyrinth begins with a blank, black screen. We hear the sound of feverish panting and the humming of Javier Navarrete’s haunting theme. Titles briefly set the scene: it is Spain in 1944 and guerrillas are holding out in the woods against the triumphant Franco regime. In close-up we see the source of the labored breathing: as time runs backwards, a trickle of ruby-red blood retreats into the nostril of white-faced, black-haired Ofelia, the child protagonist played by extraordinary newcomer Ivana Baquero. Cinematog-rapher Guillermo Navarro’s camera, already restlessly mobile, plunges into her eye and the first fantasy sequence. The voiceover tells the ancient legend of a Princess, exiled from her underground realm, who will return to be with her father the King when she finds a portal to her lost home. The tiny figure of the Princess (Ofelia) descends the staircases of a vast fantasy set.
The screen flares up to white and the camera swoops over bombed buildings. A wide shot of a ruined bell tower shows the famously devastated village of Belchite, a drawing of which appeared on the cover of the Francoist magazine Reconstrucción as early as 1940. (The village, an uncanny tourist attraction, remains ruinous even today.) Ofelia and her sickly pregnant mother (the convincingly distressed Ariadna Gil) are traveling by official car (a Fascist symbol is prominently painted on its side) to a remote outpost. Here the girl will meet her repellent stepfather (Sergi López), a Francoist captain sent to fight the guerrillas. As mother Carmen stops the car to vomit by the road, daughter Ofelia comes face to face with a stele carved with a mysterious figure and replaces a piece of the carving she has found on the forest floor. She is rewarded with her first glimpse of this magical place’s genius loci: a chattering stick insect she identifies as a “fairy.” Soaring behind the buzzing beast, the camera follows it and the car to the new family’s fateful meeting at the decrepit mill that serves as the Francoist military headquarters.

Allusions to The Spirit of the Beehive (top left) and to Diego Velasquez, Old Woman Cooking Eggs (1618; bottom left), oil on canvas, National Gallery of Scotland
© 1973 Elílas Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas S. L.
© 2006 Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj
What is clear from this opening sequence is an extraordinary fluidity of movement between fantasy and reality. While the plot is placed quite precisely in a historical moment with which few outside Spain are likely to be familiar (who knew that anti-Francoist resistance continued long after the Civil War ended?), the material effects of that desperate moment (the bloodied bodies of children) are juxtaposed with, are indeed inextricable from, the fantastic realms into which the imagination retreats when confronted by real-life horror.
Moreover there are very precise Spanish references here, and not just in the expert art design with its reference to a famously devastated village. Ofelia’s mother scolds her daughter for reading fairy tales, telling her they will curdle her brain. It is a charge repeated throughout the film and one highly reminiscent of Spain’s national narrative, Don Quixote, in which fantasy literature also transforms an outcast’s experience of the mundane into the fantastic. It may be no accident that the film’s principal location (built like all the sets to del Toro’s precise specification) is a mill, albeit one deprived of the giant sails which gave rise to the knight’s most famous exploit.
The replacing of the missing piece of the statue is a yet more precise reference. Spain’s most famous art movie, Víctor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), also set in the devastated countryside after the Civil War, confronts a dark-eyed girl (Ana Torrent) with nameless horrors. Ana faces not a faun but Frankenstein’s monster, whom she has seen in a makeshift village cinema. One typically unsettling sequence has Ana, in her schoolroom, replace a missing part in a human manikin. As in the case of Ofelia, her distant sister in Spanish cinema, the missing piece is the eyes. Del Toro thus not only replays Spanish history in a Mexican mode he has perfected elsewhere; he also remakes Spanish cinema by transforming Erice’s austere and minimalist drama with gorgeously crafted mise-en-scène and deliriously inventive camerawork.

Preliminary drawing of the mill
Courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment. © 2006 Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj
In spite of the frequent accusation that democratic Spain has turned its back on a traumatic history, wedded to a “pact of forgetting” between victors and vanquished, Spanish cinema since The Spirit of the Beehive has in fact frequently returned to the scene of Franco’s crimes. Disturbingly, as those crimes have receded in time, the treatment has become progressively trivialized. Several films have shown the post-war period (known in Spain as the “years of hunger”) through the eyes of improbably cute kids (as in Secrets of the Heart [1997] or Butterfly’s Tongue [1999]). Others deploy retro wardrobe to turn the 1930s into expertly dressed sex comedy (the Oscar-winning Belle Epoque [1992]) or the 1940s into a sporting match between Fascists and guerrillas (the soccer-themed The Goalkeeper [2000]). Only del Toro, a supposed outsider, has managed to use the child-witness device, now so hackneyed, without a trace of sentimentality. And only he has been able to make use of an extraordinarily handsome mise-enscène in such a way as to reinforce rather than reduce the horrors of history. In doing so he closely coincides with current trends in Spain, where a “Law of Memory” on the legacy of the Civil War has been bitterly debated and where mass war graves are only now being disinterred, a spectacle del Toro himself, master of the horror genre, might hesitate to depict.
When we move to the interiors of the mill, the main set, golden light slants over dark brown wooden furniture. Elderly women, overseen by steely housekeeper Mercedes (a Maribel Verdú unrecognizable from her role as the sexy wife in Cuarón’s And Your Mother Too [2001]), chop root vegetables or gut rabbits. It is a scene and an aesthetic reminiscent of Velásquez (for example, Old Woman Cooking Eggs in the National Gallery of Scotland), which is frequently reproduced in Spanish period pictures. While local directors have often been content with this picturesque art design, del Toro combines it with more disturbing and ambitious non-naturalistic elements. As mother and daughter hug in their shadowy bedroom (the warm brown palette of day has shifted to the chilly blue of night), Ofelia tells her unborn brother the story of a miraculous flower that blooms every morning. In a single, extraordinary shot del Toro tilts down to inside the mother’s womb, where we see a golden fetus mutely listening, and pans right to the fantastic blossom atop a mountain of thorns. Suddenly the stick insect, clicking and clucking, intrudes into the fantasy landscape and we follow it back to the bedroom where it transforms itself into the slightly sinister fairy of Ofelia’s imagination.
In its stress on a world of women (of mothers, daughters, and housekeepers) wholly separate from that of men, Pan’s Labyrinth is clearly commenting on gender relations. Captain Vidal, the stepfather, embodies a masculinity so exclusive it barely acknowledges the existence of the feminine. Welcoming his pregnant wife and stepdaughter to the mill he addresses them in the masculine plural form (“Bienvenidos”) on the assumption that the unborn child, his true priority, is a boy. As he brutishly announces, a son must be born where his father is, even if this endangers the life of the mother; and, in childbirth, the mother must be sacrificed to ensure the survival of the son who will bear the father’s name. His misogyny will prove his undoing: Mercedes, dismissed as “just a woman,” is in league with the guerrillas and will conspire against her tyrannical master under his very nose.
Del Toro suggests that this fantasy of pure male filiation, without the intercession of women, is fundamental to Fascism. Vidal’s fetishistic attention to uniform (black leather boots and gloves, sometimes clutching a girl’s small white hand) and his amorous investment in the tools of torture (“With this,” he gloats, “we will become intimate”) suggest a fatal narcissism which is as much libidinal as it is political. Vidal’s scenes with housekeeper Mercedes have an icy erotic menace. And it is not just sex that is perverted here. In a time of terror, nature is decidedly unnatural: Ofelia describes her mother as being “sick with baby” (pregnancy will prove a mortal burden); and the verdant landscape (shot in national parks in the region of Segovia) hides blasted trees and monstrous toads. There is no sense of the rich sensuality of nature embodied by the mythical Pan of the film’s English title.

Mexican Cinema - why does Pan's travel so well?

Interview with Del Toro

Arthur Rackham Pan's influence design

The director, Guillermo Del Toro says that Rackham inspired his work, notably the faun in Pan's Labyrinth - as well as the tree that grows out of a Scottish church altar in Hellboy which Del Toro called the 'Rackham Tree'.

Fan site for Del Toro films

Childrens perspective on Spanish Civil War: Butterfly's Tongue (1999) & Carols Journey (2002)

Butteryfly's Tongue or Butterfly (Spanish: La lengua de las mariposas, literally The Tongue of the Butterflies), is a 1999 Spanish film directed by José Luis Cuerda. The film centres on Moncho (Manuel Lozano) and his coming-of-age experience in Galicia in 1936. Moncho develops a close relationship with his teacher Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernán Gómez) who introduces the boy to different things in the world. While the story centres on Moncho's ordinary coming-of-age experiences, tensions related to the looming Spanish Civil War periodically interrupt Moncho's personal growth and daily life.


In a Galician town, a young boy, Moncho, goes to school for the first time and is taught by Don Gregorio about life and literature. At first, Moncho is very scared that the teachers will hit him, as that was the standard procedure back then, but he is relieved to discover that don Gregorio doesn't hit his pupils. Don Gregorio is unlike any other teacher; he builds a special relationship with Moncho, teaching him to love learning. Don Gregorio also builds a special relationship with Moncho's father, who is a Republican like him. Moncho's mother is luke-warm towards the Republic, her main concern being belief in God and at the end of the film she sides with the Nationalist rebels.
When Fascists take control of the town, they round up known Republicans, including don Gregorio. Because of the fact that Moncho's father is a Republican, his family fears that he too will be taken away in the purge if the fascists discover his political leanings. In order to protect themselves, the family goes to the town square to jeer the captured Republicans as they are paraded out of the court house and boarded onto a truck. The film ends with Moncho, despite his continued great affection for his friend and teacher, yelling hateful things and throwing rocks at don Gregorio and the other Republicans, as instructed by his mother, as the truck carries them away, although the last thing Moncho yells are the words for the tongue of a butterfly, espiritrompa (literally "spirotube" or proboscis, in Spanish), a favourite word taught to him by don Gregorio in an attempt to let his dear friend know that he does not truly mean the words he is yelling.

External links
The feature is as much a historical snap shot of Spain during the Civil War, prior to Franco's assent as it is a tale of love in a time where the lines between good and evil seemed to be a lot clearer than the current times. Carol (Claro Lago) comes to Spain with her mother Aurora ( Maria Barranco) to their homeland where their father Robert, an American (Ben Temple) is helping to fight Franco's military regime near Madrid. They settle into a small town of Aurora's birth, living with a grandfather and forming bonds with old and new friends. Aurora has come here to die (of an illness no one is made clearly aware of) and leave Carol in the hands of her sister and father. The plot livens up as love blossoms between Carol and Tomiche (Juan Jose Ballesta) and as a love of daughter for a father becomes evident. Towards the end, it becomes clear that the Franco regime has won and her father desprately seeks his daughter as a fugitive in the "new Spain". The end is tragic as Tomiche dies and Carol's father is captured but hope still exists that Carol and her father will be reunited.

Jeneut as Auteur City of Lost Children & Delicatessen

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Set work for Todays Class 6/11/13

Starter: What would you suggest is the hypothesis of their study?

Use the 3 hours today to develop your idea for your Creative Artefact (5 minute short film). You have the option of filming them this time (ie applying to Film, Media or Creative Arts courses for your portfolio)

Look on youtube and research 'A2 Film Studies Coursework' and look at the short films

1. Record you Pitch on Photobooth - your idea for your 5 minute short film based on your Hypothesis

2. Collage/Mood board images of the narrative, themes and style of your film and communicate how it builds on your exemplar texts/study

3. Film your 5 minute film as test footage on iphones and edit (individually - help each other)

4. Upload all the above to your COURSEWORK blog by 3:40 to get your registration mark - if not complete then you will be presumed AWOL (absent without leave)

You will be screening this to Mr Dixon on Friday

Good luck - looking forward to seeing what you have come up with!


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Lesson Plan wk5 Critical Thinking Skills Assessment

What is your thesis (answer or argument)?

What skills do you need to demonstrate?

How do the films comparable & how do they contrast Narrative Techniques, Structure, Theories - use of these to create meaning?

How does the context (history, cultural myths, beliefs, identity) of Spain and France create meaning through the Narrative?

What other MACRO can you apply to the above?

Why are audiences important, why is this plural and what concept of foreign cinema are we linking this to?

How are we positioned in the narrative as a spectator that creates meaning?

Why are cultural myths so important to this question?

How do we prepare for a exam that requires argument, comparison and critical thinking backed up with relevant points and references to examples?

A written debate

How are the message, myths & ideas explored in the Narrative of Amelie &  Pans Labrynth different?

How do the 2 films differ in their approach to Genre to express the culture's ideas, myths and history?

How do the 2 films differ in their Themes and in expressing the culture's ideas and history?

How do the 2 films differ in their use of Style to express the culture's ideas, myths and history?

How does the Narrative position the viewer in the 2 films and how is this used to create contrasting messages/ideas?

What Narrative techniques/theories are used, how are they used differently to tell the country's story?

How important is Narrative of the films in expressing the messages, myths and ideas of the country?

To what extent are the Narratives expressing National Cinema?

Debate need to include:
Argument/Opinion that is justified/explained
Overlaps with other Macro
Comparing the differences between the films use of narrative or:
Differences in messages & values
Linked to Context of Country (myths, culture etc)

Thinking time
Argue against theirs or justify their argument
Comparing the differences between the films use of narrative or:
Differences in messages & values
Linked to Context of Country (myths, culture etc)

Synthesis (Snickers)
5 min: read both
5 min: list of points (use checklist - what is missing?)
5 min: thinking how to 'Synthesis': reshape/review your argument reconciling strongest of both

Apply to demonstrate your critical thinking & application of context & macro

Write up your Thesis - not a trained exam response to a expected question but application of understanding.

Class activity: Create the essay (Narrative)
Using the 3 paragraph from each question
Video Essay critical comparison of the films with image examples to back up points

Narrative plays a significant role in the construction of message and values. To what extent is this evident in Amelie & Pans Labrynth?

Rewrite the question. What is it asking? Why will the films differ?

Martin's response on Style
How do the 2 films differ in their use of Style to express the culture's ideasmyths and history?

The two films express the aspects of their culture very differently through their use of style. I feel that they differ as one uses style to create an accurate representation of the country whilst the other does its best to romanticise its country and present it in a positive somewhat untruthful way. Pans Labrinth gives a gritty, truthful representation of 1940s Spain through the dark lighting and sombre themes of death and facism within the film. The film follows Spanish beliefs closely as through Ofelias sacrifice led to her being reunited with her father once she was dead, therefore strongly reinforcing the countries catholic and christian beliefs3,3Amelie however does not give such an accurate representation of its country, all areas shot in the film are clean and look as if they would be pleasant to visit. This as well as the happy almost cartoon colour grading gives a surreal and overly positive feel to the film. (2)This follows with what the condition of france actually was in the time surrounding the films production as Paris had recently had many issues such as the riots and frequent problems with racism. None of these issues are addressed in the film especially the racial aspect as not a single black character is included within the film. This shows that one of the films uses style to try and get across a truthful dark view of the country at the time and accurately represent its history and struggles whilst one uses it simply as an "auteurs touch" or to market Paris as an attractive, clean and friendly place.
Martin Stewart

The setting in Amelie is not portrayed in a truthful way, which adds to the message that the country didn't feel comfortable with their true identity and wanted people to believe it was a positive place to visit in order to gain a good reputation. The film director of Amelie is misleading the viewers into believing an untrue representation of France. On the other hand, in Pans Labyrinth the audience is seeing a young child being psychologically beaten by the Spanish Civil war, which is truthfully sticking to the history of Spain, reinforcing the idea that war shouldn't exist.

New Points
Myths - City of Love (Paris)
Pans Labrinth relies heavily on narrative rather than simply style to present ideas, myths and history
Pans Labrinth shows war ruins lives, war is bad, consequences of facism
Amelie shows the importance of helping each other, the joys of innocence, the importance of love and not being alone/isolated

Synthesised Answer
The two films express the aspects of their culture very differently through their use of style. I feel that they differ as one uses style to create an accurate representation of the country whilst the other does its best to romanticise its country and present it in a positive somewhat untruthful way. Pans Labrinth gives a gritty, truthful representation of 1940s Spain through the dark lighting and sombre themes of death and facism within the film. The film follows Spanish beliefs closely as Ofelias sacrifice led to her being reunited with her father once she was dead, therefore strongly reinforcing the countries catholic and christian beliefs. the film also shows the impact of war on young children, and reinforces the idea that children cannot deal with adult themes. Amelie however does not give such an accurate representation of its country, all areas shot in the film are clean and look as if they would be pleasant to visit. This as well as the happy almost cartoon colour grading gives a surreal and overly positive feel to the film. This overly happy representation of france ties in perfectly with the idea that Paris is the city of love, this is reinforced also through the narrative as the film has Amelie playing cupid. Through this an untrue representation of France is given to the audience of the film.  During the time surrounding the films production Paris had recently had many issues such as the riots and frequent problems with racism. None of these issues are addressed in the film especially the racial aspect as not a single black character is included within the film. I feel that this unrealistic view is given as the country didn't feel comfortable with their true identity and therefore didn't want the whole world to see the true issues that they face. This shows that one of the films uses style to try and get across a truthful dark view of the country at the time and accurately represent its history and struggles whilst one uses it simply as an "auteurs touch" or to market Paris as an attractive, clean and friendly place to the rest of the world.

Rebecca's Post on genre
Argument: Genre plays an important role in the success of a foreign film as it is key to how the different audiences are drawn into watching the films, for example its horror genre that will use predicted horror conventions which certain audiences know and love, who will therefore have an attraction to the film.

Genre appeals to certain audiences as it allows us to pick the aspects that we like to watch. e.g. someone may prefer the conventions of a Romance film and therefore be more likely to see future romance films with an expectation as to what they will be like. We can recognise the genre through our previous experiences. 

Horror / Fantasy - conform with aspects of Pan's Labyrinth. The film was successful as Lord of The Rings was also of the fantasy genre and had a large audience that went to see the films which brought in a vast amount of money.

Genre also contributes to success on the basis it is easy to understand because it is the same all over the world; genre breaks films into different categories, providing us with the ability to sift through the films and select the ones we would most like to watch.

Genre is similar to Narrative e.g. Fairytale characters (Propp).

It is not about showing the culture of the country, it is about being successful to audiences and making money. This is part of the reasoning as to why both Pan's Labyrinth and Amelie have a strong use of style to appeal to different audiences. For example, in Pan's Labyrinth, fantasy conventions are conveyed through the use of magical realism. Romantic conventions and the myth of Paris being the city of love is demonstrated through Amelie in the form of French New Wave and Cinema Du Look, linking to the phrase "style over substance".

Amelie – Romantic Comedy

-       Amelie uses the genre of romantic comedy to appeal worldwide to any audiences, it is a stereotype of the genre of romantic comedy that the film will follow the classic Hollywood narrative making it a presumption of any going to see it in other films that they will easily be able to follow the narrative as it is a convention of the genre
-       Uses a heterosexual relationship within the romance to make it acceptable worldwide

 Pans Labyrinth – Fantasy

-       Pans Labyrinth uses the fantasy genre as it is one that is accepted worldwide and can be viewed and understood by all audiences
-       Offers an opportunity for people to watch the film as a serious contextually strong piece of national cinema or as simply a fantasy from Ofelia’s point of view allowing it to be an international bestseller
-       The use of fantasy allows the messages of the film to be portrayed through the innocent eyes of a child, without the use of fantasy Ofelia would be facing up to real people rather than the monsters that she and we as the viewer sees
-       Allows us through the use of a fantasy genre to see how the war scars the children of Spain at the time

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Amelie Sweded

Narrative Pan's - Interweved stroylines

Fairy Tale/storybook (Propp)

Counselling session (extranormal) Psychological motivation

Cause/Effect (Timeline)

Equilibirum, Disruption, Resolution (Timeline)

Heroes Journey

Sweed or Create Video Essay.

Classic Hollywood Narrative? Pan's

Its ironic that on a movie full of creatures and monsters that can give you nightmares, the most horrifying one of all is a human being.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Curriculum Overview Mod 1 & 2

Unit F633: Global Cinema & Critical Approaches
 Section A: Message & Values in Global Film (Non English)

Amelie & Pans Labrynth 1 hr  Exam
MACRO analysis of the film's messages in the Context of the historical ideological social influences on filmmaking

Mod 1: Spanish National Cinema: Pan's Labrynth
All MACRO in the film must be explored for significance/MEANING about Spanish Culture & Beliefs and it's History and how the Civil War shapes National Identity
compared with
French National Cinema: Amelie 
All MACRO in the film must be explored for significance/MEANING about French Culture & Beliefs and how accurately the Stereotypical "Romanticised 60's Postcard Paris" reflects Frances National Identity (compared to La Haine for example)

Wk1 Introduction - what has been accomplished over the summer – what do we Know about the National Cinema?
Revision & Recap Skills, Research Skills (Skimming, Salient Points, Noticing Links, Validity)
Group 1: Narrative & The Story of the War & Spanish Myths (Plot out & characters) Sweeded (as a key scenes comparison)
Group 2: Narrative & French Myths /Beliefs (Postmodernism = French Philosophy) Sweeded
Wk 3 Skill - Development of the research material
Shared Comparative Analysis of Narrative National Messages in the films & Timed Essay Report (Answer the question)
Wk 4
Group 1: Genre & Style of the Spanish Film-making Traditions (Surrealism & Magical Realism) & National Identity – Genre Mood Board & Stylistic Imitation Film
Group 2: Genre & Style of Amelie (Auteur cinema & the French New Wave) Genre Mood Board & Stylistic Imitation Film
Shared Comparative Analysis of Narrative National Messages in the films & Timed Essay Report (Answer the question)
Wk5 Recall Skills & Development of the response into an essay structured answer
Group 1: Representation & Male/Female/Child/National Identity of Civil War (Mood Board & “Guess Who” Character Traits/Impressions & Character Construction ingredients)
Group 2: Representation & the stereotypes of French Identity, romance, women and men, childhood (Mood Board & “Guess Who” Character Traits/Impressions & Character Construction ingredients)
Wk6 Critical Thinking Skills: Shared Comparative Analysis of Representation of Children, Gender and National Identity Messages in the films & Timed Essay Structure Report (Answer the question)
wk7 French Food Menu and Spanish Food week - Revision & Recall Skills

Mod 2:
wk1 General Recap
Group 1: Themes and Values in Pans (mood board & video essay of film in context of Spanish Identity: Cultural Beliefs, Experiences, Myths: what message is it trying to put across?)
Group 2: Themes and Messages In Amelie of Spanish National Cinema (mood board & video essay of film in context of French Identity: Cultural Beliefs, Experiences, Myths: what message is it trying to put across?)
wk2: Critical Thinking Skills: Shared Comparative Analysis of National Themes and the Messages in the films & Timed Essay Structure Report (Answer the question)
Group 1: Authorship of G. Del Toro (reviews, interviews Bazin & the Auteur)
Group 2: Authorship of J.P Jeneut & A.Tatou (reviews, interviews Bazin & the Auteur)
wk4: Research & Conclusion Skills: Shared Comparative Analysis of Authorship & the Messages in the films & Timed Essay Structure Report (Answer the question)
wk5: Revision & Recall Skills. 1hr Unseen exam (differentiated) in class (assessment in class)
Wk6: Essay structure skills

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Contextual Documentary - "The Nation behind the cinema"

Friday Research Amelie & Pans Labrynth

Start to compile your video essays "The Nation behind the cinema"

Historical, political, social/cultural context (War, Immigration, Myths)
Film criticism - National & International response (why these film have global appeal?)
National Cinema - movement & styles, theories
Authorship - directors - themes, style and filmography

Key movements, directors and films
Key themes and styles (surrealism, 'magical realism'?)
National identity
Authorship & influences of past (devils backbone) films (spirit of beehive & Franco era films criticising regime?)

Macro Analysis of the film
Narrative structure prop heroes journey?
Genre romance fantasy?
Style  'magical realism' to explore myths
Representation of nation & gender

Video essay by end of term.

Opinions & criticisms

Work through

Is Amelie is CHN?

How does the Storybook narrative link the 2

Individually write a textual analysis of the film 'style' over the summer
Magical Realism (mise-en-scene)
Colour Correction

1. provide 1 still to define what aspect of style you are using as evidence
2. why is this used, what is the purpose of this stylistic effect?
3. what is the sub-text/ messages/meaning about chracters?

Magical Realism Assessment

  1. Where does it come from and why is this in a Spanish tradition?
  2. What is recognisable/what defines it?
  3. It is a Style or is it a Film Genre?
  4. How is it different to Fantasy?
  5. How does it lend itself to CHN - psychological motivations, beg/mid/end, clear resolution?
  6. How does is it a 'framing device' for the story?
  7. How does it allow the discussion of Myths & Themes?
  8. How does it link Amelie and Ofelia and their stories?

wk 3.1 Spanish Cinema & Magical Realism

Spanish film influences & messages

Warm up starter:
Style: Magical realism what is it how does it link the 2 films?
What themes in the film?
Why does it use this style to explore themes?
What myths are explored
How do the films use CHN?

Make into a short film

2 levels to the narrative - a subtext. Think carefully about what social/cultural `myths' you are exploring - national identity

Ophelia is a psychologically abused child by the war who gets shot  

Amelie has the mind of a child in a young woman's body who only sees the good in people, is this someone who should be entering an adult relationship?

Pan's Labrynth & Magical Realism

Pan Labrynth & Magical Realsim

Example of Practical 2min film

In 4s now make a short film demonstrating technique of magical realism

Magical Realism

Magical Realism

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Spirit of the Beehive 1973

Espiritu de la Comina

New Spanish Cinema

The new Spanish cinema

In 1962, José María García Escudero became the Director General of Cinema, propelling forward state efforts and the Escuela Oficial de Cine (Official Cinema School), from which emerged the majority of new directors, generally from the political left and those opposed to the Franco dictatorship. Among these were Mario Camus, Miguel Picazo, Francisco Regueiro, Manuel Summers, and, above all, Carlos Saura. Apart from this line of directors, Fernando Fernán Gómez made the classic El extraño viaje (The Strange Trip) (1964) and Víctor Erice created the internationally acclaimed El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive) (1973).

  • Marsha Kinder: Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain, University of California Press, 1993, ISBN 0-520-08157-9
  • Marvin D'Lugo: Guide to the Cinema of Spain (Reference Guides to the World's Cinema), Greenwood Pub Group, 1997
  • Nuria Triana-Toribio: Spanish National Cinema (National Cinemas Series), Routledge 2002, ISBN 0-415-22060-2
  • The Cinema of Spain and Portugal (24 Frames (Paper), ed. by Alberto Mira, Wallflower Press 2005 – 24 films are analyzed
  • Ronald Schwartz: Great Spanish Films Since 1950, Scarecrow Press, 2008
  • Tatjana Pavlovic: 100 Years of Spanish Cinema, John Wiley & Sons, 2008

Pans Labrynth Study Pack