Saturday 30 June 2012

Within Our Gates (1920)

Within Our Gates

It is easy to be hard on ”Within our Gates”. Technically this is an awful film. I can find tons of ways to deride this movie but that does not mean that it is not worth seeing it.

Within our Gates was the first black movie to be made, meaning it was made by Afro-American, using Afro-Americans and likely for Afro-Americans. As such it is an antidote to D.W. Griffith “Birth of a Nation” with the notable difference that “Birth of a Nation” was technically ahead of its time while “Within our Gates” is technically primitive.

I imaging a bunch of guys saying: Hey, why don’t we make a movie? How difficult can it be? Then we can tell OUR story. Man, that could be soo cool.

Then they gather friends and family and dig up a camera from somewhere and start shooting.

They do have a story. Actually several stories, which to some extend interconnect. And it is also a good story, relevant and touching. They just sort of skipped the entire script part. There is a woman leaving the north to go down to the south where there is a school chaired by a doctor who is struggling to keep it afloat. The woman returns back north to raise money for the school. Other sub plots involve the woman’s family and a black preacher who is supporting the white elite keeping the blacks submissive.

It is a good story with lots of good and interesting points. Unfortunately it is told by showing people talking in front of a static camera and then driving the story forward using lots of inter-titles. That means that the story does not catch at all. Some scenes are way too long, while some are rushed. Some does not tell anything and without the inter-titles those scenes would just be really confusing.

The acting is not really acting because acting implies that you are actually trying to act. In fact it reminds me of the home videos we would do as children with borrowed equipment.

In “Birth of a Nation” I wished there was a worthwhile story to apply their superior technique on. With “Within our Gates” I wished they had adequate technique to apply on their superior story.

As it is it is (again) one of those movies I am glad to have seen but not really inclined to watch again.

Friday 29 June 2012

Olympia (1938)

One of the reasons I started the project of watching the 1001 list was that I was totally blank on so many of the movies and for the first half of the list it is really most of them. Then some of them do ring a bell, and an association, but I cannot really tell what they are about, likely because I never saw more than a clip if even that.

I never saw “Olympia” before but I know this clip with Hitler looking satisfied that he is the headpiece of this glorious event while everybody is heil’ing to him.

That is really enough to put me off. Why should I watch a piece of Nazi propaganda?

Seeing “Olympia” however made me realize that such impressions are deceiving, that there is a lot more to it.

Olympia was released two years after the Olympic Games in Berlin in 36, long after everybody had left for home, and functions as an afterimage to commemorate this glorious event. It was made to show how good Germany handled this event but also as something else and this is where it becomes interesting.

The movie is a celebration of the body, of the very physicality of it, health and strength. As such it was part of an ‘ism, vitalism, that started around the turn of the century and peaked at this point just before WWII. The extreme right hijacked these values and incorporated it into their ideology. That is why we today can see “Olympia” as Nazi propaganda.

But setting that aside, hard as it may be, “Olympia” really celebrates all the participating athletes, both individually and as a phenomenon.

It starts with the link back to ancient Greece, then naked people doing sports old school (surely no censorship here) gradually becoming the torch relay runners bringing the Olympic fire to Berlin. It is bombastic, big and we are left in no doubt that it is the beautiful, healthy, strong body which is in focus.

The opening ceremony is mostly interesting because of how weird it is with all these people heil’ing and Nazi symbols all over the place. Thankfully I did not see the Danish delegation do it, but then I only saw them shortly.

What follows then is 3 hours of sporting events. When I realized this I was groaning. This was going to be very long and tedious to see. The surprising thing is that is was not. When all the Nazi stuff and men in uniforms were out of the way the sporting events were filmed with such skill and sense for what is interesting that I got interested. Many things have developed since then, but so much is also the same and the way Leni Riefenstahl and her team filmed it with moving cameras from multiple angles and slow motion when required was not much different from how these things are done today. It would not surprise me at all to learn that this is where it comes from.

Of course there is a focus on the German participants, but I do not really see that as a problem. You cannot watch any sport coverage without an emphasis on the audience’s own representatives. But Leni Rieffenstahl is loyal enough to the event to show other people win as well. It must have hurt their nazi sensitivities to see Jesse Owens, a black American, win again and again, he he. So much for their ubermench ideals.

While the first part is focused on athletics the second leaves the Olympic stadium to show the other events. Totally weird how military some of these were. Despite this I really liked the part on cross country horse racing. I am not really into horses and I am sure it is really difficult, but these Olympic contestants looked like amateurs as they were almost all falling off their horse in this almost slapstick sequence.

I understand why this is called nazi propaganda but I also understand why Leni Rieffenstahl received the gold medal from the Olympic comity in 1948.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Way Down East (1920)

Vejen til lyset

There are real disasters and then there are unnecessary disasters.

In the real disasters you, somebody or something else have brought you into a terrible situation that may require terrible measures or incredible amounts of luck to resolve.

Whereas the unnecessary disasters are those that are only in people’s heads. If you break the spell, the problem is not there at all, but because you don’t everything goes to pieces.

“Way down east” is about unnecessary disasters.

The poor innocent girl is fooled into marriage, made pregnant, thrown out, her child dies, she is thrown out again on suspicion of being unmarried, tolerated in a new home, “forced” to flee again when her “frivolous” nature is being revealed.

Out of all this only her child’s death is a real disaster. The rest only happens because she thinks there is a problem. What is her crime? She was tricked into marriage? Uuhh, terrible girl! Come on, get real. If she stopped thinking she was to blame and instead threw blame where it was deserved, surely she would be understood and most of the disaster would have been avoided.

It may be that it is just me living in a different time and place that make me unable to relate to the story. That may be unfair to the movie and D.W. Griffith, but I cannot help feeling annoyed with the unnecessity of all these troubles and it takes the attention away from the things that actually work in this film. The ice floe sequence in the end, Lillian Gish, a forward moving coherent story (new ground for D.W. Griffith).

I really really cannot deal with small children dying or being hurt. It is worse than anything you can throw at me in a movie. The simple fact that it happened in this film is a real downer, at least for me.

No, Griffith is not my favorite director. This movie is not bad. It just does not appeal to me.    

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Sunrise (1927)

Recently ”The Actor” showed a modern audience how much communication silent actors can do with their expressions and how a director can tell an even complicated story without sound. 85 years ago this technique was mastered to perfection by F.W. Murnau.

“Sunrise” was the peak of silent movies. Talkies were coming and with the notable exception of Chaplin nobody would make silents anymore, at least not in Hollywood. But in that grand finale the silent art form reached a pinnacle which is awesome even today.

A temptress from the city has moved to a village and caught in her net a farmer. It is breaking him apart, he cannot get free of her and he is in misery.

The farmer has a lovely wife and an infant child, but the temptress convinces him to drown her so they can get away to the city together. The wife is certainly aware that he has something going on, but is very happy that he is taking her for a boat ride. Out there on the lake he almost go through with it, she realizes what is going on and he realizes that he still loves her and breaks off the attempt and instead rows the boat toward the city.

The damage is done and she tries to flee from him. She is not successful but he has a hard time winning her back. He succeeds however and they have a blast in town.

On the way home however… no I should not reveal that here, only to say that the ending is high drama.

The demons are so visible in the farmer that we feel it too. His is not trivial misery. He is really being torn apart. The reactions; happiness, fear, pain, laughter, the entire register is so lived out that they tell the story almost without subtitles. We do not need them and those that are there are often more to effect then explanation. This is the work of a true master with actors that know their craft.

It could so easily become melodramatic and feel overacted, and well, I suppose it is overacted, but it feels very convincing.

There are three phases to the mood of the story. The dark opening with the almost visible demons, light and shadow and a gloomy score, the bright and gay middle part in the city and then the dark drama at night on the lake. This is perfectly made.

My only problem is the attempts at making the happy stage in the city comical. Those almost slapstick parts seem out of place in this movie and it could have been toned down without losing the gaiety of this day in town.

Another thing when you start thinking about it (always dangerous); it does seem a bit strange that the farmer would want to leave his pretty, sweet wife for that spider from the city. I cannot help thinking that he is a bit of a jerk.

During the movie I was wondering about the title. At the end I realized that it referred to rebirth, which was a fitting symbol for the story, but hardly a fitting for a movie that marked the ending of an art form.


Broken Blossoms (1919)

Broken Blossoms
D.W. Griffith is heavily represented among the early films on the list. At this point I was getting a bit tired of his movies. They had really lowered the bar for what I expected from an early movie. This may be a reason why I was happy with Broken Flowers.

The lead character is a Chinese with high ideals who go out in the world, but in the west he succumbs to a modest life in the city, mainly under the influence of opium. The female lead is a young girl (as usual Lillian Gish) who lives in poverty with her brute of a father. When she eventually is left to rot it is the Chinese who saves her and takes care of her.

The remarkable thing here is not that it is a European actor playing Chinese, nor that he is considered bottom of society just for being Chinese. These things were part of the time along with blackface actors and other similar social injustices. Not even that this is actually a modernized version of the Merciful Samaritan story. No, the remarkable thing is that this was made by the same director who made “Birth of a Nation”. Where in “Birth of a Nation” the Afro-Americans were less than human, here the Chinese is more human than the whites. Maybe after all he did learn something.

The movie suffer from heavy heavy melodrama and very explicit overacting which I found difficult at the time, but which I have since learned is an integral part of early silents. This does not change that technically, story wise and on a deeper moral level this is a much more satisfying movie than Griffith earlier movies and in my opinion also better than the later Griffith movies on the list.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Intolerance (1916)

So your last movie trashed for being extremely racist and falsifying history and you feel hurt. What do you do?

Say: “arh, maybe you are right I was a bit out of line”?

Maybe make a movie to show that you are definitely not a racist bastard?

You could also switch to a whole different theme and hope that people will forget over time.

D.W. Griffith did none of the above.

Apparently he felt so hurt and unfairly treated that he wanted to make a film to show how intolerant people are and how the saints or the different people are always crucified.

Talk about being blind to your own faults!

It seems like he could not really decide on a story: Something with Jesus, no, big and ancient like Babylon or modern maybe, something we can relate to and those bleeding catholics, they are gonna have it to. Well in the end he decided to make them all. And big big big!

In my opinion this story is a mess. There is a Babylonian part, a part about Christ, some French Huguenots being prosecuted and a modern story. The whole thing is something like 160 minutes long. And long is the right word. Normally I like multi track stories, especially if they somehow interconnect, but here I just lost interest long before it was through. I watched it to the end, but that was just me not wanting to give up. Mentally I was bored to stupidity and the point and finer details of the individual stories just eluded me.

At least the Babylonian part had some really nice sets and a fine battle; I just did not really see the connection with the story. I had to read up on the background to find out who was intolerant to whom. I mean the story of Christ and the story of the Huguenots are pretty straight forward, but not the two others. Except of course that people are getting sooo unfairly treated and this is the fate of those who think differently at any time in history.

There was one part I liked. Lillian Gish rocking the cradle, symbolizing the mother of humanity or something like that. This was a very loaded image and worked well for me the first two to three times she appeared. Eventually however even that became uninteresting.

Maybe this was actually an interesting film

Maybe it was important

My mind just went into stupid mode long before the resolution of the stories.

All I could think of was: What a hypocrite ass!

Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (1920)

Dr. Caligari
It is about two years ago I saw the early movies on the list. Some of the details fade with time and a rosy patina settles on the memory making the movies seem better or less poor than they were back when I saw them. One of those movies I remember particularly fondly is Dr. Caligari. Was I deceiving myself or is it really as good as I remember? I decided to see it again just to find out and also to be better equipped to write my commentary.

I was not mistaken. Dr. Caligari is exactly as good as I remember. Maybe even better.

If you have not seen Dr. Caligari stop reading this. Go treat yourself with the doctor and then come back and tell me if I am totally wrong. The rest of this commentary will be a big time spoiler if you have not seen it.

In the small town of Holstenwall the mysterious Dr. Caligari is setting up his sideshow for the local fair. His show features a somnambulist whom he claims has been asleep for 23 years but will wake up upon request and answer questions on the past and the future, on life and, as we will find out, death.

Francis and his friend are in love with the same girl. They go to the fair and visit Dr. Caligari’s sideshow. The friend asks Cesare, the somnambulist, how long he has yet to live and the pale, ghostly Cesare tell him that he has until the early morning. Already one murder has been committed and during the night Francis friend dies as well.

Francis is convinced that Dr. Caligari is behind this and embarks on a crusade to bring down Dr. Caligari. When his girlfriend is attacked by the somnambulist, Francis is keeping watch on Dr. Caligari in his trailer where Cesare is sleeping in his box. It turns out though that it is not Cesare after all in the box but a doll. Dr. Caligari flees with Francis on his trail and ends up at a mental asylum.

Francis finds out that Dr. Caligari is in fact the director of the asylum, who wants to recreate an old Italian story of a Dr. Caligari who travelled around with a somnambulist. In the process the director becomes so obsessed with the idea that he becomes Dr. Caligari.

At this point we return to the beginning where Francis is telling this entire story to a friend at the asylum and we find that many of the characters of the story are in fact patients here including Cesare and the girlfriend. Seeing the director Francis gets very excited, shouting that this is Dr. Caligari. The staff fixate him and take him to a cell where the director turns to the camera and tells us that now that he knows that Francis thinks the director is Dr. Caligari, he knows how to cure him.

The story Francis has been telling is apparently fiction and he is a patient himself. That much is clear. The rest leads itself to interpretation. We have seen this twist in later films and I wonder if this is not the earliest example. A film like “The usual suspects” comes to my mind. What is really the truth?

“Dr. Caligari” is very expressionistic and full of symbols. Buildings are caricatures with odd angles and disturbing shapes. Officials are sitting on very high chairs talking down to people. The somnambulist is a study in itself in light and shadow so gloomy that I find him spookier than any other character I have seen in early cinema.

So, is Cesare a dark side of Francis who kills his rival to the girl and tries to take the girl away? Is Dr. Caligari a controlling voice, an authority in Francis who tells him to do things? Things another part of Francis does not want to do? Is the entire story just a fiction made up by Francis using characters around for some diabolical inner struggle he is fighting? Some deep personality disorder?

I cannot say for sure and that means that I go around thinking and marveling over this story for a long time.

This is a gem and it told me very early on this 1001 movie quest that it is a worthwhile undertaking.


Sunday 24 June 2012

The Vampires (Les Vampires) (1915)

When I received ”Les Vampires” I was surprised to find that I had ordered a box set. But the explanation was simple enough. ”Les Vampires” is not a feature but a serial. It is like ordering a season of “Friends” or “Game of Thrones” except that this is long long before you ordered a season of something so you could watch the episodes in rapid succession and not have to wait till next week’s episode. Back then you went to the cinema and watched maybe a bundle of shorts and to make sure people came back you made serials with a cliffhanger that would bring in the audience next week or so to see how their hero got out of that predicament. Effectively the same technique which is used in many tv series still today.

That is ”Les Vampires” in a nut shell.

”Les Vampires” is very old, from 1915, at a time when WWI is raging and has all but killed the French film industry, once the world hot spot for cinema. “Les Vampires” provide escapism for the masses at a low cost and can in that sense be compared with the musicals of the thirties. Or maybe rather the gangster movies, for the plot in ”Les Vampires” is a gang of criminals bend on taking control of the Paris underworld and a significant part of the world above. To prevent this we have the valiant reporter Philippe Guerande and his sidekick Mazamette, who like Tintin and Captain Haddock is equally bend on unraveling the crime syndicate.

The progress of the story is a repetition of almost-there-but-something-new-shows-up. A format we should in our day and time be intimately familiar with from countless tv-series. The difference is that here it is quite imaginative and entertaining. Paris apparently is crisscrossed by secret passages and people with foul intentions abound. Some of the escapes or breaks are silly or stupid, but with my mind set on light, amateurish entertainment I do not mind and having a laugh at the silliness just adds to the movie. I am not sure the series intends to be funny, but it certainly aims at entertaining and that I am.

While the protagonists are a somewhat dull and colorless the antagonists are a joy to watch. With Irma Vep (change the order of letters and see what you get…) the serial has a real star and I find that for me she is the real protagonist, no matter what cause she is fighting for and interesting enough the serial also do have a lot of sympathy for her. She is far from the passive female lead of so many other early films. She has real drive.

I watched “The Vampires” in 15 minute increments and it took me the better part of a month and maybe that is what saved it for me. I do not think I could have handled more than an hour or so at a time, but as it is it is one of those entries I will be taking down again to see and enjoy.

Was it primitive: yes, technically a mess
Did I care: nope
Who’s cool: Irma Vep!

Saturday 23 June 2012

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Crime does not pay, get it? Do I have to spell it out for you, dumb-ass? This is apparently what Hollywood in the 30’ies tried to tell us, of course with the Hayes code forcing the hand.

But crime does pay. Gangster movies were and still are popular at the box office. The public fascination with the tough gangster is apparently a constant and Hollywood is ever ready to milk that cow. Only they cannot have the gangster win God forbid.

Man, I have seen that story sooo many times. Old versions, new versions da di da di da. It is a template formula already tried a number of time in the 30’ies when ”Angels with Dirty Faces” came out in 38. And frankly I am sick to the bone with the whole gangster-make-it-big-but-eat-dirt-in-the-end plot. So I am pretty biased at the outset of watching this kind of movies.

“Angels with Dirty Faces”’s special angle is that simple chance destines two friend to very different futures. One sees the light and become a priest, while the other is sent to reform school and become a hardboiled gangster. Many years later the gangster, played by Cagney, returns to his old neighborhood to collect some dirty money deposited with his lawyer, played by Bogart. While there he seeks out his old friend the priest, played by O’Brien and they restart their old friendship.


Through some machinations the gangster gets his money from the not so cooperative lawyer and his allies and the gangster is king of the world with a beautiful woman and nice suits and tons of money. Meanwhile the priest believes he can set him straight but is worried about the influence the gangster has on the neighborhood children. They look up to the gangster and he supplies them with money and attention. So when the gangster is finally caught the priest must convince the gangster to go down whining so the kids can see that he is no hero and that crime does not pay.

--End of spoiler—

The acting is okay, especially Cagney who is almost typecast as the tough gangster. When we think of what a gangster is like we think of Cagney. The quality of the production is also top notch for the late thirties and the use of light and shadow in the end is very German expressionism. So what is wrong? I should be happy.

My problem is the hypocrisy of being so explicit and moralizing in telling us that crime does not pay when obviously the success of this movie says that it does pay off big time. Again and again.

Maybe I am just fed up with gangster movies.

A funny and totally unrelated detail: You know that classic and recurrent scene where the villain has emptied his gun and in frustration starts throwing the gun after the cops? I believe it started here.

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

En nations fødsel

This is a terrible movie!

There it is, I just spoiled my commentary by starting with the conclusion.

When I see a movie my first and lingering feeling that the movie left me with is also what I judge it by. All the academia only comes later. Am I bored, excited, laughing, captivated by the piece, this is my prime concern. That is maybe due to my background which is not in the humanistics, I do not know, but it is more likely just normal human reaction.

This movie left me disgusted.

"The birth of a nation" is the founding movie of the full length feature and it certainly is full length. It takes place during the American civil war and has its sympathies firmly with the south. This is depicted as a struggle for freedom, for white supremacy and to keep the abolitionists out of their hair. Of course the south looses and the blacks take over and transform the once so ideal south into something between a circus and a zoo with the blacks depicted as little more than apes. Then who saves the day? The Clan of course. Like some Robin Hood or Dick Turpin the noble clansmen protect the south from total degeneration.

Does this leave you with a bad taste in the mouth?

This reminds me of nazi propaganda. There are plenty of veiled racism out there but here it is as if Griffith does not even recognize it as racism but just the most natural thing in the world the way scientist before WWII could talk about eugenics without blinking.

So why do I watch this stuff?

Well, the obvious answer is that it is on the list. Clearly an OCS explanation. But there are other reasons too. Technically this was a huge leap forward. The battle scenes, the epic style, the drama, this movie really broke new ground and it catapulted D.W.Griffith into stardom. From this movie a new concept was born, the feature, which enabled more elaborate stories instead of the small novellas of the two-reelers. Also "The Birth of a Nation" became a monster hit at the box office and remained so for many years and brought the race issue into the headlines. Looking back this piece of overt racism may have done more for emancipation than any other movie.

Did I like it? Hell no!
Was it worth seeing it? Definitely!

Friday 22 June 2012

The great train robbery

Det store togrøveri

"The Great train robbery" is the second of the early pioneering movies on the list. That means that this movie together with Melies "La voyage dans la lune" represents the birth of cinema. In a way it is unfair to summarize the first almost 20 years of cinema in just two movies, but then again how many memorials to the birth of cinema do you really need?

And that is basically what this movie is. Where "La voyage..." is taking place on a stage, "The great train robbery" is shot on location with different scenes and an almost coherent story line. Hopelessly primitive by modern standards but in all its primitive form it is all there. And of course this is considered by many to be the first western, even if it took place in New Jersey.

It is not a movie you see for what is in it. I found many scenes too long. How long does it take to tie up some dude and how long do you really need to stand in front of all the train passengers waving a gun? Also I think I only caught the entire story on my second watching. But setting that aside watching this piece as a historic document makes it a lot more interesting. I can only imagine how it must have been making this movie with the equipment at the time and without much experience to draw from.

"The great train robbery" became a real blockbuster in its age and where "La voyage..." provided us with the rocket-in-the-eye-of-the-moon image, "The great train robbery" gave us the cowboy shooting at the audience.

I am happy to have seen it.

Le voyage dans la lune

Rejsen til månen

"A trip to the moon" is the first movie on the list and also the first on I searched out to see. It turned out to be a detour that took me around much of early cinema.

I found an excellent compilation called "Primitives and Pioneers" from BFI (The British Film Institute) that hosted almost anything worth seeing from the first 10 years of cinema. Highly recommended! It includes such landmark films as "Arrival of a train", Exit from the factory and "The great train robbery" plus tons of other small gems including some Melies. However not "A trip to the moon". I did not really mind though. One of my friend have little home cinema under his roof with a projector. Sitting there watching these old pieces was like being back in a cinema around the turn of the century.

Eventually I found a Melies anthology with lots of his work and plenty of background material. It turns out that the magician George Melies used the early moving pictures as part of his magic shows and this gradually developed into little magic movies. "A trip to the moon" is just the most well known of them.

Even people who claim to know nothing of early cinema will recognize the image of the moon with a rocket in the eye. It is iconic. Of course with the recent "Hugo" film by Scorsese Melies is now known to a broader audience, but for me much of this was new stuff.

As a movie "A trip to the moon" is a simple, fast paced and two dimensional movie, but that is because we are watching it with a modern eye. To the contemporary audience this was pure magic.

The reason why we find it interesting is as a historic piece. It is with a reverent feeling I watch this. This is where it began. "Arrival of a train" gave the technique". "A voyage to the moon" gave us the concept.

If I go to Jelling I see a stone with some odd carvings on it. There are other and prettier worked stones around but that is not the point. The point is that this is where Denmark started a thousand years ago. That gives this boulder a meaning way beyond what it appears and that is what "A voyage to the moon" is. A monument to cinema.


Thursday 21 June 2012

The adventures of Robin Hood

Robin Hood 

The adventures of Robin Hood is one of those movies many people know of but few people have actually seen, which is exactly me. I were really looking forward to finally getting to see this one and expectations always places the movie at a disadvantage. This one I expected to be an easy watch so I saw it with friends and snacks and good wine and this was also how it turned out.

The mood is really light. They may be fighting with swords and shooting people by the dozens and for the survival of regular folks, but no worries, life is easy, full of laughter and merriment. This is not Robin Hood and his merry men for nothing. It is easy to see why this type of movies have been mocked in later years as we have all have lost our movie innocence, but if we forget it for a moment and assume that innocence then this is really like being a child playing Robin Hood and with this in mind it is difficult not to love it.

Of course it is highly artificial. Nobody is their right mind would ride unseen through the forest with a bright red outfit or any of the other customes the outlaws are wearing and many of the scenes do not last deeper scrutiny. Particularly I found the scene comical when the merry men are having a very merry party in the forest Robin convinces Marian in the justice in his cause by showing how the poor peasants are poor and miserable. Hey, there is a party going on! if you care for them so much, why are they not invited!

But of course if I was a 10 year old child I would not be bothered by that sort of things and it is in that light it should be seen.
The adventures of Robin Hood is one of the first movies in colour and maybe the first blockbuster in colour. Being used as I am now to watching movies in black and white it really takes off decades of a movies age to see it in colour, even as exaggerated as they are here. It was an expensive production and it shows in the details.
It is a long way from  The adventures of Robin Hood to Game of Thrones, but that is not where this movie intend to go.
This is Disney with real actors. This is the original of countless Hollywood productions even of today.
Was it silly? Yes
Did I enjoy myself? Certainly
Did I regret seing it? Not for a second

Welcome to my movie blog

In 2008 a friend of me gave me an innocently looking book called "1001 Film du skal se før du dør", also known by its English title 1001 movies you must see before you die. At the time I had no idea what this would grow into.

I started reading the book (yes, I suppose it is an OCS thing with me, I started reading the phone book as a child...) and was amazed at how few of the older movies I knew and much less seen. A standard evening in front of the television is like: zap, has seen... zap, not that one again... zap, no way I am going to see that one... And here was this throve of unseen gems!

A year later or so I saw the movie "Julie and Julia" where the protagonist decides to try every recipe in the grand old tome. I was fascinated by the concept and the idea took root to do something similar.

January 2010 I made the decision that I was going to do it! I want to see and get all the movies in the book starting with the earliest movies. I want to build up this grand collection and extend my horizon into uncharted territory. It does not really matter if I will not finish, at the current rate it will take me 20 years to complete. The point is that I force myself into seeing movies I would not otherwise have seen and thus get an experience I would not otherwise have gotten.

Two and a half years later I am 114 movies down the list and it has definitely been worth it.

My son was born when I started this so I basically saw the movies when I was giving him milk in the mornings and in the evenings, 2 x 15 minutes a day! Also actually buying the DVD's means that I am not really in any rush.

A year ago I found out that there are other people out there doing something similar and blogging about it. I had not really thought of doing that, I am in it for the movies, but I found myself wanting to comment on all these blogs (which I to some extend have) and that is certainly okay by most, why not make my own blog?

There are some really good pages out there. Squish at makes really cool reviews with a cool rating system. Steve J Honeywell at 1001plus reviews with a really deep insight that I could never match. In fact there are many excellent reviewers and critics out there in the blogosphere.

So I have decided that I am not really aiming at rating the movies. Nor advising whether to see the movie or not. You may even be disappointed if you expect to find summary of the story.

Instead what I am going to write is simply my own comments.

If you feel like commenting on that, be my guest.

On the associated List page you can find the grand list including all the entries added by different volumes of the book. This is the English version list. The Danish list have a few additions that I will add in the bottom as they appear. I have rudely snatched the list from SJHoneywell without even asking (apologies).

I will be following two tracks: 1. commenting on the movies I am currently watching and 2. going back to review what I have been watching the past two and a half year.

Finally I would like to apologize for my crude language. As you may have guessed I am not a native English speaker.


Thomas Sørensen