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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 10. June 10, 1953

Films By Ian Rich

page 3

Films By Ian Rich

Films Cartoon

Hans Christian Andersen

Samuel goldwyn spent many years planning for this film, reading scripts and testing actors. He finally chose Moss Hart's story and Danny Kaye to take the name part. He wanted songs and dances so he employed Frank Loesser as chief musician.

What la the final result? it is not a story of Hans Christian Andersen's life, but, apparently, a fairy tale with his life as a basis. This film is entertaining, but not always a fairy tale. True, there is picture-book scenery, a simple performance from Danny Kaye, music and dancing. But pure baking powder and fresh fruit when mixed do not necessarily make a good cake. It all depends upon the cook. Charles Vidor has produced a cake that is a little heavy, a film that is technically too perfect.

The film is almost solely a technician's piece The seta for the ballet sequences may, have been perfectly built, but they are unimaginative, almost ugly. The dances themselves can't make up their minds as to whether they should be Borovansky or Hollywood musical. The director has handled his actors as though he is primarily a painter. The actors have self-consciously moved left centre or right centre. The grouping is too perfect.

The saving grace of the film is Danny Kaye's performance. He doesn't plumb the depths, he doesn't try to. He is Danny rather than Hans, but he gives us a delightful mixture of charm and courtesy, simplicity and gaiety. He is well served by Frank Loesser's songs, which do a lot to brighten the show.

I am not condemning "Hans Christian Andersen." It is often very pretty to look at (but sometimes a little messy), very soothing to listen to. But there is always this invading atmosphere of heaviness. And it is a pity Moss Hart had to include the age-old Hollywood story of backstage quarrels between director and star. Danny Kaye is very keen to make "Huns Christian Andersen" into a fairy tale Scriptwriter Hart and Director Vidor don't do much to help him.

Grading: ***


Fort Ti

This addition to the depth gallery shows infinitesimal advances on its predecessors. Starring June Vohis, the girl with the "3-D curves." and George Montgomery. It still falls to get out of the rut of mediocrity. Direction is not below standard, but continued use of the 3-D effect to startle the audience becomes monotonous. The plot, for all its weaknesses, did offer possibilities. The obvious advantages of intimate 3-D close-ups is demonstrated by June but she overplays her part and the effectiveness of her rosy contours is lessened. George Montgomery plays a mearocre part.

Sam Kitzmann is the producer of this latest effort. If the selection already seen indicates the average standard of production. In the stereoscopic field, the 2-D will continue to more than hold their own tin N.Z., at least).

Grading: ***

B.C. Shaw.

Miss Julie

"That woman is by nature meant to obey may be seen by the fact that every woman who Is placed in the unnatural position of complete independence, Immediately attaches herself to some man, by whom she allows herself to be guided and ruled. It is because she needs a lord and master. If she is young, it will be a lover; if she is old, a priest."

Schopenhauer was stating a very popular view in this quotation from his "Essay on Women." Strindberg, though he corresponded with Nietzsche, never read that writer's much misunderstood "Zarathustra." However, in a letter to Georg Brandos in 1888, the year Froken Julie was written, he mentions Schopenhauer in the same paragraph that he outlines the forces actuating Miss Julio. It would be hand to discover how much Strind-berg's views on women derive from the German pessimist, for long before in the Swedish playwright's childhood influences were working to make him (until the modern "oddfellows" novel) the greatest woman-hater in literature.

Zola still survives but Naturalist drama is not quite so lucky. Hauptmann. Wedekind, must of Ibsen and Strindberg dates badly. What can explain the survival as a convincing tragedy of "Miss Julie"?

Strindberg's theories on heredity, on female emancipation and evolution, are all confused in this play. He believed that a new Nietzschean Superman would arise from conflict between the stronger and weaker members of society—Jean the servant is strong enough to will Miss Julie to suicide but is a sorry enough specimen. He is possibly an emergent Superman, full of vigour, and will to power, but still withal servile and resigned to his servility.

The difficult roles of the main protagonists Jean and Miss Julie are played to perfection by Ulf Palme and Anita Bjork. The director, who in this film version out-strindbergs Strindberg by his use of symbolism (the dogs by the lake, the ornate privy) succeeds best in his film modifications of Naturalist stage technique. The influx of dancing peasants, in the play a device to differentiate between acts, becomes in AIf Sjoberg's hands a way of securing montage. The peasants' joy seems to contrast forcibly with the tragic capriciousnes of Lady Julie.

The sequence in the barn when Miss Julie observes a more natural expression of midsummer madness deserves special mention. She mounts the steps to see more clearly the groom and his companion and horrified yet under compulsion gazes over the wall at them. We can see in her curiosity and disgust both her eventual seduction and equally necessary; revulsion. This also reflects Strindberg who would have women exist for men's pleasure and yet desire them to be still pure and mother-virginal.

Though all the dialogue of this film was in Swedish. Miss Julie is yet another case where sub-titling is of negligible value.

To sum up, what did this film achieve? in Greek tragedies such as "Oedipus" or the "Trojan Women" it is the foreknowledge of disaster that creates the dramatic effect. The knowledge of inescapable fate gives the characters breadth and universality, they persist, as all humanity, against the threat of doom. The art of Strindberg, unlike that of the classics, does not render life more noble and logical; clear-cut moral conflicts do not appear.

Motivation la diversified and as Strindberg claimed in his preface to the play, the characters are modern insofar as they are characterless, being fluid, complex, and indeterminate. Because modern men have realised the complexity of the human personality, the fate of the confused Miss Julio seems of more than ordinary relevance.