Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 25. October 8, 1968
Films — Enjoyable, Forgettable
The year didn't really get under way until the arrival of Bonnie and Clyde on a wave of acclamation and success. Violence, once the staple of the B-movie, was now a central theme in the big league. When first seen Bonnie and Clyde did seem stylish, original and new, but later it looked transient, emphemeral and forgettable. Other films from America depicted violence with true cinema style, but likewise they lacked content and staying power. Of these the most notable was Briton John Boorman's first Hollywood film Point Blank which showed what a skilful and resourceful director could do with mediocre material.
Larry Peerce's second independent feature, The Incident went further than most in achieving effect and shock in the audience. A claustrophic inertia became the catalyst of violence. The indictment of non-involvement was underlined. In Cold Blood examined a true act of violence, and displayed concern but focussed on the actions and motivations of the two killers rather than on the society around them. Such criticism was implicit but keenly felt.
Science fiction was boosted by the allegorical Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey (primarily British but brainwaved by Stanley Kubrick). While the latter scooped the pool for technical innovation and cinematic uumph, the former was more acceptable in terms of content and satisfaction. The Vietnam war provided only one film so far (review on another page), but the antiwar cause was boosted by Cornel Wilde's defiant and often beautiful Beach Red. The collector's item from Hollywood must be shared by Games from Curtis Harrington, usually found underground, and Deadly Roulette a Tv-movie directed by William Hale. Both were derivative, but they had that degree of originality and spurt that makes all the difference. The Hollywood comedy was well served by Wilder and Axelrod (The Fortune Cookie and Secret Life of an American Wife); one wishes there were a few more minds to keep them company.
In Britain, dominated as it is by American film companies, several popped up beyond mediocrity. Best would be Albert Finney's first feature, and in which he starred, Charlie Bubbles. Not yet seen in Wellington, it has a freshness and charm that would rank with the best British films in the last decade. Our Mother's House displayed once again Jack Clayton's ability in handling child actors. The opportunity for melodrama and ritualism was avoided, making a compact and believeable film. The same couldn't be said for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Marat/Sade, with powerhouse direction from Peter Brook. I liked it: it is noisy, overbearing and lunatic; but it gets the message across by turkish-style brain-washing. We were also fortunate to see from England Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's fanciful Nazi invasion of England, It Happened Here. In spite of technical deficiencines, plausibly explained in Brownlow's book of the ten year ordeal making it, it was extremely worthwhile.
Detachment and rigour is the strongest feature of Bergman's Persona, a deeply penetrating and disturbing study of identity and communication. Beautifully acted and photographed it must rate as one of the best films of the year alone with that masterpiece from India, Shakespeare Wallah. The gentle irony, the warm evocation, the preserved nostalgia, were all a far cry from the swiftly-moving general run of films.