Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 2. 7th March 1973
If the last three months of cinema has seemed pauper's fare, last week was a banquet. The V.U.W. Union Orientation Week programme consisted of genuinely worthwhile films. The Wellington Film Society offered its first screening of 1973, and Kerridge Odeon opened Hitchcock's 'Frenzy' in conjunction with a walk down mammary lane entitled The James Bond Festival' — bread and jam and not indigestible.
Singling out 'Animal Farm', '8½', and 'Frenzy' for special attention may seem arbitrary, but seeing that these three films all exemplify the way in which special genres can accommodate otherwise troublesome material there is some justification for doing so. If the other films were worthy of consideration it is no fault of mine I cannot devote space to them.
Animal Farm, which has now become an annual attraction (cf 'Yellow Submarine'), is remarkable in that it demonstrates how effectively the seemingly simple cartoon can deal with the complexities of a major political debate. Stripped of the quirks inherent in a performer's personality, and the accompanying emotional overtones, the animated personae challenge the viewer to assess the bare bones of political machinery, not its human front. Animal Farm is not without its tear jerking moments, but its argument remains enhanced by the diagram format. Whatever the shortcomings of its conclusion. Animal Farm is a triumph of form, condensing an entire historical process into eighty minutes of consistent cinema. The cartoon character — fits into the allegorical narrative scheme better than any actor . . . thus it is surprising not to find many other films with the same
If '8½' concentrates on the private process rather than the public, this makes it no less valid; but one can think of few films so antithetical as this and Animal Farm. Exposing the confusion in an artist's mind as to where the division between his function as auteur and his function as an individual in a society larger than himself lies, Fellini offers the viewer a plethora of disparate images as an indication of how immense the confusion is. Guido, as he vacillates between the power he has as a film director and his impotence as a cog in the social machine, baffles his audience: but it is the richness of his experience in both capacities which is conveyed and which makes the film exceptional. Go and see it time and time again.
Frenzy is another matter. Far from frenetic, it offers low key entertainment pure and simple. Crude of plot, leisurely of pace, and indifferently acted, it manages to squeeze in every nuance from a tatty tale nonetheless and make itself a 'must see' film. Imbibed by Hitchcock, with some brilliant black humour and a wealth of incidental detail, it sheds its grubbiness and becomes completely absorbing. Admittedly it smacks of the fifties, especially in Gil Evans very traditional photography, and offers nothing speculative: but for a homespun crime story to bring you down with a case of cackles it is very good value.
By Jeremy Little john