These are two older films, one of them a classic movie by one of the world's most unique directors, the other one a movie that largely incorporates a classic opera into the story line. And both of these films have a very exotic feel of faraway lands and different cultures.
"Walkabout" is a 1971 film based on the novel of the same name by James Vance Marshall and directed by that much admired director who has always had such a unique cinematic vision Nicolas Roeg ("The Man Who Fell to Earth", "Insignificance") and starring Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpilil, and John Meillon. This is one of those films that never quite goes away; it has achieved cult status over the years (I have known about "Walkabout" for a long time; I first heard of it when I was living in New Mexico in 1988 and it was playing at a repertory theatre in Albuquerque).
It is set in Australia, and is the story of an unnamed British family: a teenaged girl (Agutter), her much younger brother (Roeg), and their father (Meillon). The father drives the children deep into the Australian Outback for a picnic, and then goes berserk, setting the car on fire and killing himself. The children, with little chance of survival in the harsh but beautiful desert of the Outback, are befriended and helped by an Aboriginal youth (Gulpilil), who is on his "walkabout" (an Aboriginal rite of passage), and the movie involves what happens to them after this.
Roger Ebert has called "Walkabout" "one of the great films". Most critics and viewers of the movie consider the overriding theme in the movie to be the contrast between the pristine natural world and the civilized urban world. But film critic Roger Ebert disagrees. In writing about "Walkabout", he says that the movie does not judge the morals or the emotions of its characters much at all, but, instead, it is ultimately a portrait of isolation in proximity. He writes: "Is it a parable about noble savages and the crushed spirit of city dwellers? That's what the film's surface suggests, but I think it's about something deeper and more elusive: the mystery of communication."
And it features a score by John Barry, who was later on famous for his lush, beautifully orchestrated scores, that also captured the majestic beauty of other vast and gorgeous open spaces: the scores for the two Best Picture Academy Award winning films "Out of Africa" and "Dances With Wolves".
Interestingly enough, at the time of its release "Walkabout" did poorly at the box office in Australia because, even though it was financed with Australian money, it was debated whether or not it was truly an Australian film (since it was directed by a British director and two of the main actors were British and played British characters) and whether or not it was an embrace of or a reaction against Australia's culture and natural settings.
Still, though, it has gained high praise over the years, for one thing because of its captivating cinematography. Author Louis Nowra, in his analysis of the film, wrote, "I was stunned. The images of the Outback were of an almost hallucinogenic intensity. Instead of the desert and bush infused with a dull monotony, everything seemed acute, shrill, and incandescent. The Outback was beautiful and haunting."
"Carmen", a 1983 Spanish film based on the novel of the same name by Prosper Merimee and directed by Carlos Saura, stars legendary flamenco dancer and actor Antonio Gades and Laura del Sol. The story involves a production in modern day Spain of the opera "Carmen" by Georges Bizet and how the two lead opera stars, played by Gades and del Sol, are, in their real lives, living out the same turbulent romance that is being played out in the opera, right up to its tragic conclusion.
I first saw this film in 1984 when I was taking a Spanish class in college; it was shown as a kind of "field trip" activity. And I was impressed by its very rich, very Spanish flavor. And it is fascinating and amazing the way that the plot so seamlessly transitions from the story being played out by the opera stars in the opera to the same story being played out in their real lives, and back again. These transitions are so smooth that sometimes you are momentarily caught forgetting which is which! And, of course, you get to see and hear parts of one of the world's all-time greatest operas, "Carmen", performed.
"Carmen" won the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Technical Grand Prize and the award for Best Artistic Contribution at the Cannes Film Festival.
Mike's Cine Mike home movie theatre, with its large screen projection DVD player and 13 plush media chairs, is a delightful, fun place to see movies. There will be lots of yummy snacks and plenty of opportunities for talking about the movies, meeting new people, and just being around folks who love movies. So come join us.