Gillian Armstrong‘s Oscar and Lucinda will perpetually cast itself as part of my all-time favorite films. Yes, in large part, it is because its one of those I refer to as a fraction of the Ralph Fiennes tortured-soul series (English Patient, End of the Affair, etc.), any of which easily hits the pain-vein in my chest area.
Set in the 1800’s in Australia, fidgety and awkward Oscar (Fiennes), an Anglican priest, meets Lucinda (Cate Blanchett), a liberal, but lonely heiress, who, out of curious-interest, has acquired a glass-making factory. Both have one manic passion: gambling. Ostracized by their respective groups, they fall in love. Oscar, however, is compelled to gain Lucinda’s trust.
The plot goes further than that, and it does evolve like most love-story period films from thereon: a supreme sacrifice ensues, a tragedy comes out of it, but a sort of redemption surfaces in the end.
I’d dare point out a non-apparent undercurrent in the story I clearly understand: a love through passions, and the transition one -and/or the other party- is more than willing to go through, but not for the common passion anymore, but for love’s sake. Oscar and Lucinda did exactly this, and the screen manifestation is overly affecting, cliche as the segue would be, as only Fiennes and Blanchett can do.
It doesn’t even border on artsy, but I’ll champion the film to any gullible being.
Released a year after I was born, Terence Malick‘s Days of Heaven involves one of the most wondrous photography captured in any movie.
Set in early 1900s America, the capable Richard Gere, as Bill, pretends to be brother to his love Abby (Brooke Adams), so as not to invite questions, and takes a sacking job in a farm in Panhandle, Texas. Transplanted from their native Chicago, with his real sister Linda (who narrates the movie), Bill also takes Abby to a busy harvest season, where the farmer (no name, but played intensely by actor/playwright/director Sam Shepard) falls for Abby.
A wedding, a betrayal, a killing, and a glum ending follows. Told mostly in short snippets, with a number of impressively climactic scenes, this does deserve to be part of any serious film collector’s loot.
Should be part of a photographer’s reference arsenal, too. The word is lighting, and Malick -with cinematographer Nestor Almendros– utilizes light, or to be more precise, the lack of it- with outstanding magnificence, you’d be pressed to look up what aperture can do for an image-capturing device.