Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WWII - Why We Fight|Vol 2

General Douglas MacArthur
Commander in Chief
Southwest Pacific Area

Russia has 1/4 of the harvestable forests in the world.
Boy funny to watch a propaganda film that is unabashed favorable to Russia. Even conveniently ignoring Russian aggressions during WWII. "Free and united people" does take the cake with nice words even for Stalin. The battle of Leningrad only briefly mentions that some Germans got into the city and shows a few hundred soldiers.

The portion on China was also so full of propaganda about their struggle to be free. I did learn about them moving their industrial production west to prevent the Japanese from destroying it. I guess that is why the game Axis and Allies had an industrial production plants located inland as their industrial production is mostly located along the coastal regions.

This was well worth it for me to watch for the historical perspective on how we looked at the allies of WWII.

WWII - Why We Fight

Frank Capra: Why We Fight WWII: Battle of China / War Comes to America
This disk appears to have the same portions as Volume 2 already covered.

The Fog of War (2003)

Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is the sole focus of documentarian Errol Morris' The Fog of War, a film that not only analyzes McNamara's controversial decisions during the first half of the Vietnam War, but also his childhood upbringing, his education at Berkley and Harvard, his involvement in World War II, and his later years as president of the World Bank. Culling footage from almost 20 hours of interviews with the Secretary, Morris details key moments from McNamara's career, including the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Kennedy's suggestions to the Secretary that the U.S. remove itself from Vietnam. Throughout the film, the 85-year-old McNamara expounds his philosophies on international conflict, and shows regret and pride in equal measure for, respectively, his mistakes and accomplishments. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 107 mins
The Fog of War (2003)

Lesson #1:
Empathize with your enemy.

I think that does not make sense, you of course should empathize with victims but not with those that are the scorpions. McNamara says that all parties were rational so Kennedy empathized with Khrushchev. According to McNamara Castro was the Scorpion and was willing to use nuclear weapons.

Lesson #2:
Rationality will not save us.

Lesson #3:
There's something beyond one's self.

Why are we here? Why are we here?

Lesson #4:
Maximize Efficiency.

Lesson #5:
Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

Lesson #6:
Get the data.

Lesson #7:
Belief and seeing are both often wrong.

Interesting about his meeting with Former Foreign Minister. From the film it seems to imply that McNamara did not know that Viet Nam was fighting against the Chinese for a 1000 years. But again as I remember it was fighting against an ideology and thus it mattered little what various allies are in international relations. Just as we are in a war against Islamic Jihad-so it really matters little when AQ and Iran do not get along. But just like communism we can choose which side to be on.

Lesson #8:
Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.

Lesson #9:
In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

Lesson #10:
Never say never.

Lesson #11:
You can't change human nature.

And then for Robert S. McNamara's Ten Lessons:
1. The human race will not eliminate war in this century, but we can reduce the brutality of war-the level of killing-by adhering to the principles of a "Just War", in particular to the principle of "proportionality".

2. The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of nations.

3. We are the most powerful nation in the world-economically, politically and militarily- and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient.
If we can not persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of our proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.
For this I have to interrupt. Because is he saying that even our territories that have US citizens we would not defend (Puerto Rico, Guam...)? Or would we not if our closest neighbors were invaded (Mexico, Canada)? Or even Europe?
4. Moral principles are often ambiguous guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of US foreign policy and, indeed, of foreign policies across the globe: the avoidance in this century of the carnage-160 million dead-caused by conflict in the 20th century.

5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.

6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.

7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president-indeed "the" primary responsibility of a president-is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.

8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective. Therefore, we should build a system of jurisprudence based on teh International Court-that the US has refused to support-which would hold individuals responsible for crimes against humanity.
Sure as you are about to die. I am sure there are plenty that would love to take McNamara into court.
9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy-I don't mean "sympathy" but rather "understanding"-to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.

10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk that terrorists will obtain access to weapons of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We in the US are contributing to that breakdown.

High rating for giving this a real close and personal autobiography of the man. It was almost in his words with very little interruptions from others.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Three Times (2005)

Millennium Mambo director Hou Hsiao-hsien explores the ever-changing cycle of love in this collection of three romantic stories set in 1911, 1966, and 2005 and utilizing the same actors in all three tales. In "A Time for Love," a fresh-faced soldier boy named Chen (Chang Chen) searches for a pool hall hostess named May (Shu Qi) who captured his heart before disappearing into the crowd. The second tale, set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan and entitled "A Time for Freedom," finds an elegant courtesan tending to a young intellectual in a lavish brothel. The trilogy draws to a close with a segment entitled "A Time for Youth" in which a present-day Taipei singer who is also an epileptic neglects her female lover to seek the romantic attentions of a talented photographer. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 135 mins
Three Times (2005)

Three Times
Yes beautiful and lovely songs, but not sure it stirred in me any strong desires.
"Three stories about a man and a woman, all three using the same actors. Three years: 1966, 1911, 2005. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir"[3]

So this may be a better way for me to describe it:
"According to one American critic, Three Times is "why cinema exists." Only if you think that cinema has no higher calling than presenting a long series of gorgeously lit close-ups of beautiful actresses are you likely to agree."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2004)

Alex Gibney, who wrote and produced Eugene Jarecki's The Trials of Henry Kissinger, examines the rise and fall of an infamous corporate juggernaut in Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which he wrote and directed. The film, based on the book by Fortune Magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, opens with a reenactment of the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter, then travels back in time, describing Enron chairman Kenneth Lay's humble beginnings as the son of a preacher, his ascent in the corporate world as an "apostle of deregulation," his fortuitous friendship with the Bush family, and the development of his business strategies in natural gas futures. The film points out that the culture of financial malfeasance at Enron was evident as far back as 1987, when Lay apparently encouraged the outrageous risk taking and profit skimming of two oil traders in Enron's Valhalla office because they were bringing a lot of money into the company. But it wasn't until eventual CEO Jeff Skilling arrived at Enron that the company's "aggressive accounting" philosophy truly took hold. The Smartest Guys in the Room explores the lengths to which the company went in order to appear incredibly profitable. Their win-at-all-costs strategy included suborning financial analysts with huge contracts for their firms, hiding debts by essentially having the company loan money to itself, and using California's deregulation of the electricity market to manipulate the state's energy supply. Gibney's film reveals how Lay, Skilling, and other execs managed to keep their riches, while thousands of lower-level employees saw their loyalty repaid with the loss of their jobs and their retirement funds. The filmmaker posits the Enron scandal not as an anomaly, but as a natural outgrowth of free-market capitalism. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 110 mins
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2004)

In the bonus materials there is an interview with Bethany McLean that was informative and presented an interesting background of a couple of the top people and how their background created their personas of greatness since they had overcome a lot to get to that level anyway. She also was one of the best parts of the film for her clearly stated answers while not stating hyperbole.

This movie confirmed to me that Gray Davis was weak and ineffective as Governor. He did deserve to lose the election. Even if he did not follow his advisers on sending in troops, he should have negotiated without dealing with the Scorpion. Nothing prevented him from having their own traders on the markets.

Peter Elkind again in the bonus material does make an important point that anyone with desire and motivation to look at the financial statements could have seen that something was wrong with the books. I know that some quant models also never rated Enron a Buy rating.

At a retail location I worked at, I did work under a Manager that thought that it should be standard practice to lose the bottom 10% of the work force every year. Just cut off the bottom 10% and work to get rid of them. I thought this was just crazy. It would be better to not destroy morale by looking to fire people, instead it is better to devote your attention to promoting and encouraging the winners. The losers will leave on their own accord in most cases anyway. Even just asking some people to do their work as required sent them to quiting.

The cartoons/skits on Enron in the bonus material was also a nice touch.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why We Fight (2004)

Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex! is the actual phrase that Eisenhower was going to say in his speech but he choose to change it because he did not want to offend members of Congress that he had good relations with. Well blow me down, all those Libs this time have been lying to me. It is not corporations that he was upset with but actually the purse string holders in congress.

November 1936
If another world war develops in Europe
...Should America take part again?

And the results were 95% saying no. I knew that we were strongly against but never knew that much so.
In 1961, as Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his final address to the nation before leaving the office of President of the United States, he warned that America "must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted the military-industrial complex." Nearly 45 years later, as the United States finds itself waging a war in Iraq for reasons that seem increasingly unclear with the passage of time, Eisenhower's statement becomes all the more pertinent, and the question becomes more apt: has the machinery the United States established to wage war helped prevent conflict, or has it done more to inspire it? Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki offers an in-depth look at how the United States has readied itself for battle, and why and how the nation goes to war in the film Why We Fight. Named for Frank Capra's famed series of Defense Department films (which explained the motives behind America's entry into World War II), Why We Fight features interviews with foot soldiers, Army recruits, Pentagon personnel, decorated veterans, members of Congress, national security advisors, top military strategists, and many more as they talks about the core philosophies of American military strategy and how they have changed since the end of the Second World War. Why We Fight received the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
Why We Fight (2004)

Why We Fight website.

But basically a left wing pacifist film with little of substance but a good story line. One fact they state is the amount of supposed civilians that died in both wars in the gulf, and from that they conclude that 'smart bombs' are not as accurate as they claimed to be. In the Gulf I war 3500 died in it and 6000 died in the second war. But you have to compare truly civilians and not what Saddam said and you have to count how much targets and much tonnage was bombed. Also the basic goals of the wars were different and thus more than likely had a widely different sorties by the Air Force. In the second war there was some psyops operations that ended up leaving Saddam's army in the worst position possible.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fracture (2007)

[url=]Fracture (2007)[/url]
A structural engineer (Anthony Hopkins) and an ambitious young district attorney (Ryan Gosling) become locked in a deadly battle of wits when the former is found innocent in the attempted murder of his wife in director Gregory Hoblit's tense tale of courtroom mind games. Ted Crawford (Hopkins) is an engineer who lives with his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) in the couple's lavish Southern California home. One day, after carefully planning out the details to ensure that there is no way he can be convicted of murder, Ted shoots his wife in a blatant attempt to murder the woman. When head hostage negotiator Rob Nunnaly (Billy Burke) arrives on the scene to speak with Ted, he is shocked to find that the victim of the shooting is in fact his longtime lover. Though Jennifer survives the trauma of being shot in the head at close range, she hovers comatose between life and death as star prosecutor Willy Beachum (Gosling) reluctantly accepts the case while preparing to leave the Los Angeles criminal court system behind for a more promising career at a posh private law firm. Though the D.A. (David Strathairn) vehemently resents Beachum's lofty plan for departure, the hotshot young lawyer remains convinced that he can expedite the apparently open-and-shut case and be on his way to greener pastures in one week's time at the very most. Beachum's swelling ego betrays him, however, as his future boss Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike) begins to turn up the heat and fracture mechanics specialist Ted chooses to represent himself at the trial knowing well that a career spent spotting structural flaws in aeronautical systems has instilled him with just the kind of argumentative skills needed to riddle the swaggering young lawyer's "foolproof" case with doubt. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 113 mins
Yes, that is a good overall review of the movie. But I have to say the alternative ending was even more shallow. After breaking into the house the DA makes threatening overtones to Anthony.

The collapse of the double jeopardy argument that since she later died because of being taken off life support is then considered murder seems so simplistic. What if a victim later dies from getting run over by a bus, what are we to assume then?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Alphaville (1965)

In Alphaville you get the death penalty by women stabbing you in a swimming pool for behaving illogically.
Sometimes, reality is too complex for oral communication. But legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world.
Alpha 60 is a vast computer that decides everything even what people think down to what to do and say. In the end they get completely lost and can not think for themselves. Alpha 60 talks like a man with throat cancer speaking through one of the speaking devices.

I do wonder how the French think that putting seemingly random ideas together makes sense.

Her name was Beatrice. She said she was a seductress, third class. I was struck by the sadness and durability of her face. Something's not in orbit in the capital of this Galaxy.
Seems they just don't like technology much.

-I see. People have become slaves of probabilities.
+Their ideal here, in Alphaville is a technocracy, like that of termites and ants.
-I don't understand.
+Probably one hundred and fifty light years ago. One hundred and fifty, two hundred there were artists in the ant society. Artists, novelists, musicians, painters. Today no more.

While showing a slide of a scale in balance with ! and ? the following was spoken:
Is it not obvious that someone who customarily lives in a state of suffering requires a different sort of religion from a person habitually in a state of well-being?

In Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard fuses a hardboiled detective story with science fiction. Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a hero Godard borrowed from a series of French adventure films, comes to Alphaville, the capital of a totalitarian state, in order to destroy its leader, an almost-human computer called Alpha 60. While on his mission, Lemmy meets and falls in love with Natacha (Anna Karina), the daughter of the scientist who designed Alpha 60. Their love becomes the most profound challenge to the computer's control. Void of any flashy special effects, Alphaville uses 1960s Paris to depict the city of the future. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
Alphaville (1965)

So overall an interesting film but I unfortunately fail to see some of the hidden messages. Like when Mr. Caution goes around with a little cheap mechanical flash camera to take pictures of some people. Also only the women have bar codes on them (various body locations). I think only one lady I did not see the tattooed numbers.

Alphaville (film)

Alpha 60 outlaws free thought and individualist concepts like love, poetry, and emotion in the city, replacing them with contradictory concepts or eliminating them altogether. One of Alpha 60's dictates is that "people should not ask 'why', but only say 'because'." People who show signs of emotion (weeping at the death of a wife, or a smile on the face) are presumed to be acting illogically, and are gathered up, interrogated, and executed. In an image reminiscent of George Orwell's concept of Newspeak, there is a "Bible" in each room: actually a dictionary that is continuously updated when words that are deemed to evoke emotion become banned. As a result, Alphaville is an inhuman, alienated society of mindless drones - many the apparent victim of re-education campaigns by Alpha 60 that are implicitly reminiscent of Nazism and Communism.

The film does lose the sound in certain scenes and only playing the music or complete silence.
Thus rating: 3.5 (/5)

La Capitale de la Douleur (The Capital of Pain)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Syrian Bride (2004)

The Syrian Bride-WIKI

A family deals with the typical anxieties of a wedding day while also confronting the political turmoil of the Middle East in this drama, a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers. Hammed (Makram J. Khoury) is a leading political figure in Majdal Shams, a Druze community that has been under Israeli occupation since the late '60s. Years ago, Hammed arranged for his daughter Mona (Clara Khoury) to marry Tallel (Derar Sliman), who has since become a successful actor in Syria. Hammed has gathered the family together to see Mona off, but the occasion is a bittersweet one -- given the combative relationship between Israel and Syria, once Mona crosses the border with her husband, it's unlikely she will ever be able to return. Hammed's oldest son, Hattem (Eyad Sheety), comes back from Russia, where he now lives with his wife, but his father still refuses to forgive him for leaving the land of his birth. Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum), a younger son, is a businessman living in Italy who uses his visit home as an opportunity to visit Jeanne (Julie-Anne Roth), an American United Nations representative he's been dating. And daughter Amal (Hiam Abbass) helps her sister Mona deal with the stress and details of her big day as she struggles to live as a modern woman while married to Amin (Adnan Tarabshi), who wants his spouse to follow a more traditional path. Makram J. Khoury was ideally cast as Hammed in at least one respect -- he's the real life father of Clara Khoury, who plays his screen daughter Mona. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 97 mins
The Syrian Bride (2004)

A nice little film about an arranged marriage and the brides anxiety in leaving her family for more than likely the last time seeing them. A lot of the film is about how the three entities at the boarder (Syria, Israel, and UN) interact.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Serenity (2005)

A band of renegades on the run in outer space get in more hot water than they anticipated in this sci-fi action-adventure adapted from the television series Firefly. In the 26th century, the galaxy has been colonized by a military force known as the Alliance, but its leadership has not gone unquestioned. The Alliance was once challenged by a league of rebels known as the Independents, but the Alliance emerged victorious after a brutal civil war, with the surviving Independents scattering around the galaxy. Also wandering the edges of the galaxy are the Reavers, who have won few allies due to their violent behavior and habit of ripping apart their enemies and eating them before they're dead. Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who fought as an Independent in the galactic war, is the head of Serenity, a rogue frieghter ship whose crew includes Mal's first mate, Zoe (Gina Torres), who fought alongside him in the war, her husband, hotshot pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), sunny but dependable mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and hard-nosed gunman Jayne (Adam Baldwin). The crew of Serenity wander the galaxy, taking on whatever work they can get, from criminal activities like smuggling and stealing to legitimately offering transport to travelers. Passengers aboard Serenity include professional "companion" Inara (Morena Baccarin) and holy man Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), but the real trouble aboard the ship comes with the arrival of Simon (Sean Maher) and his teenage sister, River Tam (Summer Glau). In time, the crew discovers that River has remarkable psychic powers and was being held captive by Alliance forces until Simon came to her rescue. Now the Alliance is hot on the heels of Serenity and its passengers, with The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a sinister Alliance tracker, leading the chase. Serenity was written and directed by Joss Whedon (in his directorial debut), creator of Firefly, which only lasted 11 weeks on the air but gained a powerful cult following who rallied to get the show released on DVD after its cancellation, leading to impressive home-video sales and and an eventual motion picture deal. A couple of months prior to Serenity's theatrical release, reruns of Firefly were picked up by the Sci-Fi channel, adding even more fans to its cult following. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 119 mins

An excellent Sci-Fi film that I watched 3 times. Plenty of interesting aspects and plenty of action with special effects. I have been afraid of watching a lot of Sci-Fi that is coming out lately since most of the plots is still focused around the alien creatures that are threatening humankind.

The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960)

Back in Germany for the first time since 1933, director Fritz Lang returned to the screen character that brought him enormous success in his pre-Hollywood years. The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse is not so much a sequel as an extension of Lang's early Dr. Mabuse (1922) and Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Set in 1960, the film begins with a series of unsolved murders in a Berlin hotel. The modus operandi of the murderer is the same as that of long-dead megalomaniac Dr. Mabuse. Police detective Gert Frobe and amateur sleuths Peter Van Eyck and Dawn Addams suspect that the killer is a man who believes that he is the reincarnation of Mabuse. Could the culprit be secretive insurance salesman Werner Peters, or blind seer Wolfgang Preiss? The title refers to the hotel's sophisticated TV surveillance system--dozens of roving cameras and TV monitors, inspired (claimed Lang) by a sophisticated bugging method used by the Nazis during World War II. The renewed popularity of the Dr. Mabuse character spawned five movie sequels, none of which were directed by Lang, who had washed his hands of the project. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins

I was not too impressed with the film but since the disk did not work so well.

The normally directors cut with dialogue is not on this DVD but does have a person talking about Lang and the history of both Germany and the sequence of films based on Dr. Mabuse. That had some interesting insights including about how the first two predicted the rise of Hitler and the third was banned by Goebble as well as the first two in 1932.

Doctor Mabuse

This did not scare me away from watching more of Dr. Mabuse and so plan of seeing more of the films.

What’s the big deal about a national ID card?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Provoked: A True Story

"Provoked" is the true story of a battered wife who fought back, first against her husband and then against the system. Full of optimism and affection, newlywed Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) arrives at the doorstep of her new home and life with husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews). She would continue her law studies as her family had promised and the couple would start a family. The future offered only pain.The drunken Deepak beats her for the first time and shows remorse. He beats her again. It gets easier. After 10 years of violence, a dazed Kiranjit can take no more. She resorts to a desperate act that kills Deepak. She is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Incarceration tests the outwardly meek Kiranjit’s toughness at every turn, but the mother of two has suffered worse at home. She develops an ally in the mischievous Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), who also doled out the ultimate retribution to her abusive spouse. While Kiranjit acclimates to life behind bars, Radha (Nandita Das), an activist with the Southall Black Sisters, glimpses a tabloid headline about her case and springs into action. A barrister (Rebecca Pidgeon) with limited resources cannot make any headway, igniting greater determination in Radha, who rallies public opinion. Ronnie is denied parole but she has a secret weapon on the outside to help Kiranjit: Ronnie’s estranged brother-in-law Lord Foster (Robbie Coltrane), an influential legal eagle. Kiranjit’s appeal gains momentum when Radha persuades a cop to change his knowingly false testimony that Kiranjit was in her right mind the night of the killing.Arguing passionately before the high court, Lord Foster moves the judge to change the fate of many battered women forever. The court rules that a prolonged period of beatings could cause the victim’s loss of reason in a delayed act of self-defense. The concept of “provocation” is redefined and is now a primary defense for the severely abused if a claim of self-defense is not valid. The judge reduces Kiranjit’s crime to manslaughter and orders her released for the 3 years and 4 months she already served. Claiming she felt liberated in prison, Kiranjit is free again. This time, without walls.
At least this was better than Mistress of Spices (2005) that Aishwarya Rai also stared in. I still wonder about Rai's ability to be a great actress. The acting in the film does not feel real and seems more like a High School Play instead of a feature film.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Love of Jeanne Ney

Before plunging headlong into the Freudian sexuality of Pandora's Box, German filmmaker G. W. Pabst offered the impressionistic social document Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Love of Jeanne Ney). Based on a sturm-und-drang story by Ilya Ehrenberg, the film travels from the Crimea to Paris and back again in unfolding a sprawling tale of sociological upheaval. The events are seen through the eyes of Jeanne Ney (Edith Hehanne), who is forced to flee her Russian homeland when her Communist lover kills her diplomat father. The romance between Jeanne and her politicized paramour irrevocably links the lure of radicalism with the call of the flesh. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 113 mins

By: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Georg Wilhelm Pabst's The Love of Jeanne Ney (Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney) stars Edith Jehanne as Jeanne, a young woman living in post-World War I Europe. After her father (Eugen Jensen) is murdered for espionage by her Bolshevik lover Andreas (Uno Henning), she travels to Paris to stay with her uncle Raymond (Adolf E. Licho) and his blind daughter Gabrielle (Brigitte Helm). While working at her uncle's detective agency, Jeanne encounters Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp), a sleazy conman who intends to marry Gabrielle, steal her father's money and murder her. Failing in this, Khalibiev commits another robbery/murder and leaves evidence at the scene implicating Andreas, newly arrived in Paris on Revolution business. Jeanne knows Andreas is innocent, having been with him on that fateful night, but she needs an additional witness to confirm the truth. She knows Khalibiev saw them together, and gives chase when he leaves town.

The story here (adapted from Ilya Ehrenberg's novel) is standard issue melodrama, with enough violence and implied sexuality to justify its U.K. release under the more salacious title Lusts of the Flesh. There's a pre-code frankness to Pabst's directorial approach that makes for interesting viewing in and of itself, and Fritz Rasp's Khalibiev is at least as amoral and nasty a villain as, say, J.R. Ewing, going so far as to solicit a kiss from Jeanne while his blind fiancée strokes his hand on the other side of the table. Bloodstains and corpses are revealed onscreen, and personal morality is treated more flexibly here than in contemporary Hollywood productions.

But these darker plot elements, while surprising, are not nearly as forward-looking as Pabst's cinematography. The Love of Jeanne Ney relies very little on intertitles, preferring to tell its story with visuals - close-up shots of handwritten notes and newspaper headlines (often replaced with English-language versions) communicate most of the specifics, while gestures, expressions and actions deliver the human component. Images of mounted armies and bustling cities lend an epic feel to what is essentially a love story under duress, a tale of lovers whose time together is a luxury, not an entitlement. The lead performances are fairly subtle by silent film standards, with naturalistic facial expressions and gestures, though there's plenty of room for mugging on the part of greedy Uncle Raymond and the vile Khalibiev. The film's sophisticated, accelerating pacing seems ahead of its time (aside from some intertitles that overstay their welcome), and Pabst constantly raises the stakes, even as he keeps the film's conclusion unpredictable. There are even a few bits of humor to enliven what would otherwise be a very dark experience.

The Love of Jeanne Ney is billed as "a major rediscovery of silent cinema" on Kino's keepcase copy, and this release (produced by David Shepard) substantiates the merit of the claim. With so many early films now lost to the world, it's great to have this highly cinematic product of the silent era on DVD.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C
Kino on Video presents The Love of Jeanne Ney

Yes another review: THE LOVE OF JEANNE NEY (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1927).
Jeanne Ney (Edith Jehanne) is the daughter of a French diplomat in the Crimea during the Russian Civil War. She falls in love with a soldier named Andreas (Uno Henning), but her life is shattered when her father, who was assisting the White Army in espionage, is killed by her lover, who turns out to be a Bolshevik. Still in love with Andreas, she flees to Paris to work as a secretary to her uncle, the dissolute head of a detective agency. But she is followed there by the lascivious spy and villain Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp), who seduces Jeanne's blind cousin in order to be near her.

As is evident from this summary, the film's plot is rather complicated, and Pabst uses as few intertitles as possible, which requires the viewer to pay close attention in order to follow the story. Yet, despite a certain shapelessness in the material, and a bad performance from Rasp (who chews up the scenery as the bad guy), the film is a stunning exhibition of cinematic style, and represents something of a breakthrough in technique for Pabst. Brilliant camera placement and dynamism (including some daring camera angles), inspired use of objects and setting, and an editing style that cuts on the actors' movements to create a feeling of flow between scenes - all combine to engulf the viewer in a visual experience that was rarely equalled in films of that time.

Jehanne has an alluring presence, although her title role is more of a passive field of conflict for the male characters than an active person in her own right. The picture is sexually frank, while expressing a certain repugnance at the decadence prevalent in Europe after the Great War. It's remarkable that the hero - if the film has a hero - is a Bolshevik who organizes a sailor's rebellion in Toulon. Pabst was working with Karl Freund and Heinrich Mann to make German film more progressive, but he was still operating within the relatively conservative framework of the German production combine UFA. As it turned out, The Love of Jeanne Ney was a smash hit, doubtless because of its combination of romanticism, intrigue, and bold visual style. Overshadowed by Pabst's later work featuring Louise Brooks, this movie deserves to be better known.

I had to since it had a mention of the White Army that the others left out. No one seems to remember that part of history. With all the various reviews, I guess I will let them do the speaking this time...

The Love of Jeanne Ney

This edition from Kino International

Editorial Reviews

Liebe der Jeanne Ney, Die

aka Love of Jeanne Ney-Movie Reviews