Today started with a film by a friend about another, dear departed friend and former Artistic Director of the festival, Peter Von Bagh. Tapio Piirainen had been filming Peter Von Bagh over the last 8 years of his life and his film reveals the true, warm, kind and humourous man that he was. Peter was a very private person, but in this film he reveals more about his early life, growing up in Oulu, in northern Finland that had not previously been covered in his own penultimate film, Muisteja aka Remembrance. The film is a very tender tribute to a much-missed figure of film, who’s like we shall never see again. The film was preceded by a short 5min film featuring Peter’s former film student, Aki Kaurismäki, sharing his thoughts on his great friend.
Next up for me was REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1967), screened here in one of only a few remaining “golden” tinted prints. Brando plays a repressed homosexual lusting after one of his own soldiers, while his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, screws around with his best friend. It’s a perverse sadomasochistic tale of control, power and subordination. Brando’s accent is all over the place!
Final film of the day for me was Robert Aldrich’s 1973 film, THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH, screened here in a new 4K restored print from 20th Century Fox. The restoration looked gorgeous, full of rich, vibrant colours. Borgnine and Marvin excel.
I kicked off with another new restoration, this time from Universal Pictures in collaboration with The Film Foundation, of Brando’s self-directed, ONE-EYED JACKS from 1961. The restoration has been supervised by both Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, both huge fans of the film. Whilst the film looks very lush and splendid, it is somewhat of an ego trip for Brando with a convoluted storyline. This in part I suspect is down to the fact that the film had a very troubled production history. Rod Serling wrote the initial screenplay, followed by Sam Peckinpah when Stanley Kubrick was on-board as director. Then when Brando and Kubrick fell out the screenplay was re-written again, this time by Calder Willingham and then finally by, Guy Trosper. The original cut of the film ran five hours, and Brando would spend the next three years editing it down to its current 141mins length.
After lunch with The Criterion Collection, I attended 90mins of the European Film Forum’s conference on The Values of Film Heritage, before moving on to see the Mario Soldati film, LA PROVINCIALE (1953). I have to confess to not having seen any Soldati films prior to this, but thoroughly enjoyed this one. Gina Lollobrigida is the star of this “modernist melodrama” which was also much admired by Jean Cocteau and Soldati himself considered it to be his best film.