Motion Pictures


Motion Pictures
▪ 1995

Introduction
       Selected Film Awards 1994(For Selected Film Awards, see Table (Selected Film Awards 1994).)

      The overall picture of world cinema in 1994, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of motion pictures, was one of national cinemas throughout the world dwindling in face of the inevitable and irresistible domination of Hollywood production. (See Special Report (Hollywood Conquest ).)

English-Speaking Cinema.
      The outstanding box-office successes of the year were the Disney animated feature The Lion King, directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, and Robert Zemeckis' Forrest Gump, a panorama of 30 years of U.S. history seen through the eyes of a charmed simple-minded man played by Tom Hanks (see BIOGRAPHIES (Hanks, Tom )). Other more predictable commercial hits included the resurrection of an old favourite theme in Star Trek: Generations (directed by David Carson); Ivan Reitman's outrageous comedy Junior, in which a character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes, for the sake of science, pregnant; and The Flintstones, a live-action version of a perennially popular animated cartoon series, directed by Brian Levant, with John Goodman as the Stone Age patriarch Fred Flintstone. Harrison Ford confirmed his stature as a box-office action hero in Philip Noyce's adaptation of Tom Clancy's quasi-political thriller, Clear and Present Danger.

      The year's most controversial film was indisputably Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, which chronicled a mindless killing spree by a young couple and their subsequent lionization by the nation's media and public. The difficulty was to distinguish Stone's declared intention of indicting a degraded public taste and degrading media from a prurient exhilaration in the spectacle of violence for its own sake. The original story was by Quentin Tarantino, whose own film Pulp Fiction certainly celebrated violence as a show, without any moral perspective. Winner of the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival, the film displayed a knowing combination of comedy, violence, and larger-than-life characters that marked Tarantino as a considerable, if controversial, talent.

      Much vaunted in advance, Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein demonstrated that fidelity to a literary original is small merit if the original in itself provides a bad screenplay. A modern horror story, Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire also made a less-than-satisfying transition in Neil Jordan's film version.

      There was a vogue for remakes of classic children's books; the Australian director Gillian Armstrong directed a new version of Louisa May Alcott's 1868-69 novel Little Women, Caroline Thompson a new Black Beauty, and Daniel Petrie Lassie. Richard Donner's witty comedy western Maverick was based on the popular television series of the late 1950s, while the long-ago popular The Little Rascals was adapted as a feature film, directed by Penelope Spheeris.

      Comedy flourished on several levels. Peter Segal's Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult returned to the proven formula of earlier films in the series. John Waters' anarchic Serial Mom featured Kathleen Turner as a respectable suburban housewife with a penchant for murder. Woody Allen's Bullets over Broadway was an enchanting comedy about a 1920s theatrical production whose embarrassing backer is a Prohibition-age gangster.

      Notable films by African-Americans included Boaz Yakin's impressive debut with Fresh, about a 12-year-old boy learning the metaphorical lessons of the chess game and purposefully fending off the hazards of ghetto life. Charles Burnett's The Glass Shield was a passionate denunciation of a corrupt law-enforcement system. The first African-American woman to direct a Hollywood feature, Darnell Martin brought imagination and humour to issues of race and gender in I Like It like That, the story of a young black woman defying handicaps to make a career. Disorganized and raucous, Spike Lee's Crooklyn was nonetheless more authentically personal than some of the director's recent works. After observing and living in their Los Angeles neighbourhoods for many years, Allison Anders focused on the life of Hispanic girl gangs in Mi vida loca.

      Notable directorial debuts included the actor Tom Noonan with What Happened Was . . . , an intriguing and perceptive chamber piece about a date between two misfits. The coscreenwriter of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Frank Darabont, directed his own script, The Shawshank Redemption, an observant and unconventional study of two men in prison. Jan De Bont succeeded with the aptly named thriller Speed. And Steve James, Frederick Marx, and Peter Gilbert made Hoop Dreams, a powerful documentary about two African-American teenage boys from Chicago housing projects who play high-school basketball and dream of stardom in the National Basketball Association.

      Several established figures chose unconventional themes. Robert Redford's Quiz Show re-created a national scandal of the 1950s in which Charles Van Doren, a brilliant scion of a distinguished academic family, was exposed as having colluded as a competitor in a fixed television quiz show. Ed Wood, Tim Burton's first film based on a true story, was an affectionate portrait of the director of 1950s camp movies. Disappointedly slight after his masterly Short Cuts, Robert Altman's Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-porter) was an informal entertainment set against the real-life world of the Paris fashion business. Robert Benton's adaptation of Richard Russo's novel Nobody's Fool was a delicate portrait of small-town life and character, notable for performances by Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy, who completed one more film, Camilla, before her death on September 11 (see OBITUARIES (Tandy, Jessica )).

      Louis Malle made an effective low-budget film, Vanya on 42nd Street, from André Gregory's exceptional theatre production of David Mamet's new version of Chekhov's play, with Wallace Shawn in the title role. Lawrence Kasdan retold the history of Wyatt Earp (played by Kevin Costner) with a concern for historical thoroughness that somewhat impaired its dramatic impact. In Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Alan Rudolph chronicled the lives of Dorothy Parker and her literary contemporaries. Jodie Foster coproduced and played the title role in Nell, a story of a young woman who had been raised apart from civilization in backwoods North Carolina, directed by Michael Apted.

      British cinema was impoverished by the death of two of its most influential directors, from different generations, Lindsay Anderson (Anderson, Lindsay Gordon ) and Derek Jarman (Jarman, Derek ) (see OBITUARIES). The final work of the latter, just before his death in February, was Glitterbug, an assembly of his early Super-8 home movies, some of them predating his professional film career, which provided an evocative picture of a quarter century of London artistic life.

      In commercial terms the runaway British success of the year, making an instant international star of its leading actor, Hugh Grant, was Four Weddings and a Funeral, a modest film, at least in terms of its budget, that revealed the irresistible attractions of romantic comedy, given a clever, literate script (Richard Curtis), appreciative direction (Mike Newell), and elegant performances.

      The work of other British feature directors showed a renewed interest in social themes. Suri Krishnamma's Oh Mary This London offered a rough and realistic view of the capital through the eyes of three young Irish people arriving to seek a new life there. Ken Loach's Ladybird, Ladybird focused on the battles of an unmarried mother against the too-intrusive social services. Antonia Bird's Priest, about the difficulties of a dedicated, homosexual Catholic priest, revealed a director of exceptional narrative sense. The extraordinary Amber Collective of Newcastle continued to make impressive low-budget films on the life of the region; Eden Valley told the story of a delinquent youth who finds a new life in a rural community.

      Several young directors made creditable first features, often on very low budgets. Caleb Lindsay's Chasing Dreams, produced for £18,000, was a humorous, vital, sensitive, and finally optimistic story of dispossessed teenagers. Peter Mackenzie Litten directed a bright, intelligent, accessible comedy about homosexual life and love under the shadow of AIDS, To Die For. A former television director, Danny Boyle, made Shallow Grave, an uninhibited black comedy.

      From Wales, Paul Turner's Wild Justice used a thriller about rape, murder, and revenge as a reflection on male violence against women. From Ireland, Mary McGuckian's Words upon the Window Pane adapted a play by W.B. Yeats about a séance conducted by a fraught spiritualist in a house once inhabited by Jonathan Swift's adored Stella, while Maurice O'Callaghan's Broken Harvest told the story of an Irish boyhood in the 1950s.

      Australian production was vigorous and varied. The surprise international success of the year was Staphan Elliott's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a high-spirited road movie about three drag artists off to do a gig. P.J. Hogan's Muriel's Wedding related with telling humour its heroine's efforts to escape provincial boredom by seeking adventure and matrimony in Sydney.

      Other original subjects were John Duigan's Sirens, a fictionalized comic incident from the life of the painter Norman Lindsay; Anne Turner's Dallas Doll, a sharply observed comedy about the intrusion of a disturbed and fraudulent American woman into an ordered middle-class family; John Ruane's adaptation of Tim Winton's mystical novel That Eye, The Sky, about another doubtful American stranger disrupting a troubled rural family; and Bill Bennett's Spider and Rose, a sinewy story about the cross-generational friendship of an elderly widow and an antisocial young man.

      In New Zealand, Peter Jackson abandoned the low-budget, bad-taste shockers that had made his reputation to direct Heavenly Creatures, a stylish re-creation of a celebrated 1950s murder committed by two young schoolgirls. Made by a Maori cast and crew, Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors tellingly observed the social and cultural disintegration and also the resilience of aboriginal people living in urban ghettoes.

      Out of an extensive production, the only Canadian film of the year to attract considerable international attention was Atom Egoyan's Exotica, the story of a tax man's entanglement with the people of a strange strip joint.

Continental Europe.
      Popular taste for expansively mounted adaptations of national classics seemed to be on the wane, and both Patrice Chéreau's toughly realistic interpretation of Dumas' La Reine Margot and Yves Angelo's adaptation of Balzac's Le Colonel Chabert proved commercial disappointments. Much more successful critically and commercially were the second and third parts of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Trois Couleurs trilogy, coproduced with Poland. Blanc (White) told of the breakup of an affair between a Polish man and a French woman and the man's return to postcommunist Poland; Rouge (Red), pursuing the unifying theme of coincidence and chance, was the story of a strange, edgy liaison between a young student and an embittered onetime judge. A very different box-office success was Luc Besson's stylized gangster story Léon.

      In his two-part, six-hour Jean la Pucelle, Jacques Rivette retold, without adornment, the story of Joan of Arc, played touchingly by Sandrine Bonnaire. A coproduction with Italy and Belgium, Gérard Corbiau's Farinelli Il Castrato offered a finely staged and intriguing account of the career of the real-life 18th-century musical idol.

      In Grosse Fatigue, one of the year's more notable comedies, Michel Blanc played a double role: his own real-life self and a double whose outrageous, even criminal behaviour becomes an increasing embarrassment. Marcel Ophuls, the undisputed master of the investigative documentary, completed the first of two parts on the media coverage and destructive folly of the wars in former Yugoslavia.

      One of 1994's undoubted masterworks in Italy was Gianni Amelio's Lamerica, which related the odyssey of an Italian in postcommunist Albania as he progresses from would-be exploiter to identification with the destroyed population, distracted by the impossible dream of emigration. Carlo Mazzacurati's The Bull also examined the fortunes of postcommunist Europe, through the picaresque adventures of an Italian traveling from country to country, attempting to sell a stolen prize bull.

      The most personal film of the year was Nanni Moretti's Caro diario, a series of musings on Rome, life, and his own troubled health. Mario Brenta's Barnabo delle mantagne was an austere yet richly textured study of a forest ranger, beset with moral anxieties, in the Dolomites in the 1920s.

      In another lacklustre year, the most interesting German productions were Jan Schutte's Auf Wiedersehen Amerika, a charming, off-beat, melancholy, and beautifully played comedy about an elderly Jewish couple returning to Poland after 30 years in the U.S.; the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer's handsome, if somewhat remote, adaptation of Thomas Mann's novella Mario und der Zauberer; and Hans W. Geissendörfer's Justice, based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt's farce about a poor lawyer morally undone by a powerful client.

      In Belgium the writer Jan Bacquoy made his directorial debut with La Vie sexuelle des Belges, a witty, unexpectedly charming recollection of a lifetime of sexual experience in the stifling moral atmosphere of his country as he sees it.

      Finland's star filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki made a wryly comic road movie, Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana, about two dour Finns unwillingly involved with a pair of garrulous Russian women hitchhikers. The second film of the talented Veikko Aaltonen, Pater Noster, was an extraordinary composition of the past and present memories of a man returning to his home and the ghosts of his anxious childhood.

      From Iceland, Fridrik Fridriksson's Movie Days was an evidently autobiographical reminiscence of a 1960s boyhood world, coloured by the excitements of the movie theatre. In Beyond the Sky, Berit Nesheim of Norway created a quirky and touching story about the friendship of a difficult teenage girl and a grumpy old teacher whom she helps to rediscover an ancient lost love.

      The runaway commercial success of the year in Russia was Yury Mamin's neatly handled and human comedy Window to Paris, about a group of St. Petersburg citizens who discover a magical window in their awful apartment house that leads directly into the bewildering delights of the French capital. Several directors returned from working abroad. Andrey Konchalovsky's Ryaba My Chicken revisited the village where he shot his long-banned 1967 film Asya's Happiness to present a farcical view of the peasants' nonadjustment to the demise of communism. Konchalovsky's brother, Nikita Mikhalkov, played the main role in his own masterly Burnt by the Sun, which begins deceptively as a summer idyll at a dacha overflowing with an extended, Chekhovian family but then moves startlingly into the terror and betrayals of Joseph Stalin's 1930s. Mikhalkov also directed Anna 6-18, an assembly of home movies of his daughter. Boris Frumin, after 16 years of exile in the U.S., made Viva, Castro!, a reminiscence of the days of his own youth, and the confusions of farce and tragedy, cruelty and romance in the life of the early 1960s.

      From Georgia came Eldar Shengelaya's mordant comedy Information Express, and from Kazakhstan, Talgat Temenov's enchanting lightweight romance Love Station.

      Three Czech directors from Czechoslovakia's "new wave" of motion pictures in the 1960s returned to form—Jaromil Jires with a dark comedy-romance, Helimadoe; Karel Kachyna with a rural period drama, The Cow; and Jiri Menzel with The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a dated satire on the trials of a simple Russian soldier at the start of World War II. Also from the Czech Republic, Jan Sverak's science-fiction comedy about the power of television to suck the life force from humans, Accumulator 1, was rich in ingenious special effects.

      From Poland, Dorota Kedzierzawska's The Crow was a small but exquisite study of a lonely little girl who runs away from home, taking with her a four-year-old whom she uses to fulfill her equivocal yearning to love and be loved, while Feliks Falk's Summer of Love was a sophisticated and elegant story of romance and manipulation in late Czarist Russia, based on an Ivan Bunin story.

      Filmmakers in former Yugoslavia endeavoured to deal with the present reality. A collective of Bosnia and Herzegovinian directors exposed the anguish of their city in MGM Sarajevo (Man, God, The Monster). Boro Draskovic's Vukovar Poste Restante was a Romeo and Juliet fable about the love of a Croat woman and a Serbian man. A Serbian director, Zivojin Pavlovic, adapted Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Eternal Husband" to the conditions of present-day Serbia, centring the story on two friends caught up in the war in the devastated city of Vukovar.

Latin America.
      From Argentina, Luis César d'Angiolillo's Matar al abuelito subtly combined romantic mystery and black comedy in its story of an old gentleman rejuvenated by a young woman, to the annoyance of his prospective heirs. Gustavo Graef Marino's Johnny Cien Pesos from Chile was a striking political thriller, highlighting issues of crime and society in Latin America. Arturo Ripstein in Mexico chose to film the legend rather than the literal reality of the life of Lucha Reyes, a great popular singing star of the 1930s, La reina de la noche. In Sin compasion, Peru's most prominent filmmaker, Francisco J. Lombardi, updated Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment to present-day Lima.

      A surprising and charming film from Cuba, Fresa y chocolate, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio, provided a touching yet funny plea for human tolerance. It related the uneasy relationship and eventual friendship of a macho, naive, homophobic young Marxist idealist and an unrepentant homosexual.

North Africa and the Middle East.
      One of the best and most searching Arab films of the year, Nabil Maleh's The Extras used the encounter of a young couple to intimate the social and sexual oppression of young Syrians. In North Africa there was sporadic but lively activity. Yussef Chahine's attempt in Egypt to reconstruct the story of the biblical Joseph aroused fierce religious controversy. From Algeria, Merzak Allouache's Bab el-Oued City was a fine, moral drama generated out of the rise of religious intolerance. In Tunisia a woman director, Moufida Tlatli, directed the exquisite The Silences of the Palace, a story of the court life of the Tunisian beys early in the century and of a woman's revolt against the suppression and exploitation of her sex.

      Iranian cinema continued to show sturdy renascence. Iran's outstanding film artist Abbas Kiarostami revisited the recently earthquake-devastated Koker region for Through the Olive Trees, a sweet story of an odd romance between two extras in a film production on location. Kiyannush Ayyari's The Abadanis was an attractive experiment, updating the story of Vittorio de Sica's Bicycle Thief to the present reality of Abadani war refugees in Tehran.

      In Israel, Claude Lanzmann made the third part of his trilogy on Jewish history, following Pourquoi Israel? and Shoah. Tsahal was an exploration of the history and ideological foundations of the Israeli army. The most attractive Israeli feature films were Dan Wohlman's The Distance, a sensitive analysis of the effect on family relationships of separation by emigration, and Rami Na'Aman's The Flying Camel, a comedy in which the encounter of a Jewish professor and an Arab garbageman bridges historical differences.

Asia.
      Alongside the continuing mass production of popular genre films, a few independent and idiosyncratic films stood out in India. They included poet-filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Shelter of the Wings, an exquisite fable about a humble bird catcher who falls in love with his quarry, and Adoor Gopalakrishnan's The Servile, a polished and finely controlled portrait of a Kerala farmer's willing subjugation to a feudal village chief in 1960s Karnakata.

      Chinese authorities introduced repressive new measures to control coproduction with neighbouring countries. The country's leading director, Zhang Yimou, was prevented from traveling after receiving international praise for his film To Live, which followed the fortunes of a little family battered by Chinese history from the 1940s to the Cultural Revolution. As the wife and mother, Gong Li (see BIOGRAPHIES (Gong Li )) was especially outstanding.

      Other filmmakers managed to coexist with the system. The new Chinese market economy provided the theme for Zhou Hiaowen's sinewy rustic comedy Ermo, about a peasant woman driven by a single-minded business sense. A coproduction with Hong Kong, Huang Jianxin's Back to Back, Face to Face provided a brisk satire on contemporary urban life and bureaucracy.

      Hong Kong's superstar Jackie Chan enjoyed continuing success with Drunken Master II, directed by Lau Kar-leung—a sequel to the film that first established his fame. Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express, with its vivid style and sound track and off-centre stories about the romantic distractions of two young cops, achieved the instant status of a cult film.

      Taiwan moved into the forefront of Asian production. Tsai Ming-liang's Vive l'amour—a humorous and humane study of the meeting of three lonely, nonconforming people in contemporary Taipei—shared the main prize at the Venice festival. Ang Lee, the director of The Wedding Banquet, showed again his gift for observing social and emotional subtleties in Eat Drink Man Woman, the story of a master chef and his relations with his three problem daughters.

      Cherd Songsri's literate and well-staged Muen and Rid, based on the life of a 19th-century advocate of women's rights, Amdang Muen, proved the most successful film in Thai cinema history. Rithy Panh's Rice People was an often poetic and finally tragic picture of the privations of peasant life in Cambodia's rice fields, forever at the mercy of the elements.

Africa.
      Few African films came to prominence during the year. Cheik Boukouré's Le Ballon d'or, from Guinea, used the story of a young boy's ambitions to become a world-class soccer player as an effective metaphor for central issues of the less developed nations. (DAVID ROBINSON)

Nontheatrical Films.
      Science, art, humour, and insightful fiction characterized nontheatrical award-winning films in 1994. Blue Planet Theater, a beautiful environmental science documentary about water, won recognition in four international festivals, including first place at Oeiras, Port. The producer was Bill Call of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego.

      Behind the Scenes with Robert Gil De Montes, by Jane Garmey of Learning Designs of WNET in New York City, captured the grand prize plus Ministry of Foreign Affairs prize at the 20th Japan Prize Competition in Tokyo. De Montes, a painter, shows how colour can create moods or depth and even accentuate the dreamlike quality of the subject.

      Three student films stood out, each winning a major award. The Painter by Noah Emmerich of New York University was the story of mistaken identity of a famous Italian painter; it won the Premi Extraordinari in Badalona, Spain. The Gold Monkey of Mons, Belgium, was shared by The Roof, a story of crisis among three generations of roofers, made by Paul Harris-Boardman of the University of Southern California, and A Dollar and a Dream, which spins the dilemma of an immigrant subway janitor who dreams of and wins a Ferrari but does not know how to drive, by Ian Corson of New York University. (THOMAS W. HOPE)

      See also Photography (Art Exhibitions ); Television and Radio .

      This updates the article motion picture.

▪ 1994

Introduction
      Hollywood in 1993 continued to dominate international screens and the loyalty of audiences throughout the world to an extent that threatened the survival of smaller national cinemas. At the Venice Festival in September, a conference of major filmmakers from throughout the world met to discuss this issue. U.S. artists proved as alarmed as the rest by the cultural implications of American dominance, but none perceived a solution to an imbalance that ultimately reflected Hollywood's economic strength, marketing skills, and technical superiority. A small victory was won through the new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which excluded films and television programs from global tariff cuts. Business news was dominated by the efforts of various firms to buy or merge with Paramount Communications Inc.

English-Speaking Cinema.

United States.
      Confirming Hollywood's command of world audiences, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park supplanted the same director's E.T.—The Extraterrestrial as the most profitable film of all time. Audiences mesmerized by the extraordinary technical effects that brought prehistoric animals to life seemed untroubled by the film's weak script and poor characterizations. Other top box-office films of the year included The Fugitive, based on a vintage television series and directed by a first-time filmmaker, Andrew Davis; Wolfgang Petersen's thriller about a foiled presidential assassination, In the Line of Fire; Sydney Pollack's adaptation of John Grisham's best-selling novel The Firm; and Adrian Lyne's predictable Indecent Proposal. Meanwhile, audiences proved increasingly resistant to star vehicles mechanically concocted for visceral appeal, such as Marco Brambilla's Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes (see BIOGRAPHIES (Snipes, Wesley )) and John McTiernan's The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another Stallone vehicle, Renny Harlin's Cliffhanger, was more favourably accepted.

      Artistically, the outstanding U.S. film of the year was Robert Altman's Short Cuts, which adapted a group of minimalist short stories by Raymond Carver to construct an apocalyptic fresco of fin de siècle human life, viewed in the microcosm of greater Los Angeles. A different reflection on contemporary American nightmares was Joel Schumacher's Falling Down, about an urban dweller who suddenly revolts with violence against the frustrations of daily existence.

      The year was generally a good one for comedy. Ivan Reitman's Dave, a striking departure from the director's earlier teen extravaganzas, was a political fable in the manner of Mark Twain or Frank Capra, about a simple guy who doubles for the president. In Manhattan Murder Mystery, a story of New York socialites caught up in a crime investigation, Woody Allen returned to pure comedy, without philosophical pretensions. Chris Columbus succeeded with Robin Williams cross-dressing as a nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire.

      Joe Dante's Matinee appealingly parodied 1960s horror movies, comparing the fantasy fear on the screen with America's real-life traumas in the Cuban missile crisis. Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day dealt with the frustrations and romance of a TV weatherman reliving the same day over and over in a small town in Pennsylvania. In Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle, the romantic couple did not meet one another until the end of the movie. Barry Sonnenfeld's Addams Family Values continued the saga of the macabre clan, and the satiric Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas displayed masterful animation.

      Several actors made notable debuts as directors. In The Man Without a Face, in which he also starred, Mel Gibson surmounted a naive script through basic sincerity and instinctive skill. Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale, based on Chazz Palminteri's autobiographical novel, related a boyhood in a Bronx Italian community. De Niro himself played a father trying to extricate his son from the influence of the paternalistic local Mafia boss. Forest Whitaker's first film, Strapped, dealt with the hazards of life in a contemporary black community.

      Adaptations from other sources included Martin Scorsese's sumptuous and elegant adaptation of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and David Cronenberg's disappointing screen version of David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly. The Australian John Duigan directed a sensitive adaptation of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Michael Crichton's best-seller Rising Sun took care to portray the Japanese business community in the U.S. in a more flattering light than the original.

      A notable example of international production was Agnieszka Holland's The Secret Garden, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's book. Though U.S.-financed, the film had a Polish director and British cast and was shot in England. Steven Soderbergh made a richly evocative film, adapted from A.E. Hochner's biographical King of the Hill, about a young boy growing up in the Depression era.

      Other films of the year meriting mention included Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, with Al Pacino as a Puerto Rican gangster constantly frustrated in his attempts to go straight; Anthony Minghella's well-observed and charming romantic comedy Mr. Wonderful; Clint Eastwood's A Perfect World, a chase thriller with Eastwood himself in a lead role; Ronald F. Maxwell's conscientious four-hour epic of the Civil War, Gettysburg; and the American-Asian director Wayne Wang's adaptation of Amy Tan's best-seller The Joy Luck Club, about the difficult relationships of American Chinese mothers and daughters.

      Notable films by African-American directors included Menace II Society, an unremittingly violent picture of black gang life in Los Angeles, directed by the 21-year-old twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes; Ayoka Chenzira's feature debut with an independent production, Alma's Rainbow, an affectionate and lively portrait of three New York City women; Mario Van Peebles' creation of a black western pastiche in Posse; and John Singleton's following of his Boyz N the Hood, Poetic Justice, an inner-city love story.

      Notable films released late in the year included Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, a powerful true story about a German factory owner in Nazi-occupied Poland who saved his Jewish workers from the Holocaust; Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth, the final movie in his Vietnam trilogy; Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia, a drama centred on an AIDS-stricken lawyer; Stephen Surjik's sequel Wayne's World 2; Lasse Hallström's What's Eating Gilbert Grape, about a quirky household in small-town Iowa; Richard Attenborough's poignant love story Shadowlands; Fred Schepisi's satirical Six Degrees of Separation, based on the John Guare play; and Alan J. Pakula's political thriller The Pelican Brief, from the novel by John Grisham.

      At the annual awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles in March, Clint Eastwood's The Unforgiven took the Oscars for best film, best director, best supporting actor (Gene Hackman), and best editing. The best actor was Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, and the best actress was Emma Thompson in James Ivory's Howards End, which also won awards for screenplay adaptation (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala) and art direction (Luciana Arrighi, Ian Whitmore). The best supporting actress was Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. Indochine (France) was adjudged the best foreign-language film, and Neil Jordan's The Crying Game received the award for best original screenplay. Federico Fellini received an honorary Academy Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement; and Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor each received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Sadly, before the end of the year both Fellini and Hepburn had died. (See OBITUARIES for Fellini (Fellini, Federico ) and Hepburn (Hepburn, Audrey ).)

Great Britain.
      Despite the grave economic plight of the British motion-picture industry, the variety and accomplishment of British filmmakers achieved international attention. Internationally financed, the biggest production of the year was Richard Attenborough's film biography Chaplin. The Remains of the Day, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel paralleling British domestic life and international politics in the years between World Wars I and II, again displayed Ivory's talent for evoking the culture of a particular time and place. Ivory's career-long partner and producer, Ismail Merchant, meanwhile, made a distinguished feature debut with the British-Indian coproduction In Custody, based on a novel by Anita Desai about a disillusioned, drunken poet.

      Kenneth Branagh returned to Shakespeare, injecting great comic energy into Much Ado About Nothing, costarring his wife, Emma Thompson. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Branagh, Kenneth, and Thompson, Emma ).) Other directors dealt courageously with issues of present-day Britain. Mike Leigh's Naked portrayed the desperate frustration of an intelligent young man unemployed and homeless. Ken Loach's Raining Stones was a kindly, pessimistic comedy of the unemployed of the depressed industrial north. Stephen Frears's The Snapper was a more optimistic portrait of working-class Dublin. Antonia Bird's gifted first feature, Safe, was a compassionate tragedy about the homeless young. Gurinder Chadha's Bhaji on the Beach touched lightly on issues of family, race, and feminism in a story of a group of Indian women on a day's outing in the seaside resort of Blackpool, England.

Australia.
      Australia's outstanding success was Jane Campion's haunting The Piano, set in New Zealand in the early colonial period and evoking the passionate romance of a mute woman. The film shared the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Rolf de Heer also attracted international attention with Bad Boy Bubby, a grotesque horror comedy about a man incarcerated from childhood by his crazy mother and suddenly launched into the world, with bizarre but unexpected results.

      The Nostradamus Kid, by well-known critic and journalist Bob Ellis, was a lively nostalgic reminiscence; Richard Lowenstein's Say a Little Prayer was a touching account of the relationship of a lonely little boy and a twentyish drug addict.

Canada.
      Extensive production throughout English-speaking Canada resulted in a number of excellent and varied works, including Atom Egoyan's intriguing low-budget Calendar, in which the director and his wife play a couple in marital breakup; David Wellington's I Love a Man in Uniform, a sinister tale about a mild bank clerk transformed by a policeman's uniform; François Girard's Thirty-two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a portrait of the enigmatic musical genius presented in a collage of scenes, documentary and acted, their structure based on the Goldberg Variations; and Paul Shapiro's The Lotus Eaters, a shrewd, likable picture of the pleasures and pretenses of family life on a British Columbian island in the 1960s.

      From Quebec's French-language cinema, Paule Baillargeon directed Le Sexe des étoiles, a tender drama about the effect upon a sensitive young girl of her father's transformation into a transsexual. Robert Morin's Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur adopted an original narrative style in relating the rise and fall of a small-time crook.

Europe.
      Outside the still culturally distinctive national productions of Britain, France, Italy, and Scandinavia, a number of European features of 1993 deserve particular mention. These include, from Belgium, Stijn Coninx' Daens, a sumptuous period piece about a 19th-century priest dedicated to fighting industrial exploitation; from Greece, the veteran Michael Caccoyannis' sprightly sex comedy, Up, Down and Sideways, observing changing mores through the adventures of a middle-aged woman and her gay son; from Germany, the Yugoslav director Dusan Makavejev's comic elegy for the vanished pomp and illusions of Eastern European communism, Gorilla Bathes at Noon; from Portugal, 85-year-old Manoel de Oliveira's modern Madame Bovary, Abraham Valley; from Spain, a new Pedro Almodovar farrago, Kika, about crazy characters in contemporary Madrid; from Turkey, Ohan Oguz' Whistle if You Come Back, the story of a friendship between two outcasts—a dwarf and a transvestite—and Yavuz Ozkan's Two Women, which examines issues of power and politics through the story of the rape of a high-class prostitute by an influential politician.

France.
      The biggest production of the year was Claude Berri's massive and spectacular but pedestrian adaptation of Émile Zola's Germinal. Other established directors at work during 1993 included Eric Rohmer, with L'Arbre, le maire et la mediathèque, a playful exercise about the battle between politicians and ecologists. Costa-Gavras returned to the French studios with La Petite Apocalypse, a comedy about people from the former Communist nations adapting to free-market economies.

      Blue, the first episode of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red, White and Blue trilogy, set in Paris, dealt with the efforts of a woman to reshape her life after the death of her husband and revelations about their marriage. Patrice Leconte's Tango provided an ironic study of macho malehood. Coline Serreau's comedy La Crise targeted the French middle class in an era of social breakdown. The central figure in Aline Issermann's L'Ombre du doute was a small girl facing the disbelief of family and authorities when she charges her father with abuse.

Italy.
      Older directors espoused historical subjects. Franco Zeffirelli's Sparrow was an ungripping tale of a 19th-century novice briefly distracted by love, and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Fiorile used a time-machine device to survey two centuries of Italian history, seen through the fortunes of an unlucky Tuscan family.

      The fight against organized crime provided the theme for Ricky Tognazzi's taut and polished La scorta, Margarethe von Trotta's Il lungo silenzio, and Giuseppe Ferrara's Giovanni Falcone, an earnest but disappointing re-creation of historical events. More intimate contemporary themes concerned Silvio Soldini in Un anima divisa in due, a keenly observed story of a store detective's infatuation with a Gypsy girl, and Francesca Archibugi's Il grande cocomero, about the therapeutic relationship of a disturbed child and a young neurologist.

Scandinavia.
      Notable Swedish films included Suzanne Osten's Talk! It's So Dark, a compelling dialogue between an émigré Jewish psychiatrist and a young Swedish Nazi, and Ake Sandgren's The Slingshot, adapting the humorous impressionistic memoirs of a 1920s boyhood by the Jewish socialist Roland Schutt. A former physician, Nils Mamors of Denmark, created a tragic portrait of a depressive, Pain of Love, while the Icelandic director Oskar Jonass revealed a developed sense of comedy in Remote Control—an escalation of comic horrors beginning with a stolen TV remote control.

      In Finland disciples of the leading director Aki Kaurismaki made creditable debuts: Veikko Aaltonen with The Prodigal Son, a thriller involving a sadomasochistic relationship; Kari Paljakka with Goodbye, Trainmen, a study of the friendship of two young men, one of whom succumbs to an aimless life; and Christian Lindblad with Ripa Hits the Skids, an improbably likable portrait of the decline and fall of an unsavoury failed filmmaker.

Eastern Europe.
      The film industries of the former Communist countries were all undergoing the crisis of transformation to a free market. Dominant themes were the problems of adjustment and reexamination of the recent past. Poland's greatest director, Andrzej Wajda, returned to the Polish uprising of 1944 with The Ring of the Crowned Eagle—this time liberated from the pressures that conditioned his great classics of the 1950s. From Slovakia, Juraj Jakubisko's Its Better to Be Healthy and Wealthy than Poor and Ill treated the problems of living in post-Communist society with wayward humour.

Commonwealth of Independent States.
      Production, shrinking fast from the boom of 1991, ranged wildly from sex comedies (Nikolay Dostal's Small Giant, Big Sex) to Elena Tsiplakova's perceptive observation of personal histories of workers and inmates in an orphanage, In Thee I Trust. Among the year's most memorable films was an autobiographical drama, And the Wind Returneth, by the returning émigré Mikhail Kalik—a sad saga of life as a Russian Jew from the 1930s to the 1960s and a career in films constantly frustrated by censorship.

Hungary.
      In a generally lean year for Hungarian cinema, Ildiko Szabo's outstanding Child Murders created a memorable character in a 12-year-old whose air of maturity and worldly wisdom conceal an emotional hunger that leads to catastrophic results. A child was also the central figure in Andras Jeles' powerful drama of the odyssey of a Jewish family in World War II, Why Wasn't He There?

Latin America.
      Argentine directors continued to examine the horrors of the junta years. Notable among these inquests were Lita Stantic's A Wall of Silence and Marcelo Pineyro's debut feature Tango Feroz—the Legend of Tanguite, which reconstructed the life and death of a popular singer who fell victim to the terror.

      Mexican directors revealed a taste for filmed biographies, including those of a 1950s film star, Miroslav (director Alejandro Pelayo Rangel); the 17th-century California missionary Kino (director Felipe Cazals); and the 16th-century Bartolomé de Las Casas (director Sergio Olhovich). An outstanding film on a contemporary theme was Francisco Athie's debut work, a ferocious portrayal of Mexican slum life, Lolo. Also noteworthy was Alfonso Arau's domestic drama Like Water for Chocolate.

Middle East and North Africa.
      Production throughout North Africa remained sporadic. Among the most notable films of the year was a first feature by Malik Lakhdar-Hamina from Algeria, Automne: Octobre à Alger, about corruption and fundamentalist oppression in Algeria during the 1980s. A promising first film from Egypt, Khalid al-Haggar's Little Dreams, looked at the disenchantment of a generation with the myth of Pres. Gamal Abdel Nasser through the experiences of a young boy in the 1967 Six-Day War.

      In Life According to AGFA, Assi Dayan used a modest bar in Israel, during 12 hours of one night, as a microcosm of a threatened society. Mohamed Malas' The Night was a distinguished drama from Syria relating, with dignity and without malice, the grave impact of the creation of the state of Israel on some hapless Arab peoples.

Far East.

China.
      The new generation of Chinese directors favoured intimate, human dramas: Sun Jou's Heartstrings, about the relationship of a 10-year-old Peking (Beijing) Opera player and his grandfather; Li Shaohong's Family Portrait, which chronicles the reunion of a married man and the newly orphaned young son of his failed previous marriage; Ning Ying's For Fun, an endearing story of a group of aged Peking Opera veterans who get together to form an amateur opera group; and Huang Jianxin's Stand Up, Don't Bend Over, a mosaic of life in a contemporary apartment block.

      Though officially disapproved, the year's most outstanding films resulted from coproduction with Hong Kong. These included Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Blue Kite, which traced the tribulations of one small backyard community in the turbulent years between the death of Stalin and the first nightmare of the Cultural Revolution; Wang Haoshuai's Days, chronicling the decline and ultimate collapse of a marriage under the social pressures of contemporary China; and the co-winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or, Chen Kaige's (see BIOGRAPHIES (Chen Kaige )) Farewell, My Concubine, which surveyed the troubled history of China from the 1920s to the end of the Cultural Revolution through the fortunes and loves of two actors of the Peking Opera.

Taiwan.
      A coproduction with the U.S., Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet, shared the main prize at the Berlin Film Festival and went on to achieve major international success. Its story of a young Chinese homosexual living with an American man but hustled into a marriage of convenience with a Chinese girl to satisfy family custom, was told with enormous humour and charm. In The Puppet Master, Hou Hsiao-hsien examined, through the memoirs of an old puppet artist, the history of Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule.

Japan.
      Three of Japan's great veterans made films in 1993. At 82, Akira Kurosawa conceived a quiet, low-key study of one man's life from World War II to the present, Not Yet. At 78, Kon Ichikawa experimented with new high-definition video techniques for Fusa, a haunting tale based on a 16th-century classic love story. Finally, 81-year-old Kaneto Shindo directed a touching adaptation of an erotic classic, The Strange Story of Oyuki.

      Among younger Japanese filmmakers, the independent director Shinji Somai tackled the previously taboo subject of divorce in Moving. Maruhachi Shinoda's In Fading Memory, a recollection of a first romance in the 1960s, was an assured and sensitive first feature.

India.
      Of the most notable productions of the year, Goutam Ghose's Boatman of the River Padma was a sensitive adaptation of Manik Bannerji's Bengali classic about coexistence between traditionally opposed religious communities, and Girish Karnad's The Flowering Tree was a loyal adaptation of a Karnataka folktale. An original subject, Shyam Benegal's The Seventh Horse of the Sun was a complex, three-episode film in which a young man relates romantic stories of his boyhood, adolescence, and young manhood.

Africa.
      Film activity in Africa was scattered but vital. From Burkina Faso, Idrissa Ouedraogo's Samba Traore adapted a familiar Western theme: a young fugitive fleeing from his own crime and guilt. A likable fable, S. Pierre Yameogo's Wendemi, Child of the Good God was the story of a young man in search of his identity.

      From Burundi, Leonce Ngabo's Gito the Ungrateful, a coproduction with France and Switzerland, provided a lively comic satire on the pretensions of young, macho, foreign-educated men. From Côte d'Ivoire, Roger Gneon M'Bala's In the Name of Christ tackled the sensitive subject of religion through the story of a fake religious leader who starts a new cult. A Senegalese-French coproduction, Moussa Touré's Touba Bi was a sophisticated and endearing portrait of cultural clash, through the story of a Senegalese filmmaker in Paris.

DAVID ROBINSON

Nontheatrical Films.
      Every few years a documentary comes along that stands out heads above all else. During 1993 Ishi, the Last Yahi was that film. Made by Jed Riffe and Pamela Roberts (Rattlesnake Productions) of Berkeley, Calif., it is the story of the last "wild" native American Indian, who was found and studied by anthropologists for three years until his death in 1915. The film won honours in one German and three U.S. competitions.

      At Ekofilm in Ostrava, Czech Republic, the grand prix winner was Decade of Decision, made for the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil. It shows the pressures on people to adjust to a changing world aggravated by poverty, wasteful consumption, and bad policies. Narrated by Walter Cronkite, it was produced by Meg Maguire of Maguire/Reeder for the Population Crisis Committee in Washington, D.C.

      Another film receiving accolades was the Best of Festival winner at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival in Chicago, Extreme Skiing 3, The Scot Schmidt Story. Written and directed by Brian Sisselman, it is a profile of one of the recognized personalities in the world of "extreme skiing."

THOMAS W. HOPE
      See also Photography ; Television and Radio .

      This updates the article motion picture.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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