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Korea came to the cinema relatively late, with its first silent film not being produced until 1923. In 1935, the sound film was introduced, but any further artistic development was cut short when Japan invaded China in 1937 and the Korean cinema was given over to outright propaganda. In 1945, with the surrender of Japan, Korean film began a renaissance, although the country was soon split into two. The first Korean color film didn’t appear until 1949, and for the most part the Korean cinema of the 1950s and 1960s was given over to escapist genre films. One of the most popular directors of this period was Kim Ki-young, whose film Hanyo (The Housemaid, 1960) tells the almost Buñuelian tale of a young woman who enters the house of an esteemed and happily married composer and soon has an affair with him that brings pain to all concerned. The director of more than thirty films from 1955 onward, Kim was one of the most prolific genre filmmakers of the 1960s, although his work was unknown outside Korea. It was not until 1974, when the Korean National Film Archive was finally established, that these historic postwar Korean films finally found a permanent home.

In New Zealand, where the film industry had long been marginal, Peter Jackson first came on the scene in 1987 with his twisted science fiction gore film Bad Taste, which he also acted in, photographed, and edited. Next were the puppet horror film Meet the Feebles (1989) and the darkly humorous splatter film Dead Alive (a k a Braindead, 1992), all of which were commercial successes. But these offbeat films were just the curtain raiser for Heavenly Creatures (1994), a recounting of one of New Zealand’s most famous murder cases, in which two teenage girls form an unnaturally close attachment and are forcibly separated by their parents; furious at the intrusion into their lives, they go on a murderous rampage. The film offered an important early role to Kate Winslet as Juliet Hulme, one of the two girls, and garnered Jackson worldwide attention.

Australia, where some of the earliest feature films had been produced, had long fallen into a creative slump. But in the 1970s, a combination of favorable tax breaks and government incentives allowed a new generation of “down under” filmmakers to break through to international prominence. Bruce Beresford’s The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) was an early hit, followed by his Breaker Morant (1980), a military period drama. Subsequently, Beresford went to the United States to direct Driving Miss Daisy (1989), following in the steps of other indigenous filmmakers who leave their native countries to make bigger but perhaps less adventurous films in Hollywood. George Miller made the violent action film Mad Max (1979), propelling the Australian-born Mel Gibson to instant stardom; Miller’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) was an even greater success. Miller, too, moved to Hollywood, to direct such films as The Witches ofEastwick (1987) and Babe: Pig in the City (1998).

The French cinema kept expanding on both the commercial and personal horizons, as former New Wave directors pursued their own objectives. Meanwhile, a new wave of highly commercial filmmakers, who championed what became known as “cinema du look,” made more accessible, mainstream films, with a highly polished sheen of technical execution. One of the key inspirations for the French New Wave, the classicist Robert Bresson, made his final film during this period—L’Argent (Money, 1983), a superb psychological study of the effects of a 500-franc counterfeit note on the lives of a number of unsuspecting victims.

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In England, the habitually excessive Ken Russell made a name for himself as a purveyor of over-the-top spectacle. Among his works are his adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love in 1969; his sensationalized biography of Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers (1970); Tommy (1975), based on the Who’s rock opera of the same name; an outré biography of composer Franz Liszt, aptly titled Lisztomania (1975), with Roger Daltrey of the Who as Liszt; and the science fiction thriller Altered States (1980), which deals with experiments in a sensory deprivation tank that predictably go horribly wrong. In 1991, Russell made the exploitation drama Whore, but it seemed to most observers that he was playing to diminished returns by this point in his career. Queer activist Derek Jarman, who had worked as production designer on Russell’s semi-historical splatter film The Devils DerekJarman’s Edward II (1991), a modern adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s 1592 play, with surrealist imagery and copious amounts of violence.



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