Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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mndean

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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostThu May 31, 2012 9:09 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
milefilms wrote:One thing I have to say against British period films is that there's rarely bathrooms, dirt, sex, and stupid people


This deficiency, I don't regret. (But actually, some recent Dickens dramatizations have gone far overboard in depicting filth & squalor.)


One of the easiest ways to throw me out of a Victorian-era show (film or television) is to have it be spotlessly clean in inappropriate places. When you see cities back in the 1800s (not to mention rural areas), there was dirt, belching black and white smoke, stains, etc. everywhere.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostThu May 31, 2012 10:01 pm

Brooksie wrote:In regards to eras that are within the living memory, I'm reliably informed that 'Mad Men' gets it pretty much right - or, if anything, the casual sexism is toned down.


There have been times I have levitated off my couch while watching Mad Men, when they've gotten something I'd completely and happily forgotten so right.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostThu May 31, 2012 10:03 pm

Jim Roots wrote:There's always Buster Keaton's historical comedies. The trains in both Our Hospitality and The General were authentic to their periods, and so were the clothes, weapons, etc.

Jim


Sorry, the leading lady still had the wrong underwear.

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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostThu May 31, 2012 10:28 pm

mndean wrote:
entredeuxguerres wrote:This deficiency, I don't regret. (But actually, some recent Dickens dramatizations have gone far overboard in depicting filth & squalor.)


One of the easiest ways to throw me out of a Victorian-era show (film or television) is to have it be spotlessly clean in inappropriate places. When you see cities back in the 1800s (not to mention rural areas), there was dirt, belching black and white smoke, stains, etc. everywhere.


And horsepoop. Loads of horsepoop in the streets. Mountains of manure, daily. I can only think of one film, Sense and Sensibility, where that is mentioned and then only in passing.

Lighting is also an issue. Almost all period films feature the high wattage Movie Candle. Light one Movie Candle in a completely darkened room; no matter how large the room it will light up like Disneyland during the electrical parade.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostThu May 31, 2012 10:50 pm

Downton Abbey looks beautiful and is great fun to watch, but the character motivations are filtered through a 21st Century sensibility. In real life Lady Mary's reputation probably would have been ruined after her night with Mr. Pamuk. The whole affair about the youngest daughter and the chauffeur is silly (and stereotypical) and in general Lord Grantham and his family are too familiar with the staff.Even for an old family retainer Grantham is remarkably free with his opinion.
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It's interesting to me that some of you suggest that Downton Abbey gets it wrong in some aspects. Naturally there is an enforced dramatisation otherwise we should most probably fall asleep watching it. One too easily forgets the advanced feminism that was all the go in the Edwardian days in the form of the Suffragette movement.

I am sure that Lady Mary's reputation would have been besmirched - had her affair become common knowledge. It didn't.

The case of the youngest daughter and the chauffeur - these things did happen and it was correctly handled in my opinion as to how the Earl reacted.

As to over familiarity with the household. I don't think so. I would merely put it down to the now old fashioned way of respect given down as well as up - together with good manners and concern. Of course the Earl Grantham and his family may have been in a minority when it came to the way they treated those in service - but the more enlightened would have been similar as shown.

All things considered I take delight with "Downton Abbey" as it reminds me of the "good old days" :) - and I of course have much delight in whatever the Dowager Countess comes out with. (Reminds me of my own Grandmother who was born in 1887)

Westerns, Musicals and some other films - I don't really worry too much about as I just take the sillyness as it comes and wallow in it with glee. However if a fillum purports to carry on with a degree of sincerity I do take umbrage if I espy a plastic cord hanging out the end of a telephone or a tape recorder on a desk in 1931 - things of that ilk. That's just being careless.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 3:22 am

Interesting how often Downton has come up as a paragon here. No-one in England I know can stand it because of its appalling falseness. Upstairs Downstairs I could understand..... :shock:
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 5:54 am

As mentioned earlier, the way lighting is used is important. It's a distraction if it just doesn't make sense. I recall TV programs or movies taking place in tenements circa 1900 that were bright and cheery with wall-to-wall illumination and nary a shadow.

Roman Polanski is said to have changed cinematographers on CHINATOWN because he wanted to depict 1937 Los Angeles exactly as it was in reality rather than the sepia-type golden glow cliches that yesteryear visuals usually go for. Still, in the final film LA comes across as blue-sky pretty and sparkling with sunshine, which I guess was true enough back then.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 12:17 pm

Speaking of verisimilitude and England...

I don't know who Harry Enfield is, but his pseudo-educational films are hilarious at getting the details of midcentury British filmmaking right-- I love how perfectly everyone talks like a 40s movie in them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ0jRuASVEQ&
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 12:51 pm

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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 2:01 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Speaking of verisimilitude and England...

I don't know who Harry Enfield is, but his pseudo-educational films are hilarious at getting the details of midcentury British filmmaking right-- I love how perfectly everyone talks like a 40s movie in them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ0jRuASVEQ&" target="_blank" target="_blank


Enfield is a sketch show comedian who's a dab hand at this sort of thing. See if you can track down 'Norbert Smith: A Life'. It's a spot-on pastiche of po-faced British biographical documentaries about Sir Laurence Olivier and his kin. It contains some very clever recreations of early British film. He manages to get the look and feel just right.

This part is my favourite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF_POWi9eCQ. :lol:
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 2:33 pm

FANNY AND ALEXANDER

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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 3:13 pm

What impresses me so much about THE READER is that the movie moves forward through German post-war history in steps of a couple of years. And every time they seem to get the feel of the time absolutely right. Quite an achievement.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 3:26 pm

Bound for Glory is a pretty convincing rendering of the 1930's. David Carradine's performance helps also.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 3:30 pm

Brooksie wrote:Enfield is a sketch show comedian who's a dab hand at this sort of thing. See if you can track down 'Norbert Smith: A Life'. It's a spot-on pastiche of po-faced British biographical documentaries about Sir Laurence Olivier and his kin. It contains some very clever recreations of early British film. He manages to get the look and feel just right.

This part is my favourite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF_POWi9eCQ. :lol:


...omg...dying...choking...crying...omg..."Yes, they're rather grand, the battlements by moonlight, aren't they?" "Like a biscuit box."
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 4:19 pm

The Harry Enfield/Jon Glover faux Public Information Films are sublime - there were quite a few made, and they do indeed catch the patronising tone, the misogyny and the old-school Tory attitude that some of the originals - not all - had perfectly. As well as the use of language and the clothing, etc. unfortunately, these are about twenty years old, and he has done nothing comparable since.

My favourites.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjxY9rZw ... re=related" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ivsb79- ... re=related" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank (An absolute classic)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08BqaSuE ... ure=relmfu" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlv3B107 ... creen&NR=1" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnxPuidq ... re=related" target="_blank" target="_blank

Enjoy.......
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 5:02 pm

I discovered those Public Information shorts awhile back and they are extraordinary!

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 9:38 pm

Maybe I'll get killed for this, but Monty Python & The Holy Grail is the most authentic feeling medieval film I've seen (apart from the horses). Since they didn't have much of a budget (I believe the film cost under $500,000) they couldn't make it glamorously romanticized like virtually all other medieval films are.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostFri Jun 01, 2012 10:14 pm

fwtep wrote:Maybe I'll get killed for this, but Monty Python & The Holy Grail is the most authentic feeling medieval film I've seen (apart from the horses). Since they didn't have much of a budget (I believe the film cost under $500,000) they couldn't make it glamorously romanticized like virtually all other medieval films are.


That film is the cause of the worst thing I ever did while watching a movie. I was roped into seeing La Reine Margot, did not find it enjoyable or engrossing, and when I saw the cart full of corpses I got giddy and said out loud, "Bring out your dead!" in whatever half-assed Eric Idle impersonation I could muster.





C'mon, everyone has to do something impolite like that once. Outside of groaning to myself, I swear that was the only audible noise I ever made while watching a film. I even walk out quietly. Really.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 6:17 am

westegg wrote:As mentioned earlier, the way lighting is used is important. It's a distraction if it just doesn't make sense. I recall TV programs or movies taking place in tenements circa 1900 that were bright and cheery with wall-to-wall illumination and nary a shadow.

Roman Polanski is said to have changed cinematographers on CHINATOWN because he wanted to depict 1937 Los Angeles exactly as it was in reality rather than the sepia-type golden glow cliches that yesteryear visuals usually go for. Still, in the final film LA comes across as blue-sky pretty and sparkling with sunshine, which I guess was true enough back then.


In an American Cinematographer article I unfortunately can't put my hands on now, Alonzo said he was hired for Chinatown five days before shooting started, and was given William Fraker's notes. Fraker and Polanski had worked out a shooting scheme that emulated Hollywood films of the period, so that there were no zooms more than 5mm, for example. Alonzo gave all the credit for the look of the cinematography to Fraker.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 7:03 am

An article on "Uptown Abbey" from the Telegraph, for those interested in some of the controversies.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvan ... -show.html
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 7:24 am

Julian Fellowes is quoted:

"The real problem is with people who are insecure socially, and they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the programme to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge," he once said.

"The fact of the matter is that the really posh people are pleased to see something on television that isn't about a dead prostitute in a dustbin, and they seem to just be enjoying the programme."


Mr. Fellowes has just slipped a few notches in my view. His attitude towards accuracy is like soprano Vassilka Petrova towards opera critics: "90 percent of people know nothing about opera...and the other 10 percent know too damm much!"
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 9:01 am

Such visual anachronisms as TV antennas & yellow stripes in the road are disturbing, but I can pretend, if they aren't too glaring, not to see them; it's a wonder any place can be found in modern Britain for this kind of location shooting. But those linguistic anachronisms ("get shafted") are unforgivable because they're so utterly unnecessary...a red flag that the writers made little effort to study the literature of the period. Before the subversion of Western culture by the pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism, the "literature of the period" would have been an essential part even of secondary education, let alone college-level study, so the educational system in Britain must now be as decayed as it is in this country.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 9:38 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:Such visual anachronisms as TV antennas & yellow stripes in the road are disturbing, but I can pretend, if they aren't too glaring, not to see them; it's a wonder any place can be found in modern Britain for this kind of location shooting. But those linguistic anachronisms ("get shafted") are unforgivable because they're so utterly unnecessary...a red flag that the writers made little effort to study the literature of the period. Before the subversion of Western culture by the pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism, the "literature of the period" would have been an essential part even of secondary education, let alone college-level study, so the educational system in Britain must now be as decayed as it is in this country.


When I was involved in it, study of the literature of the period deprecated slang, which I suppose is one of the reasons for older films' period dialog being on occasion very stilted, the nonuse or misuse of slang sticks out. It's irritating to me to hear perfect English, as it doesn't (and didn't) exist except from a character who is stiff and formal (like Jeeves, for instance). I prefer the way things are now, with the study of slang no longer a curious backwater. Multiculturalism is not a reason for the misuse of slang, it's just screenwriter laziness.

It amazes me how far back some rude words and gestures go.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 10:24 am

mndean wrote:It amazes me how far back some rude words and gestures go.


So you're telling me that "I got shafted" was an expression one might have overheard in an Edwardian pub? Most of the '30s pictures I love abound with slang--OF THAT PERIOD; any "Jeeves" character is an exception (usually for comic contrast), most certainly not the rule. Of course multiculturalism is not a direct cause for the misuse of slang, but to the extent that it has displaced study of the classics of Western literature, it has created ignorance of that past. No (intelligent) screenwriter with a traditional background in English lit could commit such blunders.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 3:49 pm

FrankFay wrote:Julian Fellowes is quoted:

"The real problem is with people who are insecure socially, and they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the programme to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge," he once said.

"The fact of the matter is that the really posh people are pleased to see something on television that isn't about a dead prostitute in a dustbin, and they seem to just be enjoying the programme."


Mr. Fellowes has just slipped a few notches in my view. His attitude towards accuracy is like soprano Vassilka Petrova towards opera critics: "90 percent of people know nothing about opera...and the other 10 percent know too damm much!"



I think that I am more inclined to agree with Lord Fellowes. The list of inaccuracies mentioned would indicate they are minor if not pedantic. Whilst of course one would not like to see errors of any kind, I think it would be the glaring errors that would be particularly noticeable, and as I haven't seen any, they don't distract from my overall enjoyment of "Downton Abbey"

As to the language - well I think it quite refreshing to have a programme on the box that does not resort to vulgarity or the language of the gutter which seems to be the norm with any material these days. Some say in defence of this that the programmes merely reflect current social values. Well, maybe, but certainly not the society in which I dwell.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 4:52 pm

Oh, it's not his opinion that grates on me, but his condescending manner.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSat Jun 02, 2012 9:34 pm

From the release of Bonnie and Clyde to the late 1970's
the Great Depression became a frequent backdrop
for Hollywood and independent filmmakers.

Best examples: Dillinger, Paper Moon, The Sting
The Day of The Locust, They Shoot Horses, Don't
They?, Bound for Glory, among others.

TSHDT especially uses character study to evoke
said period. Decor consists of a shabby dance
marathon venue. By the end of this film, you felt
as if you've lived through the Great Depression
so desperate are the characters involved.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSun Jun 03, 2012 12:32 am

I would agree with both PAPER MOON and DAY OF THE LOCUST. Both captured the '30s fairly well, in my opinion, between dress/costumes, (realistic) attitudes, lack of anachronisms, etc.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSun Jun 03, 2012 5:38 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:Usually...in fact, almost always. Downton Abbey, however, all the glorious costumes & beautiful details of furnishings notwithstanding, is an exception, because the producers saw fit to contemporize it (& degrade it) with 21st C. attitudes of social equality, sexual liberation, & the like; not by any means verisimilitude, not Edwardian England...& therfore, hugely popular....


I had the same problem with "Mad Men." Everyone looks like they're conservatives in the early '60's, but acts like a bunch of liberals in the 2010's.

"Hester Street" and "Barry Lyndon" are good ones - though every time I watch the latter I can't help noticing the smallpox scar on the big guy's arm during fight scene. :shock:

Rohmer's "The Lady And The Duke" is interesting. Instead of traditional backgrounds, he uses green screen to put period paintings behind the characters. In a strange way, this is even more evocative of the 1790's than if he had gone the realistic route. After all, none of us were THERE in that time period, but the paintings evoke it in a way reality never could because they're what we grew up seeing and associating with that period.
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Re: Most Convincing Period Films: Not Just Decor

PostSun Jun 03, 2012 10:46 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:
mndean wrote:It amazes me how far back some rude words and gestures go.


So you're telling me that "I got shafted" was an expression one might have overheard in an Edwardian pub? Most of the '30s pictures I love abound with slang--OF THAT PERIOD; any "Jeeves" character is an exception (usually for comic contrast), most certainly not the rule. Of course multiculturalism is not a direct cause for the misuse of slang, but to the extent that it has displaced study of the classics of Western literature, it has created ignorance of that past. No (intelligent) screenwriter with a traditional background in English lit could commit such blunders.


Nope. Nothing to do with shafting. I was referring to general rude words and gestures I see in precode talkies and silents. Sort of like seeing an actor giving the finger to the audience in a silent, which I think was discussed here once. I was amused at the clever way they did it in PETER PAN.

One reason language in period films can get stilted is the references to slang are all literary and have nothing to do with general daily use, so you don't feel the rhythm of spoken language. When I watched BRITANNIA OF BILLINGSGATE a while back, I got the feel of authentic Cockney slang, though the phrases were crossing the plate faster than I could catch them all.
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