Tag Archives: 1972.

Faustine and the Beautiful Summer (1972) – A Review

23 May

A few days ago I watched a brilliant film called “Faustine and the beautiful summer” (original title: Faustine et le bel été) directed by Nina Companeez whose mood of dreams, romance, indolence and love for nature really struck a chord with me and I found a lot of things highly relatable, particularly the character of Faustine: her reveries, her carefree nature. Also, I wish I could just take her gorgeous outfits from the screen and have them in my wardrobe.

The plot is simple: a pretty sixteen year old girl called Faustine (played by Muriel Catala) is about to spent her summer holidays with her grandparents in the countryside. While there, she spends time wandering the woods and the meadows, discovering the secrets of nature as well as spying on her neighbours who are also there on holiday. She is ocassionally flirting with a fellow teenage boy from that family called Joachim, but mostly takes delight in rejecting him because she develops an interest in his uncle. She eventually befriends the entire family and visits them often, and spends time with Joachim’s female cousins who find her fascinating.

Everything is seen trough her eyes and it is almost like reading her diary, her memories of that summer. And through her eyes everything is magical and whimsical. There isn’t much that goes on in the film and it isn’t long either, only around an hour and a half, but the slow and sensuous mood that reminds me of David Hamilton’s photography from roughly the same years makes it a delight for me. Still, there is more depth to the film than it appears on the surface. For sure it is not a sugary and naive teenage romantic drama. Many conflicts linger throughout the film and surface one by one; conflicts between sensuality and innocence, real life vs dreams, observing life vs participating in it. Those are some things that anyone could relate to, but a girl of Faustine’s age and inexperience would particularly understand it, and that is another reason I loved the film. Not only do I love the aesthetic but the themes as well. And, Chopin’s music is played throughout the film as well.

There is a sweet sensuality lingering throughout the scenes; Faustine walking through the fields of poppies and pressing the golden wheat to her soft cheek, kissing the bark of a tree, the trace of milk left on Faustine’s lips as she puts down her mug, Faustine indolently lying on the bed wrapped in nothing but white lace and eating cherries and strawberries, Faustine talking to a delicate newborn poppy flower… and an ultimate feeling of being immersed in nature when she goes skinny dipping in a nearby lake while the rain is falling romantically and announcing the arrival of autumn. I adored one scene where she is running through fields of wheat and poppies, dressed in a white gown and wearing her straw hat with a long pink ribbon, running playfully as if she were a little girl and shouting “Summer isn’t over”, then throwing herself into the grass and gazing at the play of sunlight coming through the treetops and whispering: “Sunshine fills the air. Flowers of all colours. I drink you in, you make me dizzy.”

I love the coming of age theme and I can relate to Faustine feeling that everything is possible, seeing beauty all around her, and feeling rain of sadness falling on her sun-kissed skin from time to time, which are not the dark rains of autumn but the warm and transient summer showers that stir the soul but leave no scars. Throughout the film Faustine is constantly walking the tightrope between her daydreams and the real life around her. The last scene ends the film beautifully; she is dressed in a long gown, so elegant and grown-up, in an embrace with Joachim’s uncle and says: “And finally Faustine will enter the world through the blue door. Today my first kiss and in seventy years, at best, I’ll be dead.” It sounds as if she is narrating her own life, and it is unclear whether she is talking to him, herself or the trees all around them. From the world of daydreams, through a kiss, Faustine at last enters the real world and tastes its sweetness.

And now a few verses from Derek Walcott’s poem “Bleecker Street, Summer” which I discovered by serendipity last summer:

Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!

When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.

These beautiful verses from John Keats’s “Endymion” which I loved last summer came to mind while I was watching the film:

…Now a soft kiss –
Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss,
An immortality of passion’s thine:
Ere long I will exalt thee to the shine
Of heaven ambrosial; and we will shade
Ourselves whole summers by a river glade;
And I will tell thee stories of the sky,
And breathe thee whispers of its minstrelsy,
My happy love will overwing all bounds!
O let me melt into thee! let the sounds
Of our close voices marry at their birth;
Let us entwine hoveringly!

I hope you enjoyed this review and that you decide to watch the film. I am glad I watched it now, in May, because I can look forward to another summer and hope that it is as sweet as the last one’s was, instead of pining for it once it passes.

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Dark Shadows – Tim Burton meets Psychedelia

14 Sep

In August I’ve finally watched Tim Burton’s film Dark Shadows (2012) and it fulfilled all the expectations I have of this brilliant director.

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Always expecting the best from one of my favourite film directors – Tim Burton, I naturally had great expectations out of this film. My high hopes have happily been fulfilled for I am very pleased what this movie has to offer; it’s very Burton styled, it has witty dialogues, great costumes designed by Collen Atwood and most importantly for me – it binds together typical Burton’s gothic aesthetics with psychedelia of the 1972, that is, the year the movie is set in. That’s a perfect combination for me, and I confess that, since I love 1960s and early ’70s hippie fashion, I’ve often wondered how would Tim Burton combine it, and that I’ve seen what kind of costumes did Collen design I am very much inspired in fashion sense. What’s very funny to me in the movie is Barnabas’ mindset that is trapped in the 18th century and his first meeting with the completely different culture of 1972. is hilarious. Barnabas is fascinated with things that are completely foreign to him at the same time; music, television, cars and hippie (the unshaven young people, as he calls them).

Collinswood is such a lovely estate, I would love to have been able to grow up in such an old mansion, especially if its wooden carvings would also come alive at night. Aesthetics of the movie are very inspirational for me; from costumes to the amazing decorations and family portraits. Collinswood is a mansion whose grand halls I would love to wonder through, whose candles I’d enjoy lighting, from whose windows I’d gaze to the wilderness. I can imagine myself having Carolyn’s bedroom; a psychedelic style decorated room with yellow carpet, vivid purple walls covered with posters of Iggy Pop and various other musicians of the time. It’s very bright, groovy, colourful and inspirational.

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What’s also very interesting about the film are the characters that are all very personalised; they have minds of their own, and their fashion styles perfectly match their personalities. There are five femmes in the movie and all of them have a different fashion style, all of which I like except Angelique’s because hers is very bold and matches her evil, cruel personality.

Elizabeth Stoddard, Carolyn’s mother, is a Collins family matriarch and a very strong-willed and active woman, most of all loyal to her family. Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent in this role; she carried herself with dignity and elegance, while still being rather conservative, intuitive, stern and strict. Her fashion style goes in hand with her personality. Elizabeth certainly couldn’t be pictured wearing hippie garments her daughter is seen in, no, her style is quite the opposite; she almost all the time wears very 1940s revival dresses in solid colours. bishop sleeves and nice necklaces, accompanied by very stylish, also ’40s style, high heeled shoes.

Dark Shadows

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Dark Shadows

Elizabeth’s fifteen year old daughter Carolyn is a typical teenage girl; isolated, rebellious and misunderstood. She is usually found listening to music or dancing on s0me psychedelic tunes, dressed in colourful and groovy hippie clothes. I very much like her style; her vivid coloured tights, big leather belts, floral printed shirts and dresses that usually have an interesting cut.

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Victoria Winters is a polite, gentle, proper and introverted young lady, but only on the first sight. She actually has secrets of her own; she escaped a mental institution her parents placed her into because she had a gift of speaking with ghosts and is in fact some kind of reincarnation of Josette, Barnabas’ love from the eighteenth century. Victoria’s fashion style, again, reflects her personality; she’s usually dressed in neat, proper school-girl styled dresses and shirts.

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Julia Hoffman, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is rather vain and laid back family doctor, always sleeping one of her legendary hangovers. Her style matches the bohemianism and casual attitude connected to her personality and she’s often seen wearing interesting piece dresses, some of which resemble Biba style that was popular at the time in UK, combined with sunglasses, bold make up and sometimes a pair of knee high socks.

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