Autumn is ripe with new beginnings, so on the brim of the new season, I am happy to present you an exclusive Classiq collaboration, with illustrator Irina Perju. And it’s movie posters, no less! Need I say more? I would love to say that one of the aims of this collaboration is to attract a new, young audience for classic films and to make classic cinema more accessible to a wider public. And I sincerely hope it does. But I guess it is first and foremost another way to funnel my lifelong passion for cinema. It truly is a celebration of classic films and storytelling that, paired with Irina’s beautiful artwork and end product, wants to bring a new, tangible appreciation for artistic expression and for the world of film.
You can find all the details about the posters on shop.classiq.me, where they are exclusively sold. What I want to point out here though is that the colours of the poster prints you will receive in the mail are very faithful to the colours you see in the unframed illustrations (with the specification that colours may vary slightly from one screen to another), not in the photos of the framed posters.
The first adaptation after Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, Plein soleil (1960) is a visually beautiful film – Highsmith described it as “very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect” – and its style reminds me of Alfred Hitchcok’s works. Director René Clément was a technician himself, who had trained as an architect and made his debut in cinema as a cameraman. In fact, he was named the French Alfred Hitchcock after he made this film. Of course, part of the film’s dazzlingly beautiful quality is Alain Delon in the role of Tom Ripley. With his arresting good looks and impeccable style, Delon makes a sinister Ripley, of a darting intelligence and of few words, a mixture of ravishing beauty and inhumanity. Henri Decaë’s exquisite cinematography and the sun-drenched mise-en-scène (the picture was shot entirely on location, in Rome, Naples and the vicinity islands) sharply contrasts the themes of envy, deceit and murder. What I have found extremely fascinating about this film is that it is an unusual noir: all is bright and in the open, inviting the viewer in – plein soleil.
Noir merges with romantic drama in George Stevens’ classic A Place in the Sun (1951). George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) travels west from Chicago, chasing a dream and the promise of a new life and self. Pursuing happiness and wealth, in that order, he makes bad choices, which will seal his faith. George finds comfort in a poor girl (Shelley Winters), but he finds love in wealthy Angela (Elizabeth Taylor). And the mastery of this film lies in the way the director uses two contrasting styles to show Clift’s conflicting feelings. When George Eastman is with Angela, Stevens bathes him in light. The scenes with the two of them are sensual and intimate, in soft focus and close-up, it’s like they are the only two people left on the face of the Earth. He is tender and vulnerable and he comes to life around Angela. The sequences with his girlfriend, Alice (Shelley Winters), and later in the courtroom, are marked by a suffocating bleakness, filmed in chiaroscuro lighting, in pure noir style. His expressions are opaque and it’s always dark around the two of them, which suggests the threat to George’s desire for “his place in the sun”.
L’Avventura (1960) was the first film from Michelangelo Antonioni’s trilogy that would go on to include La notte (1961) and L’eclisse (1962). Visually speaking, it’s a hauntingly beautiful picture, thanks to Aldo Scavarda’s cinematography. On any level, it is a groundbreaking film, stark and pure, advancing the language of cinema. Antonioni often turned away close readings of his films, encouraging an instinctual approach to viewing similar to that which he claimed he used while filming. Surpassing any conventional denouement and offering an on-going theme of reflection, L’Avventura, with its acerbic sensibility, expresses a modern alienation that has endured only too well, just like the film. Questions remain unanswered, the characters’ reasonings are left unexplained, the story does not quite resolve itself, the mystery remains – just like life.