has its own way of observing the tradition with an output of new movies even thinner and sillier than the norm. The most interesting of the newest is The Colour of Pomegranates ("X", I.C.A., The Mall) by the dissident Soviet-Armenian director, Paradjanov.
Admittedly the interest is strictly specialist and derives perhaps more from the director's record of dissidence and imprisonment which have kept the film (1969) from being shown than from the picture's own qualties. These are difficult to discern from the copy shown here, pirated, faded and, as Herbert Marshall, the veteran commentator on Soviet films described it, "the dupe of a dupe" (equivalent of the carbon copy of a carbon copy). Outlines suggest the fascination of the Byzantine images; but with no captions even the additional interesting fact that films made by the various Soviet nations (as Armenia or Georgia, where Paradjanov was born) are not allowed to be exported until any dialogue is translated from its native language into State Russian, hardly helps one to follow anything like the story.
It tells of the eighteenth century Armenian troubadour poet Sayat Nova, who became court minstrel, was obliged to become a monk and eventually an archbishop who refused to renounce his Christianity when the Persians invaded. So the film demands all the concentration and patience of specialist interest and is difficult to recommend as general entertainment even when shown with the same director's more explicit and extrovert Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors ("X", I.C.A.) which had been re -befom and—has won numerous awards.
The other latest movie, the unhappily titled Puberty Blues ("AA", Odeons, Kensington, etc., Studio Oxford Circus, Cinecenta), is the exact
opposite of specialist entertainment. It is perhaps not quite as frightful as the title might suggest, but it is also about as silly as a film could be, and a further step down the disappointing decline of recent Australian films after their promising successes of a few years ago.
The film is simply an introduction to a class of schoolgirls of the age group suggested by the title. They are perhaps a little sillier than the average batch of schoolgirls of their age, though no worse, and not of course as awful as St Trinians. They are as mystifying to their parents as most teenagers, as boy-mad as any other group of girls. The detail of the heroine's concern with the progress of her careless love affair towards its ultimate danger of pregnancy is more explicit than is customary on the screen, but none the more enlivened.
Local prejuduce produces its own bullying — if you are ugly, spotty or an immigrant, no one seems likely to speak to you. The only originality is the real odiousness of the boys, as nasty a group of bullying male chauvinists as you could imagine, with nothing in their heads beyond surfing.
Perhaps the young may find the film's crude candour a relief. Their elders, if not bored stiff might take it as yet another salutary warning of what their children may grow into if brought up without discipline, manners or morals. For the rest of us, the movie is the more disappointing for being directed by Bruce Beresford. It makes us wonder how the acclaimed Australian talent of the Barry Mackenzie pictures, "Don's Party", the delightful 'The Getting of Wisdom", the brilliant "Breaker Morant" could turn out anything so banal. The only relief is Don McAlpine's fine photography of exciting Australian beaches and surfing.
Even in the silly seasonal abyss, the experienced filmgoer has his own defences. Revivals have been made fashionable by Television and now video. The wise exhibitor uses the silly season to dig up attractions like the annual seasons of great comics. I have already mentioned and recommended some of this year's Keaton and Tati revivals. The Keaton Festival of lovingly recreated masterpieces, this year includes "Sherlock Junior" and "The Love Meet"and is movimg from the Barbican.
Tati's rapturous Jour de Fete and Mon Oncle have got to the Everyman,. Hampstead, and to the Times Centa, Baker Street. Chaplin's ' The Great Dictator still runs, at the Gate, Bloomsbury, enjoying the experiment of reducing all seats to 99p. Other titles I notice to help you weather the silly season by shopping around are Coalminer's Daughter, Mary Poppins, Cousin, Cousine. Finally three British films whose success in America, was lately credited with a big boost to our tourist industry can still be seen in London. The French Lieutenant's Woman, said to have packed Lyme Regis with American visitors is around again. The Prince Charles, where so often smart "X" pictures show, has put on perhaps the most inspired double bill, coupling Chariots of Fire with Gregory's Girl two "A" films (both could just as well be "U") which have done Britain proud. No need to be bored this silly season.
There's another bonus too. I've already reviewed and recommended Herzog's Fitzcarraldo. The bonus is Burden of Dretims ("AA" Paris Pullman) Lee Blank's film about Herzog's making of the enthralling Fitzcarraldo.
Much of the story of the mishaps and adventures which befell and held up themaking of the great film is already known. The real interest is Herzog's own contribution, spoken straight at the camera and declaring his views of his own obsession in making the film, and the way both he and the film's hero thought the whole extraordinary enterprise of having mountains to take grand opera to the Indians across the Amazon worth the prodigious effort. It's another opportunity to see Herzog and his stars, Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale, and it always seems to me worth while to see one of the cinema's rare serious artists talk about his work.
Fitzcarraldo itself runs three hours, and its companion Burden of Dreams for an hour and thirty-five minutes. They are both worth the time spent making and watching them. Soon after this brief pause for the silly season we shall be launched on the next wave of aliens and things from other worlds.