For many contemporary audiences, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy exist more as archetypes than memorable performers in and of themselves. The Laurel and Hardy comedies had an undeniable influence on mismatched comedy duos throughout the twentieth century, ranging from Abbott and Costello and the Warner Brothers cartoons to the Honeymooners and, derivatively, The Flintstones. Many of their catchphrases have been ingrained into popular culture so completely that they have been unknowingly attributed to later sources (most notably Homer Simpson’s iconic “D’oh”). Before succeeding in the sound era, however, Laurel and Hardy were masters of the silent slapstick comedy short as a team with Director-Producer Hal Roach.
Big Business, a short silent released in what many consider to be the last real year of the silent era, showed how, unlike many of their silent film contemporaries, Laurel and Hardy were able to successfully make the transition to the sound era by relying heavily on primarily visual and physical comedy. The plot is the kind of simple material oft found in comedy shorts; Stan and Ollie are Christmas tree salesmen in California who enter into tit-for-tat rallies of escalating hijinks with a would-be customer.
The appeal to audiences of all ages is apparent in the cartoonish gags for which the pair are so well-known, due in no small part to Laurel’s lead creative role on the writing team, frequently challenging his co-writers to one-up one another to even more ridiculous and hysterical bits. The film was entered into the National Film Registry in 1992 and retains the goofball charm it held for audiences around the world.
“After Brexit, the UK will be forced to re-negotiate quotas and taxes for exports to the EU. In 2015, the UK exported 41% of its movies to the EU, surpassing its American exports. Imminent financial pressures will likely diminish UK film exports, thereby disincentivizing production.
The Creative Industries Federation, which represents British creative industries, voted 96% in favor of Remain for these very reasons. British film industry stalwarts Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and director Steve McQueen penned a letter stating that their country’s “global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.”
– Emily Buder, for nofilmschool.com
The UK has for long been the power centre of Cinema with its legacy of theatre and the manner in which its churns out such brilliant film directors, actors, cinematographers and other film technicians. We have often joked that while the rest of the world gets basic vaccines against germs and diseases, the British are inoculated with bugs that enhance their stage and screen skills manifold. The same holds true for most European countries, which have government-sponsored, but healthy cinema cultures and thrive on a film market that is known for its co-productions. European film production, distribution and talent management companies have frequently collaborated to create and bring to the world some excellent examples of cinema.
The Brexit referendum, which has separated UK from the rest of EU could change a lot of the international film production and distribution treaties. Here is an article from nofilmschool.com which enumerates and discusses three ways in which things could go south for the film market in UK and EU.
Ernst Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007)
Swedish director, writer and producer who worked in film, television, and theatre.
Recognised as one of the most accomplished and influential auteurs of all time, having directed over sixty films and documentaries for cinematic release and for television, most of which he also wrote. He also directed over 170 plays. His work often dealt with death, illness, faith, betrayal, bleakness and insanity.
From 1953 he forged a powerful creative partnership with his full-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Among his company of actors were Harriet and Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Gunnar Björnstrand, Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin and Max von Sydow. Most of his films were set in Sweden, and numerous films from Through a Glass Darkly (1961) onward were filmed on the island of Fårö.
Films of Note: Smiles of a Summer Night (1953), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957) The Magician (1958), Brink of Life (1958), The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Silence (1963), Shame (1968), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), The Magic Flute (1975), Face to Face (1976), Autumn Sonata (1978) Fanny and Alexander (1982), The Best Intentions (1992), Saraband (2003)
“A lot of modern anxieties and pathological conditions are rooted in the experience of the city. Fears like agoraphobia and claustrophobia, the fear of heights or acrophobia are all essentially associated with modern urban space and architectural forms — small apartments, elevators, stairwells, high-rises — and perhaps even occur as a result of such spatial constraints and demands. A number of films have explored these ideas in a variety of ways.” – Sucheta Chakraborty for The Hindu
Sucheta astutely observes and deconstructs the ways in which spaces are used to set the mood and tone in the movies – how they are given a character that will interact with the actors and propel the story forward. She links that to directors and movies which pioneered these ideas comes up with a wonderful article.
To read the full article, click here.
Michael Haneke (1942 – present)
Austrian film director and screenwriter
His work often examines social issues, and depicts the feelings of estrangement experienced by individuals in modern society.
Has worked in television‚theatre and cinema. Besides working as a filmmaker, Haneke also teaches film direction at the Film Academy Vienna.
His films have been appreciated worldwide and awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, Golden Globe and Academy Award, among others. He is the only Austrian director and the seventh in the world to have received the Palme d’Or twice. In 2013 Haneke won the Prince of Asturias Award for the arts.
Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton (1958 – present)
American film director, producer, artist, writer and animator.
He is known for dark, gothic and quirky fantasy films, which have become his signature. He has also made animated musicals, biopics, horror fantasies, adventure comedies, superhero films, science fiction and adaptations of classic English literature.
Burton has often cast certain actors in multiple directing projects. This includes Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Danny DeVito, Conchata Ferrell, Albert Finney, Michael Gough, Michael Keaton, Martin Landau, Christopher Lee, Lisa Marie, Catherine O’Hara, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alan Rickman, Deep Roy, Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Timothy Spall and Christopher Walken.
Burton also often works with certain crew members in multiple directing projects. This includes composer Danny Elfman, screenwriters Caroline Thompson, John August, and Seth Grahame-Smith, producers Denise Di Novi, Allison Abbate, and Richard D. Zanuck, costume designer Colleen Atwood, production designers Bo Welch, Alex McDowell, andRick Heinrichs, cinematographers Philippe Rousselot and Dariusz Wolski, and editor/executive producer Chris Lebenzon.
Films of Note: Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012), Frankenweenie (2012), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Planet of the Apes (2001), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)