Childhood in Cinema: 10 Unforgettable Films

I. Ivan’s Childhood [1962]

Country: USSR

Andrei Tarkovsky‘s film is a a beautiful, powerful story set during the World War II. At its centre is a twelve-year old boy Ivan (Kolya Burlyayev) who has taken on the job of an adult, the dangerous job of spying on the Nazi forces that are invading his country. Tarkovsky was able to convey his own particular poetic vision of one fragile childhood that meets the horrors of war. Ivan’s tasks for the Red Army intermingle with his dreams of happiness as Tarkovsky shows the sheer impact of war barbarities on a young mind. This movie is both moving and unforgettable, and remains the best cinematic debut I have ever seen.

II. The Spirit of the Beehive [1973]

Country: Spain

The Spirit of the Beehive or El espíritu de la colmena comes from Spanish director Víctor Erice and stars young Ana Torrent in the lead role, giving the most exceptional performance. As so many other films on this list, this beautifully-filmed story portrays children coming to terms with the darker side of life. The story centres on two small girls in a Castilian village in 1940 during the Franco regime. Their fascination with Frankenstein leads to their imaginary world colliding with the harsh realities around them, especially when Ana encounters an escaped prisoner. Atmospheric and rich in symbolism, The Spirit of the Beehive is rightly considered to be one of the foremost cinematic achievements from Spain.

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Rome: 10 “Must-See” Films set in the City

Being a cultural and historical centre for centuries, Rome has always attracted leading cinematographers. In the 1950s and 1960s, Rome was considered the European “Hollywood”, embodied in the famous Cinecittà film studio that produced such epic films as “Ben-Hur” (1959) and “Cleopatra” (1963). To this day, this historic city remains the one to which filmmakers flock to: (i) showcase its main beauties and cultural delights, as is the case with “Roman Holiday” (1953), ““Plein Soleil” (1961), “My Own Private Idaho” (1991) and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999); (ii) to ridicule Rome’s high society and decadent lifestyle, as in “La Dolce Vita” (1960) and “The Great Beauty” (2013); or (iii) to provide a setting for a grim, chaotic, (post-)war, almost apocalyptic scenario, as embodied in such films as “Rome, Open City” (1945), “Bicycle Thieves” (1948), “L’Eclisse” (1962) and “Il Conformista” (1970). 

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I. Roman Holiday (1953)

Directed by William Wyler (“Ben-Hur“), this tale about a princess who escapes from her tiresomely busy daily duties while in Rome only to meet and have a romantic connection with a journalist is fascinating, recalling in plot “It Happened One Night” (1934). In Rome, Princess Ann and Joe Bradley (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in their respective leading roles), go through the famous sights of Rome, including: meeting at the Roman Forum (more precisely at the Temple of Saturn and the Arch of Septimus Severus), where the Princess falls asleep; trying their luck at the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin; going past on a scooter by the Colosseum; having breakfast near the Pantheon; taking in the sun on the Spanish Steps; and attending the interview at the Palazzo Colonna.

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