CE Films - Part 6 - 1996


10 Sept 1996 (Toronto Film Festival)
Film | Dir. Michael Winterbottom | Wr. Thomas Hardy (novel) & Hossein Amini
Role: Jude Fawley (stonemason, autodidact).

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Alex: "Let's not cover it in cotton-wool. 'Jude' was a flop. The funny thing is though that there is nothing wrong with the film. It has the cast, the story, the cinematography. In different space and time I can easily see it getting an Oscar. Perhaps not my favourite, but it is very viewable.

"This is a story of a self-educated man, a stonemason, who tries to break class boundaries and become a scholar. There are other boundaries restricting him – those of an unhappy marriage and later love for his cousin Sue. Jude's and her relationship defies the rules of the society – but the backlash is only one of the forces that tears their souls to pieces.

"It's a bleak film, not least in its message, and most probably won't raise your spirits. I wouldn't say this is the reason why it didn't find its audience, because the two main characters Jude and Sue (Kate Winslet) are interesting and involving; it's easy to see their motivation, understand their struggles – even if and because you are watching from your present-day situation, I think.

"Despite it being an adaptation of a novel ('Jude the Obscure' by Thomas Hardy, from 1895), cinematography brings the film up to date, and there is a certain feel that doesn't let you call it just another period drama. (It was a harrowing experience for the actors as well, like for the heaviest scene, as Eccleston has said, there were done 11 takes – for different nuances of reaction.)

"Suppose a struggle against one's class might earn a raised eyebrow in the modern globalized society, but it's more than obvious that people are still fighting the same prejudices as Jude and Sue did: Dreaming against the norms and forms, getting ruined – inwardly or outwardly – by eventual failures.

"Depending on your outlook, this film is either a dystopia or merely picturing the reality. Still, it's worth viewing, it doesn't do feeling warm and cosy all the time."

Conclusion: Demanding, yet recommended one.

DVD Notes:
2000 "Universal Pictures" Region 2. English HOH subtitles. Extras: A trailer.


5 Dec 1996
TV film | Dir. Charles McDougall | Wr. Jimmy McGovern
Role: Trevor Hicks (witness).

Video example - Gallery - IMDb - Get: Region 2
Alex: "This drama tells about the Hillsborough football disaster at the Sheffield stadium, where 96 Liverpool FC supporters lost their lives, – as experienced by some of the families. The cause of the tragedy was eventually established as mistakes or negligence from the police officers and stadium stewards' side. The film, made when there was still some ambiguity in the case, clears up the facts and also touches upon the denigration of the fans by the press.

"Trevor Hicks is a father who lost his two daughters in the disaster, and lost more after it. A steady and systematic man, he tries to cope with the situation by taking up the fight to have the causes named and the culprits brought to justice. But his family life continues to fall apart.

"Showing him and other common people, accidentally caught up in this unfathomable tragedy, the film is compassionate, but at the same time relentless. It's not sentimental; it's not bloodthirsty either. The level of objectivity is remarkable, and it's one of the aspects that make this docudrama stand out.

"The film is a combination of characters' stories and documentary-like interviews with them, comprising seven parts. While during the original broadcast title cards bookended commercials, the separators have been kept, and their purpose is evident. These pauses accentuate the transition from one part of the narrative to another, for example, creating a bridge between the scenes of fans entering the stadium, and the scenes, which you arrive to mid-action, of the first people breaking out of their pen where they were being crushed, onto the pitch.

"All in all, 'Hillsborough' is an exceptional example of dramatized documentary. The cast is made of the finest British actors, and Hicks's portrayal, sincere and moving, is one of the key elements of the film.

"On the 15th of April 2009 it's twenty years [25 now] since Hillsborough. The case hasn't been closed yet, though."

Conclusion: Recommended.

DVD Notes:
See this post for the review.