The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

David: A black satire perhaps running overlong with other ideas. It presages a spate of dark, disillusioned and memorably bleak films from the following year 1969. What does this say about the realities of 1968? The swinging 60s was as dead as the Summer of Love and it appears the young boomers came out of it a cynical lot. This telling of the famous, doomed, British cavalry charge takes us through the production of cannon fodder, from street  urchins to gold-buttonned mounties of imperial glory and – with one blunder from overconfident under-experienced aristocrats of bought rank – riders into the valley of death. A reminder that war is most famous for its disasters. A stellar 60s British cast is present, featuring what must be Trevor Howard’s greatest role.

Jules: Is warfare a matter of duty, ambition, or efficient management? Tonal confusion meets tragicomedy in this anti-war epic.

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Spirits of the Dead-Toby Dammit (1968)

Fellini takes us to the finish in this Poe triptych.

Jules: Many films depict deals with the Devil at the time the deal is done. Fewer – like Fellini’s contribution to this anthology – depict the Devil arriving to collect. But does Fellini’s contribution satisfy?

David: Fellini, usually so generous, has rarely been so impenetrable. Is Toby Dammit’s flight to Rome hijacked and diverted to Hell? Or is he really in Rome and finds the experience sufficiently overpowering that he literally loses his head? What is the nature of his tryst with the Devil? Do we watch him getting more than he bargained for, or is this all a payment? And was the prize stardom? A Ferrari? Or just release?

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Spirits of the Dead-William Wilson (1968)

Part Two of the Vadim-Malle-Fellini moral ménage à trois.

Jules: One is accustomed to thinking of oneself as having a dark side; implying that one is essentially good. But what if one discovers that one is the shadow, repeatedly assailed by the light?

David: Does the shadow have its own shadow? Does a remorseless psychopath have a suppressed or intermittent conscience, or none at all? What if they were one day confronted by one?

Sound isn’t perfect. We skyped this one.

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Spirits of the Dead-Metzengerstein (1968)

Part one of a 3-in-1 Edgar Allen Poe anthology, baton passed between directors Vadim, Malle and Fellini.

Jules: Are soulmates real, even if one or more of the parties behave soullessly? What is the price to save one’s soul, once it is lost? Roger Vadim and his beautiful entourage seek answers beneath the surface of things.

David: A tragic ghost myth? A seminal precursor to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not? Or both, plus a costume repurposing opportunity from the immediately prior intramarital collaboration by Vadim and Fonda, Barbarella ?

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The Night Porter (1974)

nightporter

Jules: Is there such a thing as essential human nature, or can we turn ourselves into whatever we think we ought to be, whenever and wherever it suits us? And if we can, are we still human?

David: Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling must decide whether or not they are each literally to die for. Meanwhile a technical anomaly causes the Overlooked team to narrate the film with the second and third acts switched out of order. Hilarity doesn’t quite ensue but perhaps an enhanced perspective is enabled on the movie’s themes of crime, passion, pragmatics and lots of baggage.

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