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Old 10-09-2004, 13:44   #1
DanWilde1966
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Cult Films

Cult films are mainstream, exploitation (or indeed, any other) movies which have intense and loyal followings from a devoted group of fans (or "cults").

What are your favourite cult films?

Some of mine are the following; the material below is adapted from work I have done for teaching purposes:



Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) John Carpenter

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074156/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398712/


Carpenter’s film is a potent remake of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but also an homage to the work of Howard Hawks. It squeezes an inordinate amount of action from its minuscule budget. Violent, revenge-hungry L.A. gang-members (in their apparent hundreds) take the place of zombies, while Austin Stoker takes the place of Duane Jones. The sexy exchanges between Wilson and Leigh are entertaining, if vaguely self-conscious. A remake is due in 2005.

Badlands (1973) Terrence Malick

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069762/

This film is the quiet, gentle bridge between the roar and fury of Penn’s censorship-dispensing Bonnie & Clyde and Oliver Stone’s controversial Natural Born Killers. It is narrated from Holly’s point of view and provided Martin Sheen with his first career-defining role as Kit Curruthers, the violent psychopath who also happens to be an extremely engaging guy socially. The Dakota badlands offer a beautiful landscape in which ugly violence unfolds. This topped many people’s “best ever” film lists in the early 1970s, but its power seems to have dated over thirty years. It remains essential viewing, however.

Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083658/

Star Wars came out in 1977 and put science fiction back on the filmic map. What followed was a slew of copies and rip-offs, both in the cinema and on television. Blade Runner was something different, though: it was SF with a literary background (the individualistic work of Philip K. Dick) and a philosophical centre (in particular, the moral issues sparked by Rutger Hauer’s thoughtful and aesthetically-sensitive replicant with a survival-instinct, vs. Harrison Ford’s amoral, relatively inhuman human.) John Brosnan pronounced the film a masterpiece in a 1982 issue of Starburst Magazine, but the general public did not necessarily agree – accustomed as it was to Ford as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Blade Runner has become a cult, however, having an incalculable influence on movies, TV and videogames everywhere. There is no film quite like it in all of cinema.

Blow-Up (1966) Antonioni

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060176/

The heart of this film is the sequence in the middle in which David Hemmings analyses photographs taken in Maryon Wilson Park in south east London and thinks that he has found evidence of a murder. He seems to find that evidence (not least when he visits the park for a second time, at night), but then the film invites the viewer to doubt that any of this has happened. The movie is enigmatic, visually striking and has a jazzy soundtrack (which can be heard on its own separate track on the DVD.) It is said to epitomise the “swinging London” of the time...


The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) James Whale

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026138/

This sequel improves vastly on Whale’s 1933 first Frankenstein movie, and is one of the most imaginative and quirky movies in any genre. Boris Karloff reprises his original role (with the patented make-up into the bargain), but the movie is stolen by Ernest Thesiger’s performance as Dr. Pretorius, who gets all the best lines. As he toasts a new partnership with Dr. Frankenstein, he says: “To a new world of gods and monsters!” He travels the line between perversity and wit beautifully, and clearly relishes the scene in which he demonstrates his miniatures in glass cases. Fabulous, imaginative filmmaking!

Casablanca (1943) Michael Curtiz

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/

A defining moment for Bogart, Bergman and pretty much everyone involved with it. From a turbulent production history, emanated perfection – a perfect movie in screenplay, performance and direction. This is an essential DVD purchase, because it will be played and played and played. One of the most moving sequences is the playing of “La Marseillaise”, instigated by Rick to annoy Major Strasser and his Nazi cronies, but also to show that despite all his nihilist talk, he indeed sticks out his neck for things he cares about deeply. If it came to the crunch with my back against the proverbial wall, I’d choose this film over Citizen Kane any day, as “the best film ever”.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066921/

Kubrick’s most notorious film (certainly in the UK, where it has only been available legally since 2000), largely because of it’s tabloid-fuelled reputation as an inciter of violent crimes. For this frankly stupid label, intellectually-pornographic newspapers such as the Daily Mail should be reviled like Julius Streicher’s Der Stuermer: the former prompted Kubrick into uncharacteristic foolishness when he removed his film from British distribution. The film itself is visually sumptuous (as one would expect from Kubrick), and it follows Burgess’s novel with reasonable faithfulness (though Kubrick is not above adding a few sections of his own, not least in the prison section...) The film is meticulous, colourful, cut to frame-perfection, and has a textbook musical soundtrack. With IF.. and A Clockwork Orange on his filmography, Malcolm McDowell completed his two great filmic roles.

Dark Star (1974) John Carpenter

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069945/

Carpenter had made six shorts in the 60s before this first stab at a feature film – a student venture for USC, which (like Eraserhead) took years to complete before it appeared in 1974, then resurfaced in the UK (thanks to BBC2) in 1977. I saw the ’77 screening, thought little of it, then fell in love with the film when it was shown by the BBC in the summer of 1982. I was attracted to the life-style of the whacked-out astronauts (which turned out to be a depiction of student slobbery), and I loved the sense of deep-space alienation and semi-psychosis the film captured. Carpenter and (future Alien-creator) Dan O’Bannon had in mind an homage to/satire of Kubrick’s 2001, of course, but they succeeded in creating a film with one of the biggest and most obsessive followings ever. The beach-ball “alien”, giving away just how little money the filmmakers had to play with, is a highlight, and the ending (ripped from Ray Bradbury’s short story “Kaleidoscope” ), is the stuff cults are made of...

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Bunuel

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068361/

David McKee refers to the narrative structure of Bunuel’s late masterpiece as “non-plot/anti-plot”, in the sense that it completely abandons even the pretence of three-act, arch-plot structure (much like Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad). By all accounts, the various sketches were written by Bunuel and regular collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere on the back of napkins over a series of dinners, then stitched together as a set of dream-within-dream gags, simply to delight and entertain the audience. The ploy succeeds: though the film on the surface is an attack on the hypocritical middle-class, both the title and the tone of the film demonstrate a gentleness and humour that are much more urbane and mellow than the Bunuel of The Exterminating Angel. This film is the work of a sorcerer pulling some effortless strokes; it’s also a fascinating study of interruption...

Eraserhead (1976) David Lynch

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074486/

With Dark Star, this is a film that epitomises what “cult” is all about. It is original, visceral, disturbing, nightmarish, surreal, brilliant, depressing. It does what any work of art should do at some level: alarm, wake up, terrify, engage. If later Lynch became a tad habitual and generic (and almost by numbers, in the case of a movie like Wild at Heart), Eraserhead is essential Lynch, devoid of the post-Dune, post-Blue Velvet affectation. People have argued like hell about what it is about; I see it as an imagistic essay on how becoming a parent can change a person’s life, leading to black depression. This movie is not to everyone’s tastes; I bought the VHS cassette twenty years ago, but have not felt the need to invest in the DVD.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Francois Truffaut

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060390/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0360556/

I won’t bore everyone with what I wrote in a recent review. Suffice it to say that this movie is enjoying a run on Sky Cinema at the moment, and people have a further opportunity to judge it for themselves. It is extremely flawed Truffaut, but as sometimes happens, it is a film that’s fascinating because it’s malformed, rather than in spite of it. Oscar Werner deliberately cut his hair for the final snow-bound scene, such was his loathing of Truffaut and his desire to screw up the continuity. Bradbury adores the film to this day. A remake is due next year.

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Werner Herzog

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083946/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083702/

An experience that is by turns fascinating and tedious, this movie became notorious not because of what happens on screen, but because of its conditions of production. The director and star were barking lunatics, setting one another off, and the plan to really engineer a ship over a mountain and film it, was both brilliant and foolishly crazy. In Les Blank’s documentary filmed on set, one can see the madness in Herzog’s eyes as he rants about Kinski, about the jungle, about logistical problems; but one can also see his passion, even if it is fuelled by obsessiveness. Krautrock specialists Popol Vuh provided the now-collectable soundtrack...

Get Carter (1971) Mike Hodges

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067128/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0208988/

How dare they remake the original 1971 film! I caught the opening moments of the 2000 movie on Sky the other night – and switched it off through rampant irritation! The proper Newcastle-set version has Michael Caine and an eminently quotable screenplay, not to mention the classic Roy Budd keyboard riff. I have a soft-spot for the look of films made in 1971 (Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection...) Get Carter is in their illustrious company.

Heaven’s Gate (1980) Michael Cimino

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080855/

For those wishing to know about the turbulent history of this film’s production, I suggest you look at Steven Bach’s fantastic 1985 book Final Cut. It is arguably the greatest book by anyone on modern Hollywood filmmaking, and an implied crucifixion of the Cahiers du Cinema, Andrew Sarris-led auteur theory. The film itself is a mess, in my view: a jumbled, meandering, self-obsessed sprawl of a film which has bored me senseless every time I have sat down to look at it. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I would love to get it on DVD... There is something about it which I find compelling. It’s not just the excess and waste and colossal self-indulgence on the part of director Cimino; it’s also the fact that all the money squandered on this non-story is actually visible up there on the screen. The movie is a dazzling tableaux of beautiful pictures, with precious-little to say about anything – a sort of Ryan’s Daughter for the Eighties. It was clear from Thunderbolt and Lightfoot that Cimino had an amazing visual sense, and that sense found itself married to both story and a great theme in The Deer Hunter. But Heaven’s Gate expresses a beautiful and empty pretentiousness which swamps story, chokes theme, and which loses any semblance of narrative concision. It did not “change Hollywood forever” as some contend (evidence: the recent films of James Cameron). But like Fitzcarraldo, its production made a better story than the film itself...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Don Siegel

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049366/

Silly, last-minute framing device aside, this was one of the best SF movies of the 50s, and one of the tightest and most suspenseful. It settles on the theme of urban paranoia (as Carpenter’s Thing would do to perfection in 1982), and wrings out eighty minutes of drama and suspense. Botched modern suspense flicks such as Open Water hack away limply in their amateurish attempts to achieve what Siegel appears to achieve here naturally, masterfully, effortlessly. There is even a political subtext and a cameo from Sam Peckinpah. Brilliant!

The King of Comedy (1982) Martin Scorsese

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085794/

This was the film that Scorsese made after Raging Bull, and it shows: after the sheer cinematic creativity, showiness and V10 grunt of the La Motta picture, this one is shot like a TV movie. But the appearance is extremely deceptive, for The King of Comedy could be construed as a remake of Taxi Driver. The inciting incident for Travis Bickle is getting a job as a cabbie and seeing “the scum of the city” in all its ugliness; for Rupert Pupkin, it’s the conversation with Jerry Langford in the back of the limo. Both are propelled on obsessive (and eventually illegal) missions – ideas taken to the extreme. Both are sociopaths at best, and psychopaths at worst. Taxi Driver is the more obvious “cult” film, but King of Comedy becomes so spooky and uncomfortable at times, that it enters the realms of horror. Pupkin is surely one of De Niro’s most effective (and perverse) creations – a horrible, selfish, obsequious little reptile. I know people who find this movie difficult to watch. The scene where Pupkin pesters the secretary to the point of incurring the wrath of the security guard, exploits the comedy of unease to perfection; this movie very much holds its own in Scorsese’s wider oeuvre.

Manhunter (1986) Michael Mann

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091474/

I think Michael Mann is one of the most interesting and effective directors working today. This is of little relevance to a “classic” forum, of course, but Manhunter, the first Hannibal Lecter film, is better than all the other (more recent) Thomas Harris adaptations put together, and certainly better than the ill-advised 2002 remake. It is stylish, taut, frightening, and the Dollarhyde character (Tom Noonan) is an imagery-fixated, convincingly damaged human-being, whose methods of dispatching his victims are genuinely macabre. The film is addictively enjoyable, thanks to the brilliantly-turned scenes, such as the famous moment when
It’s compelling storytelling which impinges on the police procedural genre too.

The Night of the Hunter (1956) Charles Laughton

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048424/

I have written about this recently in the forum, so again, I will not bore everyone with the repetition. But I reckon this is another film with “cult” written through it like a stick of rock. It inspires its following largely on account of the heavy-handed but eternally-memorable imagery, which burns itself acid-like onto the retina. The saccharine presence of Lillian Gish doesn’t quite spoil things...

Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) Sergio Leone

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064116/

This is the film that Leone did not want to make at the time because he felt he’d said everything about the western he’d wanted to say up to that point. Of course, the success of the Dollars trilogy meant that there was pressure to exploit the goose laying the golden eggs, so he made this movie – a famously operatic summation of genre clichés that (finally, after years of trying to get them), attracted top-flight Hollywood stars such as Henry Fonda and Jason Robards. It’s a triumphant achievement and one of the greatest westerns ever made, in my judgment. There is a beauty and scale to the Grand Design of the film that makes it an ideal 70mm Dolby Stereo experience; in a 1980s NFT season of “large scale” movies, it was screened along with Apocalypse Now, 2001, Heaven’s Gate and Bertolucci’s 1900. Finally, the film offers a textbook example of how to orchestrate drama from the juxtaposition of silence and noise, sound and images. Once Upon a Time in America was unable to better it.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Tobe Hooper

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072271/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0324216/

What really annoyed me about Open Water, was the fact that in its central scene of potential optimum terror, in which the two characters were bobbing up and down in complete darkness, illumined only by lightning flashes (along with tantalising glimpses of sharks), director Chris Kentis botched his opportunity. Instead of feeding his audience through twenty or thirty minutes of this suspenseful horror, he cut to daylight after about five minutes. With this silly, premature cut, he turned what would have been a classic horror debut, into just another fluffed attempt. The audience would even have tolerated the betrayal of the ending... Tobe Hooper did not show such incompetence thirty years ago. Indeed, in having Leatherface pursue Sally through the forest in darkness, he achieved the filming of the universal nightmare (another aspect of Kentis’ missed opportunity), and he did not let up: for the rest of the film’s running-time, he applied the pressure and accelerator right up to the concluding scene of Leatherface’s chainsaw-swinging rage in the last shot. Hooper did not water his film down at all: it remains relentless and uncompromising – a true “horror” film, even in its sensational title. Last year’s remake had its own shocks, but as with most attempts to redo the past, it did not even come close.

The Wicker Man (1973) Robin Hardy

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070917/

Christopher Lee thinks that this is one of the best British films ever made, and certainly the best he has worked on. It is certainly distinctive and enigmatic. Originally released on a double-bill with Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, it is a horror film, detective story and musical in one. The reconstructed version on the recent DVD package has one of my favourite moments in cinema – Lee sending Ash Buchanan to a virginity-losing night of passion with Willow, as two snails go at it hammer and tongs on a rhubarb leaf to the strains of Paul Giovanni and Burns’ “Gently Johnny”. This scene alone is perfection in my view; The Wicker Man is the total and complete cult film.

Anyway -- discuss!

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Old 10-09-2004, 15:15   #2
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I passionately disagree about "Heaven's Gate". Not only is it one of the greatest American films of the eighties, it's also one of the most eloquent statements in cinema about the role played by violence and intimidation in the creation of America. If that's not a fascinating and powerful theme, I don't know what is. If you pay attention, the story isn't swamped by anything, it's just told in a leisurely manner which is heavily reminiscent of Visconti and, particularly, Bertolucci's "1900". It's also heavily, explicitly political, something which it shares with very few mainstream American films in the early eighties ("Under Fire" and "Missing" spring to mind). It certainly doesn't have narrative concision, but the sprawling, epic scale of the story is one of the great things about the film - and what's most remarkable is how it boils down (like John Fowles' "The Magus") to a classically simple story about the terrible sadness of love and what it does to us. I don't think it's pretentious either. It knows what it wants to say and it says it quite clearly - albeit at great length.

I'm also not sure why you feel the need to quote David McKee (particularly one of his most uselessly self-evident observations) when you're quite obviously able to express yourself clearly without referencing other people.
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Old 10-09-2004, 15:45   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I'm also not sure why you feel the need to quote David McKee (particularly one of his most uselessly self-evident observations) when you're quite obviously able to express yourself clearly without referencing other people.
Errrr - - I don't particularly "feel the need" to do anything, but I sometimes use (and cite) sources I like. I will continue to do so, thank you very much! - is there a problem?

On a more serious note - I have a friend who expresses precisely the same view of Heaven's Gate as you. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere between us: it is probably not as muddled as I suggested above, but nor is it "the greatest American film of the 80s", or any such hyperbole. It is an attempt at greatness which achieves somewhat less than it aspires to...

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Old 10-09-2004, 16:11   #4
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To quote Umberto Eco, the pleasure in Casablanca lies in not watching a movie, but watching the movies.

I've never cared for it myself, and would take Kane over it anyday: they're emblematic of entirely different schools of (film-making) thought, IMHO. The pleasure of Casablanca (as I've always considered and propitiously Eco seems to agree with me) is the pleasure of repetition, of mediocrity, of genre, of star power, and of having a tiny little narrative fillip at the denouement to slightly set it apart.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR/eco.html

Heretical. Meh.
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Old 10-09-2004, 16:23   #5
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I watched all of the 2000 Get Carter remake. It was total torture and only increased my love of the original. The remake is a horribly-constructed mess and should never have been thought of. Unlike Get Carter the remake of The Italian Job was really quite good entertainment all in all. Mind you I never liked the original a great deal.

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Old 10-09-2004, 16:25   #6
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Umberto Eco ... emblematic ... propitiously Eco ... fillip .. denouement ... Heretical
One day you'll make a post that I can understand without the aid of a dictionary!
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Old 10-09-2004, 19:52   #7
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I'm slightly confused by your definition of "cult", DanWilde.

Quote:
Cult films are mainstream, exploitation (or indeed, any other) movies which have intense and loyal followings from a devoted group of fans (or "cults").
A mainstream film with an intense and loyal following from a devoted group of fans is known as a "popular film" or a "classic".

There's no way that Casablanca, Blade Runner, Once Upon A Time in the West, Get Carter, The Night of the Hunter and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie are "cult" movies - they're altogether too popular and well known.

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Old 10-09-2004, 20:28   #8
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Not sure about that, Jon. I'd argue that Star Wars has a cult following (admittedly a very big one) - they're the ones who watch the films repeatedly, buy the books, discuss the minutiae etc etc - as opposed to those people who simply enjoy watching the films every now and again.

I'd agree that Night of the Hunter and Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie are well known - to film fans at least - but popular? One is black and white and the other is subtitled!
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Old 10-09-2004, 20:57   #9
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Originally Posted by Mike
I passionately disagree about "Heaven's Gate". Not only is it one of the greatest American films of the eighties, it's also one of the most eloquent statements in cinema about the role played by violence and intimidation in the creation of America.

I'm with you. Heaven's Gate is a flawed but truly great film.
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Old 10-09-2004, 22:22   #10
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Old 10-09-2004, 22:29   #11
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Not sure about that, Jon. I'd argue that Star Wars has a cult following (admittedly a very big one) - they're the ones who watch the films repeatedly, buy the books, discuss the minutiae etc etc - as opposed to those people who simply enjoy watching the films every now and again.
By that definition then the Mad Max trilogy (looks like the fourth one is dead ) would qualify.

Just take a look at http://www.madmaxmovies.com and admire those great guys and gals who not only have the t-shirt but also the replica cars, the outfits, and practically everything else!!

Spending thousands converting an old 1970's Ford Falcon into a replica yellow or black on black Interceptor takes cult following dedication!
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Old 10-09-2004, 23:05   #12
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I suspect that the truth lies somewhere between us: it is probably not as muddled as I suggested above, but nor is it "the greatest American film of the 80s", or any such hyperbole. It is an attempt at greatness which achieves somewhat less than it aspires to...

No, it's one of the greatest American films of the 80s. I never said it was THE greatest, although it's considerably better than most of the product of that decade. You haven't addressed the central point I made - that a film which you say has no theme is in fact very directly about something absolutely central to the American experience. In fact, it achieves exactly, and very specifically, what it aspires to - on a scale undreamed of by most films, many of which may be formally tidier or more 'concise' (although when concision became an a priori virtue I don't know) but which have little of the scope or moral vision of Cimino's folly.

Also, on the subject of "Once Upon A Time In The West", why on earth would anyone who loves and respects the film want to see it blown up to 70MM and remixed in Dolby Stereo ? It was made in 35MM Techniscope and mono and that's exactly how it should be shown. Anything else is artistic butchery. You might as well say that you want to see "Citizen Kane" in colour.
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Old 10-09-2004, 23:10   #13
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Mad Max 2, rocky horror, videodrome, donnie darko, barton fink (? I imagine it has), alphaville.
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Old 11-09-2004, 06:39   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I suspect that the truth lies somewhere between us: it is probably not as muddled as I suggested above, but nor is it "the greatest American film of the 80s", or any such hyperbole. It is an attempt at greatness which achieves somewhat less than it aspires to...

No, it's one of the greatest American films of the 80s. I never said it was THE greatest, although it's considerably better than most of the product of that decade. You haven't addressed the central point I made - that a film which you say has no theme is in fact very directly about something absolutely central to the American experience. In fact, it achieves exactly, and very specifically, what it aspires to - on a scale undreamed of by most films, many of which may be formally tidier or more 'concise' (although when concision became an a priori virtue I don't know) but which have little of the scope or moral vision of Cimino's folly.

Also, on the subject of "Once Upon A Time In The West", why on earth would anyone who loves and respects the film want to see it blown up to 70MM and remixed in Dolby Stereo ? It was made in 35MM Techniscope and mono and that's exactly how it should be shown. Anything else is artistic butchery. You might as well say that you want to see "Citizen Kane" in colour.
Seems to me you are indulging in preciousness and pedantry, Mike. We can agree to disagree about Cimino's film (and in fairness, I have not seen it for a while and am due for a re-screening, where I can reassess it). But the rest of your post is very angry - no idea why. The NFT showed Leone's film in 70mm in about 1985. Why this (among other points I made in that post) should set you off, is a mystery to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narshty
I'm slightly confused by your definition of "cult", DanWilde.


A mainstream film with an intense and loyal following from a devoted group of fans is known as a "popular film" or a "classic".

There's no way that Casablanca, Blade Runner, Once Upon A Time in the West, Get Carter, The Night of the Hunter and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie are "cult" movies - they're altogether too popular and well known.
In the same spirit I was replying to Mike, it's perhaps a bit of a cul de sac, arguing about definitions. I think we all probably know what we mean by "cult", though I disagree with your contention that cult cannot also be popular or classic. That simply makes no sense. How about the following:

My understanding of “cult cinema”, focuses on films which may not have been popular on their first issue, but which have developed devoted and even obsessive followings over the years. Perhaps they are flawed or unorthodox in one way or another – for instance, the ill-formed oddball offspring of auteurs (Marnie), or maybe they are low-budget flicks which have developed a large, if genre-related, following (the early works of John Carpenter). Perhaps certain films are so weird that only a devoted few could fall in love with them (Eraserhead)...

Popular films can become cults. The key example is Star Wars. Many people in the 2001 census listed their religion as "Jedi", for heaven's sake. How much more obsessive can a fan get??

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Old 11-09-2004, 08:22   #15
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Seems to me you are indulging in preciousness and pedantry, Mike. We can agree to disagree about Cimino's film (and in fairness, I have not seen it for a while and am due for a re-screening, where I can reassess it). But the rest of your post is very angry - no idea why. The NFT showed Leone's film in 70mm in about 1985. Why this (among other points I made in that post) should set you off, is a mystery to me.


In the same spirit I was replying to Mike, it's perhaps a bit of a cul de sac, arguing about definitions. I think we all probably know what we mean by "cult", though I disagree with your contention that cult cannot also be popular or classic. That simply makes no sense. How about the following:

My understanding of “cult cinema”, focuses on films which may not have been popular on their first issue, but which have developed devoted and even obsessive followings over the years. Perhaps they are flawed or unorthodox in one way or another – for instance, the ill-formed oddball offspring of auteurs (Marnie), or maybe they are low-budget flicks which have developed a large, if genre-related, following (the early works of John Carpenter). Perhaps certain films are so weird that only a devoted few could fall in love with them (Eraserhead)...

Popular films can become cults. The key example is Star Wars. Many people in the 2001 census listed their religion as "Jedi", for heaven's sake. How much more obsessive can a fan get??
I thought many people did it as a dig against HM Government? A rather sad one at that. I would guess that many people (myself included) would be atheist.

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Old 11-09-2004, 08:27   #16
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I thought many people did it as a dig against HM Government? A rather sad one at that. I would guess that many people (myself included) would be atheist.
Of course - and a well-deserved dig.
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Old 11-09-2004, 11:05   #17
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The NFT showed Leone's film in 70mm in about 1985. Why this (among other points I made in that post) should set you off, is a mystery to me.

I'm not remotely angry so I'm sorry if I gave that impression. But my point is that blowing up a 35MM film to 70MM strikes me as a pointless exercise in messing about with an original for no particularly good reason, and some sound engineer turning a mono soundtrack into Stereo is just as bad as colourising a film. This isn't pedantry, it's a heartfelt desire to see films as they are made and not in a distorted form. I've seen OUATITW three times at the NFT and each time it was shown correctly, hence my puzzlement at the reference to 70MM and Stereo in your post which is otherwise so enthusiastic and respectful about Leone's film.
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Old 11-09-2004, 12:03   #18
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The NFT showed Leone's film in 70mm in about 1985. Why this (among other points I made in that post) should set you off, is a mystery to me.

I'm not remotely angry so I'm sorry if I gave that impression. But my point is that blowing up a 35MM film to 70MM strikes me as a pointless exercise in messing about with an original for no particularly good reason, and some sound engineer turning a mono soundtrack into Stereo is just as bad as colourising a film. This isn't pedantry, it's a heartfelt desire to see films as they are made and not in a distorted form. I've seen OUATITW three times at the NFT and each time it was shown correctly, hence my puzzlement at the reference to 70MM and Stereo in your post which is otherwise so enthusiastic and respectful about Leone's film.
Yep -- it is puzzling. I still have the NFT programme for that month, somewhere. I must dig it up... I agree with you: the idea of tampering with a film's original form in any way, is appalling. Even the endless fiddlings with the original Star Wars films irritate me. Why can't Lucas just leave 'em alone?
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Old 11-09-2004, 12:36   #19
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Again, apologies for being aggressive. I did genuinely enjoy your observations and I agree with a lot more than I disagree with
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Old 11-09-2004, 13:05   #20
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By that definition then the Mad Max trilogy (looks like the fourth one is dead ) would qualify.

!
I'd say so - or at least the first two of them. When Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome came out, I remember a lot of people complaining that Miller had "commercialised" it - i.e. cut down on the action and violence and added ("Spielbergised it" one friend of mine said) the scenes with the kids. I thought at the time "Well it was hardly an arthouse movie in the first place". Hence the distinction between hardcore fans and people who simply just enjoy watching it now and again. It can be a fine line, but with films like these it's there.

Same with Blade Runner - not an especially popular film on its first release, but one which has grown in reputation and popularity largely due to the advocacy of its cult following. The hardcore fans (and I know/knew several) are those who do things like working out which of the characters are really replicants - they're the ones seen with copper discs in their eyes in at least one shot.
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