Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pressburger:Ballet :: Macdonald:YouTube

I saw the YouTube/National Geographic documentary Life in a Day at the Balboa last week.

Life in a Day; documentary; directed by Kevin Macdonald; (2011) - Official Website

Life in a Day basically asked people around the world to capture a moment of their day and post it to YouTube. The specific day was July 24, 2010. More than 80,000 videos and 4,500 hours of footage was posted. Macdonald and Editor Joe Walker edited the footage into a 90 minute film.

The experience reminded me of eating potato chips. It tasted good at the time, it left me feeling empty afterwards and a week later I can't remember anything specific. That's not entirely true. I remember the Korean bicyclist who was trying to bike in a every country in the world. I remember the Japanese widower with a young son in a cluttered house. I remember some toe-tapping music played to the beat of some African woman pounding grain with a hooked shape mallet. There was a some people in a German crowd who were stampeded or past out from the pressure of the human mass.

The mishmash of clips seemed to be a sort of video time capsule for July 24, 2010. Did July 24 deserve a time capsule? I don't know. Were these clips representative?. Certainly nothing I saw on the screen reminded me of what I was doing last summer.

Although interesting to watch; the entire experience left me shrugging my shoulders.


Kevin Macdonald is the grandson of Emeric Pressburger (who with his production partner Michael Powell was), one of the most successful film directors in England in the post-WWII era. I previously enjoyed the duo's Black Narcissus with Deborah Kerr.

The weekend before Life in a Day, the Balboa screened a six film series called From Britain With Love. Although not part of the official series, the Balboa screened The Red Shoes in conjunction.

The Red Shoes; directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; based on a Hans Christian Andersen story; (1948)

The Red Shoes is set in the world of ballet. A young woman is torn between her love for her husband (a composer) and her need to dance the part that is a perfect role for her.

The Red Shoes was included in the program because its cinematographer was Jack Cardiff and on the From Britain With Love films was the documentary, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff. The cinematography during the ballet performances was spectacular. In fact, it overshadowed the rest of the film. Austrian born Anton Walbrook as the hard-driving ballet company director was memorable. His accented English added something to his character. The main character, Vicki the prima ballerina, was portrayed by Moira Shearer, a Scottish dancer with red hair to match her shoes. I'm not an afficionado of ballet so I can't comment on Shearer's dance performance but her acting was serviceable.

All in all, The Red Shoes was a nice film. It was very British. I can't put my finger on it but it reminds me of a film you'd see on PBS which has a very specific connotation from my youth.

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes

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