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Director: Bill Meléndez
Release date: December 4, 1969
Stars: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus van Pelt, Schroeder, e.o.
Rating:  ★★★★★
Review:

A Boy Named Charlie Brown © Lee Mendelson FilmsMade after six television specials, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is Meléndez’ first feature film about the Peanuts gang.

It is a film with a slow, but steady pace: unhurried, yet not too slow. Being totally relaxed, the film takes a long time to introduce the characters, citing a lot of Peanut comic strip gags, and showing Charlie Brown’s troubles in flying kites and playing baseball. Only after 30 minutes the head story kicks in, when Charlie Brown enters a spelling bee.

The laid-back feel of the film is further enhanced by two surprising musical numbers: Snoopy’s playing of the American National Anthem and Schroeder’s playing of the complete second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata pathétique, which is arguably the film’s highlight. Snoopy receives a fair deal of screen-time, and two of his fantasies are shown: him as a pilot in World War I and as a skater in Holland and in an ice-hockey game. Nevertheless, the story remains with Charlie Brown and his doomed attempt to gain respect. His frustrations and failure are funny, but remain genuine and heartfelt. This focus make the film a well-made tribute to Charles M. Schulz’s strip of the early 1960s, when Charlie Brown’s frustrations were the strip’s main focal point.

Overall, the designs are gorgeous, especially in the musical interludes, which feature bold, colorful images. The jazzy score, too, is a delight, and enhances the film’s unique atmosphere. In all, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is a great film which has a typical 1960s feel without ever getting cheap.

Watch ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1969
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Don Juan © Jan SvankmajerIn ‘Don Juan’ Švankmajer’s retells a classic tale from the marionette theater.

The story unfolds in half an hour: Don Juan is a rogue who kills his father, the father of his beloved and his own brother, only to be taken into the depths off hell.

Oddly enough the film is enacted by people dressed as marionettes and behaving accordingly. This allows the marionettes to leave the theater and to perform in the real world, which is strangely intermingled with the marionette theater. This blend of the real and the artificial gives the film a weird and disturbing atmosphere. Švankmajer would reuse and improve upon this mix in his masterpiece, the feature film ‘Faust’ (1994).

This film contains hardly any animation, and may therefore not be included in this blog. However, it takes a central part in Švankmajer’s oeuvre, who has always blended several different techniques into his works. It’s best to review his oeuvre as a whole, being animated or not.

Watch ‘Don Šajn’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://vdownload.eu/watch/12204836-jan-svankmajer-%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BD-%D0%B6%D1%83%D0%B0%D0%BD-don-352-ajn-don-juan-1969.html

 

‘Don Šajn’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1969
Rating: ★★
Review:

A Quiet Week in the House © Jan Svankmajer‘A Quiet Week in the House’ is the last film in a series of four involving people facing surreal settings, which Švankmajer made in 1968-1969.

in this film a fugitive seeks shelter in an abandoned house. Every day he digs a hole in one of the doors of the corridor in which he sleeps. Every day he looks through the hole to watch weird surrealistic images of inanimate things behaving strangely. After a week he sets up a device to blow up all doors.

The live action footage is shot in black-and-white, and is accompanied by the sound of a camera. The surrealistic images, on the other hand, are shot in color and completely silent. Unfortunately, the film is too long, and it fails to be as impressive as related films like ‘The flat’ (1968) or ‘Jabberwocky‘ (1971), being neither completely disturbing nor very entertaining. ‘A Quiet Week in the House’ remains one of Švankmajer’s rare weak films.

Watch ‘A Quiet Week in the House’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘A Quiet Week in the House’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

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