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La Notte
This psychologically acute, visually striking modernist work was director Michelangelo Antonioni's follow-up to the epochal L'avventura. Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau star as a novelist and his frustrated wife, who, over the course of one night, confront their alienation from each other and the achingly empty bourgeois Milan circles in…
The Private Life of Henry VIII
Part of the Series: The Criterion British Collection
Charles Laughton gulps beer and chomps on mutton, in his first of many iconic screen roles, as King Henry VIII, the ultimate anti-husband. Alexander Korda's first major international success is a raucous, entertaining, even poignant peek into the boudoirs of the infamous king and his six wives. Additional Reading: http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1133-eclipse-series-16-alexander-korda-s-private-lives
The Rise of Catherine the Great
Part of the Series: The Criterion British Collection
A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia. With its luxurious renderings of the eighteenth-century St. Petersburg…
Master of the House
Before he turned to the story of Joan of Arc, the Danish cinema genius Carl Theodor Dreyer fashioned this ahead-of-its-time examination of domestic life. A deft comedy of gentle revenge, it is the story of a housewife who, with the help of a wily nanny, turns the tables on her…
Breaking the Waves
Lars von Trier became an international sensation with this galvanizing realist fable about sex and spiritual transcendence. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Emily Watson stuns as Bess, a simple, pious newlywed in a tiny Scottish village who gives herself up to a shocking form of martyrdom after her husband (Stellan Skarsgard)…
The Flowers of St. Francis
In a series of simple and joyous vignettes, director Roberto Rossellini and co-writer Federico Fellini lovingly convey the universal teachings of the People's Saint: humility, compassion, faith, and sacrifice. Gorgeously photographed to evoke the medieval paintings of Saint Francis's time, and cast with monks from the Nocera Inferiore Monastery, The…
La bete humaine
Based on the classic Emile Zola novel, Jean Renoir's La bete humaine was one of the legendary director's greatest popular successes--and earned star Jean Gabin a permanent place in the hearts of his countrymen. Part poetic realism, part film noir, the film is a hard-boiled and suspenseful journey into the…
Double Suicide
Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a Bunraku puppet play (featuring the music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his…
The Double Life of Veronique
Krzysztof Kieslowski's international breakthrough remains one of his most beloved films, a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition. Irene Jacob is incandescent as both Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Veronique, a French music teacher. Though unknown to each other, the two women share an…
A Story of Floating Weeds
In 1959, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent classic A Story of Floating Weeds in color with the celebrated cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu). Setting his later version in a seaside location, Ozu otherwise preserves the details of his elegantly simple plot wherein an aging actor returns to a small…
The Home and the World
Both a romantic-triangle tale and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution, The Home and the World (Ghare Baire), set in early twentieth-century Bengal, concerns an aristocratic but progressive man who, in insisting on broadening his more traditional wife's political horizons, drives her into the arms of his…
Mamma Roma
Anna Magnani is Mamma Roma, a middle-aged prostitute who attempts to extricate herself from her sordid past for the sake of her son. Filmed in the great tradition of Italian neorealism, Mamma Roma offers an unflinching look at the struggle for survival in postwar Italy, and highlights director Pier Paolo…