The Beast deeply laments the passing this week of Alain Resnais. He was 91, his final film having premiered at Berlin just last month. In 1955, before Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year in Marienbad, those features that assured his international reputation, Renais made a number of shorter films (on Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso’s Guernica, on plastic, among others). The greatest of them (notwithstanding Lanzmann’s monumental Shoah) remains the most significant Holocaust documentary of them all: Night and Fog. Nuit et Brouillard: in its brief thirty minutes of almost unbearable eloquence — of both sight and sound— it stands supreme. Its importance to world cinema only grows with time.
More fleetingly, and but a day after Renais’ death, Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had its annual say. Its choice of the year’s Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave, is the subject of this edition’s lead article. Is their judgment debatable? Isn’t it always? Both older and newer than cinema, another visual genre of remarkable achievement —three-dimensional street art— gets an airing here too in an attention-grabbing photo essay.
The edition (our 33rd) also includes two looks at the seemingly intractable Israeli/Palestinian dilemma, by Ellis Douek and Leonard Quart, respectively. Philip Hogge takes us aboard a sailing vessel during several tempestuous hours. And we conclude with Part 2 of David Rankin’s two-part “Memories of an Irish Catholic Boyhood.”
Please enjoy them all.
And while he’s not with us this time around, the Beast is very happy to announce the publication of Daniel Snowman’s new biography of Giuseppe Verdi, published by The History Press. The champagne is poured. For more information, see http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/general-history-books/pocket-giants/giuseppe-verdi-pocket-giants.html