Official Nominations: Day For Night. The House On Chelouche Street. L’Invitation. The Pedestrian. Turkish Delight.
Day For Night saw Truffaut win his Oscar – it’s certainly accessible and one of his most popular films, dealing with the lives of a group of people struggling to make a film and filled with soap opera sentiment with love, secrets, sex, jealousy etc. It’s fine but there’s a better film here. We have another token Israeli nomination in The House On Chelouche Street (these films are incredibly difficult to find) which features a family living with loss and war on their doorstep – a mother trying to cope with grief, with her family growing up and whether or not she should remarry, a son joining a military force and falling in love – it’s one of those films. Nothing really happens in L’Invitation to warrant a nomination, while The Pedestrian sees Max Schell direct a film concerning a war criminal’s past catching up with them and being forced into a trial. My winner is of course going to be Turkish Delight – Paul Verhoeven’s first film of note, and one filled with sex and violence – something he would of course return to with increasing ferocity over the course of his career. Here it is almost tame, but all the more compelling in its realism – there isn’t much satire or fantasy here, just a portrait of a relationship hindered by mental illness and jealousy.
My Winner: Turkish Delight
My Nominations: Turkish Delight. Amarcord. Battles Without Honour And Humanity. Don’t Look Now. Live And Let Die. The Wicker Man
I’m only bringing my winner over to my category so that I have more space for some of the other greats this year. Amarcord gets nominated here – it would win the Oscar next year, Fellini at his most egotistical and self-deprecating getting a bunch of amateurs to tell a semi-real version of his youth. Does Live And Let Die really qualify as a foreign film? In my book it does, and as it is one of my favourite Bond films you’d better believe it’s getting nominated here. To be fair, the average cinema goer is going to want to watch this as a foreign movie over any number of Fellini or Kurosawa or whoever movies. Battles Without Honour And Humanity is Kinji Fukasaku’s first masterpiece – a brutal and damning depiction of Yakuza life over many years. It’s massively influential, at least in terms of Japanese Cinema, and it’s brilliant.
It’s back to The UK for my final two entries. Don’t Look Now actually, famously takes place mostly in Venice – the streets and canals taking on a sinister feel as Roeg’s mesmeric direction twists, confounds, and envelops. It’s one of the more unique horror movies ever – Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie have recently lost their daughter in a drowning accident, something which takes an expected mental toll. They take a trip to Venice and cope in different ways – Christie hangs with psychics and becomes withdrawn while Sutherland becomes obsessed with his work and various visions or appearances including a child in a red coat similar to how his daughter appeared. There’s some great editing here, and of course a shocking finale.
With arguably the most shocking finale of all, The Wicker Man is just as mesmeric and haunting, with a tonne of striking imagery and a bizarre, hypnotic tone which draws you in and keeps you in a haze. It goes without saying that you should see this before the Nic Cage abomination. It follows Edward Woodward as an upstanding, uptight, religious copper investigating the disappearance of a little girl on a Scottish Island called Summerisle. The island appears to be filled with hippy types and everybody either laughs of or hinders the investigation while engaging in various pagan acts which disturb Woodward’s Christian beliefs. I’d loved to have seen this at the time of release and you should try to go into it knowing as little about it as possible. Just know it’s one of the bets horror movies ever.
My Winner: The Wicker Man
Let us know which film you pick as the Best Foreign Film of 1973!