Sweet and Low: Ken Loach
One of the director's of '11'09''01 - September 11' chooses his best and worst scenes of all time
Friday 17 January 2003
A Blonde in Love (Milos Forman, 1965)
The film is set in a small town in Czechoslovakia. There's a large group of girls working in local factory. One day they hear that a platoon of soldiers is arriving in town, causing a flurry of excitement. But the soldiers don't quite live up to expectations – rather than being young, beautiful and gallant, they are middle-aged and weary-looking. The soldiers do their best to chat up the girls who in turn look utterly dismayed. There's this wonderful scene where one of the men is preparing to approach Andula, the blonde of the title, but before he does he must get his wedding ring off his finger. It comes off quicker than he expects, falls under the table and rolls to the feet of the girls. It's beautifully observed and moving yet extremely funny at the same time. Foreman has a keen eye for subtlety. The scene's shot in an understated way and played out very gently. It's one of the most humane pieces of film I've ever seen.
Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott, 2002)
Almost any battle scene in this film would count as my worst since it depicts American men shooting guns in a would-be glamorous way.Black Hawk Down depicts the events in Mogadishu in 1993 that saw US soldiers stranded behind enemy lines. It's full of Americans who have names and fully developed characters shooting at Somalis who remain anonymous. Since the Somalis are a different race, they're not deemed worthy of an identity. There are hundreds of these scenes in cinema now. They represent all that's appalling about the US and it's vision of itself as the world's policeman when in fact it's the world's terrorist. The violence goes hand in hand with appalling sentimentality. It's an emblem of all that's disgusting in contemporary America and in the world.
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