Good: 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' (Jacques Demy, 1964)
In Cherbourg, during the decolonization war in Algeria, two young people, Genevieve and Guy, are in love. But Guy has to join the army and they'll be separated for two years. The perfect scene is their farewell, when they spend their last moments together at the railway station. She doesn't want him to go; he doesn't want her to cry. They sing the most moving melody you ever heard. On the platform alongside the train they start walking and the backward camera movement accompanies their walk. Suddenly, the train starts and Guy jumps into the coach. The camera is still moving backward at the same speed as the train. For a while you can imagine that the cameraman also jumped on to the train, but quickly the train moves faster: Guy disappears and soon the last coach leaves the picture. Genevieve remains alone. She turns and walks away. These shots, so difficult to achieve but also simple, make you feel that the characters love each other deeply, but that they'll never meet again.
Bad: 'Dancer in the Dark' (Lars von Trier, 2000)
This is a musical film, as is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The director used "one hundred" cameras, but when you see the film it gets on your nerves because the shots are so short and he used some ugly shooting angles. There's one scene when all the characters dance in the fabric. The noises of the factory machines provide the rhythm until the music takes over. Then there's a great high-angle long shot of the fabric with everybody dancing. Unfortunately that shot is so short that you feel frustrated.You were waiting for a brilliant scene. Instead there are so many short shots that even the nice ones contribute to it looking like a lousy video clip.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies