8:00 PM, 27th February, 2004
Set during the Napoleonic wars, Jack Aubrey (Crowe), captain of the H.M.S. Surprise, a British frigate, does battle with a mysterious French privateer off the coast of South America. Great performances by Crowe and Bettany (ship's surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin) under the masterful Weir. This is a terrific story. A swashbuckling adventure tale in the old style: a carefully paced cat and mouse game as the larger and more heavily gunned Frenchman is doggedly pursued by the damaged frigate - all dealt with in classic Brit Navy style by the resolute Aubrey. During the chase, Aubrey crosses swords intellectually with close friend Maturin, rousing his men with calls such as: "Do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly? Do you want your children to grow up singing the 'Marseillaise'?" A classic tale which recreates the world of the early 19th century man o' war in exquisite realism, without the dry cleaned and starched, spick and span-uniformed sea dogs of earlier Hollywood attempts. As the tension mounts in the tiny ship, becalmed in the humid tropical seas, in a foggy, airless, claustrophobic atmosphere, the viewer can fairly feel the discomfort of Jack and his crew in their clammy, sweat-stained gear, as we struggle against the urge to wipe our own brow.
9:00 PM, 27th February, 2004
Battleship Potemkin stands as one of the greatest films of silent cinema. Initially meant as a piece of Soviet propaganda, the film is now recognised as a masterpiece of early cinema. The genius behind this film was the Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Having completed earlier communist-friendly epics depicting the Russian revolution, Eisenstein was given much more time and money to complete this epic. Battleship Potemkin is actually not that far removed from Eisenstein's previous subject matter. The plot tells of a group of Soviet sailors who rebel against the evil capitalist powers that control them. The plot is fairly unimportant; however, as the big draw card is the look of the film. Using revolutionary film techniques, Eisenstein marked himself as a master of camera angles and editing, the "steps of Odessa" sequence being widely quoted as the best example of his skill - Brian De Palma would later rip off this shot for The Untouchables. This is only the most obvious of the film's influence, many film directors today quote Eisenstein as an influence: from big-budget filmmakers (e.g. Steven Spielberg) to Indie artists (Darren Aronofsky). Eisenstein's first masterpiece (he would go on to make both Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible), this film is one of the most important silent films ever.