Friday, August 06, 2010

Arty Farty Film Makers ~ Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa.

"If I said Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, what would first come to mind?" I asked my husband.

His response, "Art films".

"Good! I thought you might say foreign films. Arty Farty film makers this Friday then!"

Definition of an art film: a cinematic film intended to be an artistic work rather than a commercial film having mass appeal. I'm as far from an expert on art films as you can get. I'll wander art galleries filled with abstract, surrealist and modern art in general, and enjoy the experience, but sit me down with an art film and I'll be restless and complaining about pretention, elitism and experiencing boredom within the first 20 minutes. I can still investigate the astrology of three of the biggest names in the art film genre though. Their natal charts are shown together below, for easier comparison.

The three guys I named were all foreign to the USA, and the UK, as it happens.
Art films were the speciality of foreign directors back in the 1950s and 60s. Not many of these filtered through to the town where I grew up. Censorship prevented wide circulation of the movies in the UK, early on. In the USA anything vaguely "furrin" was encountered with paranoia, suspicions that it may reek of, and spread, communism or at least "pinko" sentiments. I do recall seeing a French movie La Ronde in my early teens, before I was supposed to be allowed in to an "X" rated film. I'm not sure whether this could be classed as an art film or not -but I wasn't impressed either way.

So then: Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa. In alphabetical order, with minimal biographical notes, and links to further bio and filmography. I shall try to spot any differences in style or focus before looking at the natal charts.

Ingmar Bergman, born in Sweden, son of a strict Lutheran minister. His movies deal with relationships, psychological conflict, pain, death, spirituality. He uses facial close-ups a lot. For Bergman, focus on face, or hand allows the camera to reveal the inner aspects of human emotion. In his autobiography, Bergman claimed that he was always trying to generate his mother's face .
"No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul." Ingmar Bergman
Link to Bergman at Internet Movie Database

Federico Fellini born in Rimini, Italy. His movies center on his life experiences, the women who both attracted and frightened him, and on an Italy dominated in his youth by Mussolini and Pope Pius XII. Fellini started recording his ideas and dreams in notebooks in the 1960s. Life and dreams were raw material for his films. From my limited experience in this genre I'd say that Fellini's movies are lighter and brighter than Bergman's - more whacky too, more outlandishly artistic than sensitively so.

"Everyone lives in his own fantasy world, but most people don't understand that. No one perceives the real world. Each person simply call his private, personal fantasies the Truth. The difference is that I know I live in a fantasy world. I prefer it that way and resent anything that disturbs my vision." (Fellini in I, Fellini, ed. by Charlotte Chandler, 1995)
Fellini at IMDb

Akira Kurosawa was born in Tokyo, seventh child of a strict soldier-father. His early loves were oil painting and literature, including the Western writing, influential in Japan. These interests became important throughout his film career. The painter's eye is obvious in his films, especially in the sumptuous later ones. Kurosawa adapted film plots from Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and detective writer Ed McBain. He stumbled into the movie business as a young assistant director and scenario writer, directing his first film at age 33. Kurosawa's style would fit somewhere between Bergman's seriously depressing introversion, and Fellini's eccentric and colorful visions. Hauntingly beautiful presentation, rather than introversion, shock value or eccentricity is his focus.

"People today have forgotten they're really just a part of nature. Yet, they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don't understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. Yet they're so proud of their inventions. What's worse, most people are, too. They view them as if they were miracles. They worship them. They don't know it, but they're losing nature. They don't see that they're going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water."— Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa at IMDb

Natal charts with data from Astrodatabank follow, click on them to enlarge. What ought to stand out is an emphasis on Neptune, said to rule photography and film. Also a strong arty Venus, possibly eccentric Uranus in Fellini's case. Let's see:

BERGMAN: If time of birth is accurate, Neptune conjunct Mercury and Saturn lies at midheaven - one of the strongest points in a natal chart. Venus sextiles this cluster from Gemini. Moon in Libra, sign ruled by Venus also sextiles Neptune.

FELLINI: Neptune conjunct Jupiter in Leo = planet of film & creativity blended with planet of exaggeration and publication! Venus (art) in Sagittarius lay in harmonious trine to these planets. Sun and Uranus form a semi-sextile at 29 degrees of Capricorn and Aquarius, blending the business sense of Capricorn with the eccentricity of Uranus.

KUROSAWA: If 12 noon time of birth is correct (I guess someobody has to be born at noon) Neptune lay very close to the ascendant degree - the strongest point in the natal chart. Other than that, there's not as much of significance here as in the other 2 charts. A T-square links an opposition from Neptune to Uranus with squares to Saturn = film/creativity, avant garde and work or business connected in a challenging way. This could reflect difficulties encountered in his homeland, where he was not originally as well appreciated as he is in the West. His experimental (Uranus) work may have been before its time for Japan.

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