Sunday, 31 October 2010

Canterbury Cathedral- An example of Gothic Architecture

 During my Foundation Year in Canterbury I was honered to visit Canterbury Cathedral an outstanding example of Gothic Architecture which is the kind of style i need to work on for the current project. I was amazed by its interior and exterior beauty and was upset I only got to visit it just once even though I lived in Canterbury for a whole year. Here are some pictures from my visit there last May.


 Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest Christian churches in England and it continues to play a central role in English Christianity. Originally founded in 602 AD by St. Augustine, it still functions as the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The exterior of Canterbury Cathedral immediately impresses by its size, but also rewards closer attention to its details. Viewed directly from the south, the abrupt change from Romanesque to Gothic is clearly evident - to the right (east) are round arches, blind arcades, and rough surfaces; to the left are the abundant pointed arches and pinnacles of the Gothic nave.
Decorating the Romanesque exterior are intertwined blind arches embellished with decoratively carved columns and figurative capitals, all of which date from Archbishop Anselm's reconstruction around 1120. Many of the capitals are weathered beyond recognition, but others still clearly display proud Green Men and other interesting medieval characters.


Director: Fritz Lang
Producer: Erich Pommer
Cast: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Frochlich, Rudolph Klein-Rogge
year: 1927

Like the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis is one of the landmarks of cinema at the begging of the 20th century. It was a film a lot further from its time and influenced most modern concept artists and science fiction movies. Apart from the exquisite visualisations the film explores the social crisis between workers and owners in Capitalism. In this huge futuristic city, with airplanes flying among the huge skyscrapers, the owners or 'bosses' live a luxurious life ignoring the fact that beneath them lives a huge number of workers who basically run the city's power and keep it alive. One of the workers is Maria who, I believe is the strongest and most distinctive character in the film and has the vision of workers bonding with the leaders of the city. She is the symbol of hope to the desperate workers who supports them and encourages them not to go against the planners of the city but create a pacific relationship between the two sharp divided classes.

She could even be described as Savior, a character that stemmed from the Bible, a modern Jesus. She was actually playing the same role as Him advising the less fortunate people and sustaining their faith for a better future. Even the way she was dressed showed a modest character, untouched but still a strong leader which reminded me of Holy Virgin Mary.
In terms of visual appearance the film was outstanding, a remarkable achievement. It didn't give me at all the impression it was made about 80 years ago and certainly gave me an exciting trip to the mysterious high-tech future. The special effects and architectural designs still impress audiences with their visual impact. I believe if the film was in colour and in better quality it would 
equally be as good as any other modern one- or maybe even better.

'Building on earlier science fiction and endlessly influential on later works, Lang’s film is a mammoth marvel, fusing modernism and expressionism, art deco and Biblical spectacle, Wagnerian bombast, sentimental Marxism and religiose millenarianism. Sit close to a big screen and submit to the machine.'

Brigitte Helm ( maria) as a robot really reminded me of robots in modern films like I robot or The Bicentennial Man where human features are dominant along with the facial features.
I was also amazed by the music of this movie as it was as breathtaking as the movie itself and matched perfectly with whatever was depicted.

'Once you adjust your mind to these elements you soon realise that ‘Metropolis’ is still very much a masterpiece. The film contains imagery which, even to a modern audience who eyeballs have been force fed on CGI, remains astonishing, iconic and timeless.'



Director: Robert Wiene
Producer:  Rudolf Meinert
Cast: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Fredriech Feher, Lil Dangover, Hans Twardofwski
Year: 1920

I was never interested in watching a silent film as I consider them slow and out of date. I am very happy though I had the opportunity to watch The Cabinets of Dr. Caligari which is one of the most remarkable expressionist films of the century. 
'What is incontrovertible is that The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is an Expressionist film. But to what extent? Expressionism was a movement in the arts beginning before World War 1. It involved painters whose work was characterized by subjectivism, emotionalism and anti-naturalism.'
The film is a proof that we don't always have to depend on reality to create something visually beautiful.I am now fully aware of the influences this film had in so many areas of modern culture and have a different aspect towards silent films.
What mostly captured my interest was the stunning visualisations which are more experimental than any  others coming out today.The settings are painted on a blank canvas - even some of the shadows in some scenes were handmade! Asymmetry is dominant in the whole film as well as impossible angled buildings and furniture. The tilted walls and windows along with the spikey trees and grass captures the viewer's interest. Basically the whole scenery seems like a twisted Wonderland which looks as if it came out of a mad person's head. Yet brainsick, this is what  names the film a landmark of modern horror films.
Even the characters fitted perfectly this mad world. Tall, skinny people with sunken eyes was their main characteristics . The acting was a bit overdone and the face expressions exaggerated but this blended nicely with the already frantic atmosphere. One of the modern filmakers that has certainly been influenced by this film is Tim Burton. There is no doubt that Tim Burton borrowed Cesar's model for Edward Scissorhands. As it was said: 'All of the principals involved have long since passed on, but the influence of Caligari continues. Besides giving visual ideas to Tim Burton, its themes are echoed in many of David Cronenberg's works, and it is acknowledged as the first horror film, parent of an entire genre. By today's standards, parts of it may seem clunky and quaint, but overall it stands up, and deserves to be seen by any student -- or fan -- of film.'


Note: Following Phil's advice I avoided describing the story in this review and just focused on analysing it.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A visit to the Chislehurst caves

When I first read through the Pit and the Pendalum the first thing that came in mind was an underground gloomy prison. I remembered visiting a similar place ages ago when I was very young which was in Chislehurst Caves. I visited them once again today to give me more inspiration for this project. It was much fun and it surely gave me the feeling how it is to be left in a claustrophobic place.