Sunday, February 26, 2012

800th post!

Hard to believe it but this is the 800th post I've done on CineRobot! I started the blog in June of 2005 with a post about Brooke Adams and my cinematic crush that I was developing for her [and her eyebrows]. It's kind of amazing the amount of content that can accumulate on something like this. I have enough material to publish in book form if I were slightly more ambitious. After my short post on Adams, my second post was about how I loved to see wheat on the movie screen and two films with great wheat action [yes, it can happen]. Since I've got a lot of new and different readers now vs 2005, I'm going to re-post a few of my favorite posts from the early days of CineRobot to spread them out to the world once again. Even if you've read it, these are worth seeing again. It's kind of lazy of me, I know, but the early days of any blog is kind of wandering around in the internet wilderness on your own and I just hate the idea that my thoughts on wheat not getting enough readers. That's kind of a joke.

As I re-read this post there were lots of little things I'd like to add or change, but I'm going to resist that urge to preserve the original as I wrote it nearly seven years ago. I might add a trailer or image here and there to liven up the post though since I didn't do a lot of that in the early months.

The Beauty of Wheat On the Screen [June 22, 2005]

In my first post ever on CineRobot I mentioned the film Days of Heaven [1978] regarding my newfound appreciation of the b-film actress Brooke Adams. When I watched that film for the first time one of the first things that jumps out to me is just how beautiful director Terrence Malick made wheat look on screen. I have never seen wheat look so captivating before as the way Malick made it look. Honestly, the parts of it shimmying in the wind, all green against the flat terrain of the film is some of the most breathtaking moments in cinema history for me. Why do I find the wheat so beautiful to look at?

Maybe it's me tapping into some kind of primal, early film appreciation as the wheat in Days of Heaven reminds me a little of something that early film pioneers the Lumiere Brothers might have filmed and released. The early "hits" in penny or nickel houses were not stories but real life events: trains moving, trees swaying in the breeze, panning shots of a cityscapes or rural horizons.

When Malick lets his camera stay on the wheat for long periods of time I am reminded of these short films in the early days of cinema. I could watch the wheat move for hours. A few years ago I was lucky to see a restored 35 mm print of Days of Heaven [after having to watch it on tv the previous times I'd seen it] and I was blown away by its meditation on nature and love [and how Malick lingers over wheat like he's lusting after it!].

I thought I'd never see Malick's wheat topped but a few months ago I saw a great little film from Italy called I'm Not Scared [2003]. I'm Not Scared is worth seeing as an interesting coming of age thriller and character study as a young boy discovers something about the people close to him that changes him forever.

But, the first thing that stood out to me regarding I'm Not Scared is the unbelievably gorgeous use of wheat by director Gabriele Salvatores. It's the closest I've seen to matching the wheat in Days of Heaven. Salvatores uses the wheat just as Malick does [it's clear he's seen Days of Heaven] as a way to create isolation and lushness in the film's setting at the same time. Wheat can present this duality of meaning when it's filmed in such a concentrated way and connected to the film's story.

In these two films, the wheat is a character in the story and you can't help but notice it, admire it, and if you are like me, wish that you were standing in the field itself. Check out these two films to see wheat filmed the way it dreams of being filmed.

***If you are reading this post via e-mail, the imbedded video in this post might not work with your particular e-mail account. Click on the post title and you will be taken directly to CineRobot to view the video.***


hidden staircase said...

brooke adams you know is married to tony shalhoub! wheat! i still need to see that movie. only time i walked through wheat fields was in spokane one summer. it was a small one but still so beautiful!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

I think you'd really like DAYS OF HEAVEN! It has some amazing scenes of nature--some of the best in film history I think.

hidden staircase said...

yeah, have to add to my list. my crappy little analog tv isn't going to do it justice though!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

You ever thought about upgrading the TV? You can get a pretty decent TV these days for not much money. Can't recommend watching DAYS OF HEAVEN on a tiny TV.

Amy said...

I jumped over here from GoodReads a while back for ideas to feed my Netflix queue (which was becoming pitifully sparse of anything I was truly interested in seeing). I have to admit that you made rolling fields of wheat (and eyebrows) sound remarkably intriguing, so I had to see it. Rolling fields of wheat ... rolling fields of eyebrows ... rolling eyebrows of wheat ... Anyhow, definitely an enjoyable and beautiful movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon.