In 1962, I think, my family–Mom, Dad, me and my sibs–went to see what became our family’s favorite movie, Hatari. It’s a John Wayne vehicle, kind of a Wild West thing, but set in Africa, in the country formerly known as Tanganyika. John Wayne, Red Buttons, Elsa Martinelli, Hardy Kreuger, and so on starred in the film, which involved a group of people capturing wild animals for Zoos around the world. The music was composed and directed by Harry Mancini, and we really enjoyed it as a group.
I bought the thing some time ago and I watch it periodically. It is a great deal of fun, particularly the two rhino adventures. The team also captures cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, and several others. There’s a — well, rather awkward, I guess would be the best way to describe it–love affair that develops between Mr. Wayne and Elsa Martinelli. He’s easily got thirty, perhaps 40 years on her, but the love story doesn’t destroy the llkeability of the film. It’s a good example of one function of movies–entertain.
There is, however, a different sort of film, one that exists to teach, to elucidate, to provoke. By way of example let me cite a film called Intimacy, a 2001 film with an international cast. Directed by Patrice Chereau, the film depicts a sex–not love–affair between characters performed by Kerry Fox and Marc Rynelf. The film depicts a lot of on-screen sex between the two main characters. Despite the intimacy, there is no love. In other words the film only depicts the physical aspect. Two people who don’t know one another’s names meet every Wednesday for–well, a form of intimacy. While there is a great deal of energy between the two characters, there exists an intense bond. However, this bond does not, ultimately, satisfy either person and the movie winds up being a tragedy. By the end of the movie, they realize that they really have nowhere to go with the relationship. There is no past; certainly no future. The feelings that they finally realize that they have for one another have, in fact, nowhere to go.
It is hard to watch. The erotic nature of the film and the relationship of the two people leaves the audience feeling empty, and sad.
Thoughts, today, about film…