The Roman Polanski Film Festival

The Russian Centre of Science and Culture was the place to be for any cinema buffs on April 27, 2014. The venue, which hosted the Roman Polanski Film Festival, was brimming with life and culture throughout the day.

Three of the filmmaker’s finest works were showcased at the Roman Polanski Film Festival. Unsurprisingly, Rosemary’s Baby kicked off the festival. It was followed by Chinatown and The Pianist. The line-up was expertly chosen, showcasing the different sides of Polanski‘s films. Rosemary’s Baby displayed the more eerie side of Polanski‘s works, while Chinatown highlighted their stylistic side. The Pianist, on the other hand, showcased the filmmakers ability to beautifully portray human emotions in the context of war.

As if this line-up wasn’t appealing enough, attendees were also treated to a surprise screening of the short film, Imraan, by Udita Bhargava.

Here’s a closer look at Roman Polanski‘s works that were showcased at the festival:

Rosemary’s Baby

Undoubtedly one of Roman Polanski‘s most famous works, Rosemary’s Baby follows a young couple who move into a new apartment, only to realize there’s something wrong with it. When Rosemary (Mia Farrow) becomes pregnant, the pregnancy is accompanied by more pain than joy. This pain is also accompanied by paranoia, mistrust and a series of unexplained events.

As the name suggests, Rosemary’s Baby is not for the faint of heart. The film, which is a staple in the horror genre, does not use any of the common techniques to scare the viewer. The film takes a more subtle approach to horror than most others in the genre. Instead of using camera tricks and gore, Rosemary’s Baby relies on well-written dialogue and subtle plot twists to scare viewers. This, in turn, makes the film much more terrifying than the ones that rely on momentary thrills.

In addition to the well-written dialogue and script, Rosemary’s Baby also has stellar performances going for it. Mia Farrow is wonderful as Rosemary. Her increasing paranoia and deteriorating mental state are morbidly fascinating to watch. The other actors, including John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, also shine in their respective roles. 

All this put together with the creepy imagery and the haunting soundtrack make it obvious why Rosemary’s Baby is still considered one of the finest horror movies ever made.

Chinatown

1974’s Chinatown is one of Polanski‘s most sleek films. With its remarkable cinematography and understated soundtrack, Chinatown is a must-watch for any film noir fans.

The movie, which incorporates elements from film noir as well as pulp fiction, follows a private detective who specializes in matrimonial cases. The detective, J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson), is hired by a woman who suspects her husband is cheating on her. However, he soon finds out that the woman who approached him is an impersonator, which spells trouble for Gittes. To make matters worse, Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling), the man whom Gittes was spying on, is soon found murdered. As he investigates whether he was set up, Gittes realizes that things are much worse than he could ever have imagined.

With Jack Nicholson in the lead, it’s no surprise that Chinatown is a brilliantly-acted film. Supporting cast members like John Huston, John Hillermann and Perry Lopez give brief but memorable performances. Though Faye Dunaway is disappointing in her portrayal of Evelyn Mulwray, she is balanced out by the otherwise stellar performances.

The plot, which starts off on a high note, tends to slow down towards the middle of the movie. Though it picks back up, it’s easy to see how someone might lose interest in the duration.

Inspite of this, Chinatown is a film worth watching. If you like thrillers and film noir, then Chinatown is just the film for you.

The Pianist

2002’s The Pianist was another stellar addition to Roman Polanski‘s notable filmography. Starring Adrien Brody in the lead, the film follows a Jewish pianist who’s struggling to survive before, during and after World War II.

Like other war movies, The Pianist is a heartbreaking account of the impact of large-scale destruction on individual lives. The already devastating plot is made even sadder by Adrien Brody‘s portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman, the pianist struggling to stay alive. The dichotomy between what is easy and what is necessary is beautifully depicted by Brody. Emilia Fox, Frank Finlay and Daniel Caltagirone also give notable performances.

The soundtrack, composed by Wojciech Kilar, is beautiful and haunting. It elevates the plot to a whole new level. The scenes with Wladek playing the piano are expressive, without even consisting of a single line of dialogue. The background score also appropriately sets the scene and complements the visuals.

With its breathtaking cinematography and beautiful soundtrack, The Pianist is the perfect film for anyone who enjoys war dramas. 

All in all, the Roman Polanski Film Festival was a brilliant showcase of the filmmaker’s most widely-known works. Not only did they showcase Polanski‘s finest works, but it also reminded viewers why he has managed to sustain his career for over six decades.

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