A really incredible animated film from 1926. The silhouette animation technique used here looks great, and the dyed backgrounds really add to the already unique flavor. I love that the film opened with all of the characters introduced then it moves on to the story of the magician taking his flying horse to the king's birthday in hopes to marry his daughter, Dinarsade. His plan works, but Prince Achmed takes the horse and flies away so the deal cannot be completed. When he flies away he discovers a land of beautiful women who find him handsome. After he leaves he hides out next to a pond where the women fly in with their own feather suits and bathe. He pops out to tell Pari Banu that he loves her and wants her to run away with him. Of course eventually she does, but she's captured by the magician when he comes back for revenge. Prince Achmed then goes on a journey to get back Pari Banu, and along his travels he meets Aladdin and an old witch whose enemy is the magician. Meanwhile the magician has taken Pari Banu to China to be the emperor's new wife. Our three heroes work together to kill the magician, get back Pari Banu, and for Aladdin to win back Dinarsade. Beautifully animated and told with spot on pacing, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is not only great for it's time, but it's also one of the greatest animated films of all time.
I first have to point out that if it wasn't for The Lord of the Rings there would have been much more people who thought The Hobbit was incredible. That being said, we've seen what Peter Jackson can do so we expect something more from him than the average fantasy filmmaker. Also, it appears that 48fps has really altered some people's opinions, which I can totally understand. I waited until I saw it a second time in regular Imax 3D before I passed judgment. To be honest, the new frame rate pulled me out of the film more than it did enhance the story, which is an obvious deterrent. It makes it look like everyone's moving faster instead of actually opening up the world. The big positive from 48fps is that the motion blur is fixed on shots that move at a quicker speed. The shots that would have been headache inducing before are now beautiful. I'm not sure how this would look, but perhaps the answer is to use 48fps in some shots, then jump back to 24 when it's not needed. That might make the audience sick since their brains will try to process two different speeds, but on the other hand it might not. Who knows. Just seeing people walk around makes them look like they're power walking and doing every little action at twice the speed, which makes sense since the frame rate has doubled. Our brains are trying to keep up. If one day we see enough movies like this, perhaps it will begin to look normal and we will wonder why we wanted to keep the 24fps since it causes so much motion blur in moving shots. Only time will tell. But I will say that right now it didn't work for me, except for the goblins scene in the mountain and when Bilbo slips on the ring. The last hour looked great in 48fps, which makes me think it will just take time to get used to. As for the film itself, I thought the first film in The Hobbit trilogy was a great start. There are plenty of throwbacks to fans of The Lord of the Rings so that we can smile and feel nostalgic. The same music is played when Bilbo finds the ring, when we are in the shire with old Bilbo and Frodo, and a few other music cues. Going back and showing Bilbo write the story before his birthday party is unnecessary, but I loved it so much. Seeing Frodo walk out for the first time put the biggest smile on my face and tears to my eyes. My biggest problem with this film is that it seems to have a giant lack of character development because he's more interested in the plot. There's not the same beautiful balance that there was in LotR. I craved more from Bilbo. Instead I feel like we got to know Thorin and Gandalf better than Bilbo even though in the end they make it clear the whole purpose of this first one was to get Bilbo comfortable with his position in this adventure. That's really all we get though is how uptight he is about leaving. I don't think Jackson really got him to the point that he would chase down the dwarves so he can embark on the adventure. Perhaps if that was better established then it would have felt more even. I enjoy the back stories that are told, like the opening of Smaug taking over the dwarves castle and the dwarves barely defeating the orcs with the pale orc deciding to kill Thorin's family. It's all told well. I liked Radagast. The only reason why people compare him to Jar Jar is because they were looking for one since they were ready for this to be as bad as the Star Wars prequels. Really, if the characters were better defined in this film then I think I would have loved it much more, but as is it feels a little flat. Even so, this is still one of the best fantasy films to come out in a long time aside from Harry Potter. I'm still not sure what I think about the deus ex machina eagles flying in to save everyone at the last minute. It seemed like they had to pit Thorin against his demon and had no clue how to get them all out of there. It wasn't terrible, but not entirely clever either. I'm not sure how they are going to continue with the trilogy seeing as we already have the concept of dwarves needing to be saved by Gandolf, but I have faith that they will either be as good as this one or better.
Perhaps the best movie about making movies. Francois Truffaut playing the director in the film was the perfect way of doing that. It would not have made the same kind of impact as if someone else was in the role. This could be why none of the others work quite as well. Truffaut being one of the best filmmakers of all time truly understands what it's like to work on a film set, but even though that's the case it doesn't mean he automatically would be able to recreate the experience on screen. That said, he certainly did recreate it ridiculously well. While on set, all the crew wants to do is get through the next 7 weeks so they can have a finished film on their hands. Everyone asks the director what he wants down to the smallest detail. Even when he's not asked something he still gives orders, like telling the guy he wants the snow to look a little less white. On the other side, the cast cares more about their personal lives than their jobs. I love that Jacqueline Bisset and Valentina Cortese were able to take the joke. But it's completely true. It feels like when you're directing you're trying so hard to get each shot on time so you can have a completed film, but there's always some underlying drama with the actors. Truffaut needed to hire Julie for the role, but Julie can't be covered under insurance because of her mental state. The whole time they're shooting they worry about Julie having a major breakdown. Then you have the old actress who has become extremely self conscious and gets drunk on set, so she can't open the right door. There's the actor who got his girlfriend a job on set but she's clearly not interested in him, which can only end badly. Then there is the guy on the crew who brings his wife because she doesn't trust him to be without her. Also, if you get two people sexually attracted to each other on the crew who don't feel important, then you better believe if they find down time on the set they will take your time and have sex with each other. None of this is done in a bad light. It seems like Truffaut's just saying that this is the joy of filmmaking. This is what he loves so much and he wouldn't give it up for the world. When the actors get upset and say they're done acting because life's more difficult and depressing than the movies we can hear Truffaut saying that's why they make them. That's why films are so important, because they help us escape our lives, or some films show us the elixir to the problems in our lives. Day for Night is not only one of the greatest movies about making movies, it's one of the best films of all time.