Author: Marc Mayo

The Best Years of Our Lives and the Invention of a Necessary War Narrative

War films are imbued with a sense of fatalism, with protagonists caught in the vast maelstrom of events of which they are only a very small part. Their actions when multiplied carry the weight of the entire endeavor while each individual carries the burden of their specific relationship to it. For decades, American cinema predominately concerned itself with the former, while explorations of the latter have been comparatively rare. Hollywood films, forever representative of escapism, often remain as insulated from the direct ramifications of war as the American public. William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives bridged that...

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Spirit of the Beehive: A Vindication of Childhood Imagination

Victor Erice directed only three films in his career, yet managed to debut with what is considered one of Spain’s greatest cinematic achievements: 1973’s Spirit of the Beehive. It’s a masterpiece that has influenced cinema indelibly through Erice’s empathetic regard for his principle characters and a quiet solemnity unmatched by his contemporaries. Of Erice’s handful of films, two—Spirit and El Sur—featured children as their protagonists. For Erice, this choice of child protagonists was neither incidental nor a consequence of the plot. Instead, it was driven by his need to explore one of his favorite themes to revisit—the child’s guileless discovery of a world...

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