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Related: 1950s

Founding of: Olympia Press - Playboy Magazine - New York Film Society

Films: The Wild One (1953)

Literature: Junkie (1953) - William Burroughs - Watt (1953) - Samuel Beckett

Key work of art: Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) - Francis Bacon
image sourced here.

The Wild One (1953) - László Benedek [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - Ray Bradbury

    Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - Ray Bradbury [Amazon US]
    In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."

    Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television "family," imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.

    Bradbury--the author of more than 500 short stories, novels, plays, and poems, including The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man--is the winner of many awards, including the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. Readers ages 13 to 93 will be swept up in the harrowing suspense of Fahrenheit 451, and no doubt will join the hordes of Bradbury fans worldwide. --Neil Roseman for amazon.com

Summer With Monika (1953) - Ingmar Bergman

    Summer With Monika (1953) - Ingmar Bergman [amazon.com]
    Released in 1953, Monika, an early Ingmar Bergman-directed melodrama, did much to establish the reputation of Swedish cinema, and perhaps Swedish women in general, as leading the vanguard in sexual liberation. The film attracted the wrath of the censors and one scene of lovemaking had to be cut. While subsequent generations will look at the film and wonder whatever the fuss was about, it retains a vivid and frolicsome sensuality, before submitting to the inevitable Bergman bleakness. The film tells the story of a young couple, Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (18-year-old Harriet Andersson, with whom Bergman would fall in love), stuck in lousy jobs in Stockholm. Harry is beset by parental responsibility--his mother died young and his father is ill--while Monika is fed up with her drunken, violent father. They escape in a motorboat to spend a blissful summer on an island in the archipelago. Once Monika gets pregnant and they're forced to steal food, however, the idyll concludes and they return to Stockholm, where the relationship disintegrates. Visually ravishing, Monika would have a deep impact on French New Wave cinema. --David Stubbs, Amazon.com

Les Vacances de M. Hulot/Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953) - Jacques Tati

  1. Les Vacances de M. Hulot/Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953) - Jacques Tati [Amazon.com]
    Forefather of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot--a recurring character in several of his movies--is a blithely clumsy troublemaker, an insouciant twit who leaves uproar in his wake without being aware of it. Trying to describe this 1953 comedy is next to impossible except to say it is a series of vignettes at a vacation resort, with the distracted Hulot providing a lot of laughs. Tati directs, and in a way what that really means is that he composes this movie with a perfect eye and ear for the comic possibilities in everything: composition, lighting, minimal marble-mouth dialogue, certain sounds (a duck call, a door repeatedly opening and shutting). This is a superior work that ranks among all-time classic comedies. --Tom Keogh for amazon.com

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046487/ [Oct 2004]

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