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A monthly focus on the profound impact of film. Curator, art director and designer
Simon Costin selects his three titles



"All three films showed me the power of set design to enhance the story and create a world of wonder."(Simon Costin)

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

"A Matter of Life and Death is a visually extraordinary film: a gorgeous artificiality is created by Alfred Junge’s production design and Jack Cardiff’s vivid Technicolor photography. Counterintuitively, the heaven scenes are in black and white and Earth is in colour. The modernist architecture of heaven is something to rival Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the “stairway to heaven” sequence is narcotically weird. Even down on Earth, and without the angelic visits, things have a distinct surreality." (Peter Bradshaw)

Fanny and Alexander (1982) Ingmar Bergman

"Ingmar Bergman's 'Fanny and Alexander' was intended to be his last film, and in it, he tends to the business of being young, of being middle-aged, of being old, of being a man, woman, Christian, Jew, sane, crazy, rich, poor, religious, profane. He creates a world in which the utmost certainty exists side by side with ghosts and magic, and a gallery of characters who are unforgettable in their peculiarities. Small wonder one of his inspirations was Dickens. The movie is astonishingly beautiful. The cinematography is by Bergman's longtime collaborator Sven Nykvist, who surrounds the Ekdahls with color and warmth, and bleeds all of the life out of the bishop's household." (Roger Ebert)

Nostalghia (1983) Andrei Tarkovsky

"Even by the director’s glacial standard, very little happens and still, you might find yourself hooked. No one makes movies like this anymore. Spirituality and existential dislocation can be teased out of the margins by those who want those things to be there, but Nostalghia is really about dank pools of bubbling springs, decaying ruins and the incessant plink of dripping water accompanying distant voices. It’s a mood piece that makes you feel like you’re drowning in high-grade art swill. If that sounds oppressive, know that it is, but the tonic is invigorating: a clammy atmosphere so unlike the airless options Hollywood’s about to spring on us." (Joshua Rothkopf, TimeOut)

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