David Stratton’s Great Britain Retro Film Festival

– by David Morgan-Brown

British-born Australian-bred film critic David Stratton hasn’t retired entirely since his movie review show ‘At the Movies’ finally came to a finish last year. He’s curated the Great Britain Retro Film Festival, a selection of nineteen classic British films that will be given the big screen treatment, making this a great opportunity to check out some of the best British films ever made at the cinemas. This festival is only being held in three major cities across Australia, and uncommonly enough Perth is one of them!

From August 6th to August 19th at the Windsor Cinema, a wide variety of heavily acclaimed British films will be screened, ranging from the ‘40s to the ’70 to the ‘00s (that makes this fortunately not entirely retro). Check out below the list of films to be screened, along with a message from David Stratton himself. Get your tickets now!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)- A visionary and extraordinary sci-fi film, regarded as one of the best in its genre, A Space Odyssey not only opens minds, it bends them.

A Man for All Seasons (1966)- This Oscar-winning adaptation of the play of the same name stars Paul Schofield as the man who stood up to King Henry VIII and rejected his wish to divorce from his wife after she could not bear him a son and new heir to the throne. This film is also responsible for kickstarting the acting career of John Hurt, and where would we be without him?

A Room with a View (1986)- The prolific and long-working James Ivory usually stuffs his film with great actors, and there’s no exceptions here – Helena Bonham-Carter, Julian Sands, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Daniel Day-Lewis all appear in this film adaptation of the 1908 novel set in the Edwardian era of England as the young Lucy Honeychurch learns of the battle between her own romantic and sexual urges and the restrictions of her society.

Black Narcissus (1947)- One of four films from the Emeric Pressburger/Michael Powell duo in this festival, this religious drama set in an isolated convent in the Himalayas was shot in stunning Technicolor and features great performances by Deborah Kerr, Flora Robson, Kathleen Bryon, and Jean Simmons.

Brassed Off (1996)- Probably the best film about brass bands, this comedy-drama starring Pete Postlethwaite and Ewan McGregor is an underrated gem that is gradually gaining recognition as one of the best British films from the ‘90s.
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Brief Encounter (1945)- This early British film from David Lean is one of the greatest stories of infidelity ever told, with such love and lust restrained so much makes this all the more powerfully romantic (pictured right).

Don’t Look Now (1973)- A creepy chiller from one of the cinema masters of the ‘70s, Nicholas Roeg, that will put viewers through unease until the shocker of an ending.

Gosford Park (2001)- One of the last films from the incredibly influential American filmmaker Robert Altman, who sought out Britain to produce this who-dunnit featuring an incredible ensemble cast of some of Britain’s finest.

Great Expectations (1946)- The first of two Charles Dicken’s adaptations that David Lean directed, and this may be the finest of the novelist’s screen adaptations.

“I Know Where I’m Going!” (1945)- It’s great to see that one of the more underseen of the Pressburger/Powell films is part of this festival, too, with this tale about an optimistic woman with high hopes who soon realises her plans are disrupted in the most peculiar of ways.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)- A darkly comical film about murder and greed, this film has a stunning eight-person performance by Alec Guinness who plays all of the D’Ascoyne family members who are picked off one by one so that the devious Louis (Dennis Price) can become the main heir.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)- One of the most cinematic films ever made, this lengthy, but gorgeously shot film has been lauded by the likes of Steven Spielberg, it has a high reputation of simply being one of the most cinematic films ever made, and one worth watching on a suitably large screen.
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Peeping Tom (1960)- Panned upon release, the film destroyed Powell’s filmmaking career, but this overlooked classic only later became as esteemed as Powell’s other most acclaimed films, despite this being a far more darker affair than his usual films (pictured right).

Sense and Sensibility (1995)- One of the best Jane Austen adaptations ever made that was so critically and commercially successful, it reinvigorated more Austen adaptations and other romance novel adaptations of that era that continue to this day.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)- The most recent of the films, this Oscar-winner from eclectic British filmmaker Danny Boyle is one of the best films from his impressively diverse body of work.

The 39 Steps (1935)- This early Alfred Hitchcock film made him a renowned filmmaker before he’d even made the move to America. Based on the 1915 adventure novel, this incredibly intense film revolves around a man who goes on the run (along with his lady-friend) after being falsely accused of murdering a counter-espionage agent, who he had actually helped.

The Red Shoes (1948)- Another stunningly filmed piece of work from the Pressburger/Powell duo, this maddening and tragic, yet inspiring and gorgeously composed film is one of the great ballet films of all time.

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)- Based on the opera by Jacques Offenbach, this is another exceptionally colourful and vibrant film from the P/P duo, a delectable mix of opera and ballet that continues to stun audiences over 50 years since its david stratton film festival 2release. This screening features an extra six-minute scene as well as a video introduction from Martin Scorsese.

The Third Man (1949)- Featuring stunning black and white cinematography by Perth-born Robert Krasker, this film is about a man looking for Orson Welles – who later shows up and delivers one of the best monologues a villain has ever   given in a film. The climatic chase scene through the sewers in Vienna is just one of many classic scenes in this classic film, which has been voted by the British Film Institute as the best British film ever made (pictured right).

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Britain so I’ve always been especially fond of British movies. That’s why I’m so excited about this retrospective film festival. All of these wonderful films will be screened in the digital format on the big cinema screen. I do hope you can join me for some, or all, of this season one of great British classics.” – David Stratton


Picture credit: Orpheum, TimeOut, Austin Film, Luna Palace

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