Thursday, 1 March 2012

On the Waterfront (1954)

Rating: 8.8/10 

"You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." 

Tonight I will suggest a long-lasting classic! This film is a considered to be a legend; not only because of the magnanimous Marlon Brando and the visionary Elia Kazan, but because it is a testament to what old Hollywood was; Golden!

'On the Waterfront' tells the story of an ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman, who struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. ( the themes of honesty, credibility, ethics, corruption and dissipation are very vivid in this film.

Firstly I would like to talk about Brando's acting; we've all heard the stories of how Brando liked to use Method Acting, a process established at the turn of 20th century by theatre/film directors and endorsed later on by Brando and other screen actors on camera, but for me Brando's acting always distinguished for a variety of reasons. One of these is the fact that in all of his performances, and with this one in particular he expressed such passion and pain that his feelings were simultaneously yours as well.  Like there was no screen involved between the viewer and the actor. It was as if everything is also happening to you whilst watching him. His words reflect such a reality in them that you can relate so much with his character. For me this is a remarkable achievement for an actor. To be able to sustain throughout the film a sense of reality in his character, no matter how unreal the circumstances that his character might be in, he manages to keep a feeling of realism in his acting approach. For me that says true acting. Marlon here played the downtrodden worker who needs to find his lucky break to escape all the corruption and the lewdness that goes on around him. You sympathize so much for this character that can almost feel that's so familiar to you, a person of your social network or entourage that might resemble this specific role.

However, the acting technique is not the main key ingredient to this film's long-lasting success. This film was hailed a cinematic masterpiece because of Elia Kazan himself. The way he set everything in the film, from sound to lighting, from the way he created each scene with such detail in its production set and costume, there's very little that could be flawed in this film. Of course the remarkable scene with Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger in the car, the closed-in space of those two characters and how similar and yet so different their life-paths were, the passion in how life was supposed to have been and what could still be for some, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful and emotional scenes in all of the cinema history. The way Kazan set-up the whole background story and recreated the docklands for the workers presented a sort of a dying idealism in the United States. His black and white shooting lens makes us reminisce the nostalgia and the longing for what used to be righteous and ethic and for all the long-lost values.

This film holds a special place in my heart for the fact that it has a lot of heart to give. It represents the end of an era and lets you explore each character in their root. It is a contender-of-a-film since it does not rumble on with unecessary shots or any play-about dialogue of no importance. Every line is like a whiplash, trying to grasp any sentiment from its viewer,and to this day it does not fail to succeed its aim.

It is quite a driven-emotionally film so I would suggest to everyone to watch when in the proper mood. The pacing of the film is quite normal, with a linear-narration but a lot of background story so you will need to pay close attention to everything's that going on in the film.

In general though, this is one of the films you will find it hard to let go long after you've finished watching it. The characters captivate you so much that it is a struggle to forget them and their story, and how you felt during the screening. It is a true cinematic gem and a real contender for director Elia Kazan.

Hope you enjoy this classic!

On the Waterfront (1954)

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