scattered images: a soldier solemnly playing cello against a vivid red sunset. the moon, always bright and full, seen through small round windows, almost portholes. young men idling nude against a backdrop of shooting stars and fireflies. lush fields full of singing children and scarecrow soldiers, both doomed to war.
a miracle of wuxia that indeed has delights of kinetic friction in its fight scenes but resonates most as a sort of eclogue. the middle of the movie becomes a travelogue told on horseback--a white horse with a red velvet saddle trots through the woods, on the beach, and in fields (fields which are abundant with yellow flowers and white rabbits). lanterns make the fishing village resplendent in the night scenes like a bygone paradise. one can sense the anxiety…
one of the rare films that seems to operate on a self-contained, almost oneiric plane (e.g. melo, la captive)
most relevant new detail in my second viewing:
the nude scenes, absent from the censored version i had seen previously, are noticeably restrained. von sternberg depicts his lead actresss, akemi negishi, almost like a renaissance nude. the narration stands in for the male gaze, a collective of anonymous horny sailors with an old new york accent, but the camera's neo-classical poise…
Moonfleet undercuts the expectations of its children’s adventure plot through a series of memento mori that pervades the film’s atmosphere with an uncanny sense of dread. By selecting a few moments which stood out on this viewing, I hope to perhaps shed some light on a truly mysterious film.
Early on in the film, John Mohune passes out and wakes up to see faces of smugglers looking at him from above in a semi-circle. The human face comes across as…