IN one recent day three '2new films and a fourth "retruspecti eprogramme not only spanned the whole history of the cinema. front the first public him show in Britain. by
the French Lumiere brothers at the Regent Street Polytechnic in 18%, to the latest sample of "A merican underground
cinema,but also provided a daunting view of the actual fulfilment in these three quarters of a century of the cinema's early hopes. promise
Andy Warhol is reputed to be today s idol of the young. From the films of his 1 have seen. he and the whole Warhol myth seem a giant confidence trick, a publicity creation aehiesed through the wellknown method of repeating a name often enough to make it
Andy Warhol and his Clan
t" X", Paris-Pullman) is presented as a ''Conintedia dell'Arte of the American Underground". It opens with a succession of close-ups (mostly of his so-called "superstars"). each intoning "I am Andy Warhol": and the commentator (speaking as the director, Bert Keener) describes the clan's effort to turn life into a happening and then film the happening back into life.
Excerpts from Warhol's bet ter-known pictures are included. often repulsive. occasionally tunny tesen intentionally). mostly so boring that the only interest is in how he brings it off the trick. I
mean. Pei liapS the only purpose is to shock : the hero of one Warhol movie is proclaimed to he "a homosexual call-boy who takes to the streets to earn the money to pay for his sate', abortion,
Companion-piece to this oddity is an equally modern, equally distasteful, but very
different and spectacular Czechoslovak extravaganza. On the analogy of black cornedy. Valerie and her Week of Wonders ("X". Paris-Pullman) can only be described as a black fantasy on the supposed dreams of a young conventbred girl in eighteenth-century Central Europe.
Emphasis on sex and sap: rstition turns the whole dt ti',; fairy-tale into a travesty of the traditional elements in such a life, equating family affections with incest, priests and nuns with vampires and death's heads.
There is no doubt of the technical brilliance of the director, Jaromil Jires, who
seems to have studied Berairian Jellini and Roman Polansk, Ile seems also to have mastered that old Hollyweod trick of having the best of both worlds: the elegance and beauty of religious ritual and the venom and spleen of militant atheist propaganda.
A run-olAlie-mill Western seems conventional by comparison, and might be welcome. But Valdea is Corning ("AA"), is rather below average run-of-the-mill. A ludicrously complex incident sets Burt Lancaster off to stalk John Cypher for reasons that are neither credible nor sufficient on a trek which scents interminable.
am an incorrigible western fan but this is the real dregs of the barrel which has supplied such rich vitality to so many movies.
How sad it was that the cinema should come to these three phases of decline and decay. I thought as I sat at the National Film Theatre enjoying one of its programmes called Paris on Film. Dere was excerpts from the very first French steps on celluloid, short snatches of a train arriving at a station (warmly applauded still) or frilly and ecstatic swimmers in the soaves.
Short snatches of the Luioierc brothers' great experiment, shown on the
original rare "Cinernatographe" projector, had the pristine freshness of the cinema's first young shoots_ Rend Clair's early sciencefiction fantasy of the ray which paralysed Paris into Paris Qui Dort (1923) was shown with the new sound track he has issued for it; and I reflected that gaiety has gone out of films since Rend Clair ceased to make them.
I his is not fair. Some filmmakers do still carry on the good tradition. The programme included Albert 1.amorisse's marvellous helicopter view of Paris Jamais Vu, made only three years ago (after his piedpiper "Red Balloon''). Clay films are still being made, and made in France. by Jacques Tali Su let us lift our heads Item today's garbage and look toisvard to Ian s "Fraflique" 5).-hik.I1 I arts :i .tired is an even greater delight than his enchanting "Playtime-.