Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Dir: Richard Donner
I talk about film all the time. I bored my friends talking about cinema long ago and revel in talking about the silver screen to new people I meet, especially when they sound like they know their stuff. When talking to fellow Cinefiles the question 'What is your favorite film of all time?' will always be asked. An almost impossible question, one that is often broken down into genres, time-frames and what mood I may or may not be in. It also depends on whom I'm taking to. I'm guilty of declaring my top ten favorite films of all time consist of the likes of Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Eisenstein, Kubrick etc only, with a wildcard director/ film thrown in for good measure that I'll second guess they haven't heard of. I can be quite the film snob sometimes but I'm getting better. Suffice to say, my top ten favorite list of films is not entirely accurate when talking to other film snobs. There is one film however that is on both my showy list and my honest list, any film snob who declares that Richard Donner's 1978 Superman isn't such a great film generally gets his or her ear well and truly bent by me to the point they bitterly regret even mentioning it. I think I've changed a few minds too but actually many agree with me. Superman The Movie is one of the greatest films of all time. How the film came about makes for fascinating reading, I suggest anyone with even the slightest interest in the Man of Steel should read Jake Rossen's brilliant book; Superman vs. Hollywood. At the time the real coup was bagging a big name writer, The Godfather author Mario Puzo. Puzo wrote the structure of the film but most of his script was re-written but his name remained for legal reasons and because of his status. The other huge coup was in casting Marlon Brando, a surprising bit of casting at the time and the real reason other big names such as Gene Hackman and Terence Stamp joined the cast. The biggest real success though was in casting Christopher Reeves, the now quintessential Superman and the large majority of people's favorite and only the third billed actor in the film. It's really thanks to Richard Donner that the film works. He fought for what he knew was right, there were times when ideas such as Brando voicing a Green Suitcase instead of appearing in person and Superman saving Kojack (who would have thanked the hero by uttering his famous line; 'Who loves' ya Baby?' in gratitude) were actually considered. In treating the much loved Superhero right, Donner actually made what is essentially three films. The first act is a sci-fi extravaganza, the second a 1950's drama and the last a full on comic book action movie. The idea of a comic book/superhero movie being some sort of epic was unthinkable but that is exactly what it is. It has its problems, that ending for one, but it has never bothered me. I know every scene and know every line, the opening credits and the narration in the first scene makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time I watch it and I watch it quite regularly. If film is a drug, Superman The Movie is my heroin and I don't want to give up the habit. I adore this film. Every single actor is perfectly cast. The feel of the film, the balance of seriousness and humor, the hue, the amazing soundtrack from John Williams, the effects, the costumes, the script, it is all perfection. The tagline for the film was 'You'll believe a man can fly' and it was absolutely correct, I did and still do. There are few films that date that well too, especially comic adaptations/superhero films. There are some superhero films that were made over twenty years after this film that have dated terribly, the quality really is timeless. The best Superhero film made after Superman (apart from its sequels) was Christopher Nolan's 2008 The Dark Knight. A great film but still no where near as magical. It's my warm blanket, my childhood Christmases, my favorite form of escapism and so much more.