“This man is an author. He writes stories. He has just finished writing a story. He thinks many people will like to read it.” So begins this 1947 Encyclopedia Britannica film about how books are printed and bound. Almost none of what you see in the film, with the possible exception of the book trimming blade, exists anymore. It’s fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Fascinating because we get to see the mysterious process of making a book. Horrifying because we see how machines dictate the movements of human beings in an assembly line environment. It’s so dreadful that I may never want to read an old book again. Perhaps e-books are some kind of salvation after all.
This 2008 film was written, produced and directed by Javier Chillon of Madrid, Spain. The director of photography was Luis Fuentes. Artistic direction by Ángel Boyano. In the fifties, a Soviet cosmonaut chimpanzee crash-lands in West Germany. Within weeks, a deadly virus has spread across the country and confounds all the scientific experts. The film is composed of entirely original footage made to look like a fifties documentary or newsreel. The very first shots with the camera tilting down through the trees to show us the crash site at long range is a nearly prefect rendition of old documentary style right down to how the camera would move. You have to really know what you are doing to come up with shots like that. Very fine work.
This is science fiction that is a deadly accurate portrayal of the calm, governmental, ponderous yet urgent, carefully-framed and full-of-import quality found in mid-century documentary films. The humor is sly and builds its effect gradually. It’s also somewhat frightening.
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