Thursday, June 9, 2016

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom The Bell Tolls depicts the Spanish Civil war while World War II, which involved fighting fascists, was raging. Now due to that it is interesting that one sees a film directed by ardent anti-communist Sam Wood, despite being a film about an American aiding technically the communist side of fight. This odd peculiarity probably explains the film which is also an odd peculiarity. It's a bloated film that's technically all about the attempt by the rebels to destroy a bridge held by the enemy. It takes a long time to get to that bridge. Now there are some clearly positive elements. The early color cinematography is rather unique and appealing, and Katina Paxinou is outstanding in her complex depiction of one of the guerilla leaders. The rest of the film is a strange mixed bag. The film attempts some mixture in terms of its depiction of sides, but it never quite commits. It shows those moments, yet then its moments of depicting the fight itself are often showed to be particularly romantic. It treads extremely dark territory involving Ingrid Bergman's character, but even that seems underdeveloped through the films wavering perspective. One of the biggest flaws comes in Akim Tamiroff's over the top depiction of the questionable leader of the revolutionaries Pablo. His performance limits the character into just a caricature of basically a bully where something far more complicated seemed possible. Now to be fair that too comes from Wood's direction which never makes the story feel cohesive. The various threads hang there, and the potential of the story seems largely wasted by the last frame.

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