MATERIAL FOR RENDERING AND DISCUSSION

I. Study the text and retell it:

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING BRITISH

What a rare pleasure it is to be able to praise unreservedly a new British Film. Yet I can do so confidently in the case of Anthony As-quith's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest".

For here is Oscar Wilde's only really satisfactory play brilliantly performed by half a dozen seasoned actors in a setting as witty as Wilde's dialogue.

And here also, for good measure is Dorothy Tutin, the most promising new recruit to British films for many a long day. She is 22, has a friendly face, reflecting intelligence and humour, comes from the Old Vic and can act.

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She is a girl who will one day be an out-of-the-rut star if she can be kept in this country and not llowed to fall into the maw of the Hollywood glamour machine.

It is often a fault of the British film industry that it photographs plays instead of making films. In this case it is a virtue.

For Wilde's play is completely artificial from start to finish. It is as formal as a diplomatic dinner. To adopt it in film terms by giving it reality and movement would be as absurd and disastrous as putting Queen Victoria into a running kit.

Asquith has avoided this error. His film is triumphantly stagy-and gains enormously by it. When an epigram is coming the character strikes an attitude, announces the subject of his epigram-politics, or modern culture, or whatever-pauses, and delivers it with precision and clarity.

When Algie journeys into remote Hertfordshire in search of Cecily we are quite rightly shown nothing so vulgar as the scenery or the locomotive. We see only the respectably overstuffed interior of a first-class carriage on the Great Northern Railway.

Wilde burlesqued with kindly malice a society which he could see was doomed but which he fundamentally respected. He could pillory its pompous self-satisfaction; yet he could feel pleasantly wicked when he broke its nules.

It is possible to see in this play a link between the complacent nonsense of Lewis Carroll and the destructive satire of Bernard Shaw. In its own right it is a classic of English wit.

Edith Evans, who is magnificent, Joan Greewood, Michael Redgrave, Michael Denison, Miles Malleson and Margaret Rutterford are in top form here. Colour and music play up beautifully. This is a film to see.

(From "Daily Worker", 1952)

II. Describe the episode from the film "The Importance of Being Earnest" (see picture on p. 73). Try to reconstruct the dialogue. How does the setting strike you?

III. a) Read the following text:

It was very dark inside the cinema itself, and Mr. Huws-Evans had fa click his fingers for a long time, and very loudly, before an usherette came. The Odeon was often full on a Saturday, and Gloria and Mr. Huws-Evans couldn't help pushing past a lot of people to get to their seats. At last they were settled in full view of the screen. The main feature was on first. As soon as Gloria became aware that it was old-fashioned she knew she wouldn't enjoy it. There was no excitement or story in it, only talking. Some of the talking made Mr. Huws-Evans laugh for a long time at a time, and once or twice he nudged Gloria. The film ended with a lot of fuss about a Gladstone bag and people falling into each other's arms in a daft, put-on way. Some of the audience cheered when THE END came up.

The second film promised to be full of interesting things. There were some lovely dresses, the star looked just like another star Gloria had often wished she looked like, and there was a scene in a kind of flash night-club with dim lights, men in tail-coats and a modern band.

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The star was wearing a terrific evening dress with long ear-rings and had a white fur round her shoulders. A man with a smashing profile sitting at the bar turned and saw her. Their eyes met for a long moment. Gloria swallowed and leaned forward in her seat.

(From "Interesting Things" by K, Amis)

b) omment on the two films Gloria and Mr. Huws-Evans saw.

c) rom whose point of view are the films described? Does it suggest a sense of humour and a refined taste?

d) oes it seem likely to you that the main feature was "The Importance of Being Earnest"?

IV. tudy the following words and word combinations:

1. a colour film; a black-and-white film; a full-length feature film; a short documentary film; a popular science film; a war film; a musical; a thriller; a wide-screen film

2. a film director; a producer; a cameraman; the cast; a script-writer; a film star; a film studio; to shoot a film; to release a film; to dub a film; to star in a film

3. a screen-adaptation of a novel; a lively, entertaining film; a delightful, amusing comedy; a powerful film, gripping and absorbing; vividly dramatic; technically brilliant; bursting with vitality and humour; the atmosphere is caught with vivid realism; a good film, not without flaws; a sad, depressing film; empty of serious content; a dull and long-drawn-out film; slow-moving and altogether not true to life

4. the film deals with (depicts, presents, tells of); the acting is superb ' (magnificent, mature, convincing, thought-provoking, poor, indifferent, artificial, phoney); to reveal the complex interior life of the character; to play with understanding and understatement

V. Use the vocabulary of Ex. IV in answering the questions:

1. What does a usual cinema show consist of? 2. How often do you go to the pictures and where do you prefer to sit? 3. What types of films do you know? 4. What films appeal to you most? 5. Do you care for long films? 6. What is a film star? 7. What does the success of a film depend on? 8. What do we mean when we say that a film has a message to convey? 9. Why does a director trying to interpret a great work of literature on the screen take upon himself a most responsible task? 10. How is the cinema used as an aid in teaching? 11. What advantages has the cinema over other means of entertainment? 12. What do you know about international film festivals? How often are Moscow Film Festivals held? What is their motto?

VI. a) Render the text in English:

Вот уже семьдесят лет не сходит со сцены многих театров мира одна из самых известных комедий замечательного английского романиста и драматурга Оскара Уайльда "Как важно быть серьезным". За кажущимися "несерьезными" приключениями персонажей пьесы, через живой диалог, насыщенный афоризмами и эпиграммами, зритель всегда

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угадывает настоящую сатиру на. современное Уайльду буржуазное общество.

Двое молодых и богатых англичан - Джек Уортинг и Алджернон Монкриф - Страстно влюблены. Джек любит Гвендолен Ферфакс, кузину Алджернона, а сам Алджернон - Сесили Кардью, подопечную Джека. По несчастному совпадению обеим девушкам, незнакомым между собой, нравится одно мужское имя - Эрнест. Они считают, что лишь это имя может принести счастье на всю жизнь. Чтобы завоевать особую симпатию любимых, молодые люди называют себя Эрнестами ...

В конце концов Джек решает покончить с обманом. Надев глубокий траур, он объявляет, что Эрнест скончался в Париже от жестокой простуды. Но Гвендолен и Сесили, встретившись, разоблачают затею своих женихов.

Молодые люди мирятся. Однако в дело вмешивается леди Брекнелл, мать Гвендолен и тетка Алджернона, которая едва не расстраивает с таким трудом налаженные помолвки.

Экранизация комедии Оскара Уайльда была осуществлена одним из наиболее известных английских режиссеров старшего поколения Энтони Эсквитом. Оператор Десмонд Дикенсон. Художник Кармен Диллон. Композитор Бенджамин Фрэнкель. Продюсер Тедди Бэрд.

В главных ролях снимались популярные актеры английского кино Майкл Редгрейв, Маргарет Тутерфорд, Дороти Тьютин.

Производство фирмы "Бритиш филм Мэкэрс Лимитед", 1952.

Фильм дублирован на киностудии "Ленфильм".

("Кинонеделя", 1959)

b) Compare both the reviews of the film "The Importance of Being Earnest", and give your opinion of each.

VII. Write a review of a film you saw not long ago. Use the vocabulary from Ex. IV, p. 70.

VIII. Read the dialogues. Pay special attention to the words and phrases related to the topic "Cinema":

I

David: Do you like seeing old films?

Judy: No. Well, I like Charlie Chaplin.

David: Mm. I saw a terrific, Russian one the other day about a battle-ship. It was a silent film, before the ‘talkies’ came in. You see the words on the screen before each scene.

Judy: Heavens! I haven't seen one that old. I saw an old Audrey Hepburn film two weeks ago. That was 'Roman Holiday' when she starred with, Gregory Peck. I loved it.

II

Mr. Brown: What did you think of the film?

David: Very good. I saw the play in Stratford last summer. I was interested to see the difference between the play and the film.

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Mr. Brown: Which did you like the better?

David: It's hard to say. They'd spent a lot of money on the film and it was very well done. There must have been hundreds of people in it-crowds of people and soldiers and servants. The film moved fast with plenty of things happening all the time. I enjoyed the music and the colour-these were splendid and the photography was very good indeed, but ...

Mr. Brown: But what?

David: Well, something had gone. You didn't notice Shakespeare's words, which are so important in the theatre. And the main characters and what they did and thought didn't seem so clear or stand out as they do in the theatre.

III

Philip: I say, I haven't been to the pictures for a long time and I feel like seeing anything put out for our entertainment. How about seeing a new film?

Paul: I'm afraid, I can't keep you company. I don't go to the pictures much, but when I do, I like to see something decent.

Phf1ip: But what do you mean by a decent film? And how do you know whether it is decent or rotten?

Paul: Well, you read about it in the adverts or posters first, and then you know from your own experience that if so-and-so is in it, it's likely to be good.

Philip: You know that many fans like to give their impressions straight from the shoulder, especially those full of-biting criticism.

Paul: But a decent film appeals to different people in different ways. It makes you think and in addition to this, a decent film by all-round consent, is one you can believe in, whether it's funny, tragic or tense. When there is a decent film showing, everybody praises it.

IX. Make up dialogues with the help of the words and phrases from Ex. IV, p. 70 and Ex. VIII, p. 71:

  1. The best film of the year.
  2. The latest T.V. serial.
  3. Screen adaptation of a classic.
  4. A delightful children's film.

X. Pick out from a Soviet newspaper brief articles dealing with films and filming. Get ready to retell them making use of the vocabulary from Ex. IV, p. 70.

XI. Speak of your favourite film star.

XII. Comment on the pictures on p. 73.

XIII. Discuss in dialogue form the arguments for and against the following statements:

1. "People go to the pictures to relax, to enjoy themselves. They want to let their hair down and have a good laugh. If they like to forget their worries, let'm."

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2. "No matter how spectacular, the film will be a failure, if it has no real message."

3. "The film speaks to the eye more than to the ear." (The playwright has to put into words all the things that are not here on the stage - what places look like, the time of day or night, the weather, and so on. The film can show all these things.)

4. "Making films for children is a very gratifying job."

XIV. Read the text and get ready to discuss the history of British Cinema Art:

British feature-film production began with a short black-and-white film called "Rescued by Rover", which was made

I wonder.
I wonder.


A shot from the film "The Importance of Being Earnest".
A shot from the film "The Importance of Being Earnest".

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in 1905. The story of this film is very simple and there is of course a happy ending which was the rule in those days.

Many of the best directors and notably Anthony Asquith and Alfred Hitchcock established their reputations fully before the War. Alfred Hitchcock, who was respected by cinema-goers in the 1960s, was very much ahead of his times. It was he who directed the first British film to be made with sound in 1929. It was called "Blackmail".

War in its many aspects is portrayed in "The Cruel Sea", "Bridge on the River Kwai" and others, with the cast of good professional actors.

Of the hundreds of films made in Britain since the war it is impossible to list more than a few to represent the best work. Such list should include J. Lee Thompson and Ronald Neame's "Woman in a Dressing Gown" and "The Horse's Mouth"; David Lean's two films from Dickens' Novels, "Great Expectations" and "Oliver Twist"; the famous Ealing comedies (a number of which established Alec Guinness as a major star). The Ealing comedies, a group of films made in the early 1950s, were very popular. Their plots are usually "impossible", but extremely funny and very well directed and acted.

The best 'period' films were probably Thorold Dickinson's "Queen of Spades" (taken from Pushkin's short story) and Asquith's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's fantastic comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest".

This list of representative post war filtps would not be complete without Laurence Olivier's two later Shakespearean productions - "Hamlet" and "Richard III".

It is a common assumption that British documentary films began with "Drifters", John Grierson's silent film about herring fishery, which was first shown in London along with the "Battleship of Potemkin" in 1929. Grierson learned a great deal from his study of the great Russian directors of the nineteen-twenties. The growing team of young specialist film-makers, initiated by Grierson have demonstrated on a large scale the important fact that good documentary film-making is an essential link in international understanding and co-operation.

XV. Give a brief talk on one of the following topics:

  1. The History of Soviet Cinema Art.
  2. Moscow Film Festivals.
  3. The Mosfilm Studio and .its productions.
  4. Screen adaptations.
  5. Efremov, director and actor.
  6. Smoktunovsky on the screen.
  7. Laurence Olivier, a famous English actor.

Try Your Hand at Teaching

I. Make up a list of the words and phrases from school vocabulary suitable for the discussion of films and actors.

II. Adapt the dialogues from Ex. VIII, p. 71 for secondary school pupils. 74

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