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Learning More About: Film with Subject Adviser Dieter

24 January 2024

Subject Adviser for Film, Dieter, shares his first cinema memory and his favourite movies.

A selfie of Dieter, the film subject adviser

 When did your love of cinema begin?

My interest in film is grounded in my childhood growing up in post-war Hamburg in a working class family with little spare cash. Most children's entertainment consisted of the once-yearly travelling fair and annual circus. We did have three cinemas in our part of town. The cheapest cinema was near our school and showed cowboy films for 1 mark. I will never forget my first film, The Wages of Fear. We queued to be the first in with our seats in the front row. It took us a while to figure out our strategic mistake. I loved every minute of it.

In my last years at school I joined a cinema club screening in a disused garage used as fuel storage on 16mm flammable! material. We watched a stream of subtitled Italian and  French films.

What was the first film you ever saw - and what did you think about it?

THE WAGES OF FEAR 1953 Director Georges Clouzot

Why do I remember this film? Atmospheric and gripping although it takes a while to get going. Wait and enjoy. Soak up the atmosphere.

Finally, the film's extended suspense sequences deserve a place among the great stretches of cinema. Four desperate men, broke and stranded in a backwater of Latin America, sign up on a suicidal mission to drive two truckloads of nitro-glycerine 300 miles down a hazardous road. They could be blown to pieces at any instant, and in the film's most famous scene Clouzot requires them to turn their trucks around on a rickety, half-finished timber platform high above a mountain gorge.

What are your favourite films now?

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 1930 Director Lewis Milestone

From a novel by Erich Maria Remarque and based on the writer’s own experience in World War I, this is by a margin the most effective anti-war film I have seen. Compulsory viewing for a new generation of those who have just starting voting and a reminder for us oldies to work hard for peace in our time.

A new version of this film has just been released on Netflix. It looks good with 4 Academy Awards. I have not seen it, but the true impact calls for the big screen.

2001: A SPACE ODYSEY 1968 Director Stanley KUBRICK

Shot at Pinewood Studios where the ingenuity of our home-grown technicians was put to good use as it fused with the genius of the director. Wide Screen and intoxicating music (who would have thought of playing Strauss’s tone poem ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’ as the space capsule tumbled through space in a film streets ahead of the rest.) Leaving the cinema it felt like Shaftesbury Road was alt-reality.

BYCICLE THIEVES 1948 Director Vittoro de Sica

Vittorio de Sica’s Neorealist masterpiece is set in a world where owning a bicycle is the key to working, but it could just as easily be set in one where the absence of car, or affordable childcare, or a home, or a social security number are insurmountable barriers in the constant slog to put food on the table. That’s what makes simultaneously it a film for post-war Italy and modern-day anywhere-at-all. It is a powerful, enduring landmark in humanist cinema. You can feel it in virtually every social drama you care to mention, from Ken Loach to Kelly.

What can u3a members gain from starting a film group at their u3a?

An insight into the u3a family of group leaders, making new friends with film enthusiasts, learning from others.

How will you help u3a members planning to set up a new group?

I will inject a sense of realism and help to plan all parts, from the initial idea to the first screening. 

Find out more and contact Dieter on his Subject Advice page.

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