Thursday, 8 March 2012

An Oscar Winning Bundle

Every year I watch The Oscars.  I love the glamour, the ceremony and discovering new films to put on my must-watch list!  This year was no different. My only disappointment was the lack of awards for Brad Pitt or George Clooney!   However, the lovely people at Warner Bros. have made this year extra special by sending me an Oscars Bundle of award winning movies to enjoy.  The smart black box, lined with gold paper contained four fabulous films that have all enjoyed Oscar success, plus two fabulous chocolate Oscar lollies!

 The 1951 Classic An American in Paris won six Oscars including Best Picture!  The film stars Gene Kelly as an ex-serviceman and struggling artist in Paris.  Complications occur when he falls in love with a young girl Lise who is already engaged to a cabaret artist Henri.  Jerry is taken in by a rich, but lonely society woman who has designs on more than just his artwork.  Jerry fantasises about being with Lise when he discovers she is about to enter into a loveless marriage with Henri to whom she feels indebted.  Will true love conquer all?

This is the sort of film I was brought up on.  My dad loves the old MGM Technicolour Musicals.  Gene Kelly's dancing is inspirational, the scenery is sumptuous and the Gershwin soundtrack is classic.  The long Gene Kelly ballet sequence is pure Hollywood gold and tells a story so beautifully.  They don't make films like this anymore.

The 1965 film Dr Zhivago has the tagline 'a love caught in the fire of  revolution'.  Set around the Russian Bolshevik revolution and is the epic tale of the life of a doctor and a poet struggling to make sense of his life during the turbulent backdrop of war and revolution.  It won five Oscars including the coveted Best Picture title.

Starring Omar Shariff as Yuri and Julie Christie as Lara, the object of his forbidden love who inspires passion in him, the story is told through the narration of Yuri's brother as he tells a young woman, who he believes is his niece, about her father.  It is a tragically doomed love story where a happy ending never quite materialises.  It is beautifully portrayed although at times is quite bleak and brutal, befitting the context of the era it is set in.  Lara's Theme is such a classic tune (I learnt to play it on the recorder as a child) and the dramatic sweeping shots seem to have been made for Blu Ray!

Gone With The Wind (1939), winner of ten Academy Awards is an epic and turbulent love story set against the backdrop of the American Civil War.  Scarlett O'Hara is a spoiled Southern girl living on her father's plantation Tara.  Hopelessly in love with a married man, she finds herself in a relationship with the roguish hero Rhett Butler.  It is a tale of family, of love and of  Civil War.

This sweeping epic was made on a scale rarely seen in modern productions.  The melodramatic spectacle, the flawed heroine and the turbulent relationship reflected in the turbulence of the deep south, makes this an amazing experience to immerse yourself in.  Even as a modern audience we can be swept along with the drama.  With the most famous of lines "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" delivered to an anguished Scarlett as she realises the truth and depth of her feelings,  by an indifferent Rhett, we see the end of this epic relationship with the prospect of an unknown future for our leading lady as she returns alone to Tara.  It as an absolute epic film and even if the histrionics can at times appear a bit 'cheesy', it is a fabulous and smouldering watch.  

The last title is a modern movie The Blindside that enjoyed Oscar success in 2009.  Sandra Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy in this extraordinary real life story of a caring woman who takes in a homeless and troubled teenager giving him all the opportunities otherwise denied him, such as a loving family and an education.  His interest in American Football leads him to become an NFL prospect and he ends up playing for the Baltimore Ravens.  In helping the under privileged youngster, the middle-class white family experience some insightful self-discoveries of their own.  It's essentially a heart warming tale of triumph and the strength of the human spirit.  Bullock is at her best in this movie and has an Oscar to prove it!  I loved the casting of  Michael Oher...he is such a giant.  I loved that how by giving an under privileged kid a chance, the family gave themselves a new dimension that was ultimately so rewarding.  The fact that it is a true story really is humbling and inspiring.

With twenty-two Academy Awards between them, these movies celebrate the very best of  film entertainment.  They represent classic cinema and I'm excited about introducing them to my older children.  The Blu Ray releases really give the best quality sound and vision and the special features really add something extra giving insight to the movies.  I predict many an evening snuggled up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a fantastic, classic movie.  Bliss for this film loving family!

Check out these Warner Bros. titles and introduce your family to a whole new world of classic cinema gems.


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