Bullitt (1968)

The classic picture with the longest car chase ever in a movie and a brilliant McQueen. It’s Bullitt time.

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Hollands Licht (2003)

With the upcoming IDFA documentary festival being held here in Amsterdam the next weeks, I thought to share a little something on a film screened at a former edition of the event. No stills about manmade treasures this time but just the beauty of nature captured on your screen.

Around this time of the year there’s some astonishing sky scenery to be seen in the Netherlands, with beautiful variations of color in the sky, even in the city of Amsterdam. When I bike on my way home at the end of the afternoon, when the sun starts to set, the atmosphere can be fantastic. The other day it reminded me of the Hollands Licht documentary, that explores the myth of the Dutch Light, a phenomenon famous because of the 17th century paintings in which it is endlessly captured. Contains some interesting speakers too including art historians, physicists and one of my favorite artists; James Turrell. A must-see for all the light and painting enthusiasts out there!

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The Hustler (1961)

Cigarettes, a lot of whiskey, some pool-billiards and a cool Paul Newman is all it takes for a good movie. A simple conclusion drawn after having seen The Hustler. I’ve always loved the game of pool-billiards. Back in high school we would play games battling each other and gambling for small money, or just go out to play a couple of games at a Chinese owned pool joint in the city center. This movie really brings back the love for the game and it’s great to see Newman shoot some great shots of pool in this movie. At the time when the movie was shot, Willie Mosconi was the best pool player according to experts and he taught Newman all the skills needed for the action in the movie. Newman even put a pool table in his dining room to be able to train his pool shots non-stop. And with success. Most of the shots in the movie are actually taken by Newman himself, including some pretty incredible ones. That’s really adding to the realistic experience of the film and storyline. A sequel to the movie was made more than 20 years later, starring Tom Cruise as the protégé of Eddie Nelson. Really worth a watch as well.

Back to the stills, you can see Newman smoking a lot of cigarettes and drinking quite some whiskey – strictly sticking to the straight Kentucky bourbon from J.T.S. Brown.

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Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

After the horrible events depicted in Nordwand, only a few attempted ascents on the north face of the Eiger. In 1938 finally a team, lead by Heinrich Harrer, succeeded in the climb in combination with a safe return. The entire story of their expedition was published some 20 years later by Harrer in the form of a book entitled “The White Spider”. Another book by Harrer that was published in 1952 might be even more popular and went by the name “Seven Years in Tibet”. Unlike his second book, this book has been filmed twice, of which the most famous one is the 1997 version starring Brad Pitt.

The picture tells Harrer’s story from his departure from Austria in 1939, as he leaves for India to climb the Nanga Prabat, another still unconquered mountain peak back then. The undertaking is quite unfortunate and when they decide to return, they’re being imprisoned by the British due to their alliance with the nazi’s. The gear Harrer’s team wears is depicted great as always in mountain climbing movies; sand colored canvas rucksacks, almost antique ski goggles, knitted ski-masks and some great Anorak style jackets. Note the leather boots too, with the small metal traction and crampons secured underneath.

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Nordwand (2008)

The movie Nordwand depicts the story of the “last big problem of the Alps”: the ascent of Eiger’s northface. A while ago I covered Clint Eastwoods’ heroic ascent on the Eiger in the Eiger Sanction. Contrary to Clint’s fiction however, this is the adaptation of a real chapter that went down in history. In 1934 a party failed a first attempt to reach the summit via the north-face and a year later two climbers would freeze to death during their ascent. This didn’t scare the German Andreas Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurz, who pursued their dream and climbed the mountain in 1936 together with two Austrians, Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer. Nordwand tells the tale of the two youth friends in their challenge of conquering the “Mordwand”. A shame they would never reach the top, which is depicted in the movie as the fault of the stubborn two Austrians. Only in 1938 Heinrich Harrer and his crew would finally succeed in a safe ascent and return of the dangerous climb route.

The Bayern friends had exquisite knowledge of Alpinist style, wearing their woolen knickerbockers with ditto knee socks all through the movie. The name given to the baggy kneed trousers actually derives from the Dutch settler Harmen Jansen Knickerbocker, who lived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. A settlement unfortunately traded with the English and now known as contemporary day New York.

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