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Dil Se (1998): Chaiyya Chaiyya

Every once in a while I tune into a Bollywood movie to save myself from the tedium of modern Hollywood efforts.  I saw this on television a few years ago, and was immediately struck by the beauty of the countryside, plus the technical complexity of arranging cinematography and choreography for a moving train.  The song is currently my earworm of the week.

Now making a mental note to visit the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

We could easily film something like that here in Canada. VIA Route #1, “The Canadian”, passes through the scenic Rocky Mountains and has enough roof square footage to permit dancing by all the A-, B-, C- and D-list Canadian celebrities you can think of.

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Foreign Correspondent (1940) theatrical trailer

This film is remarkable for several reasons, which are best enumerated and illustrated by reading through the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater’s Foreign Correspondent online exhibit.  But I’ll endeavour to give you a brief summary here.

  • Director Alfred Hitchcock was able to spin a gripping and oddly prescient tale of a fictionalised Second World War—which at the time of filming had really only just begun.  In fact the Tripartite Pact (establishing the formal alliance of Axis powers Germany, Italy and Japan) was signed a month after principal photography had wrapped.  The film opened to U.S. audiences at the commencement of the Battle of Britain, and a scene in which the Germans bomb London was echoed a week later when the Germans actually bombed London for the first time in that conflict.
  • The art director had to build reproductions of Waterloo Station, the Hotel Europe, two ocean liners, a large flying boat, and a 3-storey windmill.
  • Locations in Europe had to be re-shot after the ocean liner carrying the original location footage was torpedoed by a U-boat.
  • A full-scale mock-up of an Imperial Airways Empire flying boat was constructed, at a cost of $47,000.  A crash scene involving the mock-up added $250,000 to the film’s eventual $1.48 million price tag.

This film is definitely a priority in the growing list of films I need to see.

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John Barry: Out of Africa Original Soundtrack (1985)

Generally this film sets my teeth on edge; especially Meryl Streep’s faux-Danish accent and Robert Redford’s lack of an English one. But I do love the stunning beauty of Kenya itself paired with John Barry’s terrific soundtrack.

For my money, the best moments in this lengthy clip run from 6:40 to the end, and feature a de Havilland DH.60G Gipsy Moth (registry G-AAMT).  You know this was prior to extensive CGI use, so someone actually took a Gipsy Moth out to Kenya and flew it around in front of the camera.   Of special note is the segment from 9:10 to the end, where the Moth buzzes flamingoes along a lakeshore at quite low altitude.  According to IMDB, the pilot for this footage was Wing Commander Sir Henry Arthur Dalrymple-White, 2nd Baronet, DFC, a veteran of the Second World War who resided in Kenya and kept flying until his 80th year.  Sir Henry passed away in Nairobi on June 30th, 2006.

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