Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fallen Idol (1948) at Wonders in the Dark

Bobby Henrey in The Fallen Idol (1948).

Sometimes as adults, we forget how lonely and confusing childhood can be. Produced in England in 1948, The Fallen Idol (1948) resonates long after its final scene for its moving central depiction of vulnerability and helplessness.

Fade in on Bobby Henrey as Phillipe, an inquisitive-looking boy peering through a second-floor railing, watching the clockwork precision of the embassy staff below. Everyone has a job to do but him. In his privileged position as the diplomat’s son, Phillipe is simply an observer, like a child in a movie theater (or, more pessimistically, like a prisoner behind bars). Being so young, nine-years-old at the most, he watches intently but probably understands only a fraction of what he sees.
The essay continues at Wonders in the Dark

I contributed this piece to the Childhood Films Countdown at Wonders in the Dark. Wonders ringleader and mastermind Sam Juliano has organized dozens of his knowledgeable film-buff friends to write in-depth essays on 80 great films that explore childhood and adolescence. It is an honor to be participating!

Skip on over to Wonders in the Dark to read my whole piece on Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol (1948). Meanwhile, here at 21 Essays, I’ll just tease with some tasty images from the film, a favorite of mine for many years.

"... a panic-stricken Phillipe dashes down deserted city alleys..." And
a friendly policeman finally calms the child down. The Fallen Idol
displayed director Carol Reed's skill at capturing the ominous
atmosphere of the city at night.

Director Carol Reed liked using Dutch angles where he tilted the camera
to suggest a world out-of-balance. This image shows a tense scene
between Bobby Henrey and Sonia Dresdel. In his next movie,
The Third Man (1949), Reed's use of Dutch angles hit an all-time high
as he filmed the streets and sewers of post-war Vienna.

© 2015 Lee Price

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