Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tom Jones

Tom Jones; black comedy, UK, 1963; D: Tony Richardson, S: Albert Finney, Susannah York, George Divine, Hugh Griffith, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood, Diane Cilento, Joyce Redman, David Warner

England, 18th century. Respectable Squire Allworthy lives with his sister Bridget. One day he returns to his home and finds an abandoned baby from the poor Jenny Jones. He decides to call the baby Tom and raise it as his own child. Tom grew up into a womanizer who sometimes has to prove he is not "responsible" for the pregnancy of various girls, like in the case of the poor Molly who cheated on him. When he breaks his arm during a hunt, he is nurtured by Sophie who falls in love with him. But her father engages her to the rich Blifil whereas Tom goes on to look for other women, upon which he gets expelled from the castle. He joins the army and leaves for London. There he gets wrongfully accused for robbery but gets saved from hanging by Allworthy who discovers he was actually Bridget's child. And gains Sophie's love.

Unusual adventure romantic grotesque, an adaptation of Henry Fielding's novel with the same name from 1749, won 3 Golden Globes (Best English-Language Foreign Film, Best motion picture - musical or comedy, Newcomer Albert Finney), 3 BAFTA awards (among them as Best British Film) and 4 Oscars (best motion picture, director, screenplay and music). Although complicated and deliberately "messy", the story - thanks to unusual camera angles and eccentric ideas - seizes the attention even today. The exposition is surprisingly shot almost as a silent film: when the rich Allworthy finds a baby in his bed, all of his dialogues are not heard, but are written as titles on the screen. Director Tony Richards crafts the film extremely bizarre, which is why it isn't for everyones taste, filling with a lot of black humor that reflects the primitive era of the 18th century: when the pregnant Molly comes out of church, old women starts targeting her with mud and calling her a prostitute. The wonderful shots of landscapes through which the hunters on horses are chasing after a deer, don't hide their brutality when they kick the horses with their feet until they start to bleed. Still, the movie is dominated by the odyssey of the title hero, the namesake of singer Tom Jones, who after a lot of mistakes finally finds his real love in this world.


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