Desert Island Discs is a British radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was first broadcast in 1942. The concept is, that each week a guest; someone famous or is a person of note, called a ‘castaway’ during the programme, is asked to choose eight recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices.
I decided to run my own ‘Desert Island’, but with movies.
As an avid film viewer, I have found this quite a challenge. I have seen plenty of movies that I really liked, but would I want to be stranded on a Desert Island to watch them over and over again? Which films bear repeated viewing? Which films have enough content, appeal or personal resonance that one could stand to watch over and over again?
I am sure that should I return to this in, say a year, I would alter my selection somewhat, but for today, these are my eight ‘recordings’:-
- The Good The Bad and The Ugly
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.
Director: Sergio Leone.
Genre: Spaghetti Western (so called because this genre of Westerns was produced by Italians).
Why watch it: Fantastic film shots of landscapes and close ups; especially in the final showdown. Terrific action and storyline – 3 gunslingers are after buried gold. Fortune swings back and forth between the characters, when one has the upper hand, he makes sure he gets the most out of the other one. The soundtrack is brilliant too, I always ‘sing’ along!!
Favourite line: “Who the hell is that? One bastard goes in, and another comes out.”
- Amelie (aka; The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain)
Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz,
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Why watch it: Romance without the ‘yuck!’ factor. Whimsical, delightful, extremely touching in parts. The way Amelie takes ‘revenge’ on unpleasant people. And the music; it still stirs my emotions. Keep an eye on the garden gnome!
Favourite line: “Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”[scenes of various orgasms taking place] Amélie: Fifteen.”
- The Fearless Vampire Killers (Dance of The Vampires)
Stars: Roman Polanski, Jack MacGowran, Alfie Bass,
Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Comedy Horror
Why watch it: Definitely not your usual vampire film. A truly successful blend of horror and comedy, with beautifully shot scenes. Professor Abronsius and his young assistant, Alfred, are on the hunt for vampires, across snowy landscapes ‘deep in the heart of Transylvania’ to a remote castle. The physical moments with no dialogue are beautifully choreographed.
Favourite line: “…like a little birdy alighting on a branch…then, let an angel pass. Shall we allow an angel to pass?”
- Radio Days
Stars: Danny Aiello, Mia Farrow, Seth Green
Director: Woody Allen
Why watch it: Jewish screen family life at its best; a view of the world through a young boys eyes and the medium of radio; stories within stories and the effects on the listeners. The scene with the two burglars is brilliant.
Favourite line: “No. Have it your way. The Pacific is greater.”
Stars: Walter Matthau, Cris Campion
Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Adventure Comedy
Why watch it: Polanski actually had the ship built for the movie! Matthau, I think, is at his very best in this little known/shown film. Captain Reds lust for gold knows no bounds, and the whole film is a series of ploys to get particular pieces of gold – in particular, a Spanish throne. All the characters are wonderfully portrayed, pirates, naval officers, priests – the game of ‘Dead Man’s Nag’ is both hilarious and brutal.
Favourite line: “Well Padre. I once had a mind to eat the Frog.”
- Wild at Heart
Stars: Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe
Director: David Lynch
Why watch it: For its bizarre mixture of raging violence, dream scenes, illusions to Elvis Presley and The Wizard of Oz – true Lynchian oddness wrapped in what initially appears a ‘regular’ thriller. There are some truly disturbing characters in this film – be warned!
Favourite line: “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.”
Stars: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman
Director: Luc Besson
Why watch it: For one of the most beautiful relationships shown on screen. The 12 year old Mathilda finds herself in the ‘care’ of Leon, a hitman; but who is the child? This is at times, an extremely touching film, how does a man who kills for a living take care of a child? Scenes with his little potted plant reveal that Leon is not heartless, or a cold-blooded killer, there is something else in this taciturn man. Portman is absolutely excellent as Mathilda, the orphaned girl who grows up fast.
Favourite line: “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.”
- Spirited Away
Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genre: Anime fantasy
Why watch it: Miyazakis’s first anime is arguably his finest. A feast for the eyes, with a beautiful plot reminiscent of a good old style fairy tale. Follow Chihiro into the magical town where spirits take baths and give gold to the greedy.
Favourite line: “There must be some mistake! None of these pigs are my parents!”
These are all films I own on DVD, I have watched many times and will watch again. I could have chosen pretty much any Allen or Polanski film; I have been a huge fan since early teens. Same with David Lynch although I don’t fancy being stuck for too long on a desert island with some of his characters or scenes in my head!
What would you take if you could only choose 8 movies? Have you seen any of the one’s on my list?