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Posted by Wendy Plotkin <U20566@uicvm.uic.edu> I agree with Richard Harris' and Alan Mayne's endorsement of "The Bicycle Thief," a remarkably personal film about post-war Rome, although I see it as more of a commentary about industrial society than the city (is there a Socialist theory of the city antedating the works of David Harvey and Ira Katznelson, apart from non-spatial theories of industrialization and of labor?) I've put on the fileserver a previous posting that includes a commentary on "The Bicycle Thief" from a book on Italian film, along with my own description of two other favorite films, the Peruvian- directed "The Green Wall" and the Indian "The Apu Trilogy". Although most of "The Green Wall" is set in the Amazonian rain forests, it offers another quite moving personal commentary on the advantages and disadvantages of civilization and of the city (and modern means of transport). In the same posting, I include a description from another book of the Bolivian feature film "Chuquiago," a four-part exploration of the social topography of the capital city, La Paz, -- from the Indians who barely subsist on its rim to the sheltered lives of the superrich in the valley of this urban crater. As for "The Apu Trilogy", here's a portion of Pauline Kael's description of the three films from her new book, FOR KEEPS: 30 YEARS AT THE MOVIES (New York: Penguin Books, 1994): THE APU TRILOGY expresses India in transition, showing the development of the boy Apu's consciousness from the primitive, medieval village life of PATHER PANCHALI through the modern city streets and schools of Benares to the University of Calcutta in APARAJITO, and then, in THE WORLD OF APU, beyond self-consciousness to the destruction of his egotism, and the rebirth of feeling, the renewal of strength. (64) There is a link between these favorite films, as Kael writes of Satyajit Ray, the director of THE APU TRILOGY: Sent by his employers to England for three months in 1950, he went to more than ninety films [W.P.: I would surmise in English cities], and he has reported that the one that helped most to clarify his ideas was THE BICYCLE THIEF. (64) Interestingly, Ray had an urban background, and wrote of his decision to make a film about Indian rural life: What I lacked was first-hand acquaintance with the "milieu" of the story. I could, of course, draw upon the book itself, which was a kind of encyclopedia of Bengali rural life, but I knew that this was not enough. In any case, one had only to drive six miles out of the city to get to the heart of the authentic village....[T]hese explorations ...nevertheless opened up a new and fascinating world. To one born and bred in the city, it had a new flavor, a new texture; and its values were different." (64-65) In reading this passage, I am reminded of the writing of Ved Mehta, the Indian essayist who made the passage from India to the U.S. The commentary on "The Bicycle Thief," "The Green Wall" and "The Apu Trilogy" was initially included in a posting by Charlie Nilon about the films shown on a Los Angeles film festival entitled "Cine City: Films and Perceptions of Urban Space." To obtain a copy of the entire posting, which includes a list of famous and not-so-famous films (MANILA, IN THE CLAWNS OF NEON, Lino Brocka, 1975), send a note to Listserv@uicvm.uic.edu with the message: GET LA-FILM FESTIVAL I am fascinated by the interest in the topic of films and the city, which demonstrates the power of film, in my mind. I am in the process of compiling files of all H-Urban discussions on urban films and urban documentaries, and will announce that when it is available. Wendy Plotkin University of Illinois at Chicago H-Urban Co-Editor