Bridge to the Sun (1961)

Bridge to the Sun
Directed by Etienne Perier
Written by Charles Kaufman from the autobiography by Gwendolen Terasaki
1961/France/USA
Cite Films/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
First viewing/Amazon Instant

I know how men in exile feed on dreams. Aeschylus

Carroll Baker surely had a wide range as an actor.  Here she plays a flighty Southern-belle type with a temper.

This is based on Gwendolen Terasaki’s autobiography.  It is 1935 and Gwen (Baker) is spending a short vacation in Washington DC visiting her aunt and one of her many beaus, a government official.   The official wangles the three an invitation to a reception at the Japanese Embassy.  It is there she meets diplomat “Terry” Terasaki (James Shigeta).  There is an immediate attraction and he asks her out.  They fall in love.  Both her relatives and the Japanese Ambassador oppose their marriage but their passion overcomes all obstacles.

Before too long, Terry is reassigned to Japan.  Gwen has a terrible time adapting to Japanese customs and the growing nationalism surrounding her but the marriage is strong enough to survive it.

By the time the couple returns to Washington, war clouds are on the horizon and they have a daughter in tow.  Terry surreptitiously works for peace.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, all Japanese diplomats are immediately deported.  Gwen refuses to be left behind. Between the deprivation of war and Terry’s continued anti-war activities, Gwen struggles to hold her family together.

This is an interesting and well-made picture.  I enjoyed it and my husband liked it even more than I did.

Trailer

The Steamroller and the Violin (1961)

The Steamroller and the Violin (Katok i skripka)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Konchalovskiy; story by S. Bakhmetyeva
1961/USSR
Mosfilm Children’s Film Unit
First viewing/Filmstruck

One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood. Agatha Christie

Tarkovsky’s debut solo film is both sweet and accomplished.

Seven-year-old Sasha is gifted.  He spends most of every day practicing the violin but neither his mother nor his instructor is ever satisfied.  The kids in his apartment block tease and torment him.  He is a very lonely child.

Sasha has his one day of happy childhood when Sergei, a steamroller driver, takes pity on him.  He lets the boy drive the steamroller and then takes him to get food for a shared lunch.  Sasha basks in the attention.

Tarkovsky tells the tale with great delicacy and charm.  It was the quiet moments surrounding the more arty camera effects that completely won me over, though the latter did build to a very satisfying ending.  Highly recommended.

Video essay on Tarkovsky and his solo debut