So the 1974 movie 'The Conversation' is an unlikely choice for a festive film, but hear me out it is a Christmas movie!
How does it qualify as a Christmas movie? well somebody talks about Christmas, there's talk about buying presents for Christmas, it's set at Christmas and features a Christmas tree. Case closed!
It's not most festive as it's about paranoia, murder, secrets and lies.....
The Conversation revolves around surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), who is hired to secretly record a conversation between two people in a San Francisco park. He is told that the conversation is confidential and that he should not get personally involved. Harry is a professional and takes his job seriously. He begins to record the conversation, but soon finds himself drawn into the mystery.
Harry is conflicted and is torn between his professional obligations and his personal moral code. He is desperate to find out the truth and will stop at nothing to protect the innocent to make up for his past mistakes.
The Conversation explores themes of paranoia and morality. Harry is constantly on edge and is paranoid that he is being watched. He is constantly questioning his own morality as he struggles to decide what is right and wrong. The film also explores themes of secrets and trust.
With much of Coppola's work the idea of religion and sin comes into play, both real and imagined. With Harry eventually driven to paranoia and desperation by the method in which he committed his 'sin' looking for something that might not actually be real.
the film was shot in San Francisco. The visuals are stunning and capture the mood of the film perfectly. The camera captures the characters' emotions, and the visuals enhance the suspense and mystery of the film.
The visuals also convey the themes of paranoia and distrust. The camera often follows Harry, making the audience feel as if they are being watched. Coppola uses a combination of long takes, close-ups, and wide shots to create a suspenseful atmosphere.
Coppola uses sound to create tension and draw the audience into the world of the film. Especially the use of the recordings Harry has taken playing over and over again, each time bringing different connotations. Coppola himself said sound is cheaper than film and as a self-produced movie they developed various techniques to produce the audio. These techniques, in cooperation with Dolby set the standard for modern movie making.
The Conversation is an excellent thriller from the 70s. Gene Hackman delivers a stellar performance as the lead, and also stars a very young Harrison Ford and the brilliant John Cazale.
The film is a study in paranoia and loneliness, and is partly inspired by Antonioni's Blow-Up. Francis Ford Coppola's writing and directing triumph is still highly relevant today, with its exploration of themes such as 'fake news' and 'surveillance'. The Conversation is an immaculate film that is intense and thought-provoking. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in thrillers, and a classic of the 70s....plus it's a Christmas movie....
This week's sketch....