The Editor focuses on the first theme for Autumn
Sean has returned from his holiday in Northern Spain bearing a present of a single bottle of an unspeakably foul sweet sherry, charmingly gift-wrapped in the plastic bag of the supermarket that he bought it from. Since Eoin and Richard prefer to keep themselves removed from DTW’s London nerve centre, and because all three skinflints who present themselves as my principals refuse to allow me a PA, Sean and I are the sole inhabitants of our editorial office. Although I am rather less heavily-jowled than Mr Wather Matthau, and Sean is no match for the trim, bright-eyed Mr Jack Lemmon, as we sit at our desks I am nevertheless put in mind of the once popular movie, ‘The Odd Couple’. By which you might gather that the ‘Film’ of this month’s theme is the cinematic kind although, in the DTW spirit of pragmatism, if one of our correspondents insists on submitting a piece on the flexible properties of polyester film in automotive applications, I will consider it.
Moving pictures and motor cars have a parallel history. The Benz Motorwagen was built in 1886 at the same time as Le Prince and Friese-Green were developing motion film cameras and it’s interesting to make comparisons through the past 130 years between what we could see on the silver screen and what was outside in the movie theatre car park. But I will leave that to my authors.
The cinematic depiction of the motor car has been a frustrating one for enthusiasts, at times seeming to be an endless run of undercranked scenes, crude back-projection and characters sawing at steering wheels in a way that would upset even the moribund set-up of an old Audi. Occasionally something stands out, rarely a clever choice of vehicle where a character is perfectly complemented by their car but, more usual and less subtle, we are presented with the car chase. Very occasionally the car has been the main character, as in Katzin’s (McQueen’s if you insist) ‘Le Mans’, Lelouch’s ‘C’était un Rendez-vous’ and, maybe, Francis Coppola’s ‘Tucker’, but this is understandably rare. Most people aren’t that deeply interested in cars.
The single most influential piece of car placement is, undoubtedly, when David Brown reluctantly parted with two Aston Martin DB5s in 1963 to be placed in the fictional hands of a thuggish, philandering, crash-prone brand snob. Had it not been for that, despite the efforts over the years of Tadek Marek, Victor Gauntlett, Ford Motors, Ian Callum and various others, it is unlikely the company would be around today, such is the power of film over young men’s dreams.
Of course, just as today’s cars have become slaves to electronics, so have a great percentage of today’s movies stopped being technically ‘films’ since they are both shot and projected digitally. Combined with the excessive use of CGI, many movies have passed through the phase when technology allowed them to be highly realistic, to a point where they are highly artificial – as convincing as the exhaust note of many of today’s cars. But I will not split gate hairs and will reluctantly accept the pixel into our Monthly Theme.
By now Sean is already considering the theme in his inimical way, tongue in one corner of his mouth, typing noisily with his index finger whilst whistling ‘The Self Preservation Society’ to himself. In his case I fear the worst, but am sure that some of the more sophisticated cineastes amongst our excellent writers will counter his efforts for your delight.