A look back at this day in film history
December 03
November 13, 1967
Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers Unleashed

Roman Polanski showed a lighter – and more colorful side – to his filmmaking when a film with multiple identities, The Fearless Vampire Killers (aka The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck) was released in the U.S. Coming straight off the huge success of his three first films, Knife in the Water, Repulsion and Cul de Sac, Polanski was making his first film for an American studio, was shooting in color for the first time, and was making his most lighthearted movie so far. Fearless Vampire Killers was, as the title hinted, a horror comedy and starred Jack MacGowran and Polanski himself as the titular characters who head for Transylvania looking for neckbiting daysleepers. However the film, shot under the title Dance of the Vampires, was not intended to be the farce which it was sold to audiences as by MGM. Even worse, the studio actually radically recut the movie from Polanski’s initial version released in Europe – which is described by DVD Savant’s Glenn Erickson as a "unique blend of fairytale beauty, sly comedy and baleful horror" – and even added in a cartoon prologue, and made the lion logo into a hastily scribbled vampire. Polanski understandably disowned the movie, but would maybe have been more angered by MGM’s meddling had he not been in the first throes of a love affair with his Fearless romantic interest, Sharon Tate. Fortunately, in 1979, the original version became the accepted cut of the film and the butchered version is now relatively difficult to see.

More Flashbacks
December 3, 1930
Jean-Luc Godard born

Perhaps not coincidentally, cinema’s premiere critic of bourgeois politics was raised in an affluent and comfortable life. Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris, the second of four children, to a respected physician with his own clinic and a mother whose family had strong banking interests.

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December 3, 1993
Derek Jarman's Blue in New York

On a December Friday in New York City in 1993, cineastes got the chance to get a look at Derek Jarman’s new film, Blue. The British painter, filmmaker and activist had increasingly gained an American reputation with homoerotic art films like Caravaggio and Edward II, placing him along with Todd Haynes and Gregg Araki at the forefront of New Queer Cinema. But those who had not read about Blue beforehand found the screening a confusing and uncomfortable situation. While the soundtrack contained an ongoing discussion between Jarman, Tilda Swinton and others for 79 minutes, the screen stayed a constant, undying blue. By the time he made the film, Jarman, one of Britain’s most profound colorists, was going blind from cytomegalovirus, an AIDS-related infection. Departing from this world and into language, Jarman found comfort in the abstract warmth of a blue metaphor (from sad to open to the far beyond), creating in the process a stunning experimental film about the limits of film, sight and life itself. In a little more than two months after it was screened in New York, Derek Jarman was dead from complications due to AIDS.

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