Archive for March 24th, 2010

                                        Copyright © 2010 by James Clark

    Lynch had spent quite a few years as a student of visual arts and would continue to produce tableaux and other structures.  As such, he was adept at visual and aural design, and, perhaps even more importantly for Eraserhead, completely fluent in the litany of insulting grotesquerie constituting the lingua franca of aspirants to visual heroism.

      In the full edition of David Lynch’s Rabbits (2002), quite a different matter from the tenuous clips comprising his Inland Empire, there is indeed a depiction, however cryptic, of Mulholland Drive’s Rita’s productive torment, productive, that is, of leaving the cage that was her—and Betty’s and Adam’s—protection  against legions of those hostile toward their (variously assimilated) contrariness. The premise of the little drama in eight scenes (each of about five minutes in duration) in which the two actresses from Mulholland Drive and an actor replacing the male lead, are concealed under rabbit (or donkey) costumes, is that Betty (now “Suzie”) and Adam (now “Jack”) having more in common with each other than with the hyper-physical Rita (now “Jane”), are becoming a couple (on Jack’s first entrance, Suzie puts her right hand over her heart), and Jane has now become the most solitary of the solitary. When they embrace on the sofa, it is Suzie who occupies the middle. Jane sporadically remarks, “It did not happen that way;” “There is something I want to say to you, Suzie;” “I was wondering when Suzie was going to do that;” “I only wish that they would go somewhere.” And by the beginning of scene three, they have disappeared from the living room staging area. That is the moment when Jane (performed, in this scene only, by Rebekah Del Rio, who, in Mulholland Drive, with her performance of the song, “Crying,” had revealed a formative kinship with Rita) could attempt to rekindle the magic of Club Silencio. And that, as it happens, is the moment when there emerges a dimension of loss not specifically entailed in  the blast-off pad (to both despair and joy) that was “Crying.” Fixing upon a vocal timbre very close to Laura Elena Herring’s dark resonance, she sings and recites, (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1928 83m) DVD1

Aka. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Cinematic sainthood

p/d  Carl T.Dreyer  w  Carl T.Dreyer, Joseph Delteil, Pierre Champion  ph  Rudolph Maté  ed  Carl T.Dreyer  art  Hermann Warm, Jean Hugo  cos  Valentine Hugo

Renée Falconetti (Joan), Eugène Silvain (Bishop Cauchon), Maurice Schutz (Nicholas Loyseleur), Michel Simon (Jean Lemaitre), Antonin Artaud (Massieu), Louis Ravet (Jean Beaupère), André Berley (Jean d’Estivet), Jean d’Yid (Judge),

Joan of Arc has long been the subject of cinematic interpretation.  One recalls de Mille’s visually arresting but dramatically stultifying epic Joan the Woman with Geraldine Farrar, the awful 1948 Hollywood borefest with Ingrid Bergman, the derided Saint Joan with Jean Seberg, the 1962 minimalist Bresson version with Florence Carrez and the more recent attempts with Leelee Sobieski and Milla Jovovich.  Only Marco de Gastyne’s overlooked 1929 La Merveilleuses Vie de Jeanne d’Arc and Rivette’s 1994 epic two parter, Jeanne la Pucelle, come close to greatness, but even Rivette – in spite of the performance of Sandrine Bonnaire – fails to rival Dreyer’s seminal masterpiece.  Put simply, Dreyer’s film is a true visionary work, a film of startling freshness and power. 

            The film is based strictly on the actual 1431 Rouen trial records preserved in the parliamentary library in Paris.  As one of the titles says “we discover Joan as she was – not with a helmet and armour, but simply a human being, a young woman who dies for her country.”  Whether Joan was indeed a blessed chaste saint or merely a misguided nationalist with insane visions is immaterial.  At its heart, Dreyer’s film isn’t just about Joan, but about faith itself.  It doesn’t matter whether we believe her, but that she believes herself.  Either way it’s impossible, even for one of the nation to whom she proved such a bane, not to feel some sympathy for her plight.  “It is you who have been sent by the devil to torment me” she proclaims at one point, and it would take a hard man not to sympathise.  However, the overall feeling one gets as we watch the trial go on its remorseless, relentless way to its inevitable infernal conclusion, sometimes makes one forget just how revolutionary its approach was.  No film before or since has used close-ups so menacingly or so effectively.  No film has ever had such majestic period sets and then basically refused to show them.  Dreyer’s camera is restless, rarely remaining still unless to dwell on the face of an accuser or the eponymous accused.  The effect is shattering, its faces closing in as if accusing you the viewer.  You feel every humiliation Joan receives and the final execution is surely one of the most realistic ever put on camera.  We literally see Joan burning to virtually the last fibre of her being, long after we can recognise the cross she clutches to her chest.  Religious figure or not, she is a martyr to her own beliefs, and for that alone we can only sit in awe.  With no action or romance, only the sheer emotional pain of the ultimate cinematic experiment, is it any wonder it failed commercially? (more…)

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