Archive for August 7th, 2013


© 2013 by James Clark

In the first moments of his first feature, Lola (1961), Jacques Demy pulls us into the crux of what he knows to be urgent to us, even though we’ve never thought of it. Here’s how he does it. Shaking off whatever real or imagined need for color cinematography his scenario posed, he starts with an epigraph inscribed on a black ground, too hot to be swallowed so quickly, follows with a keyhole opening from that blackness to vivacious light upon a seaside road and a squawking seagull cheekily brushing off the indigestible profundity; and straightaway we behold the sweep of that beach roadway and the approach (from far off and into the middle distance) of a white Cadillac convertible, driven by a burly man dressed in white, with a white cowboy hat and smoking a big cigar. Rising with this approach is a rustic musical motif vaguely incongruous in its classically keyed but momentarily jazz-inflected keening. The car comes to a halt, giving us a striking profile of its non-Gallic girth and brassiness; the driver steps out to self-satisfiedly breathe in the lively shore and the commotion of its gulls. That his predilection for white extends right down to his shoes gives him the air of a slightly ridiculous White Knight, a Lancelot you couldn’t depend upon. Then he returns to the charger, swings back to the promenade (the camera pulling back to get into the swing of the Cadillac’s approach); and promptly we see him from the back seat and we’re lifted somewhat by the brisk progress of the drive along the choice real estate as transpiring through the broad windshield. Then we hear a bit of the Allegretto movement of Beethoven’s Symphony Number Seven, hardly a seamless fit with that American rockabilly presence. (He’s, perhaps disappointingly, blond and lacks sideburns. But his Texas swagger and Big Bopper features spell scant embrace of the confirmation of antiquity marching out of the soundtrack.) (more…)

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