Archive for June 11th, 2014

by Sachin Gandhi

On the surface, Fellini’s La Strada does not appear to exhibit characteristics of what is mostly associated with romantic films. There is no display of love, no passionate embrace or kiss or even a discussion of a relationship. The only thing on display from the first frame to the last is tragedy! The film starts and ends with death but these two events are crucial to the film’s passage of love. The first news of death kick-starts the journey of the two lead characters. The second death gives meaning to the relationship of the two characters and gives a face to the feelings of love that lingered underneath the surface. Death is a critical element in the journey of true love as evident in many romantic tragedies over the centuries. From Shakespeare to Urdu literature, death goes hand in hand with love. In fact, in the seven stages of Love (Attraction, Attachment, Love, Trust/Reverence, Worship, Obsession/Madness, Death) in Urdu language, death marks the seventh and final stage of Love. La Strada doesn’t depict all these stages in order but manages to incorporate them in one form or another. The film manages to hide all its emotions beneath a cold indifferent surface but by the end, all the emotions spill over like the waves that wash up on shore in the final scene.


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 © 2014 by James Clark

      Under the Skin (2013) fires toward us a maelstrom of visual and aural stimuli. Much of it pertains to electrodynamic frontiers vastly complicating the human component of such motion. Thus we have an introductory passage wherein startling confluences of astronomical light in blue, gold and red play out upon the infinite darkness of a cescendoing cosmos. A musical accompaniment of lacerating and seductive pulsating ringing, clatter, grinding and thundering presses the tension and makes very clear we have come to a history having forever turned its back on the venerable and sedate gratifications of the music of the spheres.

In the orientation just described, there come to view geometric features playing out to a cylinder of sorts that could be a vehicle or a scanner (an MRI, perhaps). Drifting over this incursion are voices calling out, in a blurred way, what sounds like, “…food, feed…cell… cell…” Then the iris of one eye fills the screen, several of its elements pulsing, like a city seen from a great distance. The dark, reddish brown of that organ gives way to a dark landscape with coursing rivulets and a dusting of snow. There’s a winding road seen from far away and from some kind of promontory, and grinding sounds and dangerous speeds recommence. The ominous thrust and noise stop, the motorcycle rider plunges purposefully down a nearly pitch black slope with city lights spreading across the horizon. Soon the rider, with tempered skeletal touches on his leather uniform, re-emerges with the corpse of a woman slung over his shoulder. She is all in black, with net stockings. The narrative moves on to a brightly lit, shimmering space, bringing to mind an operating theatre. But what appears to be the dead girl (or subject of some kind of [genetic?] surgery) is on the glowing floor and another woman—all in silhouette—busies herself with removing from the corpse and putting on her own body the dead young woman’s clothes. Heavy high-heeled shoes going on create a reverberation. And then the newly-outfitted figure gives us reason to wonder what else she has taken from that all-too-mortal victim whom the biker had found as by some advanced technology (or, on the other hand, had he killed her some time before?). The stranger with someone else’s clothes—her tall, vibrantly-toned body being one of great beauty, evident even in the compromised light—reaches down to the recumbent woman with her finger to sample something not factored into the transplant, namely, a trace of vaginal fluid. From the bush where she was accessed, the dead body reveals another curiosity-seeker, a tiny ant, treading through the liquid on the lovely woman’s finger. That iris has readily come into her outfitting. The other area would be part of a work in progress, for a most unusual piece of work. (more…)

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