Friday, May 26, 2006

"earth is, what i feel for you"

Andrzej Zulawski's The Silver Globe was never finished as a project when filming was halted by Polish authorities in 1977, but it really doesn't feel incomplete. Sure, there are deep, awkward ellipses and the narrative borders on the incoherent at times, but what remains (or rather, what was put together ten years later by Zulawski himself, with added voiceover narration filling in for the missing scenes) is a work of beauty and madness. The convoluted plot is well-described elsewhere. Zulawski here completes the chaos witnessed in Possession, and creates an altogether isolated universe. Isolated yet vaguely familiar: The search for love, freedom, and identity on the silver globe remains endless and absolute. The wildly mobile, handheld camerawork and spectacular POV shots of the early scenes (ostensibly as part of the video diary of one of the stranded astronauts) give way to alternating sequences when further distortion of perspective is echoed by the film's movement to and fro maze-like caves and vast beaches. Like the landscape, the film is ever-shifting stylistically - at times even existing as an amalgam of various genres and styles: the aforementioned documentary-like video journals, emphatically read poetry, a filmed play/opera, an experimental landscape film, and most of all, a delirious fairy-tale with political, religious, and philosophical undertones. Yet it remains a completely cinematic spectacle, as much the shadow of the fantasy film as Possession is of the horror film. (That film is a spectacle of a deeply-wounded relationship manifested in the form of a monster, here the avian beasts can be read as an incarnation of the identity crises of an entire species! And the film itself a spectacle of grand discovery and experience.)

Some memorable images from The Silver Globe (all sans-CGI, of course) :
-- a woman opens her mane of hair and wipes the blood off Marek's face with it
-- a search for allies leads to a vast underground orgy, bodies entwined as far as the eye can see
-- the battle between the 'human' dwellers of the silver globe and the enormous winged creatures that takes place in a mist-covered forest, set to an electronic score
-- the confrontation between Marek and the leader of the avian creatures, Andrzej Seweryn's 'extreme' performance recalling that of Isabelle Adjani from the famous subway scene in Possession
-- the horrifying final sequence in which dozens of prisoners have been impaled through the anus atop tall wooden poles erected on a beach.

The film has never been available in any format and has been rarely projected since its '88 Cannes premiere. There are, however, copies around on eBay or on sites like superhappyfun, which apparently come from a rare German broadcast, with a bizarre benshi-like English overdub translating the dialogue and voiceover narration as the scenes unfold! It actually works better than it sounds like, the entire experience adding to the headspinner that is the film itself. I'd love to see more films by Zulawski - Diabel and Szamanka especially sound like crazy, visionary beasts in the vein of The Silver Globe.

And speaking of Cannes, the films I'm most looking forward to seeing from this year's selection: Iklimler, Flandres, Colossal Youth, Southland Tales, The Host, Bamako, The Wedding Director, Les Signes, and more. I hope to catch these within the next decade or so. Prediction for Palme? As always, very difficult to say, but I hear WKW really liked Southland Tales...

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