Monday, August 11, 2008

Pilgrimage



(Above, right: Henrietta Crosman as Hannah Jessop in John Ford's Pilgrimage.)

"Almost alone among Ford characters, Hannah changes — from virulent, raging intolerance to the sowing of tolerance. If she can surpass her myopia, suggests Ford, there is an alternative to wars and to worlds like Tabu’s, where lovers are sacrificed to ideas. Hannah epitomizes her world, yet her hyperbolic qualities lead her to a wisdom from which her interference can save others from moralistic hypocrisies similar to those that led her to murder her own son. Hannah reunites a family, then walks away. Perhaps she is only a deus ex machina wrenched out of the necessities of Ford’s fiction. Whatever, with this little old lady is born the first “Fordian hero,” whom we will encounter in most subsequent Ford pictures in the guise of Will Rogers, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne, among others, and whose judging, priesting, Christ-like interventions will momentarily but repeatedly redeem mankind from its myopic intolerance. Flowers mark Hannah’s passage. Ford’s most constant symbol, they mark most heroes’ loves — Lincoln, from and to Ann Rutledge; Nathan Brittles and Frank Skeffington, to their dead wives; Tom Doniphon, to and from Hallie; and so on. Hannah’s flowers signify not only conscious intention (to honor the dead) and reversal (Hannah’s initial refusal to honor her dead), but also their ultimate power: Hannah succumbs. Objects may do more than witness and judge. We so infuse the world with our feelings and thoughts, that eventually the world infuses us in return."

- Tag Gallagher, John Ford: The Man And His Movies (2007). (A reminder if any reader needs it: the revised edition of the book - immense and essential - is available as a pdf download from Tag's site.)

images of the day



[... from Pilgrimage (John Ford, 1933).]

in what remains of the night



Above: Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008) in Godard's Notre musique (2004).


An excerpt from Under Siege:

A woman told the cloud: cover my beloved
For my clothing is drenched with his blood.

If you are not rain, my love
Be tree
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Be stone
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
Be moon
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
[So spoke a woman
to her son at his funeral]

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?

A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.

It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.

On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here...not over there.

(...)

And in what remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in what remains of the night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.

Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

- Mahmoud Darwish. (Translated by Marjolijn De Jager.)

Also see: Andy Rector at Kino Slang.

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