Friday, January 30, 2009

sometimes the images begin to tremble (2)

"...the normal behaviour of the starving is violence; and the violence of the starving is not primitive.... From Cinema Novo it should be learned that an aesthetic of violence, before being primitive, is revolutionary. It is the initial moment when the colonizer becomes aware of the colonized..." (Glauber Rocha, 'An Aesthetic of Hunger', 1965)

Glauber Rocha's A Idade da Terra (The Age of the Earth, 1980) is an epic exercise in 'amateur' filmmaking, a relentless convergence of Soviet montage, Carmelo Bene, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Cinema Novo, in the form of the essay film, the didactic film, the film poem. Beyond all labels. Here Rocha returns to his earlier manifesto, 'An Aesthetic of Hunger', by turning it over its head and presenting the spectator instead with wild excess. Excessive force, necessary chaos. The weight of the image and the magnitude of the sound that would announce a rejection of the industrial, Western cinema (here represented by the porcine imperialist, Brahms - as performed by the astonishing Maurício do Valle from Rocha's Antonio Das Mortes).

Everyone here seems to work with their gestures and voices towards the creation and transmission of sensations that are thrust into the chaotic dialogue between religion and politics, the saint and the revolutionary. The film, I think, is really a search for a language that can adequately express this struggle. Its epic scope and haphazard progression through near-symphonic movements means it occasionally drifts into long-winded, seemingly improvised passages (monologues and speech-duels, the psychedelic rigor of these scenes recalls Kenneth Anger) that we can easily lose ourselves in, but, perhaps as a formal reflection of the film's vortex of contradictions, punctuating these somewhat hypnotic, montage-driven exercises in the speech-act are extended plan-sequences that seem to render an awakening of a people as riotous street theatre ("The street belongs to the people, as the sky belongs to the condor").

Daney has said of it: "Like nothing known to man... a filmic flying saucer, no more, no less."

Among its most breathtaking ruptures is this sequence by the ocean, where we witness what seems to be nothing less than the birth of a revolution:

A man and a woman shout to each other, to the skies, to the ocean, to the earth, to all who would listen:

An atomic implosion has taken place at the earth's core.
A war between unknown beings.
Earth's core has imploded.
At any moment we may be swallowed by the abyss.

Kill Brahms! Kill Brahms!

Movement (of the camera) sans any defined vectors,
theatrical intonation,
rehearsal/repetition - a recurring weapon of the film - of passages...

...that contains within all its spontaneous motion and the fluxes in exposure, the materiality of its creation and that of a new world.

(Images from A Idade da Terra and Novyy Vavilon (Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, 1929.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ossang, again

Drifters through landscapes, in exile, until the evening of the death of the world. Dust, light, the ocean, the sun flaring (thus, the poetics of reflection), rocks, wind, grass (that lies down in a cry). SKIES. Intertitles and irides. Murnau and Epstein. Burroughs and Trakl. Cigarettes lit. Tunnels and windmills. Throbbing Gristle. Eternal midnights. Trees. Fire. A man and a woman, (cold). Vodka. Sex. It rains on the bed! (Garrel). Silence.

...i fall asleep

in the electric plain...

...of the black falls.

[on, and from, F.J. Ossang's Silêncio (2007) and Ciel éteint! (2008).]

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