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We all know where we were born, o my brothers, but not where our bones will lie buried.

el Cristo de Elqui


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Friday, November second, 2007

Four Movies about Outcasts

I want to be able to see the following four movies in a combined viewing, or at least close in time to one another:

I think the middle two movies are better movies than the first and last; but they seem to sort of go together well. The movement from the final scene of Vagabond into Even Dwarfs would be pretty cool. Thinking about it, I am really liking this line-up as a quadruple feature.

(Also, this video goes very nicely with the Herzog, though it does not really bring any of the others to mind.)

posted evening of November second, 2007: Respond
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Monday, February 11th, 2008

Images see with the eyes of those who see them

The final pages of Blindness are very strong, I think everything that has been rough and disorganized in the novel is crystallizing here, coming into focus. (I have not gotten quite to the ending, though I think I will finish it tonight.) I opened the book to get some pull-quotes and realized that really everything starting from where I stopped yesterday shines with such clarity as to be difficult to exerpt. The scene in which they bury the neighbor of the girl with dark glasses; the wedding proposal of the one-eyed man; the church with the defaced artwork... Here: I have not yet quoted any passages featuring the dog of tears.

...It won't be long before we have outbreaks of epidemics, said the doctor again, nobody will escape, we have no defenses left, If it's not raining, it's blowing gales, said the woman, Not even that, the rain would at least quench our thirst, and the wind would blow away some of this stench. The dog of tears sniffs around restlessly, stops to investigate a particular heap of rubbish, perhaps there is a rare delicacy hidden underneath which it can no longer find, if it were alone it would not move an inch from this spot, but the woman who wept has already walked on, and it is his duty to follow her, one never knows when one might have to dry more tears.

Well ok, and also the church -- this really seems to me like a little masterpiece, a visual impression worthy of Buñuel:

She raised her head to the slender pillars, to the high vaults, to confirm the security and stability of her blood circulation, then she said, I am feeling fine, but at that very moment she thought she had gone mad or that the lifting of the vertigo had given her hallucinations, it could not be true what her eyes revealed, that man nailed to the cross with a white bandage covering his eyes, and next to him a woman, her heart pierced by seven swords and her eyes also covered with a white bandage, and it was not only that man and that woman who were in that condition, all the images in the church had their eyes covered, statues with a white cloth tied around the head, paintings with a thick brushstroke of white paint, and there was a woman teaching her daughter how to read and both had their eyes covered, and a man with an open book on which a little child was sitting, and both had their eyes covered, and another man, his body spiked with arrows, and he had his eyes covered, and a woman with a lit lamp, and she had her eyes covered, and a man with wounds on his hands and feet and his chest, and he had his eyes covered, and another man with a lion, and both had their eyes covered, and another man with an eagle, and both had their eyes covered, and another man with a spear standing over a fallen man with horns and cloven feet, and both had their eyes covered, and another man carrying a set of scales, and he had his eyes covered, and an old bald man holding a white lily, and he had his eyes covered, and another old man leaning on an unsheathed sword, and he had his eyes covered, and a woman with a dove, and both had their eyes covered, and a man with two ravens, and all three had their eyes covered, there was only one woman who did not have her eyes covered, because she carried her gouged-out eyes on a silver tray.

Update: the woman carrying her gouged-out eyes on a silver tray is Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind.

posted evening of February 11th, 2008: Respond
➳ More posts about Blindness

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Buñuel, Pérez Galdós

Wow, this is unexpected and kind of exciting: Googling around for information about Benito Pérez Galdós reveals that Buñuel's Viridiana was (loosely) based on his novel Halma, and another of Buñuel's movies, Nazarín -- which I have not seen but sounds great -- is also based on a text by Pérez Galdós. Slant magazine describes Viridiana as "noticeably derivative of the similarly-themed Nazarín," which it calls "Buñuel's 1958 masterpiece." Not sure how much use this knowledge will be for me; Halma does not appear to be translated into English and I don't even know what the title of the source text for Nazarín is. Still: interesting.

(Looks like the title of the source text for Nazarín is Nazarín -- Biblioteca Nueva published an edition of it and Halma bound together a few years back. No luck looking for translations though.)

Update: Dr. Rhian Davies of the University of Sheffield has compiled a list of Pérez Galdós's works in translation. Jo Labanyi's translation of Nazarín was published in '96. No translation of Halma apparently. Dr. Davies also let me know that Buñuel's Tristana (1970) is an adaptation of Perez Galdós' work of the same title. Tristana appears in translation in Colin Partridge's book Tristana: Buñuel's Film and Galdós' Novel: A Case Study. I have pulled an essay that deals with Tristana in some detail from Google's cache.

posted afternoon of November 12th, 2008: Respond
➳ More posts about Viridiana

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

The white shirt

Warning: do not look in this post for a train of thought. Sorry! I've been trying to come up with one for a couple of days but it's not happening yet. So this is just a placeholder, a couple of things I've noticed recently that want tying together.

Rosa (with whom I've been corresponding in English and in Spanish, thanks to Conversation Exchange for getting us together) sent me the lyrics to Ana Belén's "España, Camisa Blanca", a beautiful song that has really captured my imagination in the last few days.

I do not understand the metaphor yet -- Rosa explains that the song is about the end of Franco's regime in the late 70's, and that a white shirt is a symbol of hope. Looking around I see (from an article on El problema de España which I have not yet read) that the song's title comes from a poem by Blas de Otero Muñoz -- however I have not been able to find any of his poetry online, don't know the context. In the same article I notice a painting of Goya's, "The 3rd of May, 1808":

-- notice the white shirt which is the most striking detail of this painting. (The soldiers who are about to shoot the man in the white shirt are Napoleon's troops, suppressing civil unrest in Madrid during the occupation.) And now Dave is telling me that this painting features in Buñuel's movie Le fantôme de liberté -- onto my Netflix queue it goes... Hoping I will be able to suss out a thread connecting these items...

posted evening of April 4th, 2009: 1 response
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Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Sketch Comedy

I watched Buñuel's Phantom of Liberty last night (and thanks, Dave, for the recommendation!) and found it... mesmerizing? hilarious? yes, and Pythonesque. This is funny because while I've always thought of Monty Python's humor as "surrealistic," I think this is the closest approximation of their style that I've seen in the work of an actual Surrealist. I wonder what vectors of influence are working -- obviously the Pythons were familiar with Buñuel's work, and I expect Buñuel watched their shows, though I don't know what the timeline would look like; The Phantom of Liberty came out in 1974, a year before The Life of Brian and after Flying Circus had been running for a couple of years.*

The individual sketches are hilarious, and the transitions between them are kind of brilliantly jarring -- I am going to watch the movie again tonight because I felt like there was a thread linking the sketches that I was not picking up on because the thread was spinning so fast. Take a look at this sketch on Defecation, which is embedded inside a lecture on moral relativism that the professor (the guy with glasses) is giving at the police academy (hence the cut to the mostly empty lecture hall midway through):

I was thinking as I watched this about the Samuel Beckett quote I read recently, to the effect that he writes in French because he feels too fluent in English -- and really liking listening to the French dialogue in the movie, struggling with the help of the subtitles to understand it. It seems to me like listening to or reading a language you don't quite understand, and the process of understanding what is being said, really opens up some interesting new passageways in my brain.

* I don't know how many seasons they made Flying Circus for -- it premiered in 1969, may well have been finished by 1974.

posted morning of April 19th, 2009: 2 responses
➳ More posts about The Ghost of Liberty

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Viridiana -- one-week run

Viridiana will be playing at the Film Forum tomorrow through next Thursday -- fantastic news! I'm definitely coming in to watch it one of those days, if you would like to meet up for a movie, drop me a line and let me know what days are good.

posted morning of April 23rd, 2009: Respond
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Monday, April 27th, 2009

Dreams of culpability

(Searching for an image to illustrate this post with; but all the stills from Viridiana that are out there on the web seem to be of the title character, or of the Last Supper scene... Aha! found a picture of Don Jaime.) I met up with Christine this evening to watch Viridiana at the Film Forum; it was really nice to see it again after a couple of years, and yet I find much of what I was thinking about it was in regards to its shortcomings as a story -- this is probably symptomatic of a rebound from being madly in love with it and unable to admit any problems with it...

Anyway, I don't really want to write about the shortcomings just now besides to say that the visually brilliant second half of the movie did not seem to me very interesting on a human level, and that the ending was wretched; what I wanted to talk about was how strongly I identified with Don Jaime, and how disconcerting that was. For me the moment that really makes this movie worth it is the moment when Don Jaime suddenly realizes that he has gone too far, overstepped the limits of Viridiana's patience and that she is never going to think of him as a human being any more -- his pathetic pleading with her is all-too real.

posted evening of April 27th, 2009: Respond
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