Tuesday, November 06, 2007

la betée

I wrote about film artist (for lack of a more umbrella term) Chris Marker for The Fanzine, joining the esteemed company of my friends Mike and Nick.

And yet, there's so much to excise about Chris Marker.

Like how screening Sans Soleil for a few friends leads them --within the first ten minutes-- to emulate the napping commuters in Japan, everyone fast asleep. It's perhaps the best reaction to hope for though, in much the same way that when learning to meditate, to relax both mind and body, the natural inclination is to slip into slumber. The profundity of the thoughts pouring in all at once, the true nature of reality revealed is overwhelming and shutdown is what most circuit-breakers do anyway.

Or that Marker's true progeny are not film school wannabes (which is where La Jetée remained for so many years, commercially unavailable) at all. Marker documented repressed cultures, be they Korea, Cuba, Chile, even Israel for much of the sixties and seventies, and taught workers and those who didn't have access to mainstream media to use film as a means to an end. His true disciples are in fact "terrorists" who use the Internet and video clips to disseminate their message, to make their minority voices be heard.

Or that his favorite animals are the owl and the pussycat. In some ways it makes sense, in an Athenian and Egyptian sort of way, but when I re-watched John Cassavetes's The Killing of a Chinese Bookie last week, something new struck me. It's a scene where one of the nightclub's dancers stands on stage in a see-through negligee, reciting a few lines about "The Owl and the Pussycat." Her nipples protrude through, wide as owl eyes, her bush similarly dark, and then it all makes sense to me. The Owl, the Pussycat, the female face taken out of the continuum of time and elevated to something eternal, goddess-like. The image of a woman's visage is crucial for Marker. In writing about the close-ups of Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, he perceived that in "the grain of the skin, the tear, the drool, the hair, the glint of the eye" lay the metaphysical struggle of the soul to attain grace through suffering. That's what my dirty mind realized anyway.