Saturday, August 28, 2010

Surrealist Saturday

Fellini Satyricon (1969)
Fellini’s stunning vision of the debauchery, gluttony, scandals and chaos of ancient Rome. I usually like to do my own write-ups, as trite as they sometimes are, but Italian film critic Giovanni Grazzini describes the film far better and far, far more poetically than I ever could: “Fellini's Rome bears absolutely no relationship to the Rome we learned about in school books. It is a place outside historical time, an area of the unconscious in which the episodes related by Petronius are relived among the ghosts of Fellini... His Satyricon is a journey through a fairytale for adults. It is evident that Fellini, finding in these ancient personages the projection of his own human and artistic doubts, is led to wonder if the universal and eternal condition of man is actually summed up in the frenzied realization of the transience of life which passes like a shadow. These ancient Romans who spend their days in revelry, ravaged by debauchery, are really an unhappy race searching desperately to exorcise their fear of death”

The Color of Pomegranates (1968)
I just watched this about a week ago, and adored every frame of its colorful visual ecstacy. The imagery is almost lyrical and renders dialogue obsolete, although there are bits here and there. Sofiko Chiaureli played a number of characters in the film, but the main two, the poet, and the poet's love, were the most impressionable. As an aside, I’d like to say how much it perplexes me how Armenian culture and customs took the nosedive they did from this sort of beautiful art and pure ethos to the god-awful glorification of cars and bling I observed working in little Armenia in LA the past year. The Amernian history and culture portrayed in all of Parajanov's films is rich and interesting and I wish their people had continued down a more converative and less capitalistic direction, but its a matter of natural cultural evolution, I guess. It could also be a stateside thing. I also wish I could find a better clip than this, but embedding was disabled on all the good ones. Oh well, I recommend finding a full high-definition version to watch anywhow because this is a very rewarding film and a mere clip does not do it justice.

On the Silver Globe (1989)
Cultural mutations and incestuous tribalism/shamanism take place after three space travelers crash on the dark side of the moon and begin to lose their minds. There is pyromania, voyeurism, bird monsters, absurdist soliloquies, even drug use. To say this is a "weird one" would be an understatement. It it by far the most estranged, surreal sci-fi film ever made, and one of the most visually astonishing films I've ever come across. The tone is intensely and almost overwhelmingly grave. The costumes and sets are incredibly elaborate and beautiful in this eerie foreign style that words cannot describe, that you just have to see. The dialogue and acting as well, are both just pure insanity and I mean that in the best of ways. This film was originally intended for release in the late seventies, but saw a lengthy delay due to political pressures at the time, causing production to be halted for over a decade until the end of communist rule in Poland. Some would consider this film to be broken or incomplete because of its hiatus, but I feel it turned out just fine. If you expect to watch a cohesive film, you’ve missed the point entirely. Compelling, yes. Cohesive, not quite. Still a mind-blowing film that's highly, highly recommended especially for those of you who appreciate strangeness.

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