Blackpaint 382 – Corpses, Ribbons and Scrapers


Films that fall into two halves

“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is definitely one ; the night on the steppe (what is the right word for that countryside?  it’s not moorland, but more than rolling farmland really) and the finding of the corpse in the morning, and the return to town – that felt like the end.  But no; there was the aimless, exhausted wandering about the town, cafe etc., followed by the post – mortem examination.  First time I saw the film, I was irritated by this “extension”; it felt added on.  This time, no – it completed the story, told you about the isolation and fundamental humanity of the main characters, detective, doctor, prosecutor.

The other films that spring to mind are the two versions of Henry V (Olivier and Branagh – and Shakespeare, of course); they should end on the battlefield, or immediately after.  All that courting stuff with Kate is a real anticlimax.  Can’t mess about too much with Shakespeare, though, I suppose.

The White Ribbon

Watched this for the second time, on TV this time; struck me that this is one of those “eve of WWI” films, the English counterparts being ” The Shooting Party” and “The Go-Between” (Losey, Pinter screenplay).  The latter is set well before WWI actually, in the aftermath of the Boer War, but it shares that characteristic of being bathed in a too- good- to- last, golden summer.  In both films, tragedy occurs as a portent of loss of innocence and greater tragedy to come – in the Go-Between, there is a hint of corruption (the belladonna, representing the Julie Christie character?).  When I was a teacher, some women colleagues wanted it to be avoided as an examination text, because of its perceived misogyny.

How do these compare to “White Ribbon”?  Contrast, rather than compare, really; instead of the hazy sunshine, we get sharp, crisp B&W, snowbound fields; the villagers live a life that is brutal, repressed, corrupt, penurious; there is incest, rape, violence, torture, fanaticism and creepy children (Village of the Damned, Turn of the Screw and all the others).  That is such an effective trick, simply to get a child to stare straight at the camera, perhaps with an “innocent” smile…  When the doctor cruelly and repeatedly insults the midwife who has been his mistress and housekeeper, I was reminded of that Nigel Kneale short story in the 1949 “Tomato Cain” collection: “They’re scared,Mr Bradlaugh”.  Finally, there are the doorway shots; like Bela Tarr, Haneke clearly loves a good shot through an open doorway; the Vermeer effect.

Scrapers

I’ve been doing small pictures on mounting board, using Liquitex acrylic paints, which are almost fluorescent colours.  I haven’t used a brush on any of them; instead, I use bits of straight-edged card and my fingers.  I call them scrapers for obvious reasons.  One shown below, and several others in previous blogs of last few weeks.  There’s a limit to the number of different effects you can get like this, though, and I think I might have reached it.

 

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Blackpaint

Screen door

21.02.13

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