Posts Tagged ‘Lars Von Trier’

Blackpaint 373 – Orpheus, Oedipus and Human Nature

December 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

A strange confluence of coincidence this week.  First, I watched Cocteau’s “Orphee”, in which Death (in the form of de Cacares) leads her slaves and victims through mirrors into the Underworld or back; then, in the Russian “Master and Margarita”, currently showing on Sky Arts TV, a character takes the same route into a room.

Later in the same episode, a writer, taken forcibly to a psychiatric hospital, attempts to escape by jumping through a closed window – splat!! – reinforced glass.  And, to complete the parallels, the repeat of the Christmas “Father Ted” (lingerie department, Golden Cleric, Father Tod Unctious) Father Jack does the window exit, to meet the Plexiglass Ted has installed.  Strange forces definitely at work.

“Orphee” special effects still impressive to me, compared to the sophisticated stuff around now; I suppose because they have a dreamlike atmosphere that comes mostly from their simplicity – maybe the ramshackle, improvised feel corresponds to my typical dream landscape; shabby, disintegrating, dimly lit, soiled….  I was interested to hear that the proto Bohemian crowd of poets and artists in the opening cafe and brawl scenes were genuine Left Bankers, recruited by Juliette Greco for Cocteau.  They look anything but genuine.

Oedipus Rex

Pasolini masterpiece that I saw decades ago at university; blinding North African colours – although it may have been filmed in Italy – the outlandish helmets and crowns, and above all, the wild music at the wedding scene.  Fantastic contrast to “Orphee” – I recommend watching the two DVDs at one session.

The Hunt

A film actually on release, that you can see at a cinema, rather than on DVD at home.  By Thomas Vinterberg, of Dogme fame (with Von Trier).  Vinterberg made “Festen”, the brilliant black comedy(?)about a celebration of the birthday of an incestuous patriarch.  His son exposes him as a rapist in a speech; the assembled family members rally behind the father.  Unfortunately, Vinterberg spoils it at the end; when notes from his dead daughter prove the patriarch guilty, the people turn away from him in disgust.  It would have been better, more sour, more “true”, if they’d stuck to him to preserve respectability.

“The Hunt” also deals with child abuse. A teacher is falsely accused; the community, all his friends, turn against him with no proof offered.  He is ostracised, attacked, victimised in a number of ways.  At the end, however, the community accepts his innocence, welcomes him back into the fold – and he is also prepared, outwardly at least, to go back to “how things were”.

This, I think, doesn’t ring true; when people find out they are wrong and have treated someone unjustly, they don’t apologise, or even “forgive and forget” – they resent the victim for being innocent and putting them in the wrong.  They’ll find a reason why it was his fault.  And after all, “No smoke without fire”, so he was probably guilty anyway.  Is this a pessimistic view of human nature?  Possibly…

Adrian Heath

Reading the Jane Rye book on this British artist and I have to say his work is magnificent; the colours are  great, not something I necessarily expected from reading about his cerebral and considered approach to painting; also the painterly surfaces, the contrast of rough and smooth.  I recommend you check him out if you don’t know his work.

My Review of the Year in next blog.

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Blackpaint

Saint’s Head

27.12.12

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