Thursday, November 3, 2011

Movie Overload?

My diet of visual entertainment is much more restricted than most people's. I do not own a television and I choose the movies I see with care -- which includes the documentary film class I am taking which I have chosen as a potpourri with individual films selected by the coordinator whose taste I trust. I chose art films, some old, some new. I am rarely disappointed and usually somewhat stunned for several hours afterward.

Last night I saw The Mill and the Cross a recent film by the Polish film maker whose name I cannot at the moment pronounce or spell. The film is a technical tour de force. He has brought alive Peter Bruegel's painting by that name both by using the actual location and via new cinematic magic that I cannot hope to understand. He gives Bruegel himself [looks very true to life] the role of narrator. There is very little dialogue, most of the scenes are spacious outdoor ones and the many indoor scenes have hardly any speech. There is some music, but little, and children shouting, animals making their noises. But the action which has the soldier of the Spanish Inquisition arriving to root out heretics and finally to enact, almost silently, but very completely the crucifixion, with the miller on his mill high on a hill looking down, apparently unperturbed by the violent as if he were an uninvolved God. If the story were being dramatized in a more usual way it would have been unbearable to watch but as it was, although the people were very real, the viewer remained detached in a way, intellectualizing the allegory and the horror, almost as uninvolved as many of the citizens of the town who continued to go about their daily life as, indeed, the citizens of Jerusalem must have done when the event actually happened. It is visually unforgettable, as If H traveled to 15-- whatever Flanders.
On Tuesday of this week, I saw the film Mephisto, which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1981, by a Hungarian director but very much a German film with the central character (almost always on screen) as an actor known for playing Mephisto [in white face) although he is the one who actually sells his soul to the devil in order to continue working and rising in his profession at the beginning of the Nazi era, pre-war but when Nazism was taking control. The film was full of the glitz and grotesques of the German theatre of that period, full of beautiful blond women (and the actor's beautiful black German mistress). It was a very in-you-face story of compromise and ego.

I am feel somewhat overwhelmed. Saturday the local movie theatre is showing a simulcast from the Metrpoloitan Opera of Seigfried. I think that is more Germanic/ Eropean culture than I can handle in one week.

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