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Monday, February 3, 2020

Une Étrange Aventure

Episode One Hundred Sixty Four: Une Étrange Aventure.
In which Tarzan Lost.

1 comment:

  1. Alphaville (1965), Jean-Luc Godard. Sci-Fi, Film Noir, Western. I need to let it sink, and then allow a second viewing, and then consider a primer on the French New Wave. However, as with Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979), this film leaves an imprint: self-consciously moody with striking imagery and poignant philosophical meanderings. Pretentious, to be sure - but I am easily sold pretentious. It is also solid, a seminal contender in the 1984-class of dystopia sci-fi, that clearly informed the genre for decades to come.

    In one scene, Natacha Von Braun (Anna Karina) tells a joke, presumably something incongruous to the Alpha 60 supercomputer forming and controlling this new society, and during the telling the camera slowly pans back and forth, swingingly, on head shots of her and the two heavies standing on either side of her. There is no obvious narrative reason for this cinematographic choice, but it is striking in an artsy way, and it serves to punch the humanity of the disconnected (yet pretty) programmer against the apparently mindless, brutish automaton policemen.

    The age disparity between the actor playing the protagonist (Constantine, 52) and the one playing the ingenue (Karina, 25) is gnawing at me. I just re-watched Wings of Desire, and realized that there was a similar age discrepancy in that romance (Ganz, 46 / Dommartin, 26). This is, of course, an old complaint - the course of popular art fetishizes the wisdom of age in men and the purity of youth in women, and there's a host of troublesome bullshit around this, particularly in film and TV. I know this. But something about watching these two films back to back brought that realization to the fore, and made me feel stupid for not having always felt somewhat sick about it.

    Anyway, this film, as with the aforementioned Stalker, called for a frame-by-frame capture of the (what Herzog would call) 'authentic' imagery, and this early apartment house scene, with a spiraling staircase and a bare, hanging bulb, stood out with it's explanation of the outcast group who do not assimilate to the new society. In this scene, those outcast are driven to suicide. That is what they 'do' in the first frame.

    I similarly identify, except backwards: I don't fit in with Human society. As with the 'bible' in the Alphaville hotel drawers, perpetually edited to remove words that evoke illogical humanity, my dictionary grows increasingly thin.

    As with Stalker, this comic grew heavy with over-inking, thick lines, chiaroscuro.

    'Artists in the ant world' reminded me of Wallace Stevens' "The Latest Freed Man" (1942) who, for a moment on waking and before his frontal lobe has kicked in, has 'the ant of the self changed to an ox.' Alpha 60, presumably, is systematically destroying the artists, leaving only ants. I have not come across E.O. Wilson's rebuttal to this image evoked.

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