Film und Video – What’s the problem? (PROLOGUE)
“What’s what?? Huh! if I’d a know’d that, I could’a went to City College!” (Punch-line to a forgotten joke, told by a piano major at San Francisco State’s music conservatory over ‘THE LOST WEEKEND’ spent on dusty, organic shores at Lake Tahoe, California, land of golden mystery..snap-shots at the dock, –spectral blues of skies, water with bathing-suits etched on my brain: “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.” ~ ‘Roy’ the replicant
Out there, somewhere, –WAY, WAY OUT in fact, is the occasional whopper that nicely marries the Promethean task of hurling a weighted synopsis of film towards the general consumption, and enlightenment? of the masses (but which is become an empty cottage, and a cold fireplace; having long ago burned out all but the last of the celluloid). Here I am making mention of D.W. Griffith’s progeny, Richard Griffith (with Arthur Mayer), who did just that with their labour of love THE MOVIES. First published in 195_?, the pages of this giant picture-book commandingly clutch at the gaping chasm betwixt the birth of cinema – the exact moment of which is still a flickering mystery of thundering hoof-beats seen through the slits on a rotating platform, and A CHORUS LINE in a dirty moon-scape, having the face of a massive birthday-cake stuffed with a convenient rocket-candle – and its death knell, in a sad ending of crossed blades with LUCIFER RISING, translated to the avidly rising digitally re-mastered media..or so we might by now have come to expect. Kenneth Anger’s opus to a similar end force feeds the HOLLYWOOD BABYLON at us – sans vaccine – in all her socio-political GREED and corruptions as witnessed over the course of a career begun as a child actor, sacrificed? in THE CRUCIBLE of Baal-like worship ceremonies, and cultic phenomena – THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT – conducted in a temple sort-of construct/ womb, ever transforming inside its labyrinthine concrete-and-steel actual outer structure/ exoskeleton of tentacled road-ways..traversed by motorists strung-out in the figurative, and actual clover-leaf codec of the Los Angeles miracle, a prototype free-way system for cars, enabling Hollywood, to be Hollywood, –suspended animation in the automobile..lately, so still in there, you could hear a mouse dropping a pin! “..is that a whopper?” (SO WRONG THEY’RE RIGHT 16mm doc-u-zine, directed by Russ Forster, and spun off his own 8-TRACK MIND, c. 199_) But I digress.
INTOLERANCE through 8 1/2..the short version (by i-ROBOT)
Griffith to Fellini: Comparing the former’s celluloid master thesis on man’s sinful nature, death, and the provision of redemption, –and joy! encapsulated by the Christmas miracle, sewn, in the simplest image of a mother, lovingly rocking her new-born – Saviour of the world, bringing hope, by his ultimate sacrifice, for us – reemerging throughout the kaleidoscopic, comprehensive structure of that ‘experimental’ and most influential movie, winding to its conclusion, and a miracle of overcoming love! facilitated by travel on a train, with strangers, to the hangman’s knee, –and ultimately we see the destroyer, Apollyon robbed of his prospect; compared and contrasted with Fellini’s dream-like portrayal – in a return from the developments of colour, to nascent black&white – of the self-absorbed genius and his foibles, and fantasies, –and propensity for extravagant project-related expenditures demanded of bankers as the price for realizing his precious vision, –SEE! THE AMAZING Erector-set monstrosity-by-the-sea..vainly scratching at heavens’ skirts, night descending..beckoning reminder of a looming financial train-wreck!coming, spurring moans from THE PRODUCERS; and unseemly jokes about Rome’s holy mother church testing, to the hilt, Man-child’s innate political skills to unsnag, smooth, and, over the reservations of the church father, himself, to finish, –the project! can be considered as marking the beginnings, and the end! of film and its industry in an arbitrary but demanded answer to the questions: Where did it start? and Where will it all end? The movies in essence, is poetry..existing outside the dictates of time; and Hollywood, a microcosm of man’s chronically confused affairs on the planet God created him, a cosmic vehicle aboard which, and, at the controls he is free to take a weekend in the country; and, having found, there, hopefully, some measure of refreshment, for the toll taken by Herculean labours involved with telling stories, he is free, also, to return to the community at large and convey to his fellow passengers, that after all, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (just as it is within his power to drive us all off a celluloid cliff into the humid, dripping maw of
But where were we? Ah yes..Where..Where! where! WHERE! Why, we were at investigating the likely outcome that digital video has, once and for all, bulldozed the IMMORTAL BELOVED medium of film right off a fiscal cliff; and, while some rather verile-seeming hold-outs still maintain a buggy-whip by the door, it seems a forgone conclusion that film, as an industry, is doomed to the glorious dust-bin of story-telling history. It’s hard enough to come up with an idea that you can try and sell AND get the money to load and shoot off a Mitchell camera, through its myriad available lenses..let alone, actually sell it. Brr! it’s cold out here in the snow (and hun-gry, too!); and chances for THE GOLD RUSH happening again for film are bleak, very bleak, my friend..Bleak indeed, and bleaker, still, than what it seems..Or, as ANIMAL CRACKERS’ influence-peddler Roscoe W. Chandler the wealthy arts entrepreneur of dubious respectable origins summarizes for Captain Spaulding (always out for the way to a buck), “Well! in the final analysis, Captain, it is all a question of money.” So! when we have da Vinci working in happy servitude to SONY.. that Italian master, by name, yoked to the Japanese movie giant in a condition OF HUMAN BONG-AGE of sorts..no pun intended, and all these marvelously technological conveniences farmed out to TURNER and all the other MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE with deep-pockets, it will come as no surprise for us, when, sitting in our seats, the anti-hero turns and points his six-shooter directly in our face in the course of re-committing his great,THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, –and as it so happens, we get the colourized version!
That is, my friend, now, that’s, well it’s..it’s just entertainment. INTOLERANCE..JEZEBEL..and now, Miguel, it’s Easter coming in like a thief. Can we say this together? i-BEN HUR