Realism(s) #3, or: la mort

Death is nothing but one moment after another, but it is the last. Doubtless no moment is like any other, but they can nevertheless be as similar as leaves on a tree, which is why their cinematic repetition is more paradoxical in theory than in practice. Despite the ontological contradiction it represents, we quite readily accept it as a sort of objective counterpart to memory. However, two moments in life radically rebel against this concession made by consciousness: the sexual act and death. Each is in its own way the absolute negation of objective time, the qualitative instant in its purest form. Like death, love must be experienced and cannot be represented (it is not called la petite mort for nothing) without violating its nature. This violation is called obscenity.

--André Bazin, "Death Every Afternoon" [cont. from], 1958, in Rites of Realism, ed. Ivone Margulies, 2002, p.30.

A child rides a bicycle in the middle of the road. A car driver with mirror sunglasses. A few metres further along, the girl looks back. The car accelerates. A woman leans out of a window and screams in horror. Something terrible happens. One doesn't know why. It just happens. But because it is so linear, one suspects there must be a system behind the incident. The next day, the mystery is solved: "Gangster Runs Down Daughter of Witness for the Prosecution". These are twenty seconds from Fuller's Underworld U.S.A.. The scene is shot very simply and directly, but is the most horrific I have ever seen in a film; it is as if its horror had been carved directly into your eyes.

--Hartmut Bitomsky, Das Kino und der Tod, 1988.


Underworld U.S.A. - Sam Fuller, 1961, 35mm


Kiss my hand. That's the hand that killed him.

--Mouchette, Sous le soleil de Satan, Maurice Pialat, 1987.

The objects of a still life: a shotgun and an apple; a candelabrum, a large vase. Mouchette ponders the objects, dances beside them. One gets the sense that these inanimate table items will, at any moment, be rendered active in the scene. There's no close-up or over-emphasising of any detail; in Pialat, it's all about the way the actor chooses to interact with her environment. So while one might not think twice about the heavy thumping sound of the shotgun as Mouchette haphazardly places it back on the table, it is an important aspect of the scene for two reasons: first, as an indicator to the audience that this deadly tool does not alarm her; and second, it makes the ensuing discharge of the gun more palpable. This physicality comes from the sound, not from the silent movement of pointing and aiming. The power of the object comes entirely from this clank and the eventual blast.

--Gabe Klinger, "From Moment to Moment", in Sous le soleil de Satan, MoC, 2010, p. 10.


Sous le soleil de Satan - Maurice Pialat, 1987, 35mm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

brilliant! thank you!