January 12, 2010

in the morning we'll wrestle
and ruin our stomachs with coffee

Angela Kleis, First Laundry Rome, 2010

* RIP Eric Rohmer. Rohmer on Filming Nature and his Philosophy of Cinema [full interview here]:

Filming Nature
In my previous literary adaptations – Perceval, The Marquise of O, The Lady and the Duke – nature has either been stylized or barely present at all. Here, it’s essential. And the freedom of nature was constantly beckoning my filmmaker’s eye. For example, I loved shooting the wind but I was often at the mercy of disagreeable weather. Sometimes we had to wait for the wind to rise, and I enjoyed that waiting. Nature allowed me to, simultaneously, be in the period and to slip out of it. On one hand, the wind made the costumes, especially the scarves, flutter in the breeze exactly as they do in the engravings of the period. On the other hand, the splendor of that unspoiled nature gave the narrative a timeless dimension. That’s all thanks to the progress made on live sound recording. In the old days, as soon as the wind started blowing, you had to stop shooting because the mikes picked up every sound. Today, you can just keep on shooting. That’s a blessing. And since I hate dubbing… I absolutely wanted the entire film to be shot with live production sound, so we had lots of noise problems. That’s why it was impossible to shoot in the Forez, the former French province that stretched from what is now the Loire to the Haute-Loire. That’s where the book takes place. But it’s far too heavily populated and too ravaged by industrialization to be used today. That said, it took us three years to scout all the exterior locations. Coming up with the river was truly mind-boggling until we found La Sioule, a French river in the Auvergne. All the location scouts on this film were particularly long and difficult. Precisely because the presence of nature was so crucial. And we had to play with that contrast between unspoiled, virgin nature and the cultivated nature of the château gardens.

Silent Films
My film education came from silent films, at the Cinémathèque Française. I think the cinema has every interest in drawing from its own archeology. In the same way that its important to draw from ancient literature. That’s exactly what modern painters did. And the most modern are, in the end, the ones who best utilized the ancients. In the realm of cinema, Griffith certainly remains the great master of evoking nature. He was the first one who managed to record the movement of nature and to recreate its beauty.

Philosophy of Cinema
Over the course of my career, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped taking risks. But measured, well thought-out risks. In any case, my philosophy is as follows: to be really successful, a film must discover one thing that’s vital to it along the way. You always have to leave room for chance and the accidental, and to believe that your path will be strewn with nothing but happy accidents. I’ve often said, “In my films, everything is fortuitous except for chance.” From that point of view, I like actors who are able to use chance. What I don’t like is what I call “fake-natural” – those actors who deliver literary dialogue at breakneck speed to make it seem “natural.” Nothing’s more artificial than that. I ask them to do the opposite, to articulate and to slow down. And once they’ve understood that, they can very well do without my “direction of actors.” The most important thing to me is making the text comprehensible. As far as the risks I take go, I know all too well that some viewers may laugh at certain points in the film. But that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m even on their side, against the people who tell them to keep quiet. That happened on The Marquise of O. The viewers who laughed were right to do so. Kleist is a very funny writer. If people laugh here, all the better! Because there’s also a lot of humor in “L’Astrée”.

* William Burroughs's Stuff.

* Check out High Water Everywhere, new blog "archiving, celebrating and navel-gazing over the pre-WWII 78rpm record in many of its most primal forms: mournful blues, mountain country, Hawaiian slack-key guitar & beyond."

* “I think if I never heard the word 'quirky' again, I would be almost as happy as if I never heard the word 'Rumsfeld' again.” -- Robyn Hitchcock


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