Tattooed Dolphins, 19 January 2007
Regular readers ask about what writers about film I like. It isn’t any of those French guys; in fact my history starts with Harriot and goes through Wittgenstein, then to theorists in logical narrative. (No, not Peirce.)
Wittgenstein is a fascinating guy to study, in part because his ideas are clean, very clean. But more important was that over time he abandoned every one of them, replacing them with something more subtle, elegant and hard to reach. The ideas in „Tractus“ were his earliest and while some nice phrases can be extracted for posters, if they are worth reading at all, its worth reading the repudiation of them.
Still, anything that draws from even the first Wittgenstein trumps any silliness you will find in „What the bleep,“ „Tao of Steve,“ or „Waking Life.“
This is a very ambitious film. It has these components: text of Wittgenstein phrases from the Tractus and private statements about his own life and psyche, with that same text spoken in different time. It shows „found“ home movie segments (though some are apparently faked). These are silent of course but have some appropriate sound effects added. The era of the images varies quite a bit, most from the 50s it seems. Tractus is from about 1919. There is an effective score as well.
So we have several things in parallel, what I call „folded.“ We are given this man’s life. He was profoundly bipolar, what we now call bipolar and some of his philosophical (and architectural!) musings were specifically to counter suicide (like his brothers). We are given some very strong ideas from Tractus, which deals with the distance among the three concepts: „picture,“ „world,“ and „language.“ To use images from the world in apparently random ways (except the editing rhythm) and written and spoken language to illustrate these ideas is a brilliant notion.
We have the distance between the ideas, the distance between each of the images, and the distance among the components of what we see: its first, second and third meanings. One phrase: „everything you see could be otherwise,“ permeates.
I saw this together with „Cremaster 2“ and this for its flaws was vastly superior. It floats above meaning but has meaning. It shows something that must be incomprehensible but must also be. One registration: all the home movies are of Hungarians. Wittgenstein was Austrian; Vienna and Budapest were cities of the same empire until Tractus and afterward Hungary began a long slide toward internalism.
So forgive the filmmaker for not getting deeper into the ideas. What he’s done is good enough to be head and shoulders above other „idea“ movies.
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.
this film blog
led me to this great film
which is an absolute must see!
Medvedkin and Marker met at the Leipzig Film Festival in 1967. Marker was drawn to the Russian director after he came across Medvedkin’s Happiness (Schast’e, 1934). Four years later, in 1971, Medvedkin came to Paris. He helped Marker and his collaborators organize a release of Happiness in France. Projections of the film were accompanied by Marker’s documentary The Train Rolls (Train en marche, 1971), which introduced Medvedkin’sHappiness, and also featured an interview with the Russian director. The Train Rolls begins with a montage sequence showing the impact of the Russian Revolution on film and other arts, after which Marker describes the organization of the film train and the crew’s activities in addressing social problems. The notion of film as fact, which is implicit in the notion that documentary filmmaking can provide proof of fact that will lead to social change, is emphasized by Marker’s direct, hand-held footage of Medvedkin (1). Marker’s film links the two men formally through choices that consciously acknowledge the filmmaking process and also intimately, on a personal and collaborative level. Unfortunately both The Train Rolls and The Last Bolshevik (Le Tombeau d’Alexandre, 1992), Marker’s ode to his departed friend, are noticeably absent from the Vision and Communism film series. While these films would have further informed viewers, their exclusion compels spectators to generate their own links between the films and filmmakers.
Vortrag mit Filmbeispielen von Thomas Tode
‚“Histories of Now“ | Kurzfilmreihe | Dienstag, 26.6. | 19:00 Uhr
Kuratiert und moderiert von Luc-Carolin Ziemann
Animierte Dokumentarfilme – Der subjektive Blick | Kurzfilmreihe | Samstag, 30.6. | 20:00 Uhr
Kuratiert und moderiert von Annegret Richter
Classe de lutte (1968), the Medvedkin Group’s first collective film, after Marker’s „A bientot, j’espere“ which you can see below