I'm going to be off line for a bit. It's my not very guilty secret that I love comedians, Eddie Cantor and Bert Wheeler(sweet clip "Sweetheart We Need each Other" in this link). So for the moment, I'll let them express my feelings today--Eddie, with something a little wistful:
And a cheery and weird departure with Bert!
(you must see this clip with it's 2-strip technicolor restored--but it's still fantastic, one of my favorites from early musicals which I will bend your ear about at length at a later date.)
I have a friend who, when I first was getting to know him, used to say he would get "too into" people. I thought this was strange--too into, too into? I liked the alliteration but what did that mean exactly? It made me think of my favorite opera The Tales of Hoffmannby composer Jacques Offenbach, adapted from the stories of ETA Hoffmann.
I've always wanted to make a movie of it but the divine Archers beat me to it in 1951. However, my sense of how the story looks and plays is based on a gorgeous production I saw at the Met in the 80s featuring my then boyfriend, bass, James Morris. Morris played the 3 villain roles--but more about him and those villains later.
I also love the Powell and Pressburger film (tho' I take issue with their handling of the Antonia section of the opera--more on that later, too).
Act 1, Olympia's story:
"Too into"...perhaps like the character, Hoffman, who drunkenly tells the story of the the 3 women/muses in his life. The first, Olympia, he meets as a naive young artist:
Hoffmann's first love is Olympia, an automaton
created by the scientist Spalanzani. Coppélius, Olympia's co-maker and
this act's evil incarnation, sells Hoffmann magic glasses which make
Olympia appear as a real woman. Here Olympia sings one of the opera's
most famous ariasLes Oiseaux Dans La Charmille
where she periodically keeps winding down just before hitting the final
high note. Hoffmann is tricked into believing his affections are
returned, to the bemusement of Nicklausse, who subtly tries to warn his
friend. While dancing with Olympia, Hoffmann falls on the ground and
his glasses break. At the same time, Coppélius appears and tears
Olympia apart, in retaliation for having been tricked out of his just
dues by Spalanzani. In the middle of the crowd laughing at him,
Hoffmann realizes that he was in love with an automaton. -wikopedia of course
I'm fascinated by the Olympia story and named a character, an electrified disembodied head of a black women, in my video La Tête Sans Corps (1993), after her.
Apropos too into-itiveness:
It's compelling that the apparatus that is supposed to help one to see (the magic glasses) is what actually blinds Hoffmann to the "woman" he is now too into. As a doll, she cannot respond or responds with robotic (or girlish?) panic to his advances.
When the glasses break Hoffman "sees" the destruction of both his beloved
and of his illusion of love.
He is humiliated by spectators who, in the opera, encircle him in a tableau pointing and laughing as he stands stricken.
I made a collage in 2005 with that moment of revelation.
The difficult moment of being too into.
first, I was Nicklausse watching, warning.
Sometimes, I feel like Olympia,
over-wound and startled but trying to be real.
The 40th anniversary programming for the Director's Forte Night looks great but I'll miss the bulk of it. Tho' I'm pressed for time this week I'll have to get myself over to see Celine and Julie Go Boating, a "three hour tour". The Rivette film doesn't screen much but is always referenced as seminal work of the French New Wave. That's the ongoing, frustrating, conundrum of film-going. At one point in my cinema education I was so in love with the Vague--I couldn't see enough Godard and couldn't really understand Rohmer (not that I "got" Godard). At that time, I dismissed my adolescent crush on Truffaut's films as childish sentiment. Nowadays, I'm not so enamored with the guys (I do love Varda) but I believe I've gained a better understanding and appreciation of Rohmer.
Here's a little film that I really like--it embodies the energy and youthful kookiness of the Vague when it was really Nouvelle. (Beautiful opening credits too...)
The very same day I posted "percy dovetonsils" I opened the door to go to the yard and saw a Humpty Dumpty-like sight:
I immediately went upstairs to the window but s/he was still there. I hoped then that the little egg had fallen from some other window's ledge. The bird remained there 2 or 3 days but now is gone. I wonder if she was just traumatized.
Here's Lillian Gish protecting her brood and nest from "mad dog of a man", Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter (dir. Charles Laughton, 1955).
I want to wish safe and happy travels to my friend...
I've never been to Brazil but my impression of the place is based on romantic, youthful, memories cobbled together from my family's Brasil 66 albums and an intriguing 45 rpm of this clip's song.
Family legend insists that Camus spotted my mother and the youngest of my brothers as a little boy while our family was stationed in Europe. Intrigued by the two of them, the French director promised to cast him as the boy with the guitar apparently intending to wisk them both away to Rio de Janeiro. My father nixed this scenario (possibly thwarting a burgeoning film career but saving the family). Maybe one of mes frères will comment with a more accurate version of the story.
While I have mixed feelings about the movie overall and have not revisited it much, I hear the children's voices and imagine the rich technicolor evocation of Carnival in my head with pleasure. Bonne Voyage!