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Sunday 29 November 2020

Home - Academic - Three Great Movies That Push Cinematic Form to The Extreme:

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, 2013):

The Belgian directors conjured this futuristic space age Lynchian giallo as the ultimate artificiality in horror. The filmmakers achieve the goal of creating a film that is both a collage of imagery that breaks apart the structural fluidity of cinema into an abstract postmodern giallo that echoes Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and a continuous flux of images that have hallucinatory qualities.

The pandemonium of quotations does not just bother from giallo; the film also has a proper surrealist edge, and moments comparable to “Fire Walk with Me”, while the Art Nouveau interiors seem lifted from an Argento film set.

All of this could make the film seem like a vacuous exercise in cinematic referencing (which does not sound so bad after all), but the truth is that the intertwining references create a kaleidoscope of the entire history of the cinematic horror genre, from expressionism, to Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”, from psychosexual to skin-phobic tendencies.

With a little bit of Takashi Miike and a touch of Kubrick, it is a statement about horror cinema today, forced to look at its past and re-elaborate it in a truly postmodern fashion. The cinematography, the greens, the blues, the reds, the blacks, the scenography, and the schizoid editing complete the technical tour de force.

The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov, 1969):

This film was considered, by some, to have the most innovative use of cinematic language since D.W. Griffith and Eisenstein. Sergei Parajanov boldly challenged the censure of the Soviet system fixated on social realism to depict the life of an ashik, a poet singer of the Armenian artistic tradition, and tried to invent a new definition of poetic cinema, a cinema that transforms itself into poetry to emulate literary poetry.

Every shot in the film is a word in a poem, every carefully composed tableaux is the apex of constructed image, the cinematic equivalent of the writing style of Horatius, which was based on perfecting every small minutia of every single word to elevate the entire poem.

Of course, the film was against the social realism imposed by the Soviet cinematic industry, but now is considered a masterpiece and was a key film for the development of the style of filmmakers like Peter Greenaway. “The Color of Pomegranates” is the extreme tension of cinema towards all the arts from which it takes elements; whether it be theatre, poetry, painting, opera, it is ornamental to extreme levels, but in this tapestry of light, it finds the sublime.

Decasia (Bill Morrison, 2002):

The 20th and 21st centuries brought artistic expression from the idea of wholeness to the idea of the fragment. Since it felt impossible to depict the world in what it was completely, it began important to depict the notions of impossibility, miscommunication, void, disintegration, decay, loss of memory, and shadow.

“Decasia” is a Sufi meditation on decay, and it has a structure that’s much like “The Disintegration Loops” by Basinski; it is a piece that mixes found footage and modifications of the original cinematic material to achieve the sentiment of nostalgia for what is lost.

Although the idea is not completely new, no one before Morrison had taken these surrealist, postmodern, structuralist cinematic themes and infused them with a sense of sacred devotion to medium, so that it becomes a meditational piece of cinema and time itself.

As a testament to the greatness of the film, the National Film Registry selected the film for preservation, the first film from the 21st century to be chosen for preservation. It becomes a cinema of pure movement and pure luminous feelings, a cinema of pulsation and physical vibration.

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