Category: Reviews

Book, movie, exhibition, show reviews.

I was never so fond of cataloguing…

This will be more of a memento than a regular blog post, I suppose. Last week I got a chance to see the art collection at the Nottingham Castle Museum. It was only a brief visit, yet I made a point of jotting down the titles of all the paintings that caught my fancy for one reason or another. It was more of an instinctive decision than anything. I’d just love to find out more about them. So I’ll jot down what I do know, and also what exactly caught my eye in each painting. I have no idea how this endeavour is supposed to help me in the future. But I always trust my instincts – they haven’t failed me yet. 🙂 Needless to say, please do lend me your expertise if you have more information about these lovely pieces. (Note: most images, unless otherwise stated, were shamelessly stolen from BBC – Your Paintings, which is a nifty little tool in itself.)

via Wikipedia

The Death of Amy Robsart (1877) by William Frederick Yeames (1835-1918). Yeames himself seems to have been quite a colourful character, born in Russia, educated in Saxony, England and Tuscany. The painting was hung, large as life, on a corridor leading from the main art gallery to the ground floor exhibitions. It attests, I believe, to a mildly (at least?) morbid curiosity on the painter’s part, who was, if we are to believe Wikipedia, “fascinated by the events surrounding the death of Amy Robsart”, sixteenth-century gentlewoman who died under circumstances rendered suspicious by her husband’s unorthodox attachment to Queen Elizabeth I.

 

Deadly Detached (1987) by Graham Crowley (born 1950). Also hanging large as life on the same corridor as the previous picture. The label read: “Crowley paints the suburb as a nightmare where houses crowd, streets are maze-like and there is a lack of space and order”. I am greatly attracted to conceptual imagery of the suburbs and ghettos. Born and raised in what I think of as a “ghetto”, I have that love-hate kind of relationship with architecturally crowded, ugly yet compelling, generally unsafe sort of places. The painting reminds me of “home”, but also of China Miéville’s novels, a bit. This other painting by Crowley, The Poetic of Space, reminds me of the same.

 

The Soldier’s Grave (1813) by Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841). “A church interior, with mourners. In the centre of the picture is a large group of figures standing around a coffin covered with a dark cloth”, quoth the BBC website. The painting is so small (19.7 x 16.5 cm), I had to squint, but still couldn’t make out much of what was happening. And yet, the dark colour palette, the barren, Romanesque church interior attracted me very much. I was compelled, I suppose, by how the imposing yet all the same claustrophobic environment reigned over the picture, which made the human figures seem rightly ghostly and amorphous.

Virgin and Child with St Joseph (1500s) by a follower of Joos van Cleve (ca. 1464-ca.1540). I’m not precisely sure about what attracted me to this painting. It may have been the bland desexualisation of normally sexualised signifiers, such as the naked breast. Or better yet, the figure of St Joseph, looming in the background: it is known that Joseph was older than Mary, and here it seems (to my perverted mind, at least) that the viewer looks upon a libidinous Joseph who, instead of gazing on Child Jesus with tenderness and awe, is actually enjoying the sight of the forbidden fruit of Mary’s uncovered breast. At the same time, Mary looks almost apprehensive, almost painfully aware that she is on display, yet unable to do anything about it. (Just saying.)

Suscipe Me Domine (Receive Me, Oh Lord) (1895) by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1865-1914). By the looks of it, a painting showing a Catholic novice taking her vows to become a nun. The huge canvas (154.9 x 213.4 cm) were hung high in the gallery, and because of the protection screen the view was bad from every angle. I could hardly make out the figures in the lower left corner (the novice’s mother in black? her father right next to her, perhaps bemoaning his daughter’s decision?). It seemed to me an odd painting, though I can’t put my finger on the jarring details. I stood there looking at it for a long time (until one of the gallery stewards saw fit to introduce himself to me and give me a guided tour; he couldn’t tell me anything about this particular painting, though).

Magdalen Aston, Lady Burdett (1669) by John Michael Wright (1617-1694). Once more, I don’t know. I just thought her beautiful, that’s all. I suppose that’s as good a reason as any… For the history buffs out there, The Peerage makes her out to be

the daughter of Sir Thomas Aston, 1st Bt. and Anne Willoughby. She married Sir Robert Burdett, 3rd Bt., son of Sir Francis Burdett, 2nd Bt. and Elizabeth Walter.

So much for seventeenth-century Who’s Who…

A Child of Paul Sandby by Sir William Beechey (1753-1839). Is this child dead or alive? Is she dreaming dreams of innocence, or are those angels descended from Heaven to claim her soul? As a side note, Paul Sandby was a successful landscape painter. The gallery also held a few more interesting paintings by Beechey, all of them featuring children. For instance: The Children of Paul Sandby and Portrait of a Young Girl. I found them all alluring and a bit… otherworldly.

 

The Origin of the Combing Machine by Alfred Elmore (1815-1881). With this one it’s simple enough: it just offered me a good lead for my research. 🙂 More about the combing machine here. I know of two more variants of this painting, one currently exhibited at Tate, an early study for Invention of the Combing Machine (ca. 1862), and The Invention of the Combing Machine (1862), exhibited at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.

Susannah and the Elders, attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1651/3). I wonder whether this was indeed done by her or not. She used to haunt my fancy with her almost mythical “prey turned predator” presence. Her famous Susannah and the Elders (which, I should hope, is indeed hers) seems so different, in so many ways, to the one exhibited in Nottingham. The composition, however, is very similar. I would be really curious to find out how and when this particular painting made its way into the Nottingham collection…

 

Love’s Oracle (ca. 1900) by Albert Ritzberger (1853-1915). I suppose the lighthearted atmosphere, the girlish dabbling with tarots and the soft reddish, intimate light triggered my nostalgia. It made me feel how good period movies make me feel: far away, comfortably numb and warm inside. I am mildly intrigued by the fact that the only face hidden from the viewer is that of the tarot reader herself. She is only the only one décolleté, which means that she is fashionable? well off? coquettish?

via Rossetti Archive

Marigolds or The Bower Maiden or Fleur-de-Marie (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). My love for the Pre-Raphaelites and D.G. Rossetti is a secret to no one and stems from too many reasons to be listed here. As to this painting, according to the Rossetti Archive:

In a letter to his mother (February 23, 1874) DGR identified the model as “Little Annie”, a young lady later described by Theodore Watts-Dunton as a house assistant at Kelmscott.

And yet, is it wrong that I see in her figure the perfect combination of Elizabeth Siddal‘s and Jane Morris‘s features?

 

The Mummers (1951) by Richard Eurich (1903-1992). This tiny painting (21 x 15.9 cm) caught my eye instantly. I took a long time to examine the exquisite miniature characters and try to make out the relationships between them. I love them all, each and every tiny figure (bust most of all, the minuscule black cat). I’ve looked at some more of his paintings, and some appeal to me and some don’t. But none other that I’ve seen display quite the same fairy-tale or cartoonish charm that this one does.

 

 

 

Don Quixote in His Study (ca. 1825/6) by Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828). Seems that Bonington died the year Rossetti was born, which is quite interesting, in a random sort of way. This puts me in mind of all the seventeenth-century (1, 2) paintings of alchemists hard at work in their ateliers, and indeed Don Quixote and the alchemist are part of the same iconographic context in many ways. Perhaps one day I will write an article on the ways in which the two images interact. 🙂

 

 

The Flowers of Capri (ca. 1887) by Filadelfo Simi (1849-1923). I am afraid to say this in not a painting  I would normally have taken much notice of, since neither the style nor the subject do much for me. It was the gallery steward whom I mentioned earlier that pointed it out to me, and then dutifully transferred his own obsession into my brain. It’s difficult to see in the reproduction, but on the right hand side of the picture, just above the kneeling lady in yellow smiling at the baby, the patch of grass looks a bit wobbly and perhaps the space is slightly too… empty. That is because a seventh figure used to be there, whom the artist then painted over. No one has yet found out why he felt that was necessary, and it’s that mystery that keeps me interested.

For Sale (1857) by James Collinson (1825-1881). Lastly, I was drawn to this eye-popping representation of the Woman and the female body as object on offer. The juxtaposition of the woman and the porcelain doll is rather disturbing, as is the carefully displayed (artificial?) flower the normal beauty of which is diffused in the gaudy shop. There are several other versions of this paintings, of which this replica is particularly apt and perhaps even more depressing than the original, which may be an effect of the colour palette and the rather more pronounced and telling smile of the forefront lady.
Once more, I have no idea what will come out of this amateurish cataloguing of vague likes as a result of a spontaneous “field trip”. Perhaps someone will manage to make its possible uses (other than procrastination, of course) clear to me?

The Joy of Purposeless Gaming, or the Art of Doing Nothing

This post is, in a way, a continuation of this review I wrote some time ago about the social screensaver The Endless Forest and the art of purposeless gaming. I won’t go into all the details of how the TALE of TALES project is all kinds of marvellous and then some, but I will go on to sing the praise of “pointless games”, so to speak. Of course, you could argue that all games are, in one way or another, pointless and a great way to waste your time, gloriously managing to fail doing anything productive by the end of the day. But there are those games that perfect the art of time-wasting and bring it to a philosophical, almost religious, I might say, epitome. Those games with no or very few rules, dead-end outcomes, and where there is no way to win or to lose. There is only the play, endless, bereft of apparent motives and goals. I find those games hypnotic and perfect.

And since now is the time for smartphone apps and, consequently, wasting money on illusions (read: “smartphone games”), I present to you the one illusion I would spend money on. There is an online version of it, as well, and that one is free to play. Otherwise, you may download it onto your smartphone of choice for $2.99 only. It was released in 2010 AD (dei gratia) and it is called, tellingly enough, Vanitas.

“Vanitas” instructions.

The game features a small wooden box, populated with three random objects. Some of the objects you might chance upon at any given time include: a feather, a die, a nail, a bird skull, a stick, a tiny (literally) bound tome, a soap bubble, a ripe cherry, an acorn, a ladybird (which will fly around sedately for a while and then drop dead), a snail, an egg, a key. In short, it is reminiscent of a child’s secret “treasure box”, where you might find anything, from a decayed milk tooth to a fragile insectile corpse (I should know, I used to a have a mighty collection of random stuff). You may interact with these object, but they will never affect one another and it is only seldom that your interaction with them will produce a visible change. Sometimes, you may get melancholy background sounds, which are mildly startling when they do happen. The game instructions encourage you to “Pause for a moment. Reflect.” Or sometimes, if you should happen to find “three identical objects” in the box and as a consequence you are awarded “a gold star on the lid of the box“, you are encouraged to “consider how lucky you are“.

The official info page for Vanitas boasts:

A memento mori for your digital hands.
To lift you up when you’re feeling down. And drag you down when you’re up too high.

Oscar Wilde would have been proud of this app. Hell, he would have given up on writing The Portrait of Dorian Gray just to play this game. All day long, every day. Actually, I would go so far as to claim that, had Wilde been in possession of a smartphone equipped with this exquisite piece of artistry, it might even have saved him from prison.

Yes, I believe I might invest in an app, just this once.

On the Margins of an Unspeakable “Something”

Image
via National Museums Liverpool on flickr

Please try to ignore my almost fetishistic love for abstract and/or metaphoric titles. This post is about a lovely little art exhibition at the Walker art gallery, Liverpool. I’m talking about The Living and the Dead, an exhibition of some of  visual artist John Kirby’s paintings and sculptures, which is on until the 15th April 2012 (admission free, see official Liverpool museums webpage). The Walker gallery in Liverpool is worth seeing for a thousand separate reasons which I’m not going to list here, as it would take me an eternity. But Kirby’s exhibition was a pleasant little surprise. Now, I’m not going to pretend I know the first thing about visual art, as I probably don’t. But I am an enthusiast of visual art and I enjoy seeing original and challenging exhibitions every once in a while.

via re-title.com

Kirby’s works strive to represent a variety of complex themes – sexuality versus gender, family, life versus death, race, marriage, religion – and, I would say, manages to represent them without becoming overreaching and overbearing. His figures are clean-cut and their aspect is always neatly neutral. They way I see them, they ask no heavy questions and require no reluctant answers, but they do trigger a sense of melancholy and reflection.

via Artodyssey

I really enjoyed the exhibition a lot, and only regret the fact that I didn’t have more time at my disposal to be able to linger more than thirty seconds in front of each of his paintings or sculptures. From my art fancier/ amateur point of view, Kirby’s was interesting and non-pretentious enough for me to want to go back and see it a second and a third time. So if you live in or around Liverpool, or if you just happen to find yourself there for whichever reason, I strongly recommend that you pay The Living and the Dead a visit. (Shall I stress again that the exhibition is admission free? 🙂 )

via Culture24

A Review of “The Small Hand” by Susan Hill

Well, this comes right on time for Halloween, I suppose, the best time for reviewing ghost stories. I’ll start by admitting that The Small Hand is the first and only book by Susan Hill that I have ever read. I’ve known about her books for a long time and I’ve been meaning to read what are, perhaps, her best-known novels, I’m the King of the Castle and The Woman in Black. I am still, I admit, waiting excitedly for the screen adaptation of the latter after watching its promising trailer. However, a few months ago I became fairly obsessed with purchasing and reading her most recent novella, The Small Hand. The initial hardback version was, indeed, a jewel of a book: the black and sky-blue arabesque emboss, its pleasingly diminutive format positively crying out “I might be small, but there’s a dark story inside me, bursting from my pages”, its overall “collectors’ edition” aspect. Yes, I will admit I almost comitted the unforgivable sin of judging a book by its cover. However, my ongoing status of penniless student prevented me from laying my hands on this beautiful – but really quite expensive – edition. Instead, I patiently waited until it came out in paperback – by far not as attractive – to finally buy it.

I didn’t get to read it until recently, but when I did start the book, I did so with a lot of enthusiasm. From the first chapter, however, I was sorely disappointed. Whenever I start reading a “ghost story”, whether it be a classic or a modern one, I expect for it to do one main thing: create atmosphere. By “atmosphere” I don’t mean “purple prose”, just a fair amount of description, whether internal or external, that creates a sense of mystery and draws the reader into the story, making it feel as if he/she were living it, as if he/she were the one who met the ghost and had to find out its secret, its motives. In many ways, I believe, ghost stories resemble crime fiction: there should be mystery, some red herrings (but not an exggerated amount of red herrings), and everyone should hold a secret. Well, to cut a long story short, Susan Hill failed to do precisely that: to create an atmosphere. I am aware that a lot of people prefer stories to be told in a straightforward manner, but the way I see it, ghost stories must not be told too straightforwardly, or the mystery, the excitement, the thrills – they are all lost. I read a ghost story for the excitement, the goosebumps – well, with The Small Hand, they didn’t happen. I could have read this book at any time of night and I would have been quite as calm as ever. From chapter one, all Susan Hill does is use a conversational tone, fit for chicklit, but not for horror/ terror. The amount of time that she uses adverbs such as “clearly”, or syntagmas such as “for some reason” shows how she chose the easy way out, instead of using a smart narrative device to pull the reader in and establish a sense of unknown and uncanny. Such easy ways out serve only to make the story plain rather than interesting.

In short, it took me about seven chapters until I became somewhat drawn to the story (and the novella only numbers twenty-two short chapters). To get there, I had to survive cringeworthy dialogue (e.g. when asked why he wanted to revisit the derelict and supposedly haunted villa that is the centre of the story, the main character replies, embarrassingly: ‘Oh – you know how some old places have a strange attractiveness. And I might want to retire to the country some day.’) and paragraphs that contribute to demote the frail sense of atmosphere: He helped himself to more salad. The room had filled. I looked at the walls, which were lined with an extraordinary assortment of pictures, oils and watercolours, five deep in places – none of them was of major importance but every single one had merit and charm. The collection enhanced the pleasant room considerably. (Here, the adverb “consideringly” being another easy way out. At this point, I was shouting at the book ‘how?? how does it “enhance the pleasant room”??? what is “considerably”???’ ) Finally, at the beginning of chapter eight, there was an improvement: the main character’s dream was refrenshingly uncanny and creates some sense of expectancy, of uncertainty. Then, the story goes on, mostly in a predictable manner, until the very end in chapter twenty-two, about which, quite honestly, I have mixed feelings. I am tempted to label it as “good, but not good enough”: it is not as predictable as the rest of the plot, but it falls right flat and leaves the reader with no after-taste. That’s right, nothing.

Again, the plot itself was unoriginal and lacked any kind of depth (be it stylistic, moral, philosophical or psychological), the pace was too fast and, really not much happened in-between the start and the end of the book. Mostly, the plot (and I don’t have any sort of qualms about spoiling it for you – there is not much to spoil) goes like this: man (who is also an antiquarian/book dealer) stumbles upon derelict house and has some sort of encounter with a child’s ghost – ghost starts haunting man – man goes back to the derelict house to face his own fears – man meets queer old lady (who might or might not be a ghost) – man faints and is retrieved by friendly acquaintances – man discovers he is suddenly (!) relieved of the ghost’s presence and is sure the ghost will never haunt him again. That’s it, for the most part. And I will stop here with my review, otherwise I may take this novella paragraph by paragraph and start pointing out all the various little things that made it such a disappointing reading experience. All in all, I must say that, having read The Small Hand, I am unlikely to read anything else by Susan Hill. It was utterly unconvincing. I also feel like it received a lot of undeserved praise based on the author’s former success rather than the actual quality of the book itself.

I would not recommend Susan Hill’s novella to other enthusiasts of the modern gothic and ghost stories: it has very little, if anything at all, to offer. If I were to rate it, I would probably gve it 2/5 points.

Rough as a triplet from Belleville…

Finally got round to watching Sylvain Chomet’s Les Triplettes de Belleville/ The Triplets of Belleville last night. And I must say: if you’re in for an extraordinary car chase, then this is the movie to watch! >:D First, it has three of my favourite things in it: trains, wicked old ladies and nightmares. Then, it’s a (mostly) silent movie, making it a feat of extraordinary animation and expressive, carricature-style characters parading on-screen for your entertainment.

I noticed that people who talk about it on-line tend to say that the movie is incredibly good despite the lack of dialogue. Well, it probably won’t come as a surprise when I say that I belive it’s a fantastic film because of the lack of dialogue. It just goes to prove that emotional language (via gestures, facial expressions and, in animation, colours and shapes) is universal. If anything, dialogue would have destroyed the expressivity of carefully constructed animation. Belleville is a film that works strictly through character and in it character is constructed through well-defined particularities.

What’s most interesting is that the character I liked best is the fat dog, Bruno. Mad about trains (he just can’t abstain from barking at them), this lazy dog conceals a complicated and revealing psyche (his black and white nightmares are, really, uncanny projections of reality, once you shake off the grotesque first impression and start focusing on dream imagery as a symbol). He is also the most sympathetic character – to me, at least – since he is clearly the most used and abused (albeit lovingly). Throughout the film, I’ve often felt, in fact, that I was being pushed/discreetly guided into sharing Bruno’s point of view. (Which must be why I felt that he was the most humane character, whilst everyone else was a bittersweet parody of humanity. Or maybe not.)

In any case, the film was excellent: exquisite soundtrack, exciting array of characters and amazing mixture of carricature, film noir, sugar, spice, everything nice and everything nasty too! There are a lot of unexpected twists that’ll keep you swinging between ill-concealed sniggers and misty eyes. This is a definite must watch. (Don’t take my word for it, though; go and see it, then you can judge for yourselves. :3)

Okay, I’ll be off watching Chomet’s La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons/ The Old Lady and the Pigeons now. I may let myself be tricked into reviewing that later.

“Death is the only path that leads to birth”

I ended up purging quite a few of my older posts from 1-2 years ago. I guess this tends to happen when I’m about to leave a piece of my life behind: I prefer to erase all incriminating evidence. Well, the stuff I deleted was mostly debris anyway, so I don’t suppose the on-line multiverse’ll miss it.

Well, here I am then, finally able to update and – generally – take a break from all the complcations of dealing with life. I received my copy of The Weird Fiction Review – Number 1 in the post recently, and I’m over the moon about it (how come I didn’t find out about this little gem sooner? shame on me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but it appears to be more than fascinating, so expect a review of the Review sometime soon. 😉

More interestingly, though, I’ve been to see Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec/ The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, a most delighful movie from director Luc Besson, based on the comic books of Jacques Tardi, which I have not, however, had the pleasure to read. Here’s my preferred trailer (French and no subtitles, I’m afraid):

Again, I can’t really compare the film to the original comics, since I haven’t read them, but then again, I doubt that would be fair play anyway. As far as my amateurish opinion goes, it was a gorgeous, baroque feast of doubles and doubleness – from twins to arch-enemies to the timeless life/death motif – all wrought together in a string of absurd and savoury adventures. The plot is set in pre-WWI Paris (mostly) and Egypt (or the stereotypically-spooky entrails of an Egyptian pyramid, to be more precise). The main character, Adèle Blanc-Sec (played by Louise Bourgoin) is a tomboyish (for lack of a better attribute) young journalist/novelist/adventurer looking for a three-millennia-old mummy whose knowledge would enable it to cure Adèle’s twin sister, Agathe (and I will not spoil for you what it is that Agathe needs to be cured of, but a word of caution for the faint of heart: it’s a gruesome little detail). As main characters go, Adèle is quite remarkable through her unbreacheable loyalty to gimendous hats and the cool indifference she exhibits towards sneezing mummies and pterodactyls with a taste for ostrich feather shawls. Her reactions are sometimes predictable perhaps, typical of the “reckless adventuress”, but in 97% of the cases, Adèle is simply charming (and I’m afraid I’ve also taken a dangerous liking to her “museum of curiosities” bedecked flat).

The plot I found well-balanced and tantaizing, combining a decent percentage of supernatural, absurd, humour and drama. From scientists with telekinetic abilities, to Jurassic birds in the middle of Paris, to mummies with a unique sense of aesthetics – “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” has it all. But the best part about it is its “film noir” streak, in which no joke is left without a shady or tragic twist. For every life saved there is a life tragically lost or at least placed under severe threat. I would love to expand on this, but I don’t really want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t watched it yet. I leave you with a lovely pic of sisters Adèle and Agathe in the foremath of a truly decisive tennis match:

Life as a Nunnery

I am aware it looks like I’ve been lured “to the other side”, also known as “the great and frightful RL”. Sadly – or happily, depends which way you look or squint at it -, however, I am still here, somewhere, stalking better updated blogs and other such online haunts. But yes, I have been busy and still am and still will be for a while, so, dear internet void, do expect scarce updates and please do not hold a grudge against me because of that… The good thing is that I am slightly more active on tumblr, where I can rapidly post (or, more likely, reblog from keener fellow tumbleloggers) an exciting picture or two and then run back to my ever mounting piles of work.

Have I been up to fun things, as well? Why, yes, bits and pieces, here and there, I’d say, mainly in the few breaks I’ve had from trying to escape the bone-crushing jaws of the educational system. For one, I’ve purchased the wonderful volume two of Kaori Yuki’s latest manga, Grand Guignol Orchestra. Some might remember that I reviewed the first volume here… Well, the second volume was just as good as the first one and definitely worth every penny, since Yuki remains not only an amazing and imaginative storyteller, but also a most talented and entrancing visual artist.

In vol 2, some of the mysteries surrounding the main characters start to get cleared up, only to have more secrets and mysteries jump at you from behind the next manga frame. 🙂 All of this is most satisfying to me as a reader, as I’m usually not happy with a book/comic/film/anything with a storyline unless it keeps me guessing right until the very end. 🙂 So yes, go buy this manga or any of Kaori Yuki’s works, RIGHT NOW! None of her mangas has disappointed me so far… (Gods, they should be paying me for all the free advertising, right? But I simply can’t help it. xD)

For another thing, I’ve been watching… well, stuff. A lot of Jan Svankmajer, of course, but I’m not going to give in to the temptation to rant about all his wonderful short films. Instead, I’m going to embed a nifty little video that pretty much speaks for itself. It’s “a trailer for a non-existent Jan Svankmajer Collection consisting of many short clips from five of his full-length films”, as its maker describes it, and it’s the best “promotional vid” for Czech Surrealism I’ve seen so far:

There are too many of Svankmajer’s shorts that I’d recommend, but, quite unfortunately, not many of them can be found on-line. “The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope” is one of the rare exceptions, and so I’m embedding it too. Note: I would have embedded it full-length, but LiveJournal won’t let me, since it apparently thinks my vodpod&viddler permalinks are unsafe. Therefore, I have provided a YouTube link at the end of this wonderful paragraph. Dx There’s a bit of text that features in the film, and there are no subtitles for it, but it’s not that big of a deal, since that’s just a quotation (translated into Czech, of course) from E.A. Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”: […] the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my soul the idea of REVOLUTION, perhaps from its association in fancy with the burr of a mill-wheel. It might be worth mentioning, though, that it is that quotation from Poe that got the film banned in the former Czechoslovakia in 1983. You can watch the film here on YouTube, if you want.

But Svankmajer’s stuff isn’t the only thing I’ve been watching. I’ve also continued my obsessive need for German Expressionism, which I’ve fed with a good dose of uncanny directed by Richard Oswald and featuring surreally gorgeous Conrad Veidt (the picture on Wiki is crap, though – check out this one instead :D). I’m talking about the 1919 film Eeerie Tales/ Unheimliche Geschichten, presenting adaptations of five classic horror stories: “The Apparition” by Anselma Heine, “The Hand” by Robert Liebmann, “The Black Cat” by E.A. Poe, “The Suicide Club” by R.L. Stevenson and “The Spook” by Richard Oswald. As always, I was stunned by the impeccable mime-acting required by silent films and always dutifully provided by silent film actors. Oh, and you can watch the movie on YouTube, here.


[screencap from “Eerie Tales”, “The Suicide Club” section]

That’s mostly it, I should say. But since I’m such a nice and generous blogger, I won’t leave you just like that, great internet void. Oh, no. I’ll leave you with a nice little animated gif of yours truly running berserk. Literally. 🙂