Guides to cine-world

I’m lucky. I have two guides to the movies. One of my guides, Masha Salazkina, just published her book on Eisenstein, which I helped edit. All should buy it, or actually, make a library buy it. Masha has an incredible movie archive in her head – her book is, among other things, a protest against the idea that Soviet cinema developed under the sign of some exceptionalism. The baroque that Eisenstein found in Mexico is, by a thousand micro-ethnographic threads, connected to what he was doing in Russia.

In her work, Masha displays this great synoptic vision of world cinema. She knows the secret history that connects Brazil to Cuba and Cuba to Rome and Rome to Moscow.

My other guide is Amie, who is one of the constant commentors on LI. I owe Amie for my deepest movie experience – Bela Tarr – and to owe someone for Bela Tarr is to have an infinite debt in one's intellectual/spiritual account. I’d go on and say some things about Amie’s ideas, except I hope someday she will be expounding them on her own blog, and then in her own book. Although one of these days I might go on and do it anyway.

Amie told me that if I wanted to write about the abattoirs of Paris, I should see the Franju film, Sang des Bêtes. She warned me, however, that it wasn’t a film for the easily grossed out. Well, I am not a person who blanches because I see an animal being killed and butchered and eaten, since the bodies of herds of cattle, henhouses full of chickens, pods of fish, and numerous pigs have passed through my body. Cell of my cells, these butchered skinned blooded beasts.

All of which poses, or should pose, the great question: how can this be right?
To which the short answer has to be: it isn’t.

Franju calmly drives home the short answer. The film is short, and after the camera and the narrator’s voiceover – this part is narrated a woman – gives us a sense of where La Villette is, we get down to business. La Villette was intentionally sited by Haussman in a recently annexed banlieu of Paris in the 1860s, which was populated by immigrants and poor workers. Even when the slaughterhouses were opened, they were out of date, compared to the new, hygienic German abattoirs, the latter with their on-site doctors and running water at all times. La Villette was trichinosis city in comparison. So, back to the film, we follow a blonde horse into the gates of a courtyard and watch the man leading it take out a pistolet, apply it to the horse’s forehead, and down the animal goes. It doesn’t take ten seconds before a blade is slicing through the horse’s neck, letting out a steaming, rich flood of blood. It is at this point that we realize, uncomfortably, and for some viewers probably unbearably, that we are in for the killings.

About which, more later. The film is here dubbed in English, and here is the French


Anonymous said…
LI, your friend Masha's book sounds amazing, I will definitely have to read it.
B-b-but what's this about your wanting to write about my ideas. Don't scare me, man! I guess I better get a blog going soon, if only to say how "my" ideas are begged, borrowed or stolen. The words also. La parole soufflée.

Tout à reprendre. Tout à redire. Et la faux du regard sur tout l'avoir menée.

...s'approchent de "l'Oeuvre" rêvée à pas de loups, à pas de fous...

roger said…
a pas de loups, Amie! or de lions.

I would so love to comment on YOUR stuff, be your comments glosser. While someone might think they could steal your ideas, I have my doubts they could ever mimic that music, those combinations, which - as you well know - make me turn around, like I heard my name being called. That moment when your name is impossible, you are in some strange city, nobody knows you there, and yet you swear you hear your name being called.
Sometimes, that has been the effect of things you've written on me.

Although I might not be the best witness to this business, cause I beg for certain ideas of mine to be stolen, I so want more important voices in the world to take them up, and yet: my inventory is still here, the ideas are in dusty jars, looking like 19th century biology specimens from a freak show.