The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Movie of the Week #7

Taris, roi de l'eau
(Jean Vigo; 1931)

On its face, Taris, roi de l'eau was a short film about French Swimming Champeen Jean Taris . . . not too different in conception from any number of Pathe or Movietone newsreel items . . . but for its brevity if nothing else, Jean Vigo's second creation was possibly his boldest statement. With its repeated employment of purely cinematic devices, its own grace seeming in conflict with the order of that which it documents, the film almost ridicules, rather than celebrates, the physicality of its subject; rendering a perfect before-the-fact antidote to Riefenstahl's fetish opus, Olympiad.

I've often wondered . . . and I fear I'll never know the answer to this . . . whether Busby Berkeley, who made a career of using cinema to transcend the purely physical, had this film at least partly in mind when he created the By a Waterfall sequence of Footlight Parade. Probably not. Like Vigo, he just had an innate understanding of the medium's potential.

What more does any filmmaker really need?

1 comment :

Vanwall said...

Thanks for posting this! Vigo is so hard to find, and I had never been able to see this one before. Imagine what he could have done, if he had lived longer.