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 #20


Sette Canne, un vestito
(Seven Reeds, One Suit)
(Michelangelo Antonioni; 1949)

The industrialization of Northern Italy after the Second World War, and all its hideous consequences, was only one of the subtexts that informed, to one degree or another, a huge amount of Post-war Italian Cinema (not just the Neorealist cycle). In one of his early documentaries, Sette Canne, un vestito, Michelangelo Antonioni took his camera to a Rayon factory near Trieste and, through his determined emphasis on soulless machinery (almost to the exclusion of the workers) created the first of his oppressive environments without sacrificing the essential documentary character of the enterprise. Almost a decade later, Alain Resnais and Raymond Queneau would take this a step (or two) further with their plastic molding epic, Le Chant du Styrène, but Antonioni's film, even with the sumptuousness of its imagery, remains the more everlasting triumph in this small corner of the documentary canon.

Note: This film is presented in the original Italian, without English subtitles. Call it a poor guess or call it a shifty evasion, but it's my . . . belief . . . that the narration probably offers us little that the images can't handle on their own.

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