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

Signs and Meaning in Cinema #15

Signs: Four Flies on Grey Velvet
(Dario Argento; 1971)


Cinebeats said...

I can't wait to see this again. The new DVD looks fantastic. My old copy of the movie is horrible and hard to watch. The print is dark and very scratchy, plus I'm pretty sure it's been cut-up by American censors as well.

swac said...

I too have a crappy looking 5th generation VHS (it's not quite pan & scan, but it's not Panavision either). This new DVD really is a revelation, one of my top ten most wanted films.

Fred said...

I agree with Kim and Swac. I have two copies, one in French which is very watchable (but J non pal pa Francais) and one in English which is stretched, pan & scan and murky. The only good scenes I've ever been able to see from Four Flies are in Argento documentaries.

Regarding Argento, I don't know if I'm in the minority here, but I love his early stuff and think Argento jumped the black gloved murderer right around Phenomenon, and his output since has been barely watchable.

swac said...

I usually draw the line around Opera (and his Two Evil Eyes entry), although I have yet to watch his Masters of Horror episodes, about which I've heard good things.

Trauma was fairly awful, but I could be persuaded to watch Sleepless, The Card Player or Mother of Tears if there are any defenders out there. I also hear there's a remake of Suspiria in the works...but what's the point of that?

Steve C. said...

Opera is the proper line in the sand from where I stand. Mother of Tears is a lot of stupid fun if you're willing to accept that it's nowhere near vintage Argento, but everything else he's made since the end of the Reagan era has been utter crud. That includes both "Masters of Horror" episodes, which are idiotic even by the logic-light standards of Dario.

Cinebeats said...

I'm afraid the last Argento film I really loved was Opera. there are bits and pieces from his other films that I admire, but as a whole they just don't work for me. I haven't seen Mother of Tears yet, but I have to agree with Steve C. about Argento's Master of Horror episodes. Really dull stuff. Especially when you compare them to what other directors like Carpenter and Miike have done in the series.

My admiration for Argento has dwindled a bit in recent years. As I mentioned over at Cinebeats recently, it's mainly due to the fact that we now have pristine widescreen prints available on DVD of work by so many other great Italian directors who are comparable to Argento. Seeing how much Argento has swiped from Fulci over the years for example was a real eye-opener. I'll always love his early films, but I don't worship Argento the way I used to in the '80s. His name still comes to mind when anyone asks me who my favorite filmmakers are though.