November 18, 2011

Another fine translation by friend of Kino Slang Ted Fendt on the films of Huillet and Straub; this time a phenomenal talk by Jacques Rancière, mainly on WORKERS, PEASANTS... in full HERE -

*

The people always recite texts that talk about community, power, people, property, classes, the shared world, communism.

(...)

It’s the idea of a people’s theater. The people are both in the audience and on stage. There is a similarity between theater and democratic assembly.

(...)

There again, it’s particularly striking in Workers, Peasants where, precisely, the community is not in the past: these are stories and yet one could say that everything is in the present, one could say that the community remains in the present in the text that talks about it.

(...)

Comolli tells the story (a utopian community of Italians in Brazil), we see people leave, we witness their misfortunes, their contradictions, and we see, finally, how this crumbles. And that is what the Straubs absolutely refuse. In their films, the community may be done with, but it is always there and it will always be there. It’s like kinds of visible blocks of intensity that are always present and always in the present.

(...)

we are no longer in the dissociation between words and the visible but rather in the relationship between equality itself in the visible – that is there, this stays, this continues – and speech, both dramatic and lyric. By dramatic speech, I mean words exchanged by characters in conversation. The construction of Workers, Peasants is remarkable from this point of view. Groups oppose one another: workers and peasants, leaders and masses, men and women... Each speaks in turn, lays out his or her problem. Each is in his own shot – it is very rare in the Straubs’ films that partners in an exchange are in the same shot; when they are, it’s generally from behind. Each one reads his text or looks at it or looks in front of him in an undetermined direction. None of the characters look at those that they are talking to. It’s like a kind of absolutizing of words, it’s as if everything was in the words.

(...)

This communist people exists. It exists in its own division and, at its core, by its capacity to affirm the division.

(...)

Thus to declare is the occasion to demonstrate a communist ability, to begin by an ability to speak.


At this moment, communism becomes an intensity, a degree of intensity of perceptible experiences.

(...)

And the prosecutor and the partisans explain to the others that they are rather backward: together, they form the tribunal of history.

(...)

Likewise, when the one who I’m calling the prosecutor explains these rules to them, it is a speech worse than a legal speech, and he delivers it with a wild look and a ventriloquist's manner of talking, which makes what should be a brief statement become a funeral dirge, so that the dialectician clearly refutes himself.

(...)

on one side, there are workers and what one could call the soviet ideology that wants to put nature to use, to make roads, to transform it and so on, and to order total mobilization, and, on the other side, one finds peasants, those who agree on the time of germination, of waiting, of the harvest, of rest, of respect for the earth. That is the first aspect. Next, there is nature, which is before speech, and which eventually gives up its place and its power to speech. It’s what is there, what is always there without reason, before all reason, and what does not stop acting, reproducing itself and altering itself at the same time. From which comes the importance of the continual agitation while the men and women are talking: nature doesn’t stop moving. These are insect noises, bird songs, the effects of light on the plants, the trees, on the moss-covered rocks and the dead leaves... The activity of this undomesticated nature is constant. You’ll note that we’re talking about a peasant community but that at no time do we see it in the shot, for example: this is clearly voluntary. The partner is the wild nature, the ravine, undomesticated nature; and, after all, communism, for the Straubs, in this last part of their work, must necessarily be linked to a nature without rhyme or reason.

There is also a dispositive that pronounces a rupture with the idea of nature that accompanied Marxism for a long time: nature as transformable material that man must model in his image and the idea of history as the humanization of nature. One could say that, now, the Straubs’ politics and mise en scène stands up for a certain inhumanity of nature. Nature is like a continual power and rumble that limits humans.

(...)

We move to a peasant or ecological communism, opposed to a communism of Soviet engineers. After all, this nature has no pastoral qualities. It is an ancient nature: a play of forces, a play of conflicting elements

(...)

the film is always in the present tense

(...)

– fire, not electricity –

*


3 comments:

bruno andrade said...

We move to a peasant or ecological communism, opposed to a communism of Soviet engineers. After all, this nature has no pastoral qualities. It is an ancient nature: a play of forces, a play of conflicting elements

Again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuD05iY_FQg

As for the film is always in the present tense: The Sunchaser, Year of the Dragon... I would say that every single frame ever shot by Cimino (Joss Ackland crying before meeting Salvatore in The Sicilian, the attack on Walken's house on Heaven's Gate, that zoom on Eastwood's at the end face while he's driving, those mountains on the background, the way one feels every single bump of that road while Eastwood's tries to hide his sadness at the end Thunderbolt and Lightfoot etc.).

bruno andrade said...

... on Eastwood's face at the end ...

... while Eastwood's triyng ...

It's late, I should sleep.

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