This is the first of all my Paris Journals for Film Comment, written for their Fall 1971 issue, and also the first piece I ever published in that magazine, when it was still a quarterly. This Journal is missing only its first section — a somewhat misinformed and misconstrued account of an ongoing feud at the time between Cahiers du Cinéma and Positif that I see little point in recycling now. (I’ve corrected a few errors here, but also left in a few others — such as the running time and title of OUT 1 — to preserve some period flavor.) I wound up writing this column for virtually every issue of the magazine, which soon afterwards became a bimonthly, for my remaining three years in Paris, then transformed it into a London Journal during my two and a half years in the U.K., and finally turned it into a column called “Moving” for a brief spell after I moved back to the United States in early 1977. (If memory serves, the last of the “Moving” columns became the prelude to my first book, Moving Places: A Life at the Movies, published by Harper & Row in 1980.) —J.R.… Read more »
Daily Archives: December 21, 2020
From the Chicago Reader (April 15, 1988). — J.R.
Directed by Alain Resnais
Written by Henry Bernstein
With André Dussollier, Sabine Azema, Pierre Arditi,
and Fanny Ardant
The exquisite art of MÉLO, like the art of Alain Resnais in general, bears a certain resemblance to sculpture: it needs to be seen from several different vantage points if one is to fully appreciate its shapeliness and the powerful multiplicity of its meanings. The following selection of vantage points can’t pretend to be exhaustive; at best, it presents only a few starting points for sounding the bottomless depths of this deceptively simple movie. The first six points are provided by the film’s title and the names listed in the heading above. The last four — theater, mise en scène, symmetry, and mystery — offer more general and abstract perspectives.
The title is an abbreviation for mélodrame or melodrama, which derive from the Greek word melos, music, and the French word drame, drama. What do we usually mean by melodrama? “Sensational dramatic piece with violent appeals to emotions” and “extravagantly theatrical play in which action and plot predominate over characterization” are two relevant dictionary definitions, among others. The earlier meaning is drama with music.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (April 29, 1988). Note: The Andrew Noren stills are copyrighted by his estate. — J.R.
THE LIGHTED FIELD
*** (A must-see)
Directed by Andrew Noren.
I’m a light thief and a shadow bandit. I deal in retinal phantoms. Film is illusion, period, however you choose to see it — shadows of human delights and adversities or raging conflicts of emulsion grains. We see only “films” of films, as all of our sight and sensing is illusion, the phantom movies of our encounter with the world, which, remember, is equally phantom, trompe l’oeil of that clown and ghostmeister, the sun.
The lovers, light and shadow, and their offspring space and time are my themes, working with their particularities is my passion and delight. — Andrew Noren
The difference between narrative and nonnarrative filmmaking is a little bit like the difference between team sports and individual exercise. In contrast to a collective game with a beginning, a middle, and an end, personal exercise tends to be more rhythmically repetitive, involved more with process and with cycles than with development, and moves with a steadier pulse that eschews the more unpredictable dynamics of drama and suspense.
Andrew Noren’s lovely 59-minute The Lighted Field — part five of his ongoing work The Adventures of the Exquisite Corpse, which has engaged him over the past two decades — belongs mainly to the nonnarrative realm.… Read more »