The 16mm projector has been shut down, its whirring has ceased. The lights have gone up and the chairs stacked away. The Studio is an empty room again, a blank canvas. But for two hours on Saturday night it was a den of thrills and horrors, a superlative experience in true film making in the tradition of Bunuel, Deren, Jodorowsky, Madden and all of those who make film from the heart and the instincts. Where the Ego is banished to the abyss and the Id and Superego fight it out on screen until we al fall down with exhaustion and sated pleasure. Studio 75 would like to thank Duncan Reekie for presenting the film in all its 16mm glory. The film was shot on Super 8, and the screening print is 16mm.
How wonderful to screen a film on 16mm, in a small intimate space where the projector is seen and heard. The material reality of film is present, the audience is cheek by jowl. We can hear each other breathe. The intensity of the film itself reacts with the intensity of the space’s intimacy. It was the best film event we have ever had at Studio 75.
Maldoror is the film that we screened, and you can read all about it here:
It was an amazing experience, a relentless and intense baptism and re-baptism in a font alternatively icy and fiery; a comedy filled with horror and recoil; a drama both touching and disturbing; a dream and a fantasy. One of the audience pointed out that Maldoror, the narrator/subject is “very male and very angry” – Duncan agreed and said “He is fighting with a male God” the film is about man vs God or to be more precise, Man against his own instincts. A fascinating story, it was written in 1869 by a young poet, Isidore Ducasse who took the pseudonym Comte de Lautreaumont. Born in Uruguay, be went to France as a teenager (the long ocean voyage described as a hallucinatory dream in Maldoror). Influenced obviously by Baudelaire and others, he embarked on Maldoror, a mediation on evil. His intention was to create a companion, a meditation on good, but he died before he was able to complete it. He died during the dreadful days of the Franco-Prussian War, when Paris was under siege and food and medicine was unobtainable. Ironically this was the second siege he had experienced: as a child he lived through the siege of Montevideo in the Argentine-Uruguayan war.
Thinking about Ducasse’s short life and early death makes me feel humble and grateful for my own safe and happily artistic life. Yet how many artists and poets have had – and continue to have – lives tragically cut down due to human folly, to the very evil that Maldoror grapples with?
Yet his truncated life was not at all in vain he accomplished more than most of us in many lifetimes: the book lives on; it’s never been out of print; and the film Maldoror is a fitting tribute to his genius. Even in translation, the language is hypnotic and the imagery shocking. The film’s interpretation of this much-loved and very influential book does it justice.
An inspiring event! A wonderful film. Exactly the kind of thing we dreamed of when we set up the Studio.