Nouchka van Brakel is the first female directore who graduated from the Dutch Film Academy. Her films such as A Women like Eve in 1979 (with Monique van de Ven and Maria Scheider, see image above) and The Cool Lakes of Death (1982) are still remarkable classics. EYE Film Institute, The Dutch Film Academy and the University of AMsterdam (Department of Media Studies and Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis) organize on 18 May 2016 a symposium on the question of the female point of view. See here the program. In the evening there is a special screening of The Cool Lakes of Death. Programme is in Dutch. See also the EYE website.
Ben River's The Sky Trembles, the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers programmed in Cracking the Frame. An introduction to this hauntingly beautiful film can be found below. Cracking the Frame is a platform for Art Documentaries and Artist Films. See Cracking the Frame's website.
Circling around the Sky Trembles
Introducing a film is always a delicate matter. Words may color the experience of the images and sounds that will follow. Introducing a film like The Sky Trembles, the Earth is Afraid and the Eyes are not Two Bothers is particularly challenging because no words can replace the beauty of the images that you are about to see, the sounds you are about to hear.
Images and Sounds
The deep pink-orange-yellow colors of the sunlight blending into in the earthy dusts of the desert, the glistering reflections of the light fall on rippling river water, the framing and compositions of the people in the sandy rocks, caves or empty shadowy alleys, trees that look like green cotton mist, the magic beauty of the horses who always seem to know more; these are all ‘nearby-descriptions’ of the visual aesthetics of Ben River’s film.
The beauty of the images is rendered more mysterious, sublime even, because of the mixture with the sensibilities of sonic worlds, moving in and out of synch with the images: a barking dog, clacking bells, footsteps on the rocks, chirping birds, a baby crying, scraping noises, the hoarsely bellowing of a donkey, the threatening duration of a metal song, the rhythm of hands clapping, drums beating, the sounds of silence. These are ‘nearby descriptions’ of the soundtrack that opens up the images into other dimensions, transporting the materiality of the earth into an other-worldly, spiritual dimension. In this way the film “salutes all parts of the sky and the earth” – an explicit acknowledgment at the opening of the film that may count as the films poetic mission.
Within these visual and sonic worlds much is hidden, never directly expressed but one can sense a thousand ghostly presences. Instead of analyzing the film in a precise way, I will simply try to unfold some of these haunting presences buried in the depths of the images and sounds, so that they may reveal themselves perhaps at various moments during or after the screening, without precise location or moment. I will “circle around” the film so to speak by addressing the two interlinked themes that The Sky Trembles, The Earth if Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers addresses.
9 April 2016 in Felix Meritis Amsterdam. Zie programma op de website van het Drif Festival. Met onder andere David E. Cooper (Gardens, Nature and Culture); Filippos Bertoni (Crawling through Natures); Judith Still (The Beast and the Slave); Lieven de Cauter (Neo-Natuur als Glokaal Gemeengoed) en Patricia Pisters (Metallurgisch Denken).
The Revenant (Alejandro Iñárritu, 2015) and The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015) revise the western genre. Where The Revenant takes us back to the real pioneering beginnings of the nation, The Hateful Eight looks at the 'Wild West' from a contemporary perspective and current gun violence. The Revenant is sublime in making us feel the bare life of the pioneering beginnings of the American West. No saloons to have a drink after a shoot-out, just the harshness of nature full of enemies of all sorts. Breathtakingly filmed; Leonardo DiCaprio deserves an Oscar.
After his revisionist western Django Unchained (2012) with The Hateful Eight (2015) Tarantino gives again a biting commentary on the racial relations in the US. While Django Unchained is empowering, in The Hateful Eight there is no redemption of revenge (as is also the case in Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards). The fetishistic Lincoln letter that the Samuel Jackson character keeps in his pocket, containing a promise for the nation, has appeared to be worthless. Only hate remains. Not even the love for cinema’s widescreen can compensate for this tragic message of violence.