Sunday, September 23, 2007

An evening with Georges Franju and Maya Deren

Two documentary filmmakers, deceased. Tonight I'm watching "Le Sang des Betes", the Blood of the Beasts, and "Eyes without a face" by George Franju and "The Divine Horsemen" by Maya Deren. Blood of the Beasts is a famous documentary that goes into Paris slaughterhouses and films the slaying of horses, cows, calves, and sheep. But in a very special way. When I was in college one of the classes that I took studied documentary filmmaking among other things and "Blood of the Beasts" got a mention, with the text we were using saying that Franju portrayed the killing of the animals in an almost mythic sense, like a sacrifice in the Mystery religions of Greece, Rome, and elsewhere, with the butchers being elevated into almost super human figures. I read that and thought "Cool!". Now that I'm in Seattle I can actually rent Franju's stuff and so here I am. "Eyes without a face" is a work of fiction, but, at least according to commentators, a similar style.

Maya Deren's "The Diving Horsemen" is a rare black and white film about voudoo in Haiti. The "Horsemen" are the priests, who are ridden by the gods, the Loa, in spirit possession. Deren was unique in that she managed to be an avant-garde filmmaker in pre-World War II America. And her stuff is good. Like Franju she wasn't just a documentary filmmaker, witness the very good and very interesting collection "The experimental films of Maya Deren". Hopefully, and according to what I've read and heard almost certainly, "Divine Horsemen" will prove to have the same sort of experimental quality to it.

I'll blog about both after I see them. I've noticed that people have been finding posts that I've written about seeing this movie or that movie where I haven't written much beyond either "I'm going to see this tonight" or "That was a good movie", I mean not literally just that but essentially just that. I figure that if you're googling a movie and you manage to find this site the least that I can do for you is to give you something beyond a teaser. This is especially true with the comment I wrote about "Quiet days in Clinchy", a film from the Henry Miller novella. I wrote that I was going back and forth between watching it and watching a film about Stalingrad, very upligting of course since Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle in human history. I ended up picking "Quiet days in Clinchy" and basically wrote "I picked Quiet Days in Clinchy" and nothing else. It's an interesting movie that starts out with the memorable first line "It was spring time in Paris and there was cunt in the air." Ah, Henry Miller. I'll write omething substantial about "Quiet Days in Clinchy" sometime too.

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