Archive for September 16, 2022

Shoot the Moon

Posted in FILM with tags , , on September 16, 2022 by dcairns

MUCH too busy to write anything today but here I go anyway, inflicting more Emile Cohl on you.

While Melies sometimes seems quasi-incoherent, that always feels like a deliberate quality. Cohl’s ambitions sometimes cause him to do things that aren’t legible to the viewer, though maybe seeing his films large would help. It’s not just that I’m prone to forgetting what a hope chest is. In FANTASMAGORIE, some of the inventive action and transformations occur too rapidly for even the minimal surreal logic underpinning them to be apparent.

In this one, CLAIR DE LUNE ESPAGNOL (1909), the floating thingy that snags the hero as he attempts suicide is too small to be discerned, but in 35mm on a big screen it’d probably be clear. A shooting star, going horizontal/upwards? The logic underlying an intertitle stating that we’re “dans la lune” when in fact we’re on some kind of balcony with the moon visible in the sky, is opaque to me, but maybe the intertitle is a later imposition or at any rate written by other, sillier hands.

All the interactions between our irate, lunophobic Spaniard and the anthropomorphic satellite are EXTREMELY well done — when he throws a live action axe and hits his target with a hand-drawn one, the continuity of action anticipates Ray Harryhausen’s tricks with spears and lassos.

The use of a telescope cues a POV shot of the injured moon, which seems extremely modern.

It does seem — from the way the Spaniard turns into a rigid dummy (unless he’s very good at maintaining an erect poise while being lifted by head and feet) and slung from the balcony, that we’re meant to be in the heavens, if not on the moon itself. I’m no astronomer but it does seem dangerously ambiguous. “You can’t fly to the moon on a fraction.”

Our bolero-jacketed lover crashes back to earth and makes sweet with his paramour. It’s never been clear what the source of their quarrel was, but being stabbed by a bloke in pajamas has apparently made everything right. If only real life were like that.