Archive for Chic Waterson

Xanadu

Posted in FILM, literature, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2008 by dcairns

Enter the Dragon

Joseph Losey Week spills out of itself and out of Shadowplay, over into BritMovie, where I drunkenly sing the praises of BOOM (A.K.A. BOOM!), thusly. I’d like to add that, since writing the piece, my enthusiasm for the film has grown, perhaps as my memory of it dims or perhaps as aspects of its high camp art-movie miasma have taken on fresh resonance through bouncing around inside my reverberant skull. Whatever the truth behind that, I feel I can supplement the article by adding a clip from the film itself. This should confirm, for all enthusiasts of Edgar Ulmer’s THE BLACK CAT, the influence of the 1934 horror movie upon the 1968 art-trash mash-up. Specifically the floating camera as Burton rumbles through the opening stanzas of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream (Like an IDIOT, I refer to the poem as “Coleridge’s Xanadu” in the piece, ample proof that I’m overly obsessed with Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton John’s musical disasterpiece).


ALTHOUGH — there is another possibility, now that I think of it. Although Losey expressed tremulous reservations about Resnais and Robbe-Grillet’s LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, worrying if it would communicate anything to the general public, he was clearly much affected by it. The flashbacks and sound-image disconnections of ACCIDENT show an obvious desire to emulate Resnais’ fragmented mirror-maze montage, and Losey even abducts Delphine Seyrig from the cast of MARIENBAD and casts her, rather nonsensically, as Alexander Knox’s daughter.

But in that case, it’s clear that MARIENBAD is in thrall to THE BLACK CAT, which now that I think of it is obvious and has probably been remarked upon before.

See Douglas Slocombe’s camera, operated by the great Chic Waterson, drift like a phantom through Richard MacDonald’s insanely opulent sets, in the spectral footsteps of Ulmer and Resnais. And now here’s John Waters to put everything in perspective:

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