Archive for Guy de Maupassant

Book Fair

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2022 by dcairns

Some of these were too good to pass up, some were too cheap to pass up. There are some hints here as to a forthcoming project, but YOU’LL NEVER GUESS.

Probably some good page seventeens in here too.

Page Seventeen III: The Revenge

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2022 by dcairns

And yet my ideas and convictions on this subject have not changed. I still consider legalized cohabitation to be foolish. I am certain that eight husbands out of ten have wives who are unfaithful – and that is just what they deserve for having been idiotic enough to fetter their lives, give up the freedom of love, the only good and cheerful thing in the world, and clip the wings of the romantic fancy that constantly urges us to take an interest in all women . . . More than ever I feel incapable of loving merely one woman, because I should always be too fond of all the others. I wish I had a thousand arms, a thousand lips, a thousand . . . personalities, so that I could embrace at the same moment a whole regiment of these charming but insignificant creatures.

I will give a few instances of each of the three methods of changing bodies mentioned above. Freya and Frigg had their falcon dresses in which they visited different regions of the earth, and Loki is said to have borrowed these, and to have then appeared so precisely like a falcon, that he would have escaped detection, but for the malicious twinkle of his eyes. In the Vǫlundarkviða is the following passage:-

Her mouth was not rouged, but yet was pomegranate red. And she smiled so unconsciously down at the beverage that it caused the other girls to laugh aloud.

She turned her back on Transition. There was a thickness in her throat. She knew she should feel shame at the enormity of her mistake – and yet she could not. She knew that her identification with Andro had been too intense, and yet she did not wish it any other way.

In her own mind the tall dark girl had been in those days much confused. A great restlessness was in her and it expressed itself in two ways. First there was an uncanny desire for change, for some big definite movement in her life. It was this feeling that had turned her mind to the stage. She dreamed of joining some company and wandering over the world, seeing always new faces and giving something of herself to the people. Sometimes at night she was quite beside herself with the thought, but when she tried to talk of the matter with the theatrical companies that came to Winesburg and stopped at her father’s hotel, she got nowhere. They did not seem to know what she meant, or if she did get something of her passion expressed, they only laughed. “It’s not like that,” they said. “It’s as dull and uninteresting as this here. Nothing comes of it.”

Like Joyce, Dorothy too begins her letter by discussing her “strict upbringing.” She can remember lying in bed as a child and thinking about her fantasies. “I was never able to banish these deliciously nasty thoughts from my mind,” she writes. What heightened her pleasure in these erotic fantasies was to imagine them while she could hear her mother moving around in another part of the house. Right under her mother’s nose, so to speak, she could play with these forbidden thoughts. In the secrecy of her mind, she could be sexually defiant.

The first few times nothing clicked. The fantasies were O.K. but belonged to nobody important. But the Firm is patient, committed to the Long Run as They are. At last, one proper Sherlock Holmes London evening, the unmistakable smell of gas came to Pirate from a dark street lamp, and out of the fog ahead materialised a giant, organlike form. Carefully, black-shod step by step, Pirate approached the thing. It began to slide forward to meet him, over the cobblestones slow as a snail, leaving behind some slime brightness of street-wake that could not have been from fog. In the space between them was a crossover point which Pirate, being a bit faster, reached first. He reeled back, in horror, back past the point – but such recognitions are not reversible. It was a giant adenoid. At least as big as St. Paul’s, and growing hour by hour. London, perhaps all England, was in mortal peril!

Seven passages extracted from seven page seventeens from seven books cluttering up the Shadowplayhouse.

He from Tales of Supernatural Terror by Guy de Maupassant; The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould; Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou; Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson; Escape to Chaos by John D. MacDonald, from Galactic Empires 2 edited by Brian W. Aldiss; Forbidden Flowers by Nancy Friday; Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

Small Strangenesses

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2021 by dcairns

I’ve been a fairly poor viewer of Pordenone’s offerings this week — I mainly missed THE MAN FROM KANGAROO (1920, above), directed by Wilfred Lucas and starring stuntman-star Snowy Baker. I caught ten minutes, enough to appreciate the charm of the Australian scenery and the “art titles” adorning nearly every title card.

I did see the shorts programme, which was diverting but not exceptional — SOAP BUBBLES (Giovanni Vitrotti, 1911) used delightful special effects to tell a very pat story with an obvious moral, but the trick effects, whereby real bubbles blown by a nasty child froze in mid-air and transformed into crystal balls offering portals to his future, were marvelous.

A MODERN CINDERELLA (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1913) was valuable chiefly for its behind-the-scenes footage of the Italian silent film industry, but I’ve seen such material before (eg in MACISTE, 1915) so this was a little bit of a snooze. However, I was sleepy so I can’t really say I gave it a fair try.

Far better was THE SPIDER AND THE FLY, an inventive Italian stop-motion animation with brief live-action prologue. The fly, wings plucked off by a wanton boy, flees the spider in a Keystonesque foot chase, erecting cunning traps for his pursuer — a bit of bug’s life role-reversal. The film had two flaws, both of which added to its appeal — the ravages of time had melted parts of the image into those delirious vortices and decalcomaniacal spacewarps familiar from DECASIA, and the animator’s had appeared, for a single frame, caught in the act of repositioning one of his tiny actors. He could presumably have cut this glitch out without to much trouble, but has perhaps left it as a bit of wabi-sabi or a kind of signature — a manual walk-on, Hitchcockian finger-cameo. Poignant, since the filmmaker’s name is unknown to us.

BIGORNO SMOKES OPIUM (Roméo Bosetti), its title a stark accusation, was a broadly overplayed comedy in which the grotesque clown hero is gifted an opium pipe by an explorer relative, and hallucinates a Melesian sex fantasy. The best parts of this were (a) the transition from real to unreal, in which the innumerable clutterings of the bourgeoise home dance and skate around the room at high speed, as in that short story by Maupassant (Who Knows?) or the actual Berlin hallucinations of David Bowie and (b) the return to reality, where Bigorno (real name René Lantini), in a frenzy of panic, manages to smash every single piece impedimenta in the hideously crowded room. That was actually funny. Elsewhere, the aggressive overplaying positively alarms and the thing is about as funny as the MARAT/SADE. Of course I appreciated this.

Bigorno made thirty-seven-odd shorts in three years, then presumably died of overacting.

I was looking forward to THE BLACK LILY GANG (1913), a bit of sub-Feuillade malarkey with a secret criminal society who wear domino masks to meet in their secret lair, then promptly unmask after the complex hidden doorway is closed… but their crimes are rather banal — letting the air out of a count’s tyres and stealing his jewels. There’s an impersonation (wig and false beard) and a deadly chamber that fills with water, so the building blocks of a good Fu Manchu type shocker are in place, with the stalwart Inspector Sereni supplying the copoganda. But despite the attractive locations, this cloak-and-dagger caper, appropriately anonymous, never quite caught my enthusiasm.

Frame grabs for this one stolen from here.