Sunday, 31 May 2009

Replies to Orcival and Coffeebaker

Since I couldn't post these as comments....

orcival said...

Sorry, I decided to write while reading cause otherwise I would forget half of it, so please excuse if I'm being fragmentic here.

First great topic for an essay. I had the idea to try to write a paper on the use of dialects in italian cinema from the 30s to the mid-60s some time ago, so your paper comes handy to think about the topic:
With regard to your remarks to the fascist language politics I think stating that "Fascist's proscriptions were not absolute" is a little too much, as from 1935 onwards the use of dialects is forbidden and e.g. the screening of Ivo Perilli's "Ragazzo" was partly forbidden due to the usage of dialect to give the characters a greater depth. In addition the usage of language in film was - again especially before the 40s - a topic of intense debate.

Maybe 1860 was an exception given its past setting and the strong position of the film in relation to the regime - e.g. with the risorgimento / Mussolini connection implied at the end? I think it was also released just on the cusp of the 1935 laws. Whatever, there are subtleties here I'll need to consider.

I'm am not sure, whether the box-office loss of LA TERRA TREMA is really a point: as the film was part of the election campaign of 1948 it probably was shown not only in places where you had to pay for entrance. Seeing that Visconti often worked with the later director of L'unità and the cultural commission of the Pci Mario Alicata, who was one of the most important Pci politicians in the south, not finishing the initially planned triology may have had to do with the beginning of clear fronts in the cold-war south. You probably know this one, but if not: here's a scene from CINEMA PARADISO with a public watching LA TERRA TREMA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1CZ5UIJ608 (especially from 1'20'' onwards).

I've dropped this part in the second draft, and just made it about quality vs quantity.

Thank you for stressing the difference between Visconti and Rossellini. That is something that is as often overseen as it is that Neorealism is not a phenomenon of the postwar and is not a political film form in itself. (Thinking e.g. of the propaganda stuff Rossellini did)

I just got this from Brunetta, though I don't think he mentions De Robertiis and Bava's remark that he was the true founder of neo-realism.

I was surprised to see you cite Fellini for the practice of doppaggio. I think Pasolini is even more interesting for that since he states in most interviews he gave in the 70s how much he liked the artificialness of the dubbing and how much in his usage of dialect its not about autheticity (is that the word) but about a certain impression. This is interesting - as the italian popular cinema of the 60s with its westerns, gialli and even the piratemovies may on of the cinemas with the most interesting soundtracks to it. Not only with regards to music but in general. I'm not an expert in music, but I don't think that the music in "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" in the scene you described is really aleatory.

I used Fellini mainly because Chion refers to him. Pasolini does talk about that new scientific standard Italian in the 1960s, which I should maybe bring in. (Also interesting here, perhaps, is how Derek Jarman did Sebastiane in cod Latin with the characters swearing by saying Oedipus for motherfucker.) I probably should be more careful with the musical terminology. The Morricone cue was improvised, but around a framework. It has a chance element, but isn't totally free. It draws on the Cage-influenced work he was doing with the New Improvisation Group, I think.

Finally, I think it would be great if you would add some kind a closing paragraph summing up the special way in which Argento deals with sound. Up to now, I think the essay falls in two parts: one ending with the presentation of Michel Chion's theory and the second with the - very interesting and brilliantly observed - look at Argento's films.

Absolutely - I've since taken out the two voices / interlude part and tried to relate the halves and the theory a bit better in the conclusion.

This being said, I would like to congratulate: this is a nice essay, what are you writing it for? And maybe this is the right place to ask a question: do you know a good book about italian film music?

Partly for a journal article, partly for my thesis, partly just for practice / fun / expression.

I don't know any good books about Italian film music, at least in English. The Christof Spencer book I posted about a couple of weeks ago has a bit on Italian film music from 1950 to 1979 in genre films, but less on the likes of Giovanni Fusco in Antonioni.

25 May 2009 21:41:00 BST
Blogger coffeebaker said...

>What Sam had seen was an attempt by Monica's husband Alberto to shock her out of it.

Really? I'll be honest: as often as I've seen this film, I've never actually thought much about what _was_ going on at the top of those stairs, beyond the reveal of what _wasn't_ going on...

In other words, I thought that what we'd witnessed had been an abortive assault upon the husband (for whatever reason...after all, the woman is insane) that got turned back against her and resulted in the cuts.

If this were the case, it wouldn't explain why Alberto was wearing Monica's fetishised giallo killer outfit.

I probably made it more clear than it was - I've changed it to Alberto confonting Monica. But it's still ambiguous, one of those things that's maybe more a 'generator' than something to be logically worked through. I'd tend to place it like Scottie's hiring in Vertigo - a contrivance that sets things in motion, but which doesn't really make sense when you think about it

And while this probably isn't the place for it, I'll mention that the end of BIRD... has a couple of points that have always thrown me:

- the "explanation" at the end seems to raise the possibility that Monica was not responsible for all the murders...if not, which ones did she commit?

My sense would be that Alberto was responsible for the half-hearted attack on Sam and the phone call to him, whereas Monica was more likely to have made the one to the police. I don't think Alberto or the hit-man committed additional murders. But again these are things we're not supposed to think too much about.

- I've never understood the point of the plane-bound finale: it seems we're supposed to think they're not on the same plane...okay...but then Musante's movements are confusingly choreographed (obviously intentionally) at the same time we're hearing the voiceover. I've always found the sequence disorienting.

I would read this, as I think others have done, as suggesting that Giulia may have been affected by her traumatic experience and so could be a future Monica.

1 comment:

coffeebaker said...

>If this were the case, it wouldn't explain why Alberto was wearing Monica's fetishised giallo killer outfit.

d'oh!...excellent point

As for the Giulia-as-the-next-Monica reading: yes I've heard this before (it might have been here!). I'll need to watch it with that in mind next time. My reaction when I encountered the idea was much like my reaction when I heard the theory that Franciscus' character (and maybe even the young girl) didn't survive CAT O'NINE TAILS...a very interesting idea that I don't think is supported by what we're actually shown. Although the wrap-up of BIRD has always struck me as so odd that I'll be certainly be interested in my next viewing.