Werner Herzog’s AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD

Cinema provides a relationship between situation and action, freeing itself of these two conditions, so that a ‘purified’ experience of time may emerge. There is no intentionality in the shot since there is no subject. The point is, how can cinema through the story free the spectator from denotation and context: first by the trap (the story) and then through its own freeing.

In Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God, the action leads to a delusional expectation i.e. finding gold at El Dorado creating a confusion between the subject’s unconscious. The subject’s unconscious is split into Real, Symbolic and Imaginary. The delusion creates a suspension of the Symbolic subjection of reality so that Real and Imaginary are confused. Gilles Deleuze points out that this confusion between Real and Imaginary creates “History as the baroque of Nature.” The baroque is defined as the fold in which one-occurs-on-top-of-another. This absence of subject creates a folding that is ornamentation-in-itself outside the domain of the subject.

The absence of the subject is approached through the documentary nature of filming, that does not distinguish between wanted and unwanted or more precisely, sacral and profane. This in-between filming is the non-hierarchical nature of film that is precisely a celebration of madness. The confusion of Real and Imaginary is symptomatic of delirium which is the condition of Reality. Herzog casts Klaus Kinski who really believes is delusional and tries to control the uncontrollable. The concern with time in cinema, is precisely that time lies beyond one’s control. Similarly, Kinski is out of control causing a celebration of this out-of-controlness i.e. madness.

The MacGuffin is the actor that out-of-control body which we continue to watch for no particular reason. Kinski embodies the plot’s MacGuffin i.e. searching for the lost isle of El Dorado. The transference or the love for the actor is in fact a counter transference between Herzog, the director who tries to control and the delusional free spirit Kinski. This creates a manifestation of space in which the screen itself is the trap-of-the-unconscious between the MacGuffin and transference. This is precisely known as Screen Theory.

Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity is the stereotyped film-noir, and seems to stand in for the genre itself. The film has the triangular formation of the psychopath femme fatale (Phyllis), the criminal (Neff) and the investigator, Neff’s boss Keyes. The entire film is structured around Phyllis’ MacGuffin i.e. the double indemnity clause.

Film noir was highly influenced by German Expressionism. Like the German movement, noir uses the troubled male psyche as projected in the open American landscape, where the empowerment of women during the War creates an insecure male ego. The voice over seems to hold together the divergent strains of the landscape. German Expressionist montage is typically one of intensity instead of dialectics (as in Eisenstein) i.e. a form of movement-image. The voice of the protagonist pivots the films between movement-image and time-image.During the titles, the man limps with stilts as he walks. The handicap is precisely this crisis in movement-image which is not yet a time image. The femme fatale represents this crisis in masculine consciousness as a body occupying a space.

The scene where they have to dispose of the husband’s body uses the classic tropes of all thrillers: the contract (disposing of the body), the crucible (the car, the train and the railway crossing) and the ticking clock. The witness who spots Neff on the train seems to recognise him in  Keyes’ office, whereas Keyes himself deduces the fact that it was murder. In short, both the methods of classical detective investigation i.e. investigation via reason (Keyes) and investigation via signs(the witness) are used.

The last scene of the film runs as follows: as Neff tries to escape, he eventually collapses, Keyes catches up with him to resolve the ending. This ending is transformed from the story into a pure cinematographic gesture: we witness Keyes light Neff’s cigar.

Mani Kaul’s USKI ROTI

In Uski Roti, Mani Kaul takes Bresson’s waiting for the ‘accident’, as an indefinite waiting in which, nothing really happens. Balo waits for Sucha Singh throughout the film and her reality and phantasy consciousness, create a mix of intentional and unintentional states that may or may not be real. This Robbe-Grilletian approach is put forth by Mr. Kaul’s comments on occasionally putting sound out-of-synch (“the sound is out of synch in Jinda’s monologue (about her alleged rape) as she is lying”) to create a physiological work of film.

The grid of seven camera distances from 1.5 metres doubling the scale to 3 metres, create a scale of notes from which the image emerges. The frame is determined by the grid and the grid by the relationship between the spatio-temporal Balo and the socio-historical Balo. The interiority of space where Sucha Singh and his colleagues play a game of cards is randomised through the use of flies (“flies are present on every film set but I don’t do anything about them”) in order to engage randomness into the image and produce the Self and Other as rhythm and deviation (taali and khaali in Hindustani classical rhythms). 

The opening sequence pre-empts and delays the falling of the guava from the tree to establish chhanda. This deliberately slow pace creates tension through the whole i.e. through pre-emption and delay, so that Mr. Kaul can “sculpt attention.” Every film creates an unique quality of attention and no two attentions are the same (a Bergsonian thought). Later, in the above mentioned card-playing sequence the same shot is repeated twice, as if the same note on an instrument  is repeated; so that space is dissolved and the Outside as the Real is a plastic construct of time-as- time-itself.

Balo’s phantasy consciousness represented through the shot of trees passing and the open sky creates an experience of white-on-white: film as a quality of pure wakefulness. The camera begins to move about 40-45 minutes into the film thus creating the jor of the raga i.e. the film; where two different scales are connected. The shot of the stone falling into the water creates space as volume instead of denotation.In his later films, Mani Kaul would go on to project language as beyond its significative and denotational so that the suggestion (dhvani) of space can be extracted from matter.

Instead of a Freudian denotational ego, Kaul projects a phenemenological ego, where the cinematographic apparatus is used to record Balo’s psychic state. This is especially apparent in the sequence where the mother-in-law speaks to Balo and the soundtrack is silent, with the sound of the santoor, thus making the utterance (a possibility) into an utterable (a potentiality). The psychic state this creates sculpts the will of the spectator as s/he is unable to will the shot; but instead realises the plasticity of the construct before her that is apparently intentionless.

In this way Uski Roti is a combination of the Bressonian accident, grace being practiced in the shot through retake, with the Ozuesque thinking-subject being projected onto the spectator. The grid is the practice of the raga through static camera distances as scales and camera movements as glissandos in the unfurling of the musical piece.

The closing sequence with Balo projected as Self and Other emphasise not the denotational ego-in-itself i.e. desire; but the volume of the foggy, sandy image where the Subject may dwell.

Vishnu Mathur’s PAHALA ADHYAY

Mani Kaul’s cinematic object represents the voyee without a voyeur. It has no intentionality and subjectivity. In short, it is a thing. For Kaul, an object before us, say a cell phone has a socio-historical dimension, its history and the social connotations it occupies; and occupies space and accumulates over time, especially cinematographic time: 2 minutes being stretched and occupying a horizon on which the spatialisation occurs. For Kaul, a feudal socio-historical formation, when encountering a modern object; contradicts its spatio-temporal axis creating a withdrawal of movement. Mr. Kaul believed that “moving images are violent” creating an a priori condition where a withdrawal of violence i.e. movement creates cinema.

In Pahala Adhyay, Vishnu Mathur creates a similar grid based on the spatio-temporal life of a student and its socio-historical axes as student politics in the ’80s in urban Bombay. The Deleuzean time-image has two sides to it: an empty Body without Organs actual aspect; and the speech act as its virtual dimension representing layers and layers of consciousness. For Mathur, the speech act moves beyond its significative and denotational aspect to create a sensorial experience of Bombay. 

The Body without Organs, in the film, is the location-space which is either the Kafkaesque hierarchy of the institutional space; or the manifestation of social micro-violence that the Bollywood film posters making of the transactional location-space i.e. the bus. The BwO of the film has an aesthetic through a referent soundtrack. The sound of the train creates an interiority, only because the train is outside the room of the student. The cause of desire is the subject of the film, “the first chapter” which is being written. Dinesh Shakul, the actor in the film, embodies this BwO by repeatedly removing his body of all expressionism and taking performativity beyond the domain of intentionality.

The music sequence at the end reduces the sparse narrative to a pure location-space as intensity i.e. Fort in South Bombay. Instead of the withdrawal of movement as in Kaul, there is a manifestation of the symbolic violence; that crystallises itself into the stone breaking the window thus transforming the sensorial whole into one of a material collapse. The micro politics of violence culminates in the argument at the party; that materialises itself in the concentration of matter as Shakul closes the door to the camera.

The film uses Ozu’s dictum of creating a thinking-subject in the spectator by allowing her to manifest their thoughts on the intensity of the image. The symbolic manifestation of the material collapse i.e. the throwing of the stone to break the glass, transforms this thinking-subject into a willing-subject. As Arthur Schopenhauer points out, the unknown thing-in-itself is the will, which is not any authorial intentionality, but the ability of the audience to will the shot.

Abbas Kiarostami’s THE WIND WILL CARRY US

The Wind Will Carry Us starts with an image of a snaking landscape with a car transversing its contours. The car is a free object in a binary relationship with the car. On the sound track we hear the voice of the passengers without seeing them. This disembodied voice frees up the car of all materiality, so that this “symbol of slowness”, can be free from denotations.

The point-of-view shot of the fields as well as asking the directions for the passengers’ destination gives the film a de-centered structured where the destination is the unknown. The reverse shot signifies the Big Other, without as yet establishing an embodied Self. The shot of the boy through the window frame is precisely this Otherness, which Kiarostami poses in the form of a question: there are no answers, the solution to the question is another question. The binaries between the car and the landscape with the disembodied voice, only find their embodiment when the landscape and its uneven contours are emphasised. In other words, the free object (the car) and the disembodied voice find their subjects in a landscape: bodies are a part of this landscape and the actors are simply part of the image.

There is also a discourse on the non-Self (the Buddhist an-atman) and the Other which Kiarostami emphasises through shot and counter shot. The shot on the terrace of the hill house establishes an out-of-frame connected through diegetic sound. These displacements from the disembodied free object i.e. the car to the embodied landscape find their symbolic free object in the apple. The apple, filmed by Kiarostami is “ a little motion in its pure state.” The film emphasises the media between Self and Other, Inside and Outside and question and answer to create a unique form of in-between ness.

This medium specificity and its non-convergence are symbolised through the cell phone. The engineer must use his car to geographically displace the medium of communication to a different terrain so that he can acquire the cell phone signal. The interiority of the tea serving ceremony sets up Kiarostami’s patriarchal grid, which finds its symbolic equivalent in the engineer removing his camera and taking a photograph. This making-symbol of the everyday mediates the Real and the Symbolic within Kiarostami’s grid.

The discourse between Self and Other is represented through the shot of the engineer shaving in the mirror. The mirror-stage, Jacques Lacan’s Othering that creates an ego-in-itself (Heidegger’s being-in-the-world) is represented through the point-of-view shot (the Deleauzean perception-image) of the engineer shaving. His interactions with Zeynab occur below the ground level thus suggestion a symbolic Id in which dwelling becomes the authentic nature of the Dasein. Poetry, through Farroughzad’s poem The Wind Will Carry Us, becomes the Ultimate Reality mediated through language (Brhtrhari’s Shabd Brahman). Milk is the symbolic residue, which along with the apple, allows Kiarostami to transform “a little motion in its pure state” to the Symbolic regime, a tactic he will employ throughout the rest of the film.

The saving of the body from accidental cremation frees up the engineer of interiority; as he engages with nature through the doctor’s motorcycle. The motorcycle is a symbol of the journey through levels of consciousness that can only be achieved in an exteriority i.e. through a unison with nature. When freed of the motorcycle, the engineer encounters a tortoise, which predictably withdraws into its shell. Isn’t this Sri Krishna’s symbolisation of the sensorial collapse (pratyahara) in the Bhagwad Gita?

The final sequence represent a return to the free object as surface instead of denotation. The surface is represented as the car’s windscreen that must be cleaned so that the image can be pure surface with no intensity. For Kiarostami, this surface results in a pre-historical object, the animal bone that must be freed of its denotational aspect and thrown into the river. Liquid motion does away with the centripetal, centrifugal dialectic of pranayama and pratyahara so that Kiarostami can only film nature as pre-historic object caught in a liquid flow. The film ends.

Michalangelo Antonioni’s THE PASSENGER

In his 1966 masterpiece, Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni “constructs” the unconscious at the Lacanian level of the tripartite of the Real, Symbolic and Imaginary. The photograph is the Symbolic extraction from the Real. As the photographer keeps magnifying the image, the Symbolic element of murder and death as Event, emerges from the logic of the Real. The tennis match at the end of the film, that the photographer plays with the mimes, transposes the Symbolic object of the game into an Imaginary one. The photographer (and Antonioni’s camera) participate in the Imaginary logic of the game that completes the de-construction of the unconscious.

Antonioni’s 1975 work The Passenger transforms Blow-Up’s engagement with the unconscious; with a discourse on consciousness. In the film, the documentary film-maker journalist Locke takes up the identity of the dead man Robertson. Robertson and Locke are mirror images of one another: Deleuzean time-images that are actual (Locke as the Other Robertson) and virtual (the “real” Robertson is dead) at the same time. Antonioni uses this mirroring to create a discourse on the relationship between Self and Other.

Locke as Locke is the Self as he becomes-Other: Locke as Robertson. Antonioni uses Locke’s occupation as documentary film-maker to further develop this Self-Other binary. Documentary film in itself has no intentionality, it is a realisation of the Self. The documentary is about the sociological big Other for Europeans i.e. African subjects. Locke is critical of their stance as becoming-Minor (in the Deleuzean sense) whereas Robertson sides with their cause. In the film that Locke makes, the subject reveals that the nature of the question posed to him reveals the nature (svabhav) of Locke i.e. the question reveals the true nature of the Self. Antonioni follows this shot of the African subject with a reverse shot of Jack Nicholson playing Locke. The reverse-shot for Antonioni is the big Other that reveals the nature of the Self. The ontology of the cinematographic image, is revealed by Antonioni, through dolly and tracking shots that reveal time as the ecstatic limit of the Self (ananda).

Robertson is involved in an arms deal with the Africans, conveniently allowing Antonioni to make this into a MacGuffin. Since the plot always results in murder, the gun is the materiality of the plot i.e. representations of diagrams of guns that link Locke with his becoming-Robertson. 

The opening sequences in the car occur in the Baudrillardian desert of the Real i.e. literally in the Sahara. The car deterritorializes space just as the aerial trolley deterretorializes ether. The architectural spaces that Antonioni emphasises: symmetrical, proportionate and minimalistic occur in a dynamic musical rhythm. We shall call these striated spaces, using this term that Deleuze and Guattari use in A Thousand Plateaus. A striated space is a musical, rhythmic, repetitive and designed space that Antonioni represents through his use of modern architecture.

Conversely the sea is a Deleuzean smooth space. Antonioni takes a shot of Locke/Robertson deterritorializing space in the aerial trolley with an over head shot over the ocean: juxtaposing smooth and striated. Similarly in Locke’s documentary the use of the ocean represents the anima of the striated space i.e. the smooth space.Locke/Robertson and Maria Schneider’s character occupy an Antonio Gaudi building to transform the symmetrical into the smooth. The MacGuffin of the gun and weapons transforms into a chase sequence as the cops and Locke’s wife Rachel attempt to track him down. Antonioni emphasises the metaphysics of the chase sequence through the use of temporal tracking shots.

The chase sequence is the basis of cinema: a shot in which the movement in the shot and film become one i.e. a Deleuzean movement-image. Through temporal tracking shots Antonioni makes a transformation of genre from one about the Self and Other to a metaphysics of movement-image devaluing the need of an identity to instead produce a non-identity. This non-identity is represented in the relationship between centre and periphery: in the sequence in the cafe where Antonioni pans to random cars passing by to show the potentiality of infinitely more stories at the periphery to the one we are seeing before us.

The periphery is the Outside of the centre. Gilles Deleuze refers the this Outside as the time image. I would not call it a time image but an encounter with the Real, outside the domain representation i.e. the Real does not function through representation. In the final sequence as Locke/Robertson lies down the camera moves from the interior of the room through a continuous tracking shot to the exterior. Antonioni wishes to state plainly, that a transformation of the interior of the story to the exterior of Real creates a Symbolic event in the form of a Becoming-Other. Death is the Symbolic event but it also resembles the fate of the “real” Robertson who was found dead in the beginning of the film. Antonioni has successful engaged Reality as the outside but in the process breached the Symbolic order that manifests itself in the death of his protagonist.

Béla Tarr’s “Sátántangó”

“Bela Tarr is a film-maker of space…..but his limitation is that he makes space into an idea”

-Amit Dutta

Sátántangó begins with a shot of cows in the distance leisurely filmed by the camera. Placed at a distance, the camera has a life of its own as it documents the movement of the cows. Tarr seems to argue that, to start with, cinema is a spatial medium. This construction of space resembles a Hegelian view of History in which Nature produces an a-temporal existence. The Nature-History binary is developed throughout the film with the telos of characters that occupy space.Storytelling as Symbolic form occurs in between the binary between Nature and History. The elements, especially the wind and rain, give this binary a sensorial immanence.

Space is structured according to the everyday and therefore does not decipher between sacral and profane. The opening sequences of the film, emphasise the vulgar excretory postures the characters inhabit to represent an equi-distant  instant (the Deleuzean any-instant-whatever) in which the privileged pose is systematically destroyed. Time, in these early sequences is an element of space as it is structured around rhythms on the soundtrack. Very often, Tarr moves through space with the dollying/tracking camera to uncover a space on the other side of darkness. Light represents a fleeing from ignorance, literally represented by the use of white to signify an I-am-awake state. The dark spaces in between lit tracking shots emphasise the unmanifested image; on either side of which is manifestation. The pure image is the unmanifested. The interior is a space for occupation, with windows serving as a sign without a signification. The public spaces each have a logic of their own and function according to their extant intensities and speeds. The public-private split in Sátántangó is emphasised by the transactional nature of the public space.

Mihály Víg’s music transforms the pauperised post-Glasnost Hungarian landscape to an aesthetic sublime i.e. one where the shot resonates with the whole of the film through its duration. At this point in the film, cinema is as yet a spatial medium, with Tarr differentiating between the symbolic narrative-space and the immanent location-space. The perceptional consciousness is invoked through point-of-view tracking shots that give nature a duration. The image is denotational in the sense that it embodies space as Idea. This Hegelian view of Historicism is precisely the negation of History by Nature so that the emptiness is embodied by the Symbolic form of the narrative.

In the opening thirds of the film, Tarr produces chunks of film that function as pillow-shots. The consciousness of the spectator as thought is projected onto the film to produce thinking matter; whilst at the same time the characters and spectator achieve the same objective i.e. to occupy space. When the Doctor watches Futaki slip out of the Schmidt home, we notice the double iris (binocular vision) that transforms the perception-image into a gaze. This leads to the chunk with the doctor who records the events before him in the notebook.

It is precisely in the sequences with the Doctor that the Hegelian view of Historicism is transformed into a Heideggerean one.The Doctor engages his authentic sense of Self i.e. one of a profound boredom with the object of dwelling in space. The time-image has two sides: an actual and virtual. In the case of Tarr, the actual image is the totality of matter in the frame (the hyle) whereas the virtual image is constituted by the voice inscribed into text. This is not an inscription onto the unconscious; as Tarr is only interested in History as Consciousness. The Heideggerean discourse on dwelling produces a collapse in the sensory motor system of the Doctor to make him the Outside of the story. Watching the Doctor lie on the floor is pure Thought, that Outside that the Hegelian binary of Historicism and Nature would not allow us to engage.

The block sequence with Estike and her cat transform the approach to location-space. Space now becomes territory with the potentiality of excavating an image (the burying of the money). Money in the film is the MacGuffin as well as the vulgar representation of production. Instead of producing a radical revolutionary film, Tarr comments on the aspirations of those behind the Iron Curtain and their hopes for liberal capitalist ideas of “success” through “perseverance.” The relationship between Estike and the cat emphasise the agency of the human who is world-forming and the cat who is poor-in-the-world. The cat is subject to the affect of Esther’s violations. This transformation from location-space to territory makes the earth itself potent with desire, making the image a manifestation of sensuous matter; inspite of the reality of the dreary landscape itself.

We are directly taken to Irimias’ speech after Estike’s death. She has died consuming rat poison. The present moment has three dimensions of the past coming into the present and going into the future. Most good films do not play in the present-present. Tarr’s films play in the present-future causing philosopher Jacques Ranciere to pronounce his cinema The Time After. The responses to Estike’s death refer to a sinning against the Self i.e. ignorance. To avoid ignorance through cinematographic practice Tarr must create a film form about knowing rather than darkness.

The diegetic use of sound creates a pathos in which dancing is a method of sublimating the failure of post-Communist Hungary. There is an out-of-the-frame in the film suggested via sound.The diegetic soundtrack becomes what I call a “diegetic image” in which the source of light is in the image. The extended sequence of characters sleeping establishes their authentic nature once freed from personality. Unlike Alexandr Sokurov, who creates a sleeping spectator, Tarr is happy to make use of the tracking shot to film characters sleeping i.e. free from personality. This would be an interesting objective to cinema: to free characters from their personality so that they can realise their Self.

The first sequence at the city center shows horses who have escaped the slaughterhouse. Although they obviously represent a line of flight, they are essentially symbols of technology that reflect the nature of cinema in which the part and the whole produce movement. This is reflected in the process of film-making itself which relates the part to the whole through the taking of the shot. The police report emphasises the operation of technology in the bureaucratic machine. 

In the last third of the film, the meandering concerns of the location-space with Tarr’s approach to History, Space and Time, are directed towards the achievement of the narrative space. The editing is much more denotational with characters reacting to one another i.e. the transformation of the non-dramatic into a drama. The capitalist endeavour in a pauperised socialist country only produce traitors or tricksters.

The concluding sequences of the film at the church suggest a possible Islamophobia, as the mad man states “the Turks are coming.” Although Tarr appropriates the subject as hysterical, it could possibly signal an Eurocentric approach to the cinematographic subject, with or without delirium. The closing sequences shut out all sources of light so that Tarr can record the unmanifest image i.e. darkness; with the manifestation of sound that are merely suggestive.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON

Abbas Kiarostami’s achievement in his masterpiece Close-Up was the ability to transform Deleuze’s time-image, “a little time in its pure state” back to movement. The shot of the rolling can is free from the story and time pressure of the film and produces a state akin to “a little movement in its pure state.”

Apichatpong Weerasethakul takes this pure motion one step further. He begins with the shot of the car, an inside in an outside and interviews random people and extracts a narrative from their interviews. In other words, the sacral and the profane are combined; and much as classical cinema extracts movement from matter, Apichatpong extracts a story from random utterances.

The story is filmed with an emphasis on light over shadow, created a constructed scenario, in which the phenomenological state of pure wakefulness is achieved. Cinema is phenomenology and the cinematographic apparatus is a method to measure the transformation of phenomenon ‘A’ as it moves toward ‘B’. 

The repetitious utterances find their mediation in kitsch, emphasised through the television commercials. Through the sublime, which I define as the whole and the part resonating with one another; Apichatpong re-views the notion of post-modern kitsch i.e. kitsch as the aesthetic sublime (an approach he continues to use to this day). The performativity in the telling of the story through Thai folk theatre is the arrival of the ritual which is the binary machine that couples with the sacral and profane everyday i.e. the non-event.

As the film proceeds intentionality is withdrawn. The shots are mere filming, and the last shot of two boys running is the last piece of film that the director had purchased. Conversely, the structure of the story, much like the predictability of a coin toss pattern after n tosses (Lacan’s example), produces the mysterious object itself; the unconscious symbolisation of the surrealistic story.

The intentionality is withdrawn so that interviews are footage without a climax or even a convergence. In this way Apichatpong is successful in creating a new cinema that combines mass art (kitsch) with the unconscious producing an original film aesthetic.The architectural shots of the interior at the end of the film, allow the spectator to project their unconscious as it is being transformed by the surrealistic story, so that the director can produce thinking matter.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s CAFE LUMIERE

Yasujiro Ozu’s achievement in the cinematograph was his ability to produce a thinking subject in the spectator, that projects the wanderings of the mind on the static image. This creates an awareness in the spectator about thought itself and its ephemeral nature thus making cinema a form of meditation. Through the spectator Ozu was able to create matter that thinks.

Cafe Lumière is Taiwanese film maker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s ode to Ozu on the Japanese maestro’s 100th birth anniversary in 2003. Hou begins the film with the shot of the train passing by, a temporal object that allows thoughts that the spectator might have had before s/he entered the screening to be projected onto the train.

The train, for Hou,  is an index of the accident, committed by the unknown, unseen driver. Hou mediates between a static and mobile camera and the moving train: a body in motion connected to rest via matter. This materialist thesis is emphasised through the structuring of space and time. For Hou, space is an element of time. This space consists of two dimensions space and time; which exist in sacral and profane forms. The static subject produces a sense of time, whereas the mechanised movement of objects in the frame create space. In other words, space and time are juxtaposed onto each other under the matrix of time.

The shot with the trains in a labyrinth around bridges and tunnels create an icon that signifies a concentration for the index i.e. the accident. Hou’s limitation is that he does not practice the accident, as does Bresson. The discourse on free will and grace, so dear to Bresson, is transposed to the discourse around a spatio-temporal object and its socio-historical iteration. For Hou, a train is both spatio-temporal and socio-historical. The shot on the computer with the baby at the center of the labyrinthine arrangement of train suggests the new as arriving from the accident.

But this is precisely the subject of the film i.e. the pregnant Japanese character; with a Taiwanese man as the father. Hou wishes to underline the Chinese origins of the Ozu Zen aesthetic through the search for a Taiwanese man in Tokyo. The camera and sound recorder produce a desiring-production which makes an image in which a non-resembling sound-image is produced.The pregnancy refers to the new socio-historical setting within the fractured socio-historical setting; in which Japaneseness is borrowed from China. 

Cafe Lumière is a post modern work in which the part is greater than the whole. Ozu generally shows us a master shot of matter (hyle) and isolates parts of the hyle with inside and outside relative to the master shot. Hou instead, has an out-of-the-frame which creates a suggestion when it enters on the periphery. Much like pre-marital pregnancy, the periphery is the outside suggested; the suggestion de-centers the image in this way and invokes the profane. In this sense ,Cafe Lumiere is a deeply reactionary film. The profane nature of motion in the frame is further suggested through diegetic music and particularly through domesticated animals that cannot be controlled.

The trademark floating camera of Mark Lee-Ping emphasises a modulation to the image much like the train suggests the accident. This modulation hopes to arrive at the absent image that cannot be scripted; outside the domain of intentionality. It is precisely the labyrinthine shot of trains at the bridge over a tunnel snaking around one another that provides an iconicity to entry of free will in the deterministic milieu i.e. the iconicity of the profane accident.

In this regard, Hou’s limitation is that he simply executes these ideas. There is no cinematographic practice that links these ideas to the taking of a shot. We will have to wait until the opening sequence of his 2007 venture Flight of the Red Balloon to notice the cinematographic randomness in the taking of the shot of the otherwise remote-controlled balloon.

Notes on the cinema of Philippe Garrel

“Cinema is Lumiere mixed with Freud”

 -Philippe Garrel

In Luis Buñuel’s Belle De Jour, the Symbolic act of patriarchal prostitution confuses the Real and the Imaginary so that the paralysed husband, at the end of the film, can walk. Buñuel concludes the film with a shot of the galloping of horses signalling the “power of repetition” within the same image leading to resonance.

This resonance, in the case of Philippe Garrel, the most important film maker of the post ’68 era; does not have a Symbolic mediation since causality itself is suspended. For Garrel, causality belongs to the ostracised Cinema du Papa; he instead prefers a Dadaist approach to film form that emphasises randomness, nonsense and repetition. The confusion does exist in Garrel, between Real and Imaginary, but this instead states the condition of potentiality of the spectator’s unconscious. The Real is the unrepresentability of lived life and the Imaginary is Cinema that makes the everyday into an event. The unrepresentability of lived life manifests itself in the personal and the political History of the characters as they represent a “cinephobia” instead of the New Wave’s cinephilia. In this sense Garrel produces an anti-cinema.

The Self constitutes the realm of dreams i.e. cinema is a dream had in the waking state. Unlike the cinema of say, an Alexandr Sokurov, where the spectator is induced into a sleep state and then witnesses the cine-dream; Garrel emphasises the function of art as the Bionian reverie in which the analyst and analysand are in tandem and can recognise and undo the symptomatic pathology of the Freudian Ego, Super Ego and Id.In this way the exterior of the film is lead to an interior state;  through a withdrawal of desire from representation, transforming the representation into an energy. This energy could either be a surface (in Garrel’s color films) or an essence (in the majority of black and white films made by the maestro). Art for Garrel fails to recreate the complexity of life and in this sense, the Lacanian objet petit a is subtracted from life to make it into a film.

This improvised approach to film praxis is emphasised through the single take approach in which accidents are allowed to keep the spontaneity of creation.The film-within-the-film is not the Godardian film-which-is-never-completed; but the entry of the Symbolic in the spontaneous Real. The pre-emption and delay of the shots is such that his films alternate between fast cuts between extended periods of time; and extended long takes for shorter an extant shorter period of time. In this way the film plays in the Before and the After, never in the Now.

In Garrel one witnesses the remnants of realism in the form of cinema corporeal (Deleuze’s term for describing Garrel’s work). The bodies are free but are subjected to electrical shocks. The electromagnetic current of the sensory motor link that produces the ‘reality’ of the mythical Rome in Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thief, is now freed of all linkages so that bodies suffer from attractions, repulsions and physiological electric shocks

The chief mood that Garrel is able to create is one in which the electromagnetic field, outside the domain of sensory-motor intentionality, creates a mood of melancholia. This mood is caused by Garrel’s self-reflexive realisation of the inability of art to create a revolutionary society. In this way Garrel is the most symptomatic film maker to emerge from May ’68.