Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Bullying Turkey


A Final Fable


"On a farm where life seemed to pass quietly, once upon a time there was a turkey that, exploiting his imposing voice, tyrannized roosters, hens, ducks, geese. All of them, even the cows, were scared of him. He commanded the community ruthlessly. He ruled its life." — So proceeds the opening narration for Rossellini's third fauna-fantasia: The Bullying Turkey [Il tacchino prepotente, 1940].

Il tacchino prepotente [The Bullying Turkey] by Roberto Rossellini, 1940:



A peacocking turkey orders around the animals on a square of barnyard — until he's spotted, upon retiring one evening to his residence, "deflating" (molting) into just another sleepy, insignificant thing. The next day, the turkey finds his commands are going unheeded and, in the midst of gobbling orders, he gets slammed unawares by two roosters who, now empowered by a realization of the turkey's prosaic nature, have set forth in desperate attack. Rossellini presents the revolt in a series of incredible, kinetic close-ups of the fray, all intercut with the gaze of the other, passive spectators — the cows, hens, etc.

Il tacchino prepotente [The Bullying Turkey] by Roberto Rossellini, 1940:







"He's lost his pretty feathers that gave him such importance. Geese, roosters and hens celebrate the defeat of the oppressor. — And now, as is natural, the roosters direct the life of the chickenyard. And the bullying turkey has become their most humble servant."

One last shot, further imbued with poetic punctuation by step-process into slow-motion (as in the finale of Lively Teresa [La vispa Teresa, 1940]), heralds the ascent of the rooster — a victory for (ostensible) benevolence and, as invocation of the logo of Pathé, a subtle inference that the cinema's transfigurational power might be brought to bear upon a conflict; in the process, might assist in change, even. Transcendence.

Il tacchino prepotente [The Bullying Turkey] by Roberto Rossellini, 1940:



Source unknown.



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Photo by CK.



Louis and Philippe, this week at Cannes. (Photographer unknown.)



Photo by CK.



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An excerpt from Philippe Garrel et al's press conference at the premiere of La Frontière de l'aube [Frontier of Dawn] at Cannes this week: here.

And an excerpt from Abel Ferrara et al's press conference at the premiere of Chelsea on the Rocks at Cannes this week: here. And a roundtable with Ferrara and company for a Cannes magazine-show here.

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Photo by CK.



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