Monday, September 15, 2008

Nuits rouges

Franju Unrepentant

The beauty of Franju: the centrality of his frames, the nothing-else-going-on around the focal, that is, the "something-else-...", the visual application of GF's oft-cited "room to dream": the extraordinary economy, planing, of the découpage.

Observations: Ugo Pagliai ("M. Borrego") the perfect stoic (so heavily made-up to underscore that he, and not just the nominal villain, wears a mask, to deaden the pallor around an already dead gaze), able to reconvene with his lover, kiss-and-pick-up-and-all-alright, after god-know's-how long separated, a bygone kind of movie-protagonist (39% of Franju is the cipher) — the rooftop scenes that could have come out of any art-installation-film, more aggressive dislocation even than in Feuillade — think about the crime-film practiced by Franju, and by Melville, stencil the convergences — the comedy that's like a table-clearing, magician pulling out the tablecloth but given-over to breaking the plates, "now you see 'em now you don't, bitches" — the comedy that shuffles with so much ease between its own absurd bases and the terror-surrealistic, or melodramatic, and which uses as its bridge the plot-mechanistic — the motorcycle-men who are not only out of Cocteau's Orphée [1949] but also out of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange [1971] (Kubrick is also recalled in the living room of the television-watching couple) — another reference to Cocteau, to further emphasize the pedigree: "It's a pity you forgot to load your revolver, poet." — l'Homme sans Visage as prototype for Cobra Commander (soon to be portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt!), ...Destro too?... ... ... and Gayle Hunnicutt (ex-wife of the now-deceased David Hemmings; presently "Gayle, Lady Jenkins") pre-viz'ing The Baroness... — blood: red tube oil paint — above all, the remarkable pleasure of making cinema (as someone once put it: that boys' train-set), it goes on and on like a train in the American night, always circling back as on a closed track to the originary stuff (eternal return), the law, and the awe, of the evidential trick, the dream made real then transfigured, again, into dream.

Nuits rouges [Red Nights] by Georges Franju, 1974:

A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, 1971:

Orphée by Jean Cocteau, 1949:

Nuits rouges [Red Nights] by Georges Franju, 1974:

By film's end, through three or four missed connections in the plot, Nuits rouges insinuates the timetable never to have been actual, confirming, asserting, through recourse to this absence, that is: to negative space.

The nothing-else-going-on around the focal, that is, the "something-else-..."...


David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 — September 12, 2008)
Photograph by Steve Rhodes, 2006.

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia?

One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms.

What remains of Tomas?

An inscription reading

What remains of Beethoven?

A frown, an improbable mane, and a somber voice intoning "
Es muss sein!"

What remains of Franz?

An inscription reading

And so on and so forth. Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

—from The Unbearable Lightness of Being [Nesnesitelná lehkost byti, 1984] by Milan Kundera. Translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim.



  1. To most people, if you say they were but a footnote in the life of a great man, that's supposed to evoke pity... if you were a footnote in this guy's life, you'd be the size "the unbearable lightness of being"

  2. Just caught up w/ the Franju via your marvelous disc. Firstly, thanks for the film; and secondly, thanks for this precise and beautiful evocation.


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