Monday, March 21, 2011
Linda Ronstadt-1977-07-Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Having just rewatched what i view as Maren Ade's masterpiece, Forest for the Trees ( Der Wald vorlauter baumen), I'm reflecting on the thin line a filmmaker must walk in depicting self harming protagonists. Is it situational or inescapable psychological pain that continually brings these figures into situations worthy of private shame and our shared, spied pity?
As viewers are we invited to pass judgment? Do we, as witnesses, become the tape that seals up these lost memories that made these characters blind to the path of love and pride?
I'm reading John Ward's 1968 book Alain Resnais or the theme of time, and in describing Seyrig in Muriel, Ward writes of the gaps in time that painful memories wall us into. "She has no durational sense and in fact, is not free....she does not live as she would in conformity with a continuous view of her past and present... As Bergson says: 'We are free when our acts spring from our whole personality...'" (p. 74)
Ade's film, surprisingly akin to Resnais', denies analysis yet engrosses us with a pitiful female protag through it's provocative sense of duration, memory denied, and of one's personally turbulent experience of time.
Forest for the Trees provides no psychological causality. Our focus is what we sense as immediate, we are denied access to Melanie's past. The pity the viewer feels for Melanie has separated us from her, preceding her own shame. Following her blind descent down a rabbit hole, our sense of Melanie is an isolated series of incidents, with increasingly awkward moments and Melanie's escalating reactions. A singular path cleared in the forest; excluding anything but the general trajectory that pummels Melanie towards disaster's way.
But in this movement towards intensification, the film has now gained the shape of a circle, inviting a clear figure with which to witness which point is the birth and which point is the death.
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