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By way of Owsley’s note tacked onto a posting on our ugly political world, here’s an interview with Nathaniel Dorsky on recent work.  You might try to find his “Devotional Cinema” for a very different view on filmmaking.  I used to be Nathaniel’s “dealer” after a fashion.  To say he’s a veritable film fetishist, loving stocks, cans, boxes, and from a very different angle – terminal cheapness from long-term poverty – I as a filmmaker (way back then) happened upon various chunks of film that I picked up for very low cost.  When living in San Francisco I used to give Nathaniel some of this for his collection of such things.  He’s in my Rembrandt Laughing, as are some outs from his sand film, Alaya, and some hand-processed material he gave me to use, of a lovely blue.

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Here’s some more material on Nathaniel.

Scott McDonald, A Critical Cinema.

Alaya very short review.

Frameworks note.

Unfortunately so far Nathaniel has declined to get his stuff put on DVDs, which done well could hold it well enough, but he’s wedded to frame rates (shoots silent, 18fps), and other filmic things he feels can’t be transferred to DVDs.  Alas.

Thanks Owsley for the item.

One Comment

  1. Glad to see you propped that interview up, Jost. There is much goodness in that item, but this following exchange knocked me back hard:

    HUGHES: One reason I ask is because in Devotional Cinema you write a bit about Dreyer, about The Passion of Joan of Arc and Ordet. If I were asked to name two great works of “devotional cinema,” even without knowing your concept of it, I would name those two films. And like you I’m also not as fond of Day of Wrath.

    DORSKY: No one would ever put that film down. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed that it was so outrageous. But I’ve questioned it. I think there’s much to question about a lot of films that have a good reputation.

    HUGHES: I think in the book you questioned Dreyer’s direction rather than the subject.

    DORSKY: Yeah, that it wasn’t present, that it was literary because of the nature of the cross-cutting. That it fell into a literary form. Once you have a B plot that you’re cutting against an A plot, then you’re gone.

    HUGHES: As opposed to Ordet where there are multiple plots being threaded together but not at cross purposes.

    DORSKY: Yeah, you don’t have the second plot in order to relieve the pressures of the first plot. Now, in theater that works. In Shakespeare it certainly works. But there’s something about film I don’t think it works, because film is a solid, plastic form – a solid piece of time form – and there’s something about breaking that time form. In Ordet the point of view is actual. We’re actually some place rather than the point of view being images from a more literary form of cinema.

    Wow, that is strong stuff. What Dorsky says there goes to the very quick of the filmmaking process, if I may say so. He’s forcing you to think or rethink the concepts of montage, scripting, placement of actors and direction. I mean, the whole of Hollywood industrial-spectacular cinema is predicated upon cross-cutting, wouldn’t you say? And when Dorsky discusses the plastic nature of film and the unfolding of time, well, for certain, there are few few fimmakers working in that tradition who have even the foggiest notion of how time unfolds on film, or even why that might be an element worth considering. The only concept of time adhered to on a typical film set is that you gotta get that one page of script shot each day or it’s gonna cost you, boy-o! Like I say- Wow!


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