Saturday, March 02, 2013

Film by Samuel Beckett

[In filmographies the title appears as Film. On screen the title frame is in the end credits as Film by Samuel Beckett] / Viimeinen rooli (tv title). US © 1965 Evergreen Theatre, Inc. D: Alan Schneider. SC: Samuel Beckett. DP: Boris Kaufman - camera operator: Joseph F. Coffey. AD: Burr Smidt. ED: Sidney Meyers. C: Buster Keaton (The Man) - Nell Harrison (passerby), James Karen (passerby), Susan Reed (old woman). Loc: New York City (an old factory in Lower Manhattan). 24 min. A BFI Distribution print viewed at the Cinéma Deleuze seminar, Cinema Orion, 2 March, 2013.

"Esse est percipi" (Bishop Berkeley)

Introduced by Janne Vanhanen, who stressed that Film by Samuel Beckett is a key work to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze in Cinéma 1: L'Image-mouvement.

A chase film: Buster Keaton is fleeing an unseen pursuer. The chase takes place on the street, in the stairs, and in the room. It turns out that the man is trying to evade any perception, even his own.

Samuel Beckett made a number of interesting television shorts (Eh Joe, ... but the clouds..., Nacht und Träume). In the 1980s I taped a number of those and kept watching them, but Film I may have never seen before, and I may have studied it only in books.

Andrew Sarris detested Film, with "the most pretentious title in all cinema".

But the work has aged well, and Buster Keaton is great as the man who tries to hide from perception - evading mirrors and idol pictures, dispensing with his cat and dog, covering his parrot, and destroying photographs.

The film begins and ends with an extreme close-up of an eye, and the word-play I = eye is implicit.

After the screening there was a coffee break in the seminar, and we headed towards Corona Bar. We were delighted to realize that the cinematographer was Boris Kaufman, the brother of Dziga Vertov. The close-up of the eye is a visual bridge to The Man with the Movie Camera.

This is a silent film - there is no music and no dialogue, just one utterance of "shhh". No sound is needed.

There is a new restored version (2012) at Milestone Films, but we did not manage to access it.

The visual quality of the 35 mm print was fine. There is a duped look in some reverse shots.

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