Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Van Gogh (Alain Resnais 1948)

FR 1948. PC: Panthéon. P: Pierre Braunberger. Arr: Claude Hauser. D: Alain Resnais. SC and idea: Gaston Diehl, Robert Hessens. DP: Henry Ferrand. Commentary read by: Claude Dauphin. M: Jacques Besse. ED: Serge Lachin. FX: Henry Ferrand. B&w. 19 min. A 16 mm print with electronic subtitles in Finnish by Eeva Puttonen and Lena Talvio screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (A Tribute to Alain Resnais), 18 Jan 2011

Revisited the first film directed by Alain Resnais, already a masterpiece, a homage to a great artist by another great artist. Resnais did not invent this concept, credited to Luciano Emmer, of making a film about art by keeping totally within the frame of the painting, never trespassing its boundary. The camera is, naturally, free to move within the painting. By this method Resnais creates a portait of Van Gogh of exemplary power. There have been many good movies on Van Gogh but never a more powerful than this. I don't know whether Emmer and Resnais have had successors, but this would still seem to be an inspiring model. I would like to see a film on Schjerfbeck made like this. Amazingly, Van Gogh was shot in black and white, and seeing this again I tried to imagine a colour remake. But the black and white nature brings an original angle to the story with more emphasis on the rhythm of the strokes and the graphic quality of the images. Even more surprisingly, it did not essentially hurt that the print was 16 mm.

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