David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

24 August 2009

Theatre of the Actors of Looking : Shirin


Again a follow-on from the theme of the previous blog, with an emphasis not so much on the given as on the activity of regard. Today the recent film by Abbas Kiarostami, Shirin : our regard of the faces of 113 women as (if) they watch a certain film.

has not yet seen Shirin - it was shown this year at the Sydney Film Festival but not at the Melbourne Film Festival - but has been reading about it. Here are some online articles:

as Described by Kiarostami
by Khatereh Khodaei

It may be an odd experience to sit in a dark movie theater, stare at the screen and see fellow audience members watching a motion picture. Personally, I believe the experience of watching a movie in which the sound of the story that we hear is different from the pictures that we watch can be more interesting.

Shirin is the latest feature film by Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami. It features simple close-ups of the faces of 113 actresses who are watching a movie.

After watching the film and talking with Mr. Kiarostami, I found out that the women, whose faces appeared in perpendicular frames in the film were not actually watching a movie at all; a few fixed spots had been installed above the camera and they were acting with Kiarostami’s special improvisational technique.

What makes the experience doubly interesting is to learn that the story was decided on after shooting was over. It is the love story of Khosro, Shirin, and Farhad, a masterpiece by the great Iranian poet Nezami Ganjavi. The work features effective editing and an attention to details which, as always, render Kiarostami’s movies simple, different and absorbing.

Abbas Kiarostami characteristically attaches a special significance to audiences. In his latest production, Shirin, he goes as far as explicitly suggesting that the silver screen would be non-existent in the absence of audiences.

Shirin” is the story of the empathy of audiences—the audiences who are watching the empathy of the other audiences.

( click here for full article )

Kiarostami's 'Shirin': watching a movie about watching a movie

by Jeff Strabone

While the world waits for the second Iranian Revolution, it's important to recall that Iran is not just a place of political turmoil, nuclear ambitions, and theocratic dictatorship. It is also a place of great poetry and cinema, as the work of Abbas Kiarostami reminds us. How timely then that he has a new film out called Shirin that adapts—sort of—a twelfth-century romance and offers the world a stunning new achievement: a feature-length film whose narrative is made up entirely of reaction shots.

( click here for full article )

A Conversation with Kiarostami

by Arsalan Mohammad in Tehran
(A.K.): I just read an article today about Shirin – a critic who said, ‘I don’t understand what he wants to say, really, it’s complicated, I don’t even like it, but what I know for sure is that he is saying something. Let’s give him time, to see actually what he is saying – give us time, then we’ll understand what he is saying. I am sure he is saying something, he has something to say.’

( click here for full article )

P.S. 26 August 2009: By a happy coincidence, news just in that "Shirin" will receive a Melbourne screening this Thursday afternoon :
Presented as part of the Film and Television Studies UNDER CONSTRUCTION seminar & screening series – selected, introduced and especially subtitled by AndrĂ© Dias. Refreshments and discussion will follow the screening.


A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something . . .