Initially, the cinetrix meant to begin this post: "In his recent review of The Darjeeling Limited, Anthony Lane glibly begins by asking, Can you have a thriving movie culture in a country without enough trains?" And it's not a bad question, sort of Schivelbusch distilled for the New Yorker set. But then she realized, at this point in his career, one must perforce use "glibly" when describing a Lane review, and she got depressed. Seriously, the man's inches away from becoming a Tom Swifty. So, let's splice in a length of black leader and start again. At least you'll see the black, right?
The cinetrix has been thinking about trains this week because she exposed her hardy band of world cinema students to two exemplars of what Lopate and others call the "essay-film" [and I won't even go into how much that hyphen bugs me. An en-dash I could see....]: Alain Resnais' 1955 short film Night and Fog and Chris "Magic" Marker's 1982 feature Sans Soleil.
So, cattle cars and bullet trains. Also, both senses of the word "collaboration." The negative, which caused French censors to spike an image in Resnais' film of a French officer in a kepi because it served as a too-potent reminder of that nation's role in the Holocaust. And the positive: Resnais working with Jean Cayrol and Marker to make his film, and Chris. Marker later coupling the contributions of the fictive Krasna brothers to Mussorgsky and Hitchcock and Apocalypse Now, dying giraffes and prowling cats and occasional images of happiness.
Last week we watched The Marriage of Maria Braun, so I'm hoping for a wide-ranging, free-associating discussion about trains, history, and memory tomorrow. Fingers crossed....