31 August 2009

Dunes of Ameland

Grass waves in North Frisland (2009)
The sound of wind

28 August 2009

Snippety snapshot: Lights

«Огоньки» Ляпис Трубецкой «Lights» Lyapis Trubetskoy from Alexey Terexov on Vimeo.

The theme of this week was rounded with yesterday's post. And so it happens that I can bring to you this video, out of any context and just like that. It is very liberating. I am likely repeating this on occassion.
In 2008, Alexey Terexov made this video of the song Lights (Огоньки), written and performed by a Belarusian band Lyapis Trubetskoy (Ляпис Трубецкой).
Terexov had an idea to gather and then animate old Soviet photographs. In response to a public call for photographs, he received thousands.
"I don't feel nostalgia for the Soviet time," said the frontman of the band. "But the Soviet family traditions, domestic games, slang, the fashion of the Soviet era is the "oldschool" of my generation. And elements of tradition are an important part of any author's outlook… Gojko Mitic, Odra jeans, Zita and Gita, Kharlamov, Verhovina moped, Ural guitar... all these things from the Socialist era are no more than symbols, but they are very significant for my generation."

27 August 2009

Rivers of music

Down the Volga, Mother Volga (Вниз по матушке по Волге) is a Russian folk song, here performed by Feodor Chaliapin (and a choir). The scene is from a 1960 U.S.S.R film Girls’ Summer (Девичья весна).
This is a vocal arrangement; note that no instruments are employed.
In Russia, folk songs are merged with religious chants and choral songs. It remains difficult to tell a folk song apart from a choral song. As the Orthodox church imposed, for several centuries, a ban on any instrumental music, all talented musicians wrote vocal arrangements exclusively for the church.
In this way, the entire musical soul of the Russian people was poured into the Orthodox church. There were no instruments; the musical arrangements were carried by voices alone. This made church service a personal and emotional experience that can only be compared to that of African-Americans singing gospels at mass.
In Russia, to quote Chekhov, the village church was the only place where a peasant could experience something beautiful. And so much more than that; peasants were not performing, they were creating. Their singing gave life to a stream of music and they made it flow on all the way to the enchanted sea.

26 August 2009

Ol' Man River

Ol’ Man River is Joe’s song from the musical Show Boat (1927). This scene, where the song is performed by Paul Robeson, is from the 1936 film version of Show Boat directed by James Whale.
A showboat was a type of traveling theatre operating on rivers in the United States. In the musical, such a showboat operates along the Mississippi River. Show Boat showcasts, over the span of 47 years, the lives of those who lived and worked on it.
Robeson altered the original lyrics, in order to give Joe (weary an’ sick of tryin’ an’ tired of livin’ an’ skeered of dyin’) some spirit and defiance.
He jes' keeps rollin'
He keeps on rollin' along

25 August 2009

Barge-haulers' shanty

The Song of the Volga Boatmen, by Paul Robeson (1938). This song is a genuine shanty of the Volga barge-haulers. An earlier 1922 recording, performed by Feodor Chaliapin in original Russian, is enchanting.
The original lyrics, in Russian and English both, can be found here. Please note that Robeson only in parts stayed true to the original.
Paul Robeson, in an interview, explained that "[t]he African people have an almost instinctive flair for music. This faculty was born in sorrow. I think that slavery, its anguish and separation - and all the longings it brought - gave it birth. The nearest to it is to be found in Russia, and you know about their serf sorrows. The Russian has the same rhythmic quality - but not the melodic beauty of the African. It is an emotional product, developed, I think, through suffering."

24 August 2009

The Volga Barge Haulers

The Volga Barge Haulers (1873), a famous painting by Ilya Repin. Repin called these men "Greek philosophers, sold as slaves to the barbarians."

21 August 2009

Man without a head

L’Homme Sans Tête, a short by Juan Diego Solanas (2003).
Spoiler alert: watch, then read. To see the film in a better resolution, in one part and with English subtitles, try here.
A futuristic world, set between us and a 1984.
A man with no head. At least some people must share his problem; heads are advertised and sold. Yet, the man seems to be the only one not wearing any.
A woman. She has one on.
The man has tickets for le bal. Before his rendez-vous, he is shopping for a head.
What does he need it for?
To see?
To kiss?
To smell?
By the end, the man looks most like himself, most real, when headless.

20 August 2009

Je t'aime John Wayne

Je t'aime John Wayne (2000)
Vezi mai multe video din Film

A beautiful, witty homage to Breathless, a film directed by Jean-Luc Godard (1960). Je t'aime John Wayne, a 10 minute short, was directed by Toby MacDonald and written by Luke Ponte (2000).
London acts as Paris. A young Londoner turns all Jean Paul Belmondo.

19 August 2009

Old ladies, black riders

The Lunch Date from bcm on Vimeo.

Schwarzfahrer (a black rider and/or a fare dodger) is a brilliant 12 minute awarded short directed by Pepe Danquart (1993).
The Lunch Date is an awarded short film directed by Adam Davidson (1990).

18 August 2009


Surprise, a short film noir film directed by Ben Dodd (2007).
A startling single shot of one minute.

17 August 2009

The Critic

The Critic, a cult short animated film written and narrated by Mel Brooks (1963).
A Brooklyn cinema. A man, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, came to see an art film.

15 August 2009

Have yourself a wicked weekend!

This scene is taken from The Brave-Hearted Will Take The Bride (the original title: Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayenge), a Hindi film directed by Aditya Chopra (1995).

14 August 2009

Sobering you up

What Goes Up Must Come Down, a short musical film directed by Adam Smith (2005). A normal night in a life of a London taxi driver.

13 August 2009

I go, I smoke

A personal favourite. An original video by a wonderful, wonderful Sankt Peterburg group Nol (orig. Ноль).
The song: I go, I smoke (orig. Иду, курю)

As the evening sets in, I return,
lighting me up some hashish.
Life appears, wonderful,
senselessly good.
I go. I smoke.
And the sound of leaves rustling in my ears.
And there is fog above the Neva river.
Above the Neva river there is fog.
Above the crazy grass there is fog.
Above the Neva river there is the crazy...
Above the crazy grass... Pam param pam.
And –
I go. I smoke.

I go along Apricot Street, up and I turn into Vineyard Street. And I linger in the shadow, shortly, of Shadow Street.

12 August 2009


A recital of a poem, The secret of my endurance, by the poet himself. The poet who notoriously hates jail, because they got the wrong kind of bars in there. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Charles Bukowski!

11 August 2009


Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild Wild Women, as recorded by the Red Ingle and the Natural Seven (1948).

A preachment dear friends you're about to receive
On John Barley corn, nicotine and the temptations of Eve

Once I was happy and had a good wife
I had enough money to last me for life
I met with a gal and we went on a spree
She taught me to smoke and drink whiskee

Cigareets and whuskey and wild wild women
They'll drive you crazy, they'll drive you insane
Cigareets and whuskey and wild wild women
They'll drive you crazy, they'll drive you insane

Cigareets is a blot on the whole human race
A man is a monkey with one in his face
Here's my definition, believe me dear brother
A fire on one end, a fool on the t'other


O brother repent for they'll write on your grave
"To women and whuskey here lies a poor slave"
Take warnin' dear stranger, take warnin' dear friend
They'll write in big letters these words at the end


10 August 2009

The drinking song

Scottish islanders, devastated to find no whisky at the island pub, imaginatively plunder 50,000 cases of whisky from a stranded ship. From Whisky Galore!, a British film directed by Alexander Mackendrick (1949).

09 August 2009

Tell tale eyes

The spirit of the people looking at you.
Photographs by Erna Lendvai-Dircksen.
The photograph of the girl is taken from Unsere Deutschen Kinder, a Nazi photo portrait book by Lendvai-Dircksen (1941).
The photograph of the boy is taken from Das Deutsche Volksgesicht, a 7-volume survey of the German people by Lendvai-Dircksen (1938).

07 August 2009

Of the teller of tales

Watch the tale of Jan Karski

Jan Karski was a unique man entrusted with the last words of a dying race.
He asked nothing. He just listened and watched.
Then he told everybody.
Jan Karski foretold the complete destruction of a race. He desperately attempted to forestall the unimaginable by telling and retelling his tale. Yet, nobody believed it.
His tale, like the most horrible of fairy tales, seemed to fit best with dragons and witches.
Once the race died, its last message became a stone and a bone.
Jan Karski kept his silence then, for 35 years. He finally spoke to tell his tale when Claude Lanzmann filmed Shoah. This telling of the tale, after 35 years of keeping silence, is what you are watching. In this telling, Jan Karski had to tear words from the stone and the bone, words so alien, words so alone.
Egyptian pharaohs did not do it.
Babylonians did not do it.

It captivates me, this telling, more than any telling of any tale before or since. A tale of people extinct is frighteningly close to myths. It is a fairytale kilometer away from our reality.
Could the words, photographs, songs, movies of Jan Karski’s tale ever cross that fairytale kilometer to your reality? No. Yet, Jan Karski’s unique and compelling telling crosses that fairytale kilometer to my reality. Because he, the teller, tells the story about the teller, about his own nightmarish listening and watching at the time. And because he, the teller, tells the story about his own, teller’s, disbelief - at the time after he heard and before he saw.
Few things, if any, scared me more than Jan Karski's disbelief.

06 August 2009

Welcome to Café Müller

Pina Bausch dancing her tale of tales in Café Müller (1978). How many ways of telling a tale are there? Would this tale be equally superb if screamed or moaned in words?

05 August 2009

The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott, a painting by J.W. Waterhouse (1888). The painting is based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson of the same title. This influential poem was also made into a song by Loreena McKennit.
The Lady of Shalott, cursed, is bound to an island castle. Eternally weaving a magic web, she can only view the world as it is reflected in her mirror.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.

This is as far as I am willing to take you. The poem will take you further to where the story ends and the painting begins.

04 August 2009

Post-it Note Stories

I Still Love Jessica from Arthur Jones on Vimeo.

This sketch animation, on post-it notes, was made by Artur Jones. The audio is from a taped telephone conversation between Rodney Rothman, a writer, and his teenage flame Jessica. The complete transcript of the conversation can be found in the anthology Things I learned from the women who've dumped me, edited by Ben Karlin.
Check here for Arthur Jones' excellent post-it note reading series.

03 August 2009


Miranda July performing Things We Don't Understand And Definitely Are Not Going To Talk About . Performance took place in The Factory (2006), in New York City.