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December 30, 2005

trial.jpg

The night before last, James and Amy and I went to The New Beverly to see an Orson Welles double feature. As far as we knew going in, it was to be made up of a print of The Trial and assorted short odds and ends. Those odds and ends, however, turned out to be from the personal collection of Gary Graver, Welles' cinematographer on every one of his projects post-1970. Graver was there to tell stories about Welles and introduce and comment upon all the clips, which included: an entire TV pilot called The Fountain Of Youth, the only existing footage from a failed production of The Merchant Of Venice, a reel of F Is For Fake, various screen tests, trailers and - best of all - ten minutes from Welles' last film, the never finished, never seen The Other Side Of The Wind. The sequence we saw was a fairly explicit sex scene, taking place in a car in a rain storm. It was projected in silence, since all the sound was still on the original mag tracks. It was completely electrifying, partially because of its content and partially because Graver said he'd probably never show it again - unless, of course, someone takes up the reigns and finishes the post-production process Welles left unfinished over two decades ago.

All of that was an experience all by itself, but then there was that beautiful print of The Trial. I'd seen it before, on an old VHS, but had forgotten how alarmingly effective it is. Welles adheres to Kafka's text in both content and structure, letter and spirit. It's a note-perfect literary adaptation, and extraordinary piece of cinema.

* * *

This evening, we went to see The New World. I might have to make a top ten list after all, just so I can put this at the top of it.

Everpresent in my head while I've been watching all these films is the one of my own, sitting in the refrigerator back in Texas. I'm constantly editing it in my head. Trying out different cuts, considering what additional pieces I might need, trying to make it as good as I can before the fact. I probably should just clear my head of it and let myself be surprised.

Posted by David Lowery at December 30, 2005 5:54 AM

Comments

The Welles evening sounds great... Kafkas book is such an eyeopener of a text - I was somehow a changed reader from page 1, and after the last page my view of a lot of things were changed.

Can't wait to see THE NEW WORLD, as well... Malick is a filmmaker to cherish.

Posted by: Karsten at December 30, 2005 4:43 PM

There's been an interesting discussion about Malick and The New World going on over at a_film_by. Materialism vs. transcendentalism.

Posted by: Matt at December 30, 2005 5:06 PM

Karsten - I read The Trial during the one period in my life where I really wasn't consuming much in the way of literature, and thus it stands out in my head even more than it would have otherwise. It was what turned me on to Kafka in the first place.

I can't get over how good The New World is. It's cinematic storytelling the likes of which I've never seen (except in Malick's other films, but still - what he did in those, and in A Thin Red Line especially, merely hints at the structural lyricism he achieves here).

Matt - I really should start visiting a_film_by. I rarely take a look, mainly because I'm very turned off by Yahoo forums. Stupid reason, I know, and one I should get over in lieu of missing valuable criticism/discussion.

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 31, 2005 6:16 AM