The first two scenes reminded me of war, of dead bodies, of loss, of grief. Then this line of thought got interrupted by scenes of threat, abuse, and blackmail. With that the quality of the film material got worse. The last scene was even difficult to see through all those stains. I watched it a couple of times and was reassured about my impressions of the first two scenes. But the third was not any clearer to me, yet. A few times later I noticed a man in the bottom right corner, kneeling, looking at the man and the woman at the wall. The next time I saw him, he was lying on the floor. Does he play to be dead? Why would he do that? Is that man not only threatening and abusing the woman but has also taken other people hostage? Well, I could not make sense of these pictures. I do not even get a connection between the metaphors. Death, loss, grief, and then abuse, hostage-taking…
The music perfectly fits the first two scenes with regard to the metaphor war. Watching the third scene I do not really get rid of that mental image “war”. It confuses me even more that the music says something else than the pictures.
Then I start to weigh death and threat against each other. What is worse? I guess threat must be worse, at least according to Bill Morrison, since the film material is worse. Or does it mean that dead is more absolute, clearer, than threat?
What could that mean with regard to all the abandoned films? Rather dead, once and for all, than under the steady threat of decay? Well, that sounds good in the first place, but there is a downside.
Let’s make a comparison: I’d, for myself, be rather dead than live the rest of my life threatened by a disease or kidnapper. But my family might rather see me alive; spend at least a couple more years with them, battling for example cancer, not being in the best physical condition, but at least being with them.
So, even if it was easier to just let the film material die, some people will try to keep it alive – probably for their own sake. Maybe there are some memories stored on that film reel, maybe even memories of loved ones, maybe dead by now.
The idea of storing memories on pictures or film immediately reminds me of a very interesting person I once met. He was travelling around the world, of course spending a lot of money and time on adventures and activities; but he would not run around the most beautiful places of the world and take pictures, he would just sit there, watch it closely, until the picture and the memory with it, is burned right into the retina of his eye and stored in his brain – forever. He said that he does not want to see these beautiful places through a lens, but recognize them as they are and keep that stronger memory in mind. He also said that one would remember things better having looked at them closely instead of through a lens.
Back then I was very puzzled. I never thought this was a possibility for me but at the same time I felt admiration for this, in a way also absolute, way of thinking and acting. Once you lose a memory or a mental image – it is gone: forever!
Now I’m left with that feeling of being puzzled again, reconsidering many of the things I do and how I do them. Clearly, nothing is clearer to me now than it was before!
PS: I chose this typeface on purpose. If I do not see it clearly, you shall not see it clearly, too ;)