an e-mail project by Karin Sander
Betreff: Re: Telling a Work of Art
Datum: Mon, 25 Mar 2019 22:25:00
Von: István Szabó
An: Karin Sander [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Dear Ms Sander,
Thank you for the invitation. I am trying to make up my mind, which work of art is the most important for me, but I cannot decide on a single one. I was directed towards realism by de Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves – its plot, its scenes, the power of the faces appearing on the screen all radiated authenticity, reality. Later De Sica’s Miracolo a Milano was shown, and this reality was filled with wonderful imagination, poetic elevation, tale.
Have you seen Fellini’s film titled 8 ½? The baroque flooding of the movie camera – the pictures –, sounds and music, the faces and movements, passions, doubts and irony. Who could pull himself out of its influence?
The next turning point was given by the freedom of the French new wave’s „writing with the camera”. The 400 Blows, a Breathless and a Jules and Jim elevated the movements of the camera, the editing, the acting into poetry.
Then came Andrzej Wajda – Ashes and Diamonds. Certain shots of the story taking place in Poland after World War II gave tremendous symbolic force to the relationship of history and the individual. The crucifix swinging squeaking upside down in a bombed down church is the most powerful visual display of a world out of joint, just like togetherness pictured by the burning vodka glasses reminding of the deceased brothers-in-arms. The protagonist – Maciek – shoots his adversary, who collapses over him, and behind the two Polish men clinging together the Soviet victory rockets are flying up the sky. What does history, politics and society do to men in Central Europe – that is what Wajda’s films were about.
Then Ingmar Bergman reached me, too. The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället), Persona. The wonder of changing emotions and thoughts being born and vanishing on a living face. Bergman taught me that the real miracale and the real uniqueness of the film is the living and ever changing human face, the radiating human countenance concealing secrets, the power of the personality.
How on earth could I choose? I can only quote the Hungarian poet Attila József:
„Then why should I, a poet, study
I quaff the real world in my hunger,
whose foamy head is heaven's pales.”