I also know that the shock of Annabel’s death consolidated the frustration of that nightmare summer, made of it a permanent obstacle to any further romance throughout the cold years of my youth. The spiritual and the physical had been blended in us with a perfection that must remain incomprehensible to the matter-of-fact, crude, standard-brained youngsters of today. Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you loved me thus!
I have reserved for the conclusion of my “Annabel” phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards–presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct, as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half-pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again; and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion.
Opening from J.G.Ballards 1977 short story, ‘The Intensive Care Unit’.
Within a few minutes the next attack will begin. Now that I am surrounded for the first time by all the members of my family it seems only fitting that a complete record should be made of this unique event. As I lie here – barely able to breathe, my mouth filled with blood and every tremor of my hands reflected in the attentive eye of the camera six feet away – I realize that there are many who will think my choice of subject a curious one. In all senses, this film will be the ultimate homemovie, and I only hope that whoever watches it will gain some idea of the immense affection I feel for my wife, and for my son and daughter, and of the affection that they, in their unique way, feel for me.
It is now half an hour since the explosion, and everything in this once elegant sitting room is silent. I am lying on the floor by the settee, looking at the camera mounted safely out of reach on the ceiling above my head. In this uneasy stillness, broken only by my wife’s faint breathing and the irregular movement of my son across the carpet, I can see that almost everything I have assembled so lovingly during the past years has been destroyed. My Svres lies in a thousand fragments in the fireplace, the Hokusai scrolls are punctured in a dozen places. Yet despite the extensive damage this is still recognizably the scene of a family reunion, though of a rather special kind.
LEON. THE PROFESSIONAL. MATHILDA Who'll I aim at? LEON Whoever. Leon pulled out binoculars. Mathilda looks for a victim by telescope. She passes over playing kids. MATHILDA No women... No kids.... Leon smiles: she learnt the lesson. LEON Begin from a steady target. It's easier. She stops on a man who's reading a newspaper. The man wears a suit, Herald Tribune, fat. MATHILDA The fat man down there, on the bench. LEON Perfect. Mathilda aims at the fat man. One of bench's boards explodes. The fat man turns his head. He doesn't understand what happened and resumes reading. LEON Try again. The same. Second shot. The bench explodes on the opposite side. The man is still curious but doesn't understand. LEON(at binoculars) Too much to the left. Mathilda concentrates again and shoots: nothing happens. Mathilda wonders whether she missed again and prepares for a new shot. LEON Wait... The fat man softly leans down on his side. LEON Bull's-eye. Mathilda is happy but, evidently, she expected death to be more spectacular.
‘IF….’ is a 1968 British drama film produced and directed by Lindsay Anderson satirising English public school life. Famous for its depiction of a savage insurrection at a public school or boarding school, the film is associated with the 1960s counterculture movement because it was filmed by a long-standing counter-culture director at the time of the student uprisings in Paris in May 1968. It includes controversial statements, such as: “There’s no such thing as a wrong war. Violence and revolution are the only pure acts”. It features surrealist sequences throughout the film. Upon release in the UK, it received an X certificate.
The film stars Malcolm McDowell in his first screen role and his first appearance as Anderson’s “everyman” character Mick Travis. Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan, David Wood, and Robert Swann also star, and Rupert Webster is featured as the young boy Bobby Phillips.
if…. won the Palme d’Or at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival
The film is particularly well known for a single tracking shot that lasts for over 8 minutes. The shot follows a car slowly moving through a traffic jam. After eight minutes, the cause is discovered: a family has been in a car accident and their bodies lie across the road. It is a stark contrast to the beeping horns and frustrated drivers waiting to get by.
Here in my car
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for ( nights )
– this is the only wrong word you put days
Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please?
If I open my door
Here in my car
I know Ive started to think
About leaving tonight
Although nothing seems right
As Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux pointed out in his famous quote (see post below), the natural order of the universe is based on a circle. Why then is our civilization being sucked into the vortex of the digital age? It seems very clear that the digital world is completely alien to everything the rest of the universe stands for.
I used to blow-up my 35mm film stills and study the grain structure. Beautiful mappings of colour and detail all made up of circles.
If you were to blow up a digital photograph you end up with pixels/squares, as with the rim of a bird’s nest above.
I often wonder if the many thousands of images we see these days, whether they are on computer or TV screens, are in some way destroying our natural eyesight (eyes being round of course).
Or is the digital age slowly eating away at the very soul of humanity itself?
You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything and everything tries to be round.
In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.
Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.
The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.
Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950
A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is a romantic fantasy film set in World War II by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It was originally released in U.S. under the title Stairway to Heaven, which derived from the film’s most prominent special effect: a broad escalator linking the Other World and Earth. Reversing the effect in The Wizard of Oz, the supernatural scenes are in “Technicolor mono-chrome” (a special process developed jointly by Director of Photography Jack Cardiff and Technicolor London), while the natural scenes on Earth are in Technicolor. Photographic dissolves between “Technicolor mono-chrome” (the Other World) and Three-Strip Technicolor (Earth) are used several times during the film.
In 2004, A Matter of Life and Death was named the second greatest British film ever made by the magazine Total Film in a poll of 25 film critics, behind Get Carter.