A Journal of the Production Process of the Video "UM..."
Laurent, Catherine W.
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The finished "Um... " is different in many ways from the " ideal" "Um... " that hovered in my mind during the process of making the video . The journal I kept during that time, when compared with the final video, will perhaps reveal why these differences arose , and illustrate how the conflict between the abstract idea l and the concrete final project is inherent to creative motion picture arts. I pursued a Senior Individualized Project in video in order to gain practical experience in production, but a l so to experiment with a loose , collage- like, semi - surreal use of images . I was influenced by two filmmaker s whom I had studied in London during Foreign Study with the British and European Studies Group: Luis Bunue l and Andrei Tarkovsky . Bunue l ' s first films, " Un Chien Andal ou" (1928) and "L' Age d ' or" (1930), are adventures in surrealism, a movement in the arts during the Twenties which stressed the importance of irrationality and dream states, through black humor and bizarre juxtapositions of image or word. The movement was in opposition to bourgeois pretentions and often seemed calculated t o shock . "L'Age d 'or" features a cow wandering around a bourgeois home, a woman Licking the toe of a statue in sexual excitement, and the equation of Christ with the Marquis de Sade . Bunuel included surrealist elements in a l most all of his later films , into the Seventies . Andrei Tarkovsky is a Russ i an filmmaker, not well known in the United States, whose lyrical and poetic style in films like "The Mirror" (1975) and "Stalker" (1979) impress me greatly . He often films the most ordinary objects and movements with exquisite attention, as in languid pans of billowing foliage or the bottom of a stream, extreme close-ups of porcelain dishes rolling in the wind, and careful observation of a smudge s lowly disappearing from a polished table top. What is most impressive is that these lyrical sequences seem tangential to the films' stories, yet end up reinforcing major themes symbolically. Tarkovsky uses surreal touches, such as flames on a hand and rain falling indoors, in a flowing and polished way, and is refreshingly non-Western in his avoidance of quick edits and his willingness to let the camera linger in a room after the characters have left. In making decisions regarding both the style and content of my video, I kept Tarkovsky and Bunuel in mind, and attempted to merge my own ideas with their influences. "Um..." contains scenes of a woman eating a rose, a body being painted, and a man being s lapped by a waiter, for example, all of which are influenced by surrealism. Yet because "Um..." was made by an amateur on a low budget, with no crew, with no special effects editing equipment, and with the lesser visual quality inherent in videotape as opposed to film, it has a completely different "look" than the ideal "Um..." in my mind. Thus the journal that records my thoughts and ideas while planning and making the video is a useful companion to the video itself , for it reveals my intentions, however much they may have been transformed in the actual production process .
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