Saturday, September 24, 2005

Les Habitants (1970); on close analysis

By Artavazd Pelechian, if you haven't been reading earlier posts.

An impressive work, insofar as you can tell from an .avi file. About nine minutes long, it's divided into three sections in which the soundtrack and images essentially articulate beautiful things, then horror & chaos, then beauty again. Shots of animals doing animal things, basically--in groups or solo. It's the sort of film that repays close attention and repeating viewing, I think.

I've always liked the idea of spending a lot of time with a single film, watching it all the way through over and over, breaking it into chunks, replaying passages, comparing passages to other films, etc. I need to push myself into impeccable knowledge of certain films. There are several films I'm thinking about delving deep into and writing about, but I probably shouldn't name them because I'd just jinx myself. I've been bad at getting things finished--I've done a fair amount of writing on a handful of films (a few American ones come to mind: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Before Sunrise + Before Sunset; New Rose Hotel) but can't seem to rein them into anything coherent and useful for other people. At any rate I also want desperately to get away from American narratives (by adding variety if not necessarily abandoning them); too much of what I've written the past year or so revolves around them.

Next time I write an entry I will try to make it something substantial and interesting, and not the enormously self-indulgent rambling I've provided lately.


Brian Darr said...

I recently saw Inhabitants too, on a DVD a friend from brought from his favorite rental store in LA on a recent trip up to SF. We were both impressed. I wondered how much of the dupe-y quality of the image was intended by Peleshian and how much was caused by the fact that the DVD was pretty obviously a multi-generational dupe (probably of the quasi-illegal variety). At any rate, the lack of image clarity seemed to de-emphasize the representational aspects of the animal motion. Fascinating film, and I really liked what he did with the soundtrack, as usual.

Have you seen Heart of the World? I finally did, as my friend brought it on the same trip. Quite coincidental that he picked those two DVDs to bring, as I discovered that both Maddin's film and Peleshian's the Beginning use the exact same piece of music by Georgy Sviridov, apparantly taken from his score to a 1965 film called Time, Forward! by Mikhail Shvejtser and Sofiya Milkina.

Somehow I suspect Maddin has seen some Peleshian films.

Steve R. said...

I've seen most of Peleshyan's films (all but a couple of his student shorts, I think) and I'm a HUGE fan. His 1969 film "We" impressed me so much I watched it four or five times in immediate succession. The tactile quality he elicits through his editing in this film is mysterious and wonderful. I feel like I've touched his subjects almost as much as I've seen them.

ZC said...

Brian, I've actually not seen Heart of the World. I need to, badly.

Steve, thanks for commenting--I remember you from the days of the Cinephile's Message Board. I would really like to see more of Pelechian's work. Anyone else have votes for favorite works of his?

Anonymous said...

Pelechian DVD can be acquired from the Portuguese FNAC store ( I am not sure what the region code is but the movies from this DVD were screened at Video Balagan in Boston 1-2 years ago, and the quality was pretty good.


Yoel Meranda said...

hey zach, did you ever publish what you wrote on the man who killed liberty valance?

I'd like to read them even if they're in a very disordered form... If you'd like to share, of course...