Saturday, February 11, 2006

Signs and Wonders: Ice

1. I spent time before a screening of Robert Kramer's Ice reading up on Jean Renoir in the library after work. One of the books I looked at was Leo Braudy's. Of the handful I perused, Durgnat's was the best.

2. Ice is such a fascinating film! I've waited long years to see his work screened. (To my knowledge I did miss one film of his, probably completely my fault, a year or two ago. I arrived in New York in 2001, a year after the city was the site of a big retrospective.) It would make a great, momentous double bill with Garrel's Les Amants réguliers. Escalation / deflation of the revolutionary drive. During one exhibition of the newsreels which the radical network makes to educate the people, the soundtrack contains people giving examples of false consciousness about their political situation (e.g., "I don't know anything, I'm not an expert," "I have to worry about my house and kids") and black leader is intercut with still photographs of individuals who we might presume are to have made each given statement. Later in the film, when one character (not a radical) is talking to another about how things aren't that bad, and no revolutionary changes are needed, the black leader re-appears, articulating her "false consciousness" through form even as Kramer allows this character to voice her concerns in a compelling and revealing way. This is ostensibly Kramer's concern: to connect the revolutionary imperative to human(ist) experience. At any rate, the IMDB lists Leo Braudy as one of the actors in the film. The Leo Braudy? Whose book on Renoir I had in my hands only an hour before seeing the film? Hmmm.

3. After the screening of Ice, I went to a small party. This party was held, I am almost certain, in one of the building complexes where they shot an extended sequence of Ice. I will have to do some research ... or try anyway. But it seemed pretty unmistakeable.

* Waiting for my subway ride home, about 1-ish, I saw a poor guy who was what I guess I'd call "henpeck drunk." Leaning against the wall he would bend over as if about to pass out, and kept bobbing up in a burst of resilient consciousness. All I could do is shake my head and say to myself, "Oh man, I've been there." And I'm glad I wasn't there last night.

** In case you can't read it in the image above, the words scrawled on this person's back in the still most often taken from Ice are: "Humanity won't be happy until the last bureaucrat is dissolved in the blood of the last capitalist."

6 comments:

Andy Rector said...

I haven't been able to see many Robert Kramer films (Ice, Starting Point, Route One USA) but similarities to Renoir abound: the sudden contrasts, the naturalism, the moral/political theatre, the respect for nature and balance, the camera harnassed to the body, a distinct internationalism...

Zach Campbell said...

I hadn't though about the connection really, but I suppose I can see it. Maybe an alternate double bill:

Le Crime de Mr. Lange
Ice

Mubarak Ali said...

Amazing film - frustrating and disorienting in all the right ways.

Another double bill: Ice with Nagisa Oshima's The Man Who Left His Will On Film, which came out in the same year according to IMDB, and is in the same leftist/revolutionary vein. The latter's significantly more 'meta' though, using film as its revolutionary weapon of choice.

Tom Sutpen said...

As exercises in anarchism and agit-prop soap operas go, 'Ice' has few peers, but I've long thought its Theatre of Revolt posturings tend to obscure a far more intriguing movie; one that Kramer seems only marginally aware of. I get this same sense whenever I see DeAntonio/Lampson/Wexler's 'Underground', so perhaps it's encoded into the DNA of every film about white people who've got revolution on the brain.

I think it'd make a nice head-scratcher of a double-bill with Terayama's 'Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets'.

Nice blog, Zach.

Zach Campbell said...

I wish I could see The Man Who Left His Will on Film ... I think it played here at the Japan Society once within the last few years ...

Tom, thanks for dropping by. Nice blog yourself--I'll link to it soon, when I have my links page up!

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