Thursday, December 18, 2008

an [im]modest proposal

i've only caught snippets of terrence malick's remake of the thin red line and that inludes last night. the brief glimpses i've had of the film reveal a slow, metaphysical examination of the war within and outward of the human soul. i can't say whether malick's movie works well enough to ground its metaphysics within the torpor and horror of battle in the pacific theater. my brother recommends the film as a deep work.

i recall a sequence of poems by quan barry that quotes from the movie. barry also used films such as the matrix and a couple of others that i can't bring to mind at the moment. however, i thought it quite exciting that barry, a poet relatively unknown to me but for her book asylum, uses movies in her poetry. i found her book at the sac public library a few years back.

at any rate, what barry's sequence and malick's revisioning brought to mind last night was the great french poet rene char. in particular char's war poems when he fought as a leader in the french resistance as 'capitaine alexandre' which was a period in his life he called and which were filled with 'fury and mystery'. the notebooks char kept as he was a leader in the resistance were later published as 'leaves of hypnos'.

char was both a deeply sensual and hermetic poet. as a leader engaged in sabotage missions he was known to be highly disciplined, stoic and yet possessed a vast resevoir of empathy. there is a text by char that describes his metaphysical contradictions. this text was occasioned by watching the execution of one of his captured comrades by the nazis as char and his group lay hidden outside the village. if char had attempted to save his comrade he and his group risked the certain destruction of the village.

it is this contrary dynamism i was thinking about last night as i caught a bit of the thin red line. i thought that a movie based on char as a leader of the maquis could be made. the film could be about a poet and poetry - so far i think movies about poets fall flat - and war. the movie would establish its searing metaphysics by showing the life of a poet writing a life in wartime. the slow, dream-like imagery of malick i think would fit perfectly with char.

it's just an idea but frankly i'd love to see a movie about poetry and specifically a poet that does not resort to the cliches of madness and insipid inspiration. you know, as fond as i am of david lean's adaptation of boris pasternak's novel dr zhivago, the image of the poet that we are left with is one who is dreamy and when pen is put to paper the camera simply fizzles into a blur of triteness.

i don't think i've made a good case for a movie about rene char but even a quick glance of his work and i think you'd get my point.


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