Unreal Nature

March 10, 2016

“Is it nice living here?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:41 am

… fragments of dissonant piano music, a train whistle, a bell, waves of water and a dog’s bark.

Continuing through Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action by Ira Jaffe (2014):

… He faces down, his mouth below the bottom of the frame. “Wait for me,” his voice entreats the [dead] mother. “We will meet where we agreed.” So ends the film.

By the time this final shot with its promise of reunion ends, almost twenty minutes (nearly a third of the film) have elapsed since the son slowly descended the steps of his mother’s house and made his way alone into the countryside and forest. No other words have been heard, except perhaps indistinctly in the distant chant of the unknown woman.

[line break added] Further, few sounds of any kind have issued from the son during this time. Only his footsteps have been audible, and then his low sobs and moans by the tree in the rushing wind. Equally restrained during his journey has been the spare, delicate interplay of natural and mechanical sounds, including the flapping of a large bird’s wings, fragments of dissonant piano music, a train whistle, a bell, waves of water and a dog’s bark.

… The son asks his mother in Mother and Son, “Is it nice living here?” The query both casts him as something of a stranger despite his physical and emotional intimacy with his mother and underscores the strangeness of an elderly person like her living alone far from other people. Given the unnatural slowness and visual oddness of Mother and Son, the film seems no less detached from the world than its two characters.

[line break added] Perhaps for this reason Mother and Son brings to mind Lyotard’s notion that “avant-garde art abandons the role of identification that the work [of art] previously played in relation to the community of addressees.”

[ … ]


… A man in hiding, Mahmut [in Distant] grows ever more furtive and withdrawn, burying his love, his ideals and his better self more deeply. He remains not only cold and impassive, wary of play and spontaneity, but also absent to himself, virtually annihilated.

… “People always have something to hide in real life,” Ceylan remarked in 2004.

… “I don’t believe in change a lot. I don’t think very much changes in a life,” remarks Ceylan in his commentary on the Distant DVD. He adds that Hollywood makes change seem easier than it really is: “It’s not that easy like in Hollywood films.” People actually are doomed to repetition, he implies. “for the sake of reality,” Ceylan refuses in his films “to change things a lot” — and certainly not for the better. Instead, events in Distant and Climates suggest that lives spent in hiding only stagnate and perhaps deteriorate.

My most recent previous post from Jaffe’s book is here.




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