Tuesday, November 13, 2007

navigating the berlin alexanderplatz

the first image from rainer werner fassbinder's berlin alexanderplatz, 1980

joseph cornell: navigating the imagination by lynda roscoe hartigan

this week (and last), i was able to aquire two of the greatest items imaginable, (and to see the joseph cornell exhibition at the sfmoma).
both this film and cornell's work have been guiding lights for me over the last 15 years or so (berlin alexanderplatz has been one of my favourite films, that i have never seen), and it is nice that they both arrived simultaneously.
mark lapore, one of the most inspiring teachers i had, would always say that reading about andy warhol's films was the biggest influence on his own work and aesthetic, even though he had not seen the films until later on in his life. that the idea of warhol's films was so overwhelming for him (of course seeing them later on, further inspired him), has always been such a beautiful concept for me, and berlin alexanderplatz has been that unseen film for me.
more posts to come on each as i spend more time with them.

(please excuse this old pole's uncouth english, it is not his native language...nor is polish)


David McDougall said...

I wish you the best of luck with your Alexanderplatzing.

I wrote a bit about the influence of works unseen here

the art of memory said...

thanks for the link dave, i hadn't read that on your blog before. it is a great idea i think, i do tend not to read so much about films i haven't seen, because i am a bad reader, but everyso often, you find out about this impossible to see masterpieces.
i remember watching a dub of berlin alexanderplatz way back when i was in living in boston, and i couldn't read the subtitles, and the colors were just awful, so after the first 2 tapes, i quit and decided to wait to see it on film or a better copy. i am glad, i was blown away last night from watching the first episode.
what if the influence is so strong, and you base your aesthetic on the idea of the work, and when you finally see the film, it is no good? or, you see the film as good, because your see it through a filter you have created?

David McDougall said...

what if the influence is so strong, and you base your aesthetic on the idea of the work, and when you finally see the film, it is no good?

I have had this happen before; not that the film isn't good, but that it doesn't do the things I had imagined before seeing it. then, I've seen 2 films - the one I imagined (and can continue to use as a basis for my work), and the film on the screen (which influences me, perhaps, in a less strong way).

sroden said...

if you haven't read it, alfred doblin's original novel is absolutely amazing. i would say it seriously was one of the books that changed my life when i read it 20 some odd years ago. i've never had the courage to re-read it and similarly i remember seeing the fassbinder films once a week either on pbs or the Z channel when i was pretty young and they were devastating. once you've made your way through them you should try and see the early german film, i think it's from the late 30's, that is also really amazing, but totally different of course than fassbinder. for me, the dubbuffet records were the biggest influence on my work that i never actually heard - the liner notes and the idea of those recordings sent my sound work on a path that would never have happened if i simply heard the work (which is amazing, but not remotely close to what i'd imagined it would be!).

the art of memory said...

dave, would be interested in a title, alway curious about these things. there is also the memory of films, from youth that gave influence, and to remember them wrong, i do that often.

and steve, the criterion set has the early film on it (i believe). i have a copy of the book, and i have always meant to read it. my friend tarrl found it in the trash on the street and gave it to me, quite a while ago (a funny place to find it). he talks obsessively about the film and book as well, part of the influence.
there is the influence of other artists talking about work, i use to love to hear mark lapore talk about warhol's films, he really distilled them in his mind.
i have dreamed and dreamed of watching empire, with the fear it would be dull. but, watching parts of it at the moma, it was 10 times better than i imagined.
i have to listen to the dubuffet recordings, i don't really know them. i picture them sounding like dirt or the earth for some reason....

woolgathersome said...

And don't forget... Mr. Morley met his girl, and she met he, many years ago during a beautiful all day screening of Berlin Alexanderplatz at the Pacific Film Archive... And where were you that day, might I ask? Too bad you couldn't have been there, too... It was a beautiful print and we had wine and pear tarts every two hours...

the art of memory said...

yes, he has told me the romantic tale many a time, a great film for romance.
me? i was out of it for some reason, out of town?
can't remember.
i always seem to miss that stuff, like jeanne dielman playing tonight i will probably miss......