Sunday, November 15, 2009

Alain à la recherche #2: Stavinsky...

by Ryland Walker Knight

[The Resnais series playing at the PFA this November and December is part of a broader, traveling retrospective with a concurrent run in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center and a proposed stop at the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image in early 2010.]

Some might call Stavinsky... a lavish lark. I called it a "goof" walking out. But its easy charisma, rubbed off Belmondo's debonair superstardom, does not devalue its interest in history (histories, stories) or, again, memory. Though there is no recovery here. The past doesn't loom for Sacha-Alex-Serge; he won't allow it. However, for that matter, he can't out run it. The ellipses matter at the end of the title: they indicate a path, or something unsaid. They can also signal a sigh, as most people floating around Belmondo do just that and shake their heads, calling him out as crazy—sick, Lonsdale's doctor insists—a supreme narcissist megalomaniac. Redundant, yes, but some people are—some people, as it happens, are a sickness no matter their charitable spirit or the love they inspire. This one, this man of a million names, this fake 'stache man with nothing but a grin, this sick sadness can't seem to figure it straight. Belmondo plays him like he believes him. Belmondo knows he's lying, or showing off for ill, but, like he tells that German actress, he's out to deliver happiness (not pleasure) to those around him as equally as he aims to tickle himself with each fancy before it leaves him, caught in an eddy while he floats on. —But what of that silent Trotsky hovering on the sidelines? What's his role? Red herring? Not quite. He's more like an idea, a sign of other quashed dreams. Trotsky inspires his circle but otherwise wrecks little havoc in centers that ripple out, causing a political ruckus, and, it seems, an atmosphere rife for toppling; this France careens, no doubt, towards The War a mess. Its history, as embodied by Boyer's Baron, cannot read the present for signs of the future, nor react with much beyond disbelief. Perhaps that's the price of class honor rolls and their imagined debts: such faith yields ruins, or graves. The Baron, after all, quotes Giraudoux's spectre at the close to signal his own end, to nod at an era he knew and defined now drowned by time.


  1. I can never know the truth, but this has never stopped me from believing in truth. Unknowable irresistable darkness, that harbours these secret lessons of age. And the last laugh, a dull spark, triumphant obscurity, securing that universal dispersion of illumination, unsensational unheralded , as the vangaurds weary gaze lingers upon an horizon long gone, the shadow slips quietly past noiseless, invisible train, the passengers departures disappearing while the clowns distract. It's dark and cold around this time of year in Chicago. Straight faced Maggies sparkling eyes glow , a vengeful countenance diminished under practiced smiles.Hilarity disguises itself amongst the deranged, casting fallen glances down towards their berth, an earthly haven concealed in fragile cloths, mortal shields employed to extinguish the venom hissing asps incline. How this amusement ? inquires our learned councils chagrin! Hoping for some betrayal as to the crackling airs unmasked levity. Amongst these pleading fragments, liberated sprites unsheath, delightful in their attires. I can never know the truth, but this has never obstructed me from believing in that romantic notion of freedom only fools and drunks might share in our stupor. Without remorse conspiring hosts of living proof entertain the menagerie. All the while communications juxtapose themselves transparently upon our medias glorious transmissions. Coded farce, deciphering without warrant, a restless urge to purchase some telepathic map from the bats labyrinths. Foundations belching, froth spewed lips mumbling incomprehinsible clarities. Insane!pronounces the Learned Scholarships opine. Utterly ludicrous! The Judgement final. Perhaps.
    Meanwhile a sentinel laser beam pierces the enemy skies, severing hope from ligaments in a brilliant display.Orgiastic Behemoth, Leviathins mentor, to teach these impish twinklers a lesson or two about frivolity. There is a cost insists the self appointed Judges and juries, the observers last desperate effort to extinguish these reports of escape. Alas the transmissions from the Oligarchy have been muted by some mysterious force, and Wisdom is the last to know of the circumstance, never seeing broadsided by vanity. Fear creeps in to the elevations ramparts perishing certainty as the design fails.
    This then is our pleasure , the salvation of these nemisis , and what wicked sport to deliver them unscathed, unmolested , nary a one aware of their disposition. Shhh whispers the children stiflingtheir giggles in the car ahead, already the party has begun, celebrating loudly families unleash the revelry bewildering the tempest and consorts of gloom abated aghast at their own confusions. What! screames the Elite! WHAT! I Don't Get IT!???
    too which the train rambles slowly past unhindered by words, unmolested by a false passports demise. Then the phone rings, the Authority inquiring amongst known delinquents, connsorting to discover this spirt of 76, and devise a scheme for arresting these miscreant charcaters!
    To no avail, as the first one says to the second one there "I hope your having fun." an honest wish.

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