MAGICAL REALISM IN FILM, TELEVISION AND THEATER
Topic: November 2005
11.04.05, TORONTO, Ontario
—The FANTASY WORLDWIDE International Film Festival (November 4-6, 2005) celebrates fantasy filmmaking in Canada and around the world. The festival organizers have selected a showcase of world mythology, fantasy (no horror), mysticism, magical realism
, science fiction, historical fiction, legend and archetype in a plethora of feature films, shorts, family and children's films, documentaries and animation. Tickets are available at the Bloor Cinema during the festival ONLY. For more info
11.04.05, THE WORLD WIDE WEB—
The Gregory Nava film, El Norte, has achieved a cult following since its release in 1983. Fans wishing for a DVD version are flooding Amazon.com with requests. We paid a visit to that page and discovered this message from the folks at the world's largest online bookstore:
This title will be released on December 31, 1969. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives.
Yeah, good luck with that
, Amazon.com. How Borges must be laughing in his grave!
11.04.05, AMERICAN TELEVISION—And speaking of graves…
Okay, so I'm having terrible Six Feet Under withdrawals. I had an even worse time accepting last summer's final episode. I'd been at my vacation place, well, vacationing, and hadn't been clued in to the news that the August episode I was about to watch was not only the season finale, but the series finale. What? It didn't occur to me that this was The End until Claire began having her "trip" into the future. [Click on this link to find out what happened to everybody!]
Oh, the tears in my eyes when it all dawned on me in one big rush, just like that amazing closing scene (one of the best ever for a series finale, hands down).
But there's good news. No, I didn't save any money buying any insurance from a gecko, but I did find this: Reading Six Feet Under, which publisher Palgrave-MacMillan describes as an examination of the show's "predominant themes as the dead body, magic realism and the grotesque, American cultural politics, family relationships, homosexuality, motherhood and more."
What a fix for the cold-turkey loss of one of television's finest ever dramas. I'll certainly be asking for the entire 5-series set on DVD (you can get the first four now, but I'll wait for the 5-pack so I can revisit that amazing final scene in the series finale).
10.29.05, NEW YORK, New York—
Darn. I always despair at headlines like this one:
"Magical realism on page is a little unreal on stage."
Rachel Breitman's panning
of the theatrical adaptation of Aimee Bender
’s story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
, at WalkerSpace in New York isn't a criticism of Bender's genius as a storyteller, however, nor is it a harsh condemnation of Bridgette Dunlap's adaptation, as much as it's a familiar complaint about adaptations in general of complex storylines.
Let's face it. It's just plain hard to capture the nuances of magical realism in the more visual performance arts like theater. It's not as if it can't be done, but rather how to do it so that the audience, which brings its own experience and expectations to a performance, can grab onto those layers it understands and walk away with some level of satisfaction. Without the special effects of film at their behest, nor the intellectual symbology spelled out in a text, how can the stage effectively portray a story like "The Healer," for instance, which is brilliant and emotional, without relying heavily upon the theater of the mind?
As Breitman points out, "Bender’s stories are lyrical, bizarre, and delightful, but sometimes the movement from humor to pain, real to surreal, and child to adult on the page should have been dealt with differently onstage."
While the headline seems to befit a scathing criticism, Breitman's review is thoughtful and not nearly so judgmental. In the end, it seems that she's not faulting Dunlap for trying. Nor are we.
10.21.05, NEW YORK, New York
Antonio Pasolini's review of director and screenwriter Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Innocence should inspire American audiences to seek out this haunting film if? when? it's released on DVD. New Yorkers were able to see it on the screen this October when it was released on the 21st.
The storyline, based upon the 1888 short work by symbolist German writer Frank Wedekind, plumbs the depths of its title suggestion in the form of dramas encountered at a remote all-girl school where a new student arrives within the confines of a coffin, of all things. Spooky? You bet.
Hadzihalilovic, an emerging presence in French cinema, "managed to create a meticulous balance between fantasy/surrealism and reality in a film that moves like a dream but which is, all the same, naturalistic. Innocence is a beautifully woven fable tailored to the contemporary imagination populated by accumulated references. It is a very idiosyncratic work with one of the most beautiful and haunting opening credits scenes I've ever seen," writes Pasolini for London's film newsletter, The Filter.
Other reviews of the film depict it as slow or confusing, but also beautifully articulated and atmospheric. You might want to check out the film's home page to see if it's the film for you. We're certainly intrigued…
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at 12:30 PM PST
Updated: 4 November 2005 12:32 PM PST
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