“I have tried to use memory and invention together, like two hands engaged in the same muddy work of digging up the past”
THE LOST CITY OF Z
One husband’s dream and journey, one wife’s dream and journey
What about my aspirations as a woman ?
The wilderness of war/nature/domestic arguments and negotiations/class consciousness and expectations
Immensity outside as a reflection of the immensity inside
A river runs through it indeed
To retrieve something that has been lost
Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find anything
Lewis’s words to Ed in the movie Deliverance
Probing into the intimacy of the most secret desires, the entanglements of the human heart, the jungle of life
What is the “heart of darkness” in this version of the tale?
Women as scientists, undeterred and determined
And as people, undeterred and determined.
Hidden but present
Professionals and colleagues
Admired and respected
Mothers and spouses
Visible and real
Friends and relatives
United and loyal
Picking your battles
Biding your time (from 1961 to 2016, the long journey to recognition)
Believing in your own worth and self-esteem
Keeping the sense of the collective
Do not let others (even close ones) deter you from your goal
Music provides the background mood
Countercultural buzz and political turmoil
Societal shifts on a micro level
Breaking taboos and transgressing political agendas:
breaking the bathroom sign, like breaking the Wall, as a prelude to a new order ushered by individuals taking matters into their own hands and grip—literally.
Gender and race: battlefields? Protagonists? Defeats? Victories?
Truce and Treaties
The fight equally importantly took place on the turf of male prerogatives and the walls built to separate men from women.
Not sharing information, meetings behind closed doors.
In the end, the common goal to be reached created the context for change
A new frontier (space) dictated the negotiation of new borders.
Katherine’s groundbreaking vision: to use age-old theories to create the mathematical tools needed to move on
(in space as on earth)
Chartering fresh maps out of wrinkled ones, away from the legacies of previous explorers and settlers
Probing into new mathematical and societal ideas
Space travel crystallizing the hopes and dreams of a generation.
An Odyssey with its Ulysses, some visible, some hidden
The collective adventure made possible through the collective commitment of individuals.
The Kennedy years: space travel and the beginning of the Civil Rights battle
Citizens (beyond the color line) watching some mythical journey unfold on TV sets in shop windows, delineating the contours of communities, imagined and real.
Moments of unexpected lightness and simple beauty
Dinners, road trips, parties, dances,
Sharing a cup of coffee.
TWENTIETH CENTURY WOMEN
Nostalgia and belonging
Individual aspirations: what do these women have in common?
One moment, one place: like a theatrical stage where initiation journey(s) take place
Sharing different rooms in the house, sharing different points in the 20th century
To reach out from where you come from,
from your own time line into other (different) time frames.
Feminism, love, sex
Music, drugs, poetry
Questions, rebellions, arguments
Conflicts, break-ups, partings.
Encounters, new beginnings, new lines and cues.
Reversals and denouements.
Happy endings, even.
A UNITED KINGDOM
History and romance as a way to explore the past
Not just a variation on the “love conquers all” theme.
But an invitation to consider individual agency as the road to collective empowerment
An inspiring story about a couple that stood up for the collective good
The intersection of love and duty, truth and honesty.
And a beautiful landscape
Self-will in a stand-off against political agenda(s),
The political vision at cross purposes with the individual project.
The stalemate of colonial imperatives and the dead end enforced by their political machines and alliances: South Africa towering above and flashing its Apartheid system
Political game and lies (Churchill reneging on his pledge and promise)
The affirmation of freedom and liberty through truth and trust
The American journalist digging up (for) the truth out of the murky dealings of the mine business
Diamonds of truth for the proper stewardship of the diamonds
yielded by the rich land.
How an individual dream becomes a collective one (from kingdom to democracy)
To articulate a new political contract beyond traditions and lineages
Through the chartering of a new idea of marriage (inter-racial), chartering a new course for tradition to find its way into the future without betraying its source.
A tradition, a duty, a care
Faulknerian images resonate,
Recontextualized within a political project shaped out of integrity and
loyalty to (a) people.
Fragile and vulnerable human relationships, yet endurable ties formed at ground level
Women who realize that they are first of all mothers
Bounds of friendship forged through the common fate of bodies
(disease, pregnancy, delivery)
Standing up against your own families,
Disturbing the expectations of your class and race and gender
Not letting yourself be intimated
Abiding by your commitments to yourself and to the other—your spouse, your love
And, eventually, to yourself.
A personal way of life as direct challenge to political manners
Forces of liberalism, forces of racism, in the US, in Britain, in Africa.
Individuals at historical crossroads.
One of the most compelling themes : words and their use
The rhetorical force and performative power of words uttered in truth
(the King’s speeches to his people, the King’s letter to his uncle, the
King’s negotiation with his uncle under the tree)
Words as truth-sayers or tools of concealment (lies).
Journalistic report about mining industry activities
A governmental report
(hidden because its finding did not fit the political agenda)
Campaign promises, and the reality of “power” as Sir Alistair says.
The art of understatement
A glass of sherry, Mr Khama?
Sherry, Sir Alistair?
The world of London and its occasional hall of political and cultural mirrors,
its grand scale agenda and colonial imagination.
Breaking the law under the cover of the law
(the investigation as emblematic of the flaws troping the system: the investigation is conducted, but its results are concealed and misrepresented)
Versus the direct form of enfranchisement of the African type of
council: the King talking directly to his people, a direct vote.
Where is the true democratic process?
In the West—where democracy is supposed to be the rule of the day—power is mediated by oligarchies that promote the interests of a few
(then and now).
How greed (for power, material and symbolic) dictates and interferes and subverts.
Colonial rule (under the limits of the protectorate status) creates a narrative to justify interfering
Masquerading as peacekeeper between the King and his uncle.
Setting up a series of traps for the individual, separating husband and wife.
Yet a wife’s love prevails over class and race and gender diktats
Structured like a collection of short stories
Or a novel with intertwining points of view.
Montana and its rugged landscape offer the backdrop to different portrayals.
Women and their aspirations and challenges, difficulties and joys.
Gender relations as work in progress
Three stories, with cameo appearances of the other characters in each.
Small town atmosphere and rural life.
Physical isolation as metaphor for spiritual isolation
Materiality of the physical world as mirror of the spiritual lack
Slabs of stone
Heavy to lift and move around,
They speak of a past that is no longer there yet is still in the way.
Yet still they can potentially be used to build something else.
Slow rhythm/tempo of the film, with focus on daily activities
(Chantal Akerman suddenly comes to mind)
Daily activities and their ritual/ritualistic components and dimensions and effects.
The sense of having been cheated out of life.
Temporary moments of freedom and breakthrough.
Some secrets are cherished, kept and tucked away for future use,
When you must let the steam out and retrieve some balance.
Human emotions, and their comings and goings
Their circular patterns with occasional variations
Sudden moments of chaos and disarray decide of a life’s fate: sequestrating the security guard, cheating on your wife, falling in love with the wrong person, taking up the wrong kind of job.
Sudden moments of beauty open up new vistas in your inner barren landscape: falling in love, taking a jog and enjoying your cigarette, taking a horseback ride at night, reconnecting with someone you betrayed, following others and discovering the world of knowledge
Close ups on expressive faces, like pictures of an emotion, snapshots of a state of being, sketches of a state of consciousness
Moments of silence alternating with brief and tense dialogue
Pan shots and camera lingering on some simple images: tutoring in revisiting the substance of our lives, the microelements, the level of the slight.
Literary narrative structure, theatrical characterization, poetic
editing, filmic montage.
A seasoned female lawyer in a world where credibility as a professional often goes to her male colleagues
A young female lawyer struggling to pay off her loans
A professional supporting a husband and a daughter, hoping to build an authentic home with a real fence
A sister in a world ruled by brothers
A rancher longing for some recognition, yearning for human love and not just animal companionship.
The world of the ranch: the horses and the routine they impose of those who care for them, the frost, the hay, the manure
Sweeping, freezing, getting the work done.
The world of the city and its other forms of routine: law offices, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, and countless other human theatres.
Riding your horse through the frozen prairie.
Driving your car on the frozen road
Covering miles to make ends meet, to extirpate some meaning out of
the Sisyphean/absurd posture life sometimes adopts.
People struggling to make ends meet/ cheated by and out of a system
The king-to-be of Samoa working night shifts
Food prices, lawyer’s fees, tuition fees, hospital fees
The price of a good insurance policy and the human cost of an unsafe job situation resulting in a crippling accident,
The price of an education and the human cost of not having received any
The price of a degree and the human cost of loans incurred to insure it.
An inmate tells his lawyer about his jail
Noisy, lonely, no privacy
What kind of prison is (has) the world (become)?
If hands have to be visible at all times, what can we do to be free?
Can we be free at all?