Antonioni: The Eldritch Concatenation

Silverwolf was stunned. For he had written an eulogy on the putting down of the artist Bergman by the Big Guy Upstairs, and had spoken eloquently of his feelings on the passing of the Master in Silverwolf’s brilliant but sensitive blog on said subject( Bergman: The Big Eye Closes). He had also exhorted the populace of the world net to employ, as much as possible, that grand old Scottish word  “eldritch”, meaning weird, in Silverwolf’s grand old blog, “The Eldritch Project”,  of which he had been requested to permit publication in a upcoming textbook on successful blog writing, but which permission he declined to grant. Any voluntary ceding of ones rights undermines Magna Carta. In meeting the needs of decorum and shunning the cheap ploy, Silverwolf had begged his readers and blog disciples (there are many in Malaysia) to only use the word in genuine situations.  Little did he realise he would have ample opportunity to use it when he first escaped the narrowing rigours of writing on economics and politics, and flung his view to the finer fields of life, where the artists live, with pretty models (and nice wine with a Heffner-imitating briar pipebowl of Borkum Riff — but sometimes one smoked Flying Dutchman or even Cherry Blend). For it so happened, in surfing the web, that he discovered that the 2nd of the great European Triumvirate, Michelangelo Antonioni, who inspired Silverwolf to want to direct films in the auteur tradition of the French,— Michelangelo Antonioni, in Silverwolf’s opinion the greatest film maker who ever lived, —died on the same day as Ingmar Bergman. Truly an eldritch coincidence.

Or was it coincidence? Silverwolf has noted three such “coincidences” in history; and all in fields of passionate interest to Silverwolf.

Firstly, there is the very eldritch coincidence of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the two key composers of the Declaration of Independence, dying on the same day, and that day was July 4th.

Secondly, the very eldritch congruency of two of the major British comedians of their day, Frankie Howard and Benny Hill, dying within one day of each other.

And finally, the death of Bergman and Antonioni on the same day boggles the mind. And one starts to doubt the premise that these are coincidences, and it seems to one these events are more like eldritch concatenations, linked in series, as if the creative muses wanted to sweep the shelves clean in one massive clearance-sale of talent.

Silverwolf was led to want to make films when he was asked, 40 years ago, by Dmitri Schlesinger, if he’d like to go see an Antonioni marathon being held at the Nuart Cinema on Santa Monica near Sepulveda — four films were being shown: Il Grido, L’Aventura, Eclipse, and The Red Desert (Il Deserto Rosso). Silverwolf had seen L’Aventura on Channel 9 one night after he’d come back from one of those high school dances that were so much fun, and invariably left one in a Romantic mood, which was just the right one for watching foreign films which, unlike their American counterparts, seemed to be almost exclusively about love problems. And boredom.

When Dmitri and Silverwolf stumbled out of the Nuart, almost eight hours later, blinded by the California light, Silverwolf thought he wanted to make films.

After his Italian period, Antonioni seemed to change. The master of reality, shot in black and white, seemed to lose a certain magic in his films the further he moved away geographically and culturally from Italy. “Blow-Up” was nice, the shots showed the usual Antonioni care and instinctual sense for putting the camera where G-d would have put it, but the final statement of the pantomime tennisplayers playing with an imaginary ball, as if he were saying to us, reality is what you think it is, not some immovable reality — a view Silverwolf disputed (and still disputes) —left us with a vague uneasiness, as if the master who had showed us concrete reality, was now disputing the truths he had taught us.

In the  pre-video years that followed, Silverwolf saw “The Red Desert” a dozen times in kinemas. It is perhaps the “greatest” film ever made.

It is hard to recall films after not having seen them for decades. Even after a few years, many of the actual shots and minor business of a film are forgotten by the mind, and one retains at best a few dozen freeze-frame images that one projects in rapid mind slide-show when another wolf or a human mentions a film by name. But Silverwolf remembers that  “Eclipse”, in that one viewing, seemed like a surreal masterpiece, especially in that sequence where Antonioni gives us a 7 or 8 minute movie within a movie, of shots with no dialogue, of pure images of such incredible juxtaposition, that the sense of an intelligence beyond man directing the editing becomes palpable.

A coincidence? I doubt it. Surely an eldritch concatenation.

I’ll howl to that. Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww.       Silverwolf

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