bill morrison – decasia – trailer (2002)

A film by Bill Morrison / Music by Michael Gordon / Blu-Ray Trailer / An Icarus Films Release

Often compared to Stan Brakhage, Bill Morrison created DECASIA entirely with decaying, old found footage, melded to the music of Bang on a Can’s Michael Gordon, performed by the 55 piece basel sinfonietta. The result is a delirium of deteriorated film stock, a moving avant-garde masterpiece that leaves its meaning open to interpretation and, most importantly, your imagination.

“Bill Morrison’s DECASIA is that rare thing: a movie with avant-garde and universal appeal…. Morrison is not the first artist to take decomposing film stock as his raw material, but he plunges into this dark nitrate of the soul with contagious abandon. Few movies are so much fun to describe. Heralded by a spinning dervish, DECASIA’s first movement seems culled from century-old actualitĂ©s: Kimono-clad women emerge from a veil of spotty mold, a caravan of camels is silhouetted against the warped desert horizon, a Greek dancer disintegrates into a blotch barrage, the cars for an ancient Luna Park ride repeatedly materialize out of seething chaos.

“DECASIA is founded on the tension between the hard fact of film’s stained, eroded, unstable surface and the fragile nature of that which was once photographically represented. Michael Snow contrived something similar in the chemical conflagration of his 1991 To Lavoisier, Who Died in the Reign of Terror-in which he purposefully distressed new footage. But Morrison is far more expressionistic. A second opposition arises between the lushly deteriorated images and composer Michael Gordon’s no less textured, increasingly ominous drone. (Unlike Philip Glass’s scores, Gordon’s never overpowers the visual accompaniment-even when it escalates to wall of sound.) A third opposition might be termed ideological.

“On one hand, DECASIA…can be taken as a cautionary advertisement for film preservation. [like] Morrison’s 1996 short THE FILM OF HER, an imaginary romance about the preservation of paper prints in the Library of Congress, celebrating what the archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai calls the “monumental necropolis of precious documents.” On the other hand, DECASIA is founded on a deep aesthetic appreciation for decay. (“Cinema is the art of destroying moving images,” per the gnomic Cherchi Uchai.) The solarization, the morphing, the lysergic strobe effects on which the movie thrives, are as natural as the photographic image itself.

“As DECASIA continues, the calligraphy of decay grows increasingly hallucinatory and catastrophic. The sea buckles. Flesh melts. A boxer struggles against the disintegration of the image. Wall Street is half consumed in flames. A dozen little parachutes dot the cracked sky. A group of nuns traverse a courtyard that frames an Italian landscape in severe perspective, evoking a Renaissance vision of the Last Judgment. DECASIA [seems] Hindu in its awesome spectacle of violent flux. The film is a fierce dance of destruction. Its flame-like, roiling black-and-white inspires trembling and gratitude.” —J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

“I popped Morrison’s video into my VCR and within a few further minutes I found myself completely absorbed, transfixed, a pillow of air lodged in my stilled, open mouth. Now, I’m no particular authority on film, but I do know one-Errol Morris. A short time later, when I happened to be visiting him, I popped the video into his VCR and proceeded to observe as Morrison’s film once again began casting its spell. Errol sat drop-jawed: at one point, about halfway through, he stammered, ”This may be the greatest movie ever made.” —Lawrence Weschler, The New York Times Magazine

“Compelling and disturbing! Swimming symphonies of baroque beauty emerge from corrosive nitrate disintegration as rockets of annihilation demolish cathedrals of reality.” —Kenneth Anger, filmmaker

“A stirring, haunting modern masterpiece…Bill Morrison has created a unique artifact, as enigmatically authoritative as Max Ernst’s collage novel “Une Semaine de BontĂ©.” It makes you think of Joseph Cornell’s memory boxes, Robert Rauschenberg’s time-stuffed assemblages, Anger, Hitchcock. It makes you feel that the art, as opposed to the business, of cinema does have a future – even if it has to be found deep in the past.” —Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

molly drake – i remember (c. 1950s)

Molly Drake (1915 – 1993) was Nick Drake‘s mother – clearly his talent was hereditary. This recording was made during the 1950s at the family home in Tanworth-in-Arden by her husband, Rodney Drake, on a home Ferrograph recorder. A collection of these recordings and poems was released by Bryter Music as a limited privately-pressed edition of 500 copies in 2011. It came out as a single CD with a booklet of poetry housed in a black card portfolio. The album was later released by Squirrel Thing Records in March 2013. The released versions of the recordings were engineered by John Wood and produced by Cally Callomon. John Wood was the sound engineer on her son, Nick Drake‘s albums.

au revoir, jeanne moreau (1928 – 2017)

From Jules et Jim (Directed by François Truffaut, 1962), the song “Le Tourbillon”. The film was directed by François Truffaut and released on January 23, 1962. This song of Cyrus “Boris” Bassiak [aka Serge Rezvani] is interpreted by Catherine [Jeanne Moreau]. Albert on guitar, is none other than songwriter Bassiak / Rezvani. Other roles:
Jules [the short one with blond hair]: Oskar Werner
Jim [the tall one with white shirt]: Henri Serre

According to Wikipedia Rezvani actually wrote this song seven years before, in reference to the couple formed by Jeanne Moreau and his companion at the time, Jean-Louis Richard, who was also Serge’s best friend.

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Elle avait des bagues Ă  chaque doigt, (She had rings on every finger)
Des tas de bracelets autour des poignets, (A profusion of bracelets on her wrists)
Et puis elle chantait avec une voix (And she was singing with such a voice)
Qui sitĂ´t m’enjĂ´la. (That I was at once under her spell)

Elle avait des yeux, des yeux d’opale (She had eyes, eyes of opal)
Qui fascinaient, qui fascinaient, (That fascinated me)
Y avait l’ovale de son visage pâle, (And there was the oval of her pale face)
De femme fatale qui me fut fatale (bis). (That of a”femme fatale” who was fatal to me)

On s’est connus, on s’est reconnus, (We met, we met again)
On s’est perdus de vue, (We lost sight of each other)
on s’est reperdus de vue, (we again lost sight of each other)
On s’est retrouvĂ©s, (We found each other anew)
on s’est rĂ©chauffĂ©s, (We warmed each other)
Puis on s’est sĂ©parĂ©s. (And then we separated)

Chacun pour soi est reparti (We each went our own ways)
Dans le tourbillon de la vie; (In Life’s whirlpool of days)
Je l’ai revue un soir aĂŻe aĂŻe aĂŻe! (One night I saw her again)
Ca fait déjà un fameux bail (bis). (It was such a long time again already)

Au son des banjos je l’ai reconnue, (To the sounds of banjos I recognized her)
Ce curieux sourire qui m’avait tant plu, (This mysterious smile that pleased me so much)
Sa voix si fatale, son beau visage pâle (Her voice so fatal, her beautiful pale face)
M’Ă©murent plus que jamais. (Moved me more than ever)

Je me suis saoulĂ© en l’Ă©coutant, (I drank as I listened to her)
L’alcool fait oublier le temps, (Alcohol removes time’s sting)
Je me suis réveillé en sentant (I awoke as I felt)
Des baisers sur mon front brûlant (bis). (Her kisses on my burning brow)

On s’est connus, on s’est reconnus, (We met each other, we again met)
On s’est perdus de vue, on s’est reperdus de vue, (We lost each other, we lost each other anew)
On s’est retrouvĂ©s, on s’est sĂ©parĂ©s, (We found each other again, we separated)
Puis on s’est rĂ©chauffĂ©s. (And then, we warmed each other)

Chacun pour soi est reparti (We each went our own ways)
Dans le tourbillon de la vie; (In Life’s whirlpool of days)
Je l’ai revue un soir ah la la, (Again I saw her one night)
Elle est retombée dans mes bras (bis). (She fell in my arms anew)

Quand on s’est connus, (When two lovers met)
quand on s’est reconnus, (when they met again)
Pourquoi se perdre de vue, (Why losing sight of each other)
se reperdre de vue, (why losing each other again)
Quand on s’est retrouvĂ©s, (When they found each other)
quand on s’est rĂ©chauffĂ©s, (when they warmed each other)
Pourquoi se séparer? (Why go their separate ways?)

Alors tous deux on est repartis (Thus both of us resumed our ways)
Dans le tourbillon de la vie, (In Life’s whirlpool of days)
On a continué à tourner, (We continued to go round and round)
Tous les deux enlacés (ter). (Both together bound)
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More Jeanne Moreau on Fleurmach here and here.

And this is a WONDERFUL interview, from 2002!