Reality and its Shadow. A Short Film by by Jacopo Benci.
What do we watch? An escape from a cocoon, a strip-tease (with the accent on the second syllable), or a form of rebirth. Or are all ironised, all resisting our attempts at totality, resisting the imposition of a totalising narrative.
Scratched black painted wood. Nature transformed into culture but no longer beautiful. Both the texture and the occult message it carries are something we return to throughout the main sequence; this texture is repeated throughout in the colouring and quality of the clothes and other materials featured. This aspect is also foregrounded in sound, in the eerie presence of rasping sounds, the scraping of rough textures (the treatment of sound echoes the treatment of the image); rebarbative, slightly uncomfortable yet interesting (evoking an uncanny 'negative' pleasure).
Denial of 'nice' sounds, of an overall 'nice' sound quality, as of 'nice' materials, yet such is the set, the bare boards, of a theatre (and this piece is performed on an actual stage as well as being presented as a framed image-stage). Neither is there a 'nice' aestheticised, stereotypically attractive, body presented as the course layers are peeled-off, this 'tease' offers not an imaginary (fantasy body) but an actual body. In this, the advertised world, this especially is difficult to do; to show the female form in a form that can resist the received frames offered by (sexual) fantasy and advertising. This video achieves this: and so redeems or answers (responds to the question of) Tarkovsky's use of 'the rolling female' in his films - his gender representations being open to question regarding dominant female stereotypes (or myths) most particularly as used in existentialist-themed films (in Wenders too) - such actions deem the spectator male, and world as his domain. Beyond simple sexual fantasy and the self-stultifying recognition in the mirror of domination.
Slow slide up or down. A fallen world. A person falling - or rising - and how do we tell? Slow-motion fall and strip; a second dimension of narrative: the unclothing (first was the movement across as a figurative rise or fall). Unclothing a temporal dimension regarding the ambiguity of forwards or backwards. Is it a slow-motion rewind of a film that we watch, where time goes backwards? Again there is an essential ambiguity, suggestion (or aporia). In which case (the first part of the film is the reversal of a person getting dressed) both segments are in a relation of repetition; we have, in the final part, a variation not a reversal. Other the genre clash (of the two parts) complement one another, the motion in one genre is completed, that is reversed, in the other. Coda in real time.
Meaning? Obviously. Adorno and resistance through aesthetic discomfort; base for questioning. Otherwise put (for we are on stage); a Brechtian alienation effect. The unnaturalness of art (and beauty, 'niceness', comes from nature) as art's true subject. The meaning (or politics of content, form and expression) comes after.
Copyright, Peter Nesteruk, 2003.