The Unpleasant Dream (IV)
(Gracia's collage above Features scenes from Jean Epstein’s The Faithful Heart (1923), The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna (1929), The Loves of Pharaoh (1922), and Lars Hanson (Preben Wells) and Tora Teje (Irene Charpentier) in Erotikon (1920).)
The Unpleasant Dream (V)
(This one features Anders de Wahl (Professor Leo Charpentier) and Karin Molander (Marthe) in a scene from Erotikon (1920), and Lillian Gish as Anna Moore in D. W. Griffith’s Way Down East (1920).)
Gracia was recently asked by Fjord Review to pen a post about the film Move to Move: Nederlands Dans Theater captured live in HD.
This is a little taste of her response to the film. The full piece you can read posted here on her blog, and here on the Fjord Review. I think it's marvellous. Both her words and the film.
Whilst a film of a performance is second, some could and do say, to the thrill of live performance, there is still much beauty to immerse oneself in, head first, eyes open. There would be no other way of me seeing this performance if not for film. Films of operas, ballets, and plays, allow you to be transported. While I might prefer to see Franz Marc’s The Large Blue Horses (Die großen blauen Pferde was painted in 1911 and is currently in the collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) in person on the wall, looking at a printed version is better than not at all. This is how I used to feel about ballet shown as film: a good compromise. Compromise tied to an essentially affordable ticket price (though a little more than conventional cinema screenings). But Move to Move is more than that, and, to my mind, it is a film in its own right. It exists for more than this.
With six cameras in place to record every muscle twitch, confrontational gaze, and incredible contortion, seeing a performance in this way really does enable you to see all that normally you could not. Every subtle or otherwise movement is magnified, heightening the emotional intensity. It features behind-the-scenes footage of the stage being prepared and the dancers limbering up. It shows patrons checking in their bulky coats at the cloakroom, too, as the crowd masses and theatre fills. This we see before the lights dim and the dancers take to the stage, and it simulates the pre-show buzz that live theatre embraces and encourages. (Many in the movie house on Sunday took this as a chance not to revel in the delicious anticipation but to talk to one another as they wolfed down popcorn. Perhaps, for them, it was too inviting a chance to pass up and they conversed freely as you’d expect were we actually in the theatre. Perhaps they just fancied themselves important.) Front of house and behind the curtain, we are privy to all areas, almost, and this makes for intoxicating fly-on-the-wall stuff. It reminds me of an “elephant-or tiger-cam” in a David Attenborough nature documentary. (Or 2009’s La Danse directed by Frederick Wiseman, which follows the production of seven ballets by the Paris Opera Ballet.) It offers a new entry point, this technique. We get to view the theatre fill, from the position of outsider, before being whisked back stage to view proceedings from a more intimate standing, as an insider. Choreographers and dancers introduce each piece to us, and us alone, it feels. This is no ordinary recording of a performance.
Silent Screen by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Nederlands Dans Theater 1
Left Right Left Right by Alexander Ekman, Nederlands Dans Theater 2