By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
200 – 1131 Howe Street
Writer Samuel Beckett is one of those special talents whose works helped influence several generations. As a playwright, theatre director and poet, the material he penned paved the way for Critic Martin Esslin to coin the term, “Theatre of the Absurd.” This categorization of works shows mankind’s reaction to a world that seems to have no meaning. Either he or she is a puppet controlled or manipulated by outside forces. To see this style get represented in cinema requires a person of vision to explore Beckett’s foray into film. The aptly titled documentary Notfilm by director Ross Lipman will be the spotlight starting this Thursday at The Cinematheque in Vancouver, BC.
The product Beckett made, Film is considered by cinema buffs to be an “interesting failure.”
From the press release:
This ambitious documentary recounts the making of Film, its historical and cultural context, and its philosophical and conceptual underpinnings, with an expansive purview that encompasses the birth of cinema, the nature of consciousness, and Beckett’s larger career. Including interviews, rare archival footage, and never-before-heard audio recordings, Notfilm — so titled because it was shot digitally and not on film — also has conceptual and ontological ideas of it own, which link it in deeper ways to Beckett’s concerns in Film.
— preceded by —
(aka Samuel Beckett’s Film)
USA 1965. Dir: Alan Schneider. 22 min. DCP
Samuel Beckett’s sole foray into film was made with legendary silent comedian (and absurdist fellow-traveller) Buster Keaton and directed, under Beckett’s supervision, by Alan Schneider (who had directed the first American stage production of Waiting for Godot). Keaton is O, a man attempting to evade all extraneous perception of his existence, but unable to escape the inevitability of self-perception. Film was intended as an exploration of 18th-century Irish philosopher George Berkeley’s dictum that esse est percipi — to be is to be perceived. “Dark, witty and fascinating … Intriguing [for] the wholly appropriate casting of Keaton who, in the classic comedies of the ’20s, envisaged a universe notable for its cruel, arbitrary absurdity” (Time Out).