Hello everyone. I’m reading a J.-B. Thoret book about American Cinema in the 1970s, where he uses a structure, an “interpretative framework” I will extract here for you. Could be useful elsewhere, right?
A little physics first :
Action needs energy, and obviously there are 3 cases :
- Perfect symbiosis : the use of the whole disposable energy allows the action to be fulfilled.
- More energy than possible action (or no possible action available), gives explosions or violence, uncontrolled bursts, auto-destruction.
- Not enough energy : loss, frustration, unfulfillment.
Then we can watch American movies with this idea in mind…
But there are questions already! Where does this “energy” come from? The history of the USA, with violence (Indian wars, Civil war, Vietnam war) and unlimited spaces to discover in the West – giving the energy a way to be “used”? The Freudian “sexual” primal energy?
Let’s find branches – strategies of expenditure… – in movies :
- After the frontier, when the “go west” comes to an end (the whole territory is mapped), the energy has to go on moving – the birth of road movies (Easy Rider)- or has to be burned on place – the birth of horror movies.
- The “splendid wilderness” becomes dangerous and full of rednecks and recluses (Easy Rider, Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
- Too much energy becomes toxic : violence. The explosion is near (the beginning of Bonnie & Clyde, Carrie, Taxi Driver).
If the energy is spent…
- In France, in Pierrot le Fou, a character repeats : “What can I do? I don’t know what to do…”. Tired. Qu’est-ce que j’peux faire, j’sais pas quoi faire ?
- In America, she could maybe say : “I don’t know what to do any more“. Exhaustion.
Well, this is very simplistic and chaotic, sorry. Just ideas to be thrown on a table.
What about this energy, again? In single persons or in crowds, society? Groups? What about religion, or terrorism? What happens when movie people become conscious of all this and play with it (Mad Max Fury Road, Kill Bill)?
What is the triad (energy action, too much energy, not enough energy) means in Arts? In painting, poetry, photography? What about love? How to link it to Nietzsche’s Will to Power ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_power ) ?
Thanks for reading!
In an old article I played with this Chinese idea : Instead of pushing towards our “goals” like stupid bulldozers, it’s maybe smarter to use the propensity of things. The “natural tendency to behave in a particular way, to move in a particular direction.”
Stay positive, keep your chin proud and high, move forward soldier, go go go!
But in Afghanistan, guys from the desert kidnap soldiers, cut their arms, legs and penis, put a solid tourniquet on each stumpextremity to keep them alive before giving back the poor body with a head next to a US base with medics. Purpose is not honorable : “Suffer, now, and until you die”. Medicine now is able to keep these men alive…
The ideal propensity of a warrior is to vanquish. The ideal propensity of a couple is to live in rich harmony (sex, hobbies, communication). The ideal propensity of fast cars is to make the knight-driver feel powerful and to go home faster, you go boy!
Tendencies and propensities have a dark side, Darth, though. The dark propensity of a soldier is trauma, to die or to be wounded. The dark propensity of a couple is drama or worse : manipulation, misunderstandings and boredom. The dark propensity of fast cars is accidents and consequences : death, hospital, disability.
What’s the dial? To watch all paths? Not being angelic? Cut the wrong ways up? Be attentive? Consider other assumptions?
OK : pay attention. That’s good.
I continue watching a BBC documentary (BBC – Seven Ages of Rock), an episode about Punk Rock. They showed pretty well what was under it. The Ramones or Television as a source. A will against virtuosity and special effects. Raw rock energy, like a angrier faster sixties rock&roll.
Interviews of the guys and journalists of this era were pretty funny. I remember the leader of the Buzzcocks taling about this song “Boredom” and its guitar solo made of two stupid notes tatee-tatee in an endless boring loop…
Sex Pistols‘ slogan was “No Future”, and obviously it was the case. But how to get out of this crabs’ nest??
It led to this : No fun. Wikipedia tells it pretty well :
On 14 January 1978, during the tour’s final date in San Francisco, a disillusioned Rotten introduced the band’s encore saying, “You’ll get one number and one number only ’cause I’m a lazy bastard.” That one number was a Stooges cover, “No Fun”. At the end of the song, Rotten, kneeling on the stage, chanted an unambiguous declaration, “This is no fun. No fun. This is no fun—at all. No fun.” As the final cymbal crash died away, Rotten addressed the audience directly—”Ah-ha-ha. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night”—before throwing down his microphone and walking offstage. He later observed, “I felt cheated, and I wasn’t going on with it any longer; it was a ridiculous farce.
The band split, Sid Vicious died of overdose. No Future.
Another group (The Clash) used Punk energy and injected reggae or rockabilly in it. They became stars.
It’s an interesting pattern, right? How do you use big thrust? Do you let it flow the fields? Do you let it burn itself in insanity? Do you channel it? Do you feed it with external elements? Like what? Curbing? Surprises? Taming?
Thanks for reading!
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