by Bodwyn Wook
We went up thirty-two miles yesterday to Old Mankato, MN, under its dire 1862 Indian hanging-curse, to have my dentist haul out the broken-down castle of yet another crumbling molar, and then in the evening to the cinema to see Alice In Wonderland, the Johnny Depp version that is making a splash just now. We did not see the 3-D version which was already sold out, but rather a later showing. There are a number of flaws: the ending is lame and overdrawn, and there is a bit too much of the usual ‘virtual reality’ type of blighted castles-blasted earth imagery. And, it strikes me that the hues likewise are conventionally those common to this still-early genre. But it is also the case that the directorial act of finding these images, in this new metaxy of mind and software, is not so much ‘creation’ as discovery (NB) of more on more on more, of the never-ending worlds in what Dr Tamm-Clattuc might well call ‘the realms of soul’.
Phillip J, a young burgher of the town, and I agreed that the time is now past-due for a similar treatment of the Jack Vance stories, The Last Castle and Dragon Masters; both of these for a fact would be entirely congenial to the blighted earth-blasted castles-jinxed & decaying Old Mankato imagery of Alice, a Tim Burton film both piquant but as well, by now, a tad visually stale.
So much so is, possibly, the whole body of Jack Vance’s work more than suitable now for a last good try at film treatment (at the present art-state, I mean) that finally, afterward and for good and all, producers of digital animation could hope at least to get beyond this vestibular way of working we see yet once again in Alice; and, at last, to get on with a more differentiated ouevre. There must after all one day come an end to the making of books…into movies at any rate! Evocative texts are as endlessly troublesome to the artist of cinema as they are tempting, at least to that worker who aspires to realise conviction in an audience. A written literature must have always pre-existing huge numbers of mental landscapes already sown in the viewers. These images that so clang and cling are the invincible opponent of the film maker. These are worlds already seen, in other words. So, the composing of an entire new animate literature is, by now, entirely overdue. It is needful above all to get this matter of prior words turfed right out of the artistic film system, be it only in some grand final failure; and, Vance (who doubtlessly worked in his day as a night janitor) surely is the ideal ruler of this threshold. An attempt to film the titles by Vance alluded above of course is more likely to fail than not, but it would the masterwork of animation at this state of the art even to make the effort; and, true apotheosis an it were as thorough possible. To try at least to make lively on-screen the mincing awe-ful wit of Jack Vance would be both an end and a great new beginning indeed: most of all of a re-vitalised digital imagination.
Such valiant failure of the leading art alone is now the order of our brief slight day and era, oh, you artistes; and only your failure be it just colossal can be great enough to clear the way — to that still-unguessed future that dwells on ahead and broods phantasms there, in all the realms of soul-making.
[all text-rights reserved & all others revert to holders
[6 March 2010]