The World Forgetting by the World Forgot

Alexander PopeIn the poem Eloisa to Abelard, Alexander Pope wrote:

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.

I know this, not because I’m big into 18th century poetry. I know it because it is quoted in one of my favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is an interesting literary allusion. The poem tells the story of young Eloisa and her teacher Abelard. They fall in love and secretly marry. But when her family find out, they castrate Abelard. They spend the rest of the poem trying to get over the fact that they are completely screwed. As the quote above indicates, it is about acceptance and memory, or lack there of. In a general sense, the film is about these issues. But the story of a young woman falling in love with a wise older man is in both the film and the poem. And in both cases, it does not go well. Of course, Abelard does much worse than Howard Mierzwiak.

This evening, I watched the film again. It has been a while. It is such a delight. But I saw the film in a different way than I have previously. This time, the story of Mary and Howard was much more important. It demonstrated that forgetfulness deprives ourselves of the ability to learn and grow. Without it, we will continue to make the same mistake over and over. This might work for Eloisa and Abelard, because their problems are imposed from without, but the rest of us are dealing with mostly self-inflicted problems.

It is only with the Mary and Howard story that the ending can be seen as anything other than a tragedy. Because Mary offers them the ability to see where their previous relationship ended, they can (hopefully) learn and grow into a better relationship this time.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

23 thoughts on “The World Forgetting by the World Forgot

  1. hey frank,

    no criticisms here, i loved "eternal sunshine. . ." too, and was wondering if you happened to see charlie kaufman’s directorial debut: "synecdoche, ny". . .if so, what did you think of it? if not, i think you’d appreciate it?

    cheers!

  2. @karl – ESotSM is a great film–always in my list when people ask me what my favorite films are (and the most recent, I think). I wanted to write more about the film, but I was tired. I may come back to it, because it has about 5 realities that impact on each other in interesting ways.

    My experience is that great writers make excellent but not great directors. But Kaufman may break that rule because his writing is more cinematic than say Tony Gilroy (who I quite like and whose father’s films were all sadly "out of print" the last time I checked). I ordered *Synecdoche, New York*. I’ll be sure to write about it. Thanks for the tip.

    Now I’m wondering about what I said about writers becoming directors. An exception would seem to be Francis Coppola. However, I don’t really think of him as a great filmmaker, even though he directed one of my favorite films, the intensely great and probably perfect *The Conversation*. I’ll have to think about this and write about it in more depth.

  3. frank,

    yes, you have a valid point. I would say that, in general, writers are often *not* very good filmmakers. however, I think it’s usually novelists & (certain) playwrights who tend to have a harder time dealing with the medium of film. I think they don’t really understand the ‘craft’? and this sometimes extends (paradoxically) to include some screenwriters too? I think it has to do with how writer’s ‘think’ as opposed to how a filmmaker does? perhaps more ‘verbally’ than ‘visually’?

    now, all that aside. I do *not* think you’ll be disappointed with Synecdoche, NY? personally, i think Kaufman proved himself to be a *more* than competent filmmaker? however, it was a criminally neglected, and highly over-looked film, and a bit polarizing too, so there’s always the chance you might not enjoy the film the same way i did? but for some reason, I just get a feeling you’ll like it, just a ‘sense’ i have-but i could be wrong, i’ve been so before.

    I will also say: i’d encourage multiple viewings of the film, it really is *that* kind of movie.

    ah, once again we have no argument. i’ve always thought Francis Coppola a bit over-rated as a filmmaker-BUT, the odd thing is, the movies he is most lauded for are the one’s i like the least, and the one’s that are almost ignored (like "The Conversation"-I agree, a terrific film-and a *very* astute use of cinema) are the one’s I like the best. also, Coppola may have ‘got his foot in the door’ by writing, but he *always* thought of himself as a filmmaker (and started out by making his own films as a kid)-so i think that’s perhaps why he would be a stand out exception?

    ok, hope you enjoy ‘Synecdoche, NY’?

  4. P.S.

    Here’s a ‘writer’ turned ‘director’ that has some hits and misses: Paul Schrader, if you wanted another example to ‘think over’-he tends to work better with scripts he’s written himself, but even then it’s no guarantee.

    also, i wanted to comment on Tony Gilroy-I’m familiar with him as a screenwriter (not as a filmmaker tho, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of his father’s films either and so can’t really comment) but I would say he’s definitely a good example of a more ‘conventional’ screenwriter (and i don’t mean to sound ‘snarky’), but i think you ‘nailed it’ by saying that Kaufman’s work is more overtly ‘cinematic’ and think that *is* why he ended up doing a good job?

  5. @karl – I will certainly let you know about Synecdoche. And I’ll give it a few views. In general, I don’t like writing about a film without seeing it a number of times, but sometimes I do because I’m not willing to watch clear trash a bunch of times.

    As I said, I’m going to have to think about this theory of mine. I think what I’m trying to get to the bottom of is why I don’t think John Huston is a great filmmaker, even though he was consistently wonderful. It is probably that I over-value flashes of brilliance (e.g. Welles). And that seems unfair, especially when you consider what Huston left us compared to what Welles left us. However, I still get very excited watching Welles and I just (Just!) enjoy myself watching Huston.

    Probably I’m just some pretentious freak.

  6. @karl – I’m not that fond of Paul Schrader as a writer or director, but I’m not as familiar with him as a director as I should be. However, I think he did an amazing job of bringing Joe Connelly’s "Bringing Out the Dead" to the screen. It is a terribly underrated film. Strangely, I tend to like the Scorsese films that others don’t like. And vice versa.

    You are right about Gilroy. If you can find Frank Gilroy’s "The Gig" on tape, check it out. He was mostly a playwright, but he was truly an independent filmmaker. Nothing brilliant, just a damn good storyteller.
    Hmm. That gives me an idea for an article…

  7. oh, i agree: one shouldn’t watch absolute rubbish multiple times. if you find the film to be rubbish, you need watch it only once, but i think you’ll like it? i’m a multiple viewer too, but some people *hate* when they hear someone say ‘this film should be watched more than once’, because to them it means: ‘the movie is boring & dull’ and if they do watch it, they do so like taking medicine while holding their nose, and that’s no way to see a film, anyway. . .

    I know what you mean about Huston and Welles. I think what it is, is that we probably enjoy the ‘boldness’ ‘risks’ and ‘chances’ that Welles took, i like that quality too (if that’s unfair, so be it) and it didn’t always work for Welles either-I’m in almost total agreement with the ‘order’ you placed Welles’ films in, I think we have just a couple differences there, so?. . .Huston, I love Huston too-and he was indeed a great filmmaker. But he didn’t quite take the same ‘risks’ that Welles did, did he? he was most adventurous and took his own kind of ‘risks’, but not those ‘chancy’ artistic risks, risks that could lead to mockery and derision, the way Welles did; and I think that’s what makes Welles more of an ‘interesting’ filmmaker-people tend to respect artists who take big risks like that, and Welles was also a bit of an underdog, and many people liked that too (and if all that makes me ‘pretentious’, i guess I sometimes I am?). . .anyway that’s always been my take. I think The Maltese Falcon is quite good, and Treasure of the Sierra Madre I think is *very* good indeed (I love it!); still- I don’t get that same feeling as when I watch "Touch of Evil" or "Mr. Arkadin" even with their faults- i get a sense of exhilaration, something ‘exciting’ and magical’ is taking place-even more so with "F for Fake" (oh, and I actually tried to get "The Other Side of the Wind" released, finished editing-what have you-at the time it was being held up by a Persian fellow who owned the rights, or that’s what we were told at the distribution company I worked for, and I really wanted to get that film! finally my boss said it was ‘hopeless’-this was 2003-4? things could be different now?, somehow I doubt it? of course Steven Spielberg could get the money to release it anytime, if he wanted to, I wouldn’t hold my breath tho). . .but you’re right about being ‘confused’ on this issue, it’s not that simple-I remember someone asked me which film I thought was the ‘better American film’ Citizen Kane or The Searchers (I know it’s really a ridiculous question, and The Searchers is John Ford, not Huston, but). . .I really couldn’t answer it, because there’s a case to be made for both in my opinion; and there are ‘issues’ to be had with each. . .so, it’s not that simple.

    Well, I probably like more Scorsese films than you? I saw Taxi Driver at just the ‘right’ age where it connected with my reptilian adolescent mind, and I felt a lot like Travis Bickle back then-so, we’d have a disagreement on that-. . .however, I also thought "Bringing Out The Dead" was a *very* underrated, overlooked film, I enjoyed it repeatedly and (since I also like Taxi Driver) my personal opinion is that Schrader writes best when he’s writing for Scorsese, since you don’t like his writing, the rest of the issue’s moot. . .

    Thanks for the tip on "The Gig"! I will definitely try and track a copy down. I’ll also try and see if I can sniff out any of Frank Gilroy’s films at all, if I do I’ll let you know. . .I’m curious. I like good storytellers, that’s, like, more than half the craft right there!

  8. ahh, I know this poem too.. really amazing.. I can’t find any brilliant poetry like this today.. Don’t know why..
    anyway, your article is great..

  9. @karl – Don’t take my opinions as cut and dried. I like just about all of Scorsese; it is just that certain films don’t affect me the way they do other people. Also, there was a time when he over-used the steadicam; it made me sea sick. Taxi Driver is a great film, but so dark that I can barely face it. Here I’m not talking about the violence; it really is the issue of fame. That end scene where Betsy gets into Travis’ cab is downright chilling.

    Let me leave it with the fact that I think Goodfellas is terribly overrated. And it makes me sea sick.

    Simon Callow has an interesting take on Welles. He claims that Welles was an experimenter. He didn’t finish many films because that wasn’t what he was interested in. I don’t think this is entirely right, but there is something to it. There is no question that he could make regular films as well as anyone at that time. I like that his last film (as far as I can tell) was still pushing the art. You can’t say that of many artists.

    That’s cool that you were involved with trying to get tOSotW released. My understanding is that there are no legal issues remaining. It is just that Oja Kodar doesn’t want a repeat of Don Quixote and she’s looking for someone to pony up a million or so to finish the film right. I am with her on that. Don Quixote makes me sad.

    I only really know Frank Gilroy because of a filmmaking book I read many years ago. I can’t find the title, however.

  10. Frank.,

    Ah, ok. I understand what you’re talking about with Scorsese. Though, I did enjoy ‘Goodfellas" to a certain extent (also viewing it at 16 probably helped? there is something rather appealing to a juvenile sensibility i notice, ha-i don’t know?) but I can certainly understand and appreciate your criticism of his use of the Steadicam (which I think is HIGHLY overused in general, especially nowadays! in addition, almost no one seems to want to ‘lock down’ their cameras anymore? I don’t know what that’s about either-there’s always a moving camera these days-i think filmmakers ‘think’ it looks ‘realistic’ or. . .whatever? it just looks sloppy and lazy to me, for the most part anyway). . .oh, and I totally agree with you about the ‘chilling effect’ of the end of Taxi Driver, the transformation of the Betsey character into her sudden ‘interest’ in Bickle is frightening indeed, in addition: you just *know* Travis is going to ‘go off’ again, it’s a ticking time bomb of an ending. . .but then, that ‘darkness’ is what i enjoy about the film. but i get your point, as there are certain films I love, but have trouble ever watching again, because the prospect seems to be overwhelming emotionally.

    That is indeed an interesting theory from Simon Callow. I would say that I agree to a certain extent with what he says as well, and it’s kinda what i was getting at with the difference between Huston and him, however I think of Welles more as an iconoclast, than experimenter (tho, i s’poss one could argue the point?) I think he liked to work ‘within’ a system, then smash it from within. sadly he was barred from the Hollywood system for so long, it almost seemed criminal, but i think being an iconoclast is what he enjoyed most of all?

    Oh, wow! The rights are all worked out for tOSotW? How’d ya find out? That’s a relief, because that seemed to be a really ‘nebulous’ area from which i couldn’t seem to make any ground or headway? I didn’t even know who the "Persian guy" was-I just kept meeting ‘road blocks’. We corresponded with Oja, but she could only send us (at the time) a tape of little clips of Welles, unfinished and half finished films and certain parts of tOSotW (pretty much, if you saw the extras on the Criterion of F-for Fake, then you saw almost everything she had to offer at the time?) the distro company i worked for was (friendly?) with Criterion, they would get the films that were too expensive for us to pick up; so at the time it was pretty reasonable to just ‘walk away’ because there would be no way we could have gotten a million or so dollars to restore and distribute that thing-however, i’d think the Criterion Collection would actually have that money, they always seem to? I also know what happened with Don Quixote, to a limited extent, Welles was working at the time (in Spain) with the (notorious) underground/soft-core/semi-hard core pornographer/exploitation/sleaze/shock-horror director Jesus Franco-and somehow. . .somehow Franco was able to acquire that film to ‘edit’ and ‘restore’ as he saw fit. . .as you can tell from the results, he’s NOT a very good or even ‘crafty’ filmmaker. . .it really is a shame how that turned out.

  11. @karl – I just wrote about John Avildsen. One thing about Scorsese is that he too fails on his own terms. My biggest complaint about him is not really about him at all. If he isn’t doing violence, people tend to ignore him. I thought *After Hours* was brilliant. The same thing about *Age of Innocence*. *Kundun* was a masterpiece. For that matter, I thought he was really onto something in *Casino*. The film was mostly failure, but I still think he was onto something with that narration. Frankly, I think he finally decided to give up on that film. But another year of editing and it might have been something. Let there be no mistake however, he is scary talented.

    I don’t really get *Raging Bull*. I appreciate it, but I still don’t see the big deal. On the other hand, *Taxi Driver* is great. It is important. But I can’t watch it much. I think the last time I saw it was at the 20th anniversary when it was back in theaters. Maybe I should revisit it. But it is not a pleasant experience. You are right: Travis is a ticking time bomb.

    I think Callow has a bit of an ax to grind, because Welles did make a number of anti-gay remarks throughout his life, and I don’t think Callow has yet to forgive him. Nonetheless, I really like his biographies and I’m eager to read the third.

    Amazingly, all my info about tOSotW is from Wikipedia which has done a good job of keeping up to date on it. It seems every time Peter Bogdanovich gives an interview he provides updated information.

    Yes, you would think CC could find the money. As it is, I think the UCLA film school came up with a cool million to restore Othello. But maybe tOSotW will require more than that, because the million didn’t go that far with Othello.

    And one final though: Oja Kodar was still one of the most beautiful women in the world at 60. I haven’t seen a picture of her since *One Man Band*. Most beautiful women don’t age well. Maybe she has a haggish portrait stored somewhere.

  12. @karl – PS: I would like to see tOSotW in a theater. Much of what is available of the film is very dark and is not going to transfer well to TV. So I hope it is coming to a theater near me.

  13. @Frank,

    Yes, I was going to comment on Avildson, but I haven’t seen enough of his work. I am curious however, to know how the director of "Joe" (a film I’ve enjoyed very much) ended up making things like "The Karate Kid" (a film I was never very fond of), perhaps it was just that whole 70s era thing? He really has made some solid work back then.

    I think you’re right about Scorsese? In fact, I know you are. I have a number of friends who I think (though they wouldn’t admit it) are always disappointed when one of his films *isn’t* violent, or violent enough. "After Hours" is one of my favorite Scorsese films. I saw it on cable tv late at night when I was an adolescent, and it made such a huge impression on me that, I’m still inspired by it to this day. Do you know about the "plagiarism" case against the film? Apparently, the writer of "After Hours" plagiarized large portions from the radio broadcaster/writer Joe Frank (have you heard Joe Frank? I find him an inspiring ‘story-teller’, I think you’d like him?), I don’t really know what happened with the ‘case’? I do know I’ve had a hell of a time finding "After Hours" on DVD, I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with plagiarism? I’ve not seen "Kundun", but I always wanted to. I too enjoyed "Age of Innocence", a film most people I know think is one they claim ‘doesn’t resemble a Scorsese film" and that he ‘sold out’ with it-of course, I complete disagree, I think it looks exactly how a Scorsese ‘period piece’ (*much* better than ‘Gangs of New York’, I was pretty disappointed with that one). As for ‘Raging Bull’, I like the film quite a bit, to me it’s more about this ‘wild man’ dropped into a world of domestic human beings. However, I completely understand your issue with it. I too thought it to be an overrated picture, and don’t understand why people go on and on about it. It’s like when I hear people ‘going-on’ about the brilliance of ‘The Godfather" films (parts one and two); I like those films too, but I still don’t see exactly what all the ‘hub-bub’s about? I think they’re a bit over-rated too?

    Huh, I had no idea Welles made *any* statements about homosexuals? The only thing I remember him saying re: homosexuals was, he chose Perkins for Josef K. because of how ‘uncomfortable’ he looked around women. Him being ‘closeted’ helped heighten the performance, according to Welled. But then, I can’t imagine it was anything like *that* Callow is referring to? 1) I agree with Welles! It *did* make the performance better, he *does* look uncomfortable around women in films. And 2) it isn’t really a denigration of homosexuals/homosexuality, not to my mind. Plus, I’ve always thought Welles to be quite liberal/leftist, so have a hard time imaging he’d say anything too ‘homophobic’-but, he was from a different generation, so I also wouldn’t be too surprised.

    Yeah, I’d think the CC would have the money to plunk down for tOSotW-in addition, there are a plethora of filmmakers (esp. wealthy ones) who claim Welles is their favorite filmmaker and inspired them, all who’re pretty ‘tight pursed’ on the matter-but I’d imagine if someone really wanted to put the money down for tOSotW, they could make it happen? Compared to the price of most ‘productions’, it’s pretty low. Even if the price tag goes into the tens of millions.

    I know exactly what you mean about Oja, it’s unbelievable to me that she was the age she was in ‘One Man Band’ (that’s the last time I saw her too)-you’re right attractive women generally don’t age too well. I’ve noticed women who are ‘plain’ or not terribly ‘attractive’ when young sometimes become much more unique and attractive looking as they age? A good case in point is Tilda Swinton.

  14. @karl – I don’t know about that aspect of Welles. What I gather is that he often complained about gay men coming on to him when he was young. You are right, he was a liberal minded man in pretty much all senses of the word.

    I don’t understand the money thing either. When Welles came back to Hollywood after the AFI gave him the Lifetime Achievement award, he still found that no one was willing to provide financial support for his films. Award? Yes! Money? No!

    He was trying to fund "Cradle Will Rock" about the strike they had when trying to put on that play. After he died the film got made without him, of course. I can’t get myself to watch it.

    I would think they could finish OSotW for $5 million. Or something like it. We aren’t talking about a lot of money in this context. Hopefully soon.

    I didn’t know anything about the lawsuit, but thanks for the tip about Joe Frank. I will check him out.

  15. @Frank-I think your suggestion about Welles ‘complaining’ of gay men coming onto him, when young and working in the theater, seems the most plausible? Though (as we both agree) Welles was a pretty liberal guy. I could still see that being something he would talk about.

    Yeah, that is the most perplexing question (re:Welles): Why does Hollywood ‘fawn over’ Welles, while at the same time never helping him finish his films? It’s something I’ve heard ever since I was interested in films/filmmaking. I still don’t know what the problem is? I’ve heard a number of ‘guesses’ and ‘thoughts’ on it, but nothing substantial or what sounded like a reasonable answer to me? I think it’s a combination of things. Some were jealous of Welles, others liked the fact he made ‘Citizen Kane’ but didn’t want him to make anything else-so they could label him a ‘failure’/’once promising boy genius’, etc., and still others merely couldn’t stand him (admittedly he was a perfectionist, and known to be ‘gruff’ with the people he worked with, and to some people he was hard to like). But, all of that can be found in nearly any filmmaker/director, so why Welles? I have yet to figure it out. I still remember being told a story (can’t remember who told it) and it’s most like apocryphal, but it seems indicative of Hollywood’s issue with Welles: I was told that Welles was invited out to dinner by Steven Spielberg (that’s why I brought him up before), at that time he had had a number of hits (starting with ‘Jaws’) and was already ‘flush with cash’ and could almost ‘do no wrong’ in Hollywood, Welles asked him for enough money just to finish OSotW and to get it back into his ‘control’, Spielberg sort of ‘hemmed and hawed’ never committed to it one way or the other and dragged his heels until, eventually, Welles passed away. Then, Spielberg paid the highest ‘bid’ for an original prop of ‘rosebud’ being auctioned off, because he loved and was influenced by ‘Citizen Kane’. Now, like I said, who knows how much of this story is true? But, to me, it seems very much the kind of ‘attitude’ most people had towards Welles. Like you stated: give Welles an award? Yes! Help Welles finish his last movie? Nah! And, oddly enough it still seems to persist (in some form) to this day. Also like you said, when Welles was looking for financing for ‘Cradle Will Rock’ it was nowhere to be found, as soon as he died-green light! Ha, it’s *very* peculiar to me, and there is definitely *something* about Welles that made Hollywood treat him in such a foul way. BTW, I did see ‘Cradle Will Rock’, you’re not missing much-not a terrible movie-but I couldn’t help thinking what Welles would have done with it the whole time I watched it.

    I forgot to comment on what you said about the ‘darkness’ of the clips of OSotW. I agree, from everything I’ve seen it *does* look dark and if that’s the case (hell, even if it *wasn’t* the case) I really want to see it in the theater-it also seems to be a film *made* to be seen in film, in a theater. But, there could be a possibility that the portions we’ve seen thus far are ‘dark’ because they’re poor transfers, or they could be (and look like) very ‘rough edits’ and so not much care was given to how ‘dark’ they looked? But those are just ‘guesses’.

    Ah, the lawsuit with ‘After Hours’ was something (relatively) new to me too. I’d always heard there was ‘something’ about the film that got it in ‘legal troubles’, but I never knew what? It’s a pretty interesting story. Definitely check out some Joe Frank shows when you have some time. I learned of him in 2001, when they’d play an hour of him on my local ‘publicly sponsored’ radio station. I’d never heard of him before either, he’s somewhere between ‘an absurdist’ and ‘surrealist’-but always an interesting listen.

  16. @karl – I have a couple of thoughts on how Hollywood treated Welles at the end. It is primarily about fear. Your average millionaire director isn’t going to pony up his own money. Mostly, it just isn’t done that way. Or so they would tell themselves. This left him with (no doubt) lots of meetings with the money men at the studios. They would love to be attached to a prestige project, but again, fear would stop them. Sure, someone might be named genius because they funded the project but no one would lose their jobs if they passed on it.

    There is also the fact that Welles had a reputation as brilliant but difficult. What’s more, there was this myth about him not finishing films. I don’t understand this. There was "The Deep" but that wasn’t finished because the star died. Given how Welles worked, it was necessarily the case that films were going to sit around for a while. If he waited until he had funding he would have completed 1/3 the number of films he did and they wouldn’t have been as great.

    You must have seen his speech at the AFI, because at least some of it is on "One Man Band." He is charming as hell as the older and sadder wonder boy. I suspect that he was equally charming at all those meetings. But for nothing. In a sense, his hanging around in Hollywood trying to get money shows what his entire career showed: he didn’t understand Hollywood and they didn’t understand him.

    But it is not just him. Look at all the trouble Akira Kurosawa had mounting productions at the end of his life. (There are many others and it is hard not to think of D. W. Griffith, who despite his flaws was the most important filmmaker ever.) That was a bad time for film artists in a monetary sense, even thought it was clearly a great time in an artistic sense. (Interesting, Coppola is funding his own films via his wine profits.)

    Regarding the gay issue with Welles, I know a lot of guys who are really good, liberal minded people who freak out at any gay guys they think of as hitting on them. I understand. I might have felt the same way if I ever felt attractive enough to think anyone was hitting on me. Whatever it was, it seems to have scarred Welles, because he talked about it for a long time.

    You are doubtless right on OSotW (maybe I’ll just call it "Wind" from now on). Those could have been his work prints. They look dirty. However, it does seem that the film will be dark. One scene is during a screening. The sex-truck scene is at night. The directors talking are in a dark room. We know the last act of the film takes place at night at a drive-in. But I think the videos we have make it look much worse.

    I will check out Joe Frank. Given that there was a lawsuit, I assumed his work had to be at least somewhat bent.

    Check out the new sitemap and article links on the right. I spent all day writing php to get that to work automatically. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Keeping the sitemap up to date was a pain.

  17. @Frank-ah, I just noticed this about your post: wasn’t the title of ‘the puppet street play’ scene in ‘Being John Malkovich’ called: "Abelaard and Heloise-a love story"? If so, it seems Alexander Pope was quite the influence on Kaufman, and makes me wanna know what else there might be in his work?

    Regarding your speculations on ‘Hollywood and Welles’, I think you are pretty much right on the money? It’s amazing how easily the ‘money people’ of Hollywood will *always* take (whatever) the easiest path/ road is. It’s not a surprise to me, I’ve seen/heard of it happen a lot. However, while yes it’s true directors (even big name, high salaried ones) don’t ‘usually’ put up their own finances for films, I’d think in this particular instance (with all the ‘showering of affection’ and declarations of Welles being an ‘inspiration’) I’d think at least a few directors would’ve rallied together, in solidarity with their fellow filmmaker, to help fund a ‘difficult filmmaker’ and his last film (I’ll use ‘Wind’ as well), that angle I really don’t understand. But, I think you’re illumination of ‘fear’ as a primary factor, is as close to an answer as one is able to find?

    Ah, yes I know exactly what you mean about even a ‘liberal minded’ guy fearing to be ‘hit on’ by a gay man. I worked (very briefly) for a theater group in Atlanta, the majority of the crew were gay. I was quite young at the time, and one of the men ‘hit on me’ (by no means was I a hot/model type, ha, I think my youth was the primary interest?), at the time, I can honestly say, I took no offense to it, only regarded it as a compliment-a boost to the ego because it felt good to be found attractive, regardless of the fact I was heterosexual. However, the more I worked there, the more they got comfortable (I suppose?) and groups of them began ‘ogling’ me while I worked on designing and painting sets. I remember thinking: this must be the way women feel when a group of men do the same to them, unsolicited? However, these incidents started happening every day, and I can truly say, at the time, I felt very uncomfortable. And it culminated in an incident during one of our ‘production parties’ where one of the guys tried to grope me, and I genuinely felt angered and a bit scared (one particular guy was quite a bit bigger than I was)-so, if Welles’ experience was remotely similar (and I can only imagine he underwent more, as he worked in that milieu longer and as one of the ‘actors’) than I can much better understand how he might feel ‘scarred’. I certainly felt ‘scarred’ at the time myself. Looking back now of course, I can see how pretty benign the incident was and how it played more on my own fears and insecurities. But since you’ve told me more about what happened, I think I can understand his POV a little better?

    You’re probably correct about the light quality of ‘Wind’? I was just speculating based on what I’d seen and based on other films I’ve seen poorly transferred to tape; and for certain parts I think it may be the case? However, I think on a whole it’s as you say, a lot of the scenes are ‘shot to be dark’ more than being poor transfers. In addition, the transfers I saw of those scenes from ‘Wind’ (before CC put out the ‘One Man Band’ extra) were much worse and looked even darker, so i also imagine CC did as good a job transferring them as possible, yet still they look quite dark-hence, I think the light quality will lean towards the ‘dark’.

    Ha, yeah, yeah that is a very good description of Joe Frank’s work-‘bent’. A *very* good description!

    Yeah, I dig the new ‘sitemap’ and article links. They’re easy to access and work fast. Great job man. Actually, it should help me access these posts much easier.

  18. @karl – My thinking on Hollywood has been shaped largely by "You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again" and William Goldman’s two books. Probably the most shocking, but useful information, is that new studio heads will make sure that films already in the pipeline fail because they won’t get credit for them–in fact, a success would embarrass them. Careers can be destroyed for the sake of one person’s short lived career as a studio head. It reminds me of politicians who make all these compromises to get power so they can do what they think is right. But when they have the power they continue to make compromises to hold onto the power that they won’t use because it might cause them to lose it. But power you don’t use is not really power. Whatever.

    I also think there is a real "team" mentality in Hollywood where they know who’s in and who’s out. To support someone like Welles would be to admit that their whole philosophy is wrong. Look at how they turned on *Citizen Kane* just because Hearst didn’t like it.

    Of course, this isn’t specific to Hollywood. I’ve written in detail about businesses I’ve worked for. It is funny how people talk about how private businesses are so efficient. This is not the truth at all. Decisions are normally based on office politics that would make a dysfunctional family look brilliant. I was recently at a place where 3 years of work was destroyed because it was created under the old CTO. And it more or less destroyed the company. Sound familiar?

    Men are pigs, so it is natural to fear them (us). Also, I suspect that things were worse when homosexuality was so taboo. Now I think my gay friends are about the most stable people I know–often aggravatingly stable. I think defining people as criminals and outcasts makes them behave poorly–or at least makes it so only those who behave badly are noticed. I don’t think any of this makes someone anti-gay. If a heterosexual woman doesn’t like being harassed, it doesn’t make her anti-male.

    I’ve thought about the clips Welles brought to the AFI. I doubt he would have touched the negatives. Most likely he would have just made a copy of the work print. Or, knowing Welles, I can see him using the work print. I doubt we’re even seeing negative transfers on "One Man Band." For one thing, I saw that film when the director was making the rounds at the festivals. I don’t think CC did anything. I think he just got the prints Welles had used at AFI from Oja Kodar. I’m speculating, but they don’t look too good. It was nice that they put it on the release of *F for Fake*. In fact, I think they did a great job with that release. DVDs can be their own art form, and they really created something special on that one.

    The sitemap has made it really easy to get to this article! That was half the reason for creating it. I was sick of going to the archive and trying to remember which month this article was in! (I was also tired to trying to keep the old sitemap up to date.)

  19. @Frank-I read "You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again" too, really enjoyed it, and it’s probably pretty accurate? I haven’t read Goldman’s books, but I’d assume he definitely knows what he’s talking about? I’d like to read them one day too. My own ‘view’ on Hollywood was formed, by and large, from people I knew who’d worked there, working (on the very fringes) of the business on the east coast (and the scraps of ‘information/gossip’ I picked up there), and memoirs like "You’ll Never Eat Lunch…"

    As far as Welles, your theory on Hollywood ‘choosing teams’ I think is the main issue with him? Above all, it seemed there was always an element of ‘he’s not on our side’ mentality taking place-or at least that’s the feeling I always got when trying to figure out why there seemed to be this weird ostracism of someone largely considered to be a ‘genius’?

    You’re right about the scenes from ‘Wind’ as well. I don’t think Welles ever touched the negatives, that’s partly why I thought they could be improved. I thought perhaps once the negatives were ‘cleaned up’, they may look a bit brighter (I understand many of the scenes are shot dark, so there’s only a certain amount to be done there). But, yeah if one has only ‘rough-work prints’ there’s only a limited amount of ‘restoration’ to be done, no doubt about it. I hadn’t seen ‘One Man Band’ before it was an ‘extra’ on the CC box, since you did and it looked the same, I’ve no doubt they didn’t touch it. I saw only a few ‘scenes’ (mostly the same) from Welles’ unseen works, they were from Oja Kodar, so there’s no doubt that’s where the maker of ‘OMB’ got his clips. They looked pretty rough then too. But I also saw them on VHS so it was hard to determine if it was the ‘transfer’ or the ‘copy’ to tape? I completely agree with you about CC and DVDs, in fact I think many products could be ‘art form’? LPs and even (to a certain extent) CDs can be art forms? Unfortunately most of the producers of don’t think that way, so they’re usually generic and/or uninspired. Perhaps, since the internet (though I’m always hoping for this-and am continually disappointed), there’ll be more places creating ‘interesting’ and ‘artistic’ products? CC does a tremendous job with their output, head and shoulders above the rest.

    Oh yeah, you’re right about homosexuals being the most stable right now. In fact, of the friends I have, those who’re in the most stable domestic relationships are the one’s who’re gay. Ha, it’s very interesting. Naturally, I agree with you: there’s nothing ‘anti-gay’ about being ‘harassed’, the one thing I’ve learned is that ‘men are men are men’, doesn’t matter what their orientation is, they pretty much behave in the same manner.

    Ha, the sitemap most certainly allowed me to access this article easier, as well as the others I’ve commented on. Cheers for doing that, seriously! As far as the technical aspect of computers, I’m a complete ignoramus-I know almost nothing!

  20. @karl – I’m glad you’ve found the articles more easily, but I can’t seem to find your 4th comment! So if I don’t comment, you know what happened.

    I think Goldman’s first book is especially worth reading. They are both a lot of fun. He has a catty style.

    In general, I don’t like it when they try to be creative with CDS. Bowie tried this on *Hunky Dory* and I didn’t think it worked. But there is potential. Of course, I won’t even buy things without being on CD. I just don’t trust MP3 downloads and I hate the licensing. What’s more, I like the idea of a album as a work rather than a song. I depends upon the artist, of course.

    On DVDs, so much more can be done. I’m fond of commentary, but I much prefer it done by academics and other experts. Most directors do a rotten job. And actors are hopeless unless it is something like *Mr. Show* where it’s like another comedy track. The commentary on *Seven Samurai* is fantastic. What’s great on *F for Fake* is that it puts the film in context and then updates it with the documentaries. The commentary wasn’t that good, but some of Gary Graver’s was good. I’d like to see "Working with Orson Welles."

  21. #Frank-Huh, that’s weird, my fourth comment isn’t missing on my screen, I wonder what happened?

    Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘creative’? I know what you’re talking about with Bowie (and others) adding ‘extras’ to their CD, which only wound up making it something ‘other than’ an album. I don’t like that either. What I meant was mostly in the area of ‘artwork’ or ‘design’? Closer to the way they used to produce LPs. For instance: a very creative CD package/case, a well designed/created print (drawing, painting, photo, whatever), and maybe a finely bound ‘book’ that fits with the while package? (I know some CDs have done this, but I thought they would have done more?) I was thinking of it more like ‘buying something artistic/creative and well made with your music’. But, you’re right I don’t think CDs work the same way DVDs do? They shouldn’t contain ‘too much’. For some reason (when done right) ‘extra stuff’ works with DVDs? I clearly agree with you that ‘buying a CD’ is better than an ‘MP3’. ‘MP3s’ seem to only offer ‘convenience’? There may be different types of consumers? Some, I know it’s true of me. like to physically hold something that they’ve bought in their hands. It’s the whole experience. Others, and I think most people fall into this category, enjoy being able to get and listen to what they want fast? I thought, perhaps, with fewer sales somebody would put more ’emphasis’ and ‘creativity’ into that aspect of CD manufacturing? But it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen?

    Oh, if you get the right people to work on a DVD, they can give the viewer enough information for an entire ‘research session’ of: the background/history and making of a film. But, a lot does depend on who they choose to give that information in the commentary. Many times I’ve got more information from commentaries when the director was dead, because they bring in writers, biographers and assistants who’ve researched/lived the work for years!

    I’d like to see "Working with Orson Welles" myself.

  22. @karl – I found the fourth comment. That’s why it isn’t missing. :)

    That’s not what I’m talking about regarding CDs. I like that kind of stuff. Even if it isn’t much, I still want it to go along with my songs. There used to be Grammy (I think) for cover art. I would like to see that continue. What I was talking about are CDs that autoplay something other than the songs when you stick them into your computer. I think there was a push to do this about 14 years ago, but artists found that I wasn’t the only person who didn’t like it.

    Some people complain about artists adding other tracks to CD releases. I don’t get this. You can stop the CD before the extra tracks run. On the other hand, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" was remixed or something when it went to CD; it sounded totally different from the vinyl.

    But I like the extra tracks. On Elvis Costello’s "Almost Blue" there is an extra track (Number 18!) that is one of my favorite songs: Leon Payne’s Psycho. Strangely, I have *never* been able to find Payne’s version, perhaps because it is not one of the songs he’s known for.

    I think "Incident at Loch Ness" is a great example of what can be done with a DVD. The film is okay, but certainly not great. And yet, the DVD is really something special. It is really hard to find the "real" features, but the best part is all the fake stuff.

    I agree with you about the commentaries. There are few directors who are good at them. I think Roger Corman is good. Most of the commentaries are of the variety, "Oh! A funny thing happened this day of shooting!" Who cares? Writers are often very good because they give you details into what they were going for, which is often very different from what is on the screen. Julian Fellowes’ commentary on "Gosford Park" is outstanding. And I’ve been really impressed with Stephen Prince and Donald Richie commenting on Kurosawa’s films.

    If you don’t have the three-version "Mr. Arkadin" you should. It has a lot of great stuff on it. Plus, if you’ve only seen "Confidential Report" (the American release) you haven’t seen it. Again CC has done a great job on a too often overlooked film.

  23. @Frank-Ah, I think I didn’t explain myself properly? I agree with everything you said. When I said ‘extra stuff’, I meant the kind of ‘CD-Rom’/Computer junk they added to CDs (yeah, about 12 or so years ago) and I didn’t like that at all. To me, it was an idea that didn’t work for albums. It’s hard to explain exactly what the problem was, partly I think the technology wasn’t up to ‘speed’ yet, but even if it was, I really just don’t think it belonged with albums? Anyway, wanted to clear that up-because I agree, ‘extra tracks’ was not something I thought a problem. Though, I *can* understand how people got irritated (and they do the same with DVDs) when the label (or studio) released a ‘new release’ with a few ‘extras’ on it, then some more a few years later, and so on and so on. Now that, I thought was ‘squeezing’ fans for cash. It became the label’s (studio’s) way of making money from consumers (especially fans), when their sales began to decline. I was a victim of this ‘dribbling bonuses’ thing a couple of times, and that irritated me.

    Yeah, a lot of times, directors aren’t the best at ‘commenting’ on their work. I suppose it partly depends on what you’re expecting to hear? But, people like us want to hear: technical details, background and as much information as possible on the entire ‘process’ of creating the film. Some film directors (I don’t know why this is the case) seem to provide trivial and/or inconsequential details for the most part. Certain directors of course, usually those who enjoy films/cinema, actually do provide some excellent info on the inner workings of their craft and the film at hand.

    I think Donald Richie is a really fascinating and well spoken critic, to my mind, he’s one of the best at commentaries? He’s especially good with Japanese Cinema. I have the CC of "Hara-Kiri" and he does a wonderful job on that too. I also heard him do one hell of a job ‘introducing’ Robert Bresson’s ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’. So he’s probably terrific all around? I’d *love* to hear Julian Fellowes speaking on "Gosford Park", is that on CC too?

    Indeed, I have the three disc CC released of "Mr. Arkadin" and *love* it! Oddly enough, the only version I saw before *was* ‘Confidential Report’, on cable. I remember waiting two weeks for it to play, and was let down when I saw it. So, I was hesitant to purchase the CC set. But I’m *so* pleased I did. Rarely have I seen such a drastically mangled ‘version’ of a film before. Most films butchered by ‘the studio’, etc., are a bit different from the ‘original cut’, but (aside from ‘Arkadin’) I don’t think I’ve seen anything *that* different? Sometimes I can barely tell what was ‘touched’? An ‘altered film’ might have a different ending, beginning or scenes eliminated, re-arranged or narration added or removed, "Mr. Arkadin" has everything done to it. I was astounded by the differences of the versions (especially the ‘American’ and ‘Corinth’) they’re almost literally two different films. I didn’t think one could affect a film to such an extent? I totally agree, CC didn’t an excellent job on that release!

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