Monday, August 27, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum and a John Ruskin Trivia

Saw The Bourne Ultimatum yesterday. Quite good but may be because I was feeling slothful and gloomy (as always) it was like someone forcing you out of bed when you just want to have a few minutes more of your sleep. Or may be I have just been watching too many soporific movies recently with stately silence and long-takes, I was nauseous with all the time and space destroying camera work soon after the film began. Within the first five minutes itself the film takes you to Moscow, New York City, Berlin, London and god knows where else. I was reading some reviews where people complained about the jerky hand-held camera but I think this is exactly what grips you in even if you are trying to feign disinterest and boredom. Another instance where this hand-held, off-kilter composition and discontinuity was used to very good result was in last year's The Constant Gardener, specially in the flashback sequences which are so effective in showing that Ralph Fiennes is not really remembering the past, he is actually hallucinating. Perfect illustration of how (involuntary) memory transcends the boundaries of time and space. Great example of how a normal thriller can become so interesting just by choosing the right filming technique.

Two other things I really liked about the film. First, the way it eschews all intellectual pretentions. It is just plain, "Run Bourne Run." Even though the basic premise had great potential but the film wisely stays clear of trying to make any important points. Otherwise now I could have written lines like, the film brilliantly shows how at the beginning of the twenty first century, technology has supplanted the self, and how human identity is under attack by the forces of global surveillance. But no, all this will be a little too much, and for the good. The second thing, Bourne's interest in his female co-star remains platonic throughout. They don't even kiss! All the while I was thinking there was a potential great sex-scene somewhere, where Bourne sublimates his grief and and finds his soul through a deep erotic union, but no nothing like that ever happens.


Not really related but too interesting to be left out. This post on comment is free "defending the rights of men with moustaches" reminded me of something that I came across recently. John Ruskin, the great English art critic and a major influence on Marcel Proust and Mahatma Gandhi, was so shocked and appalled after seeing his wife's pubic hair on the wedding night that he refused to consummate their marriage! I was trying to find some more information on it, I found some informative links here and here. Both articles confirm the Ruskin story. The great art-critic that he was, he obviously never got a chance to see this painting. (Warning: Explicit image, but tastefully done.)


Cheshire Cat said...

Isn't the Ruskin story apocryphal? (The part about non-consummation is true, and Effie went on to find connubial bliss with the painter Millais...)

Alok said...

Actually as I was googling for some information I did find out that people had doubts about the story.. but it seems reasonable. Fits in very well with the prudish image of the victorians and also somewhat reactionay and hostile attitude of Ruskin towards much of the modern art.

Wikipedia has some information and also some biblographical details. Check the "sexuality" section.

Cheshire Cat said...

It's speculation, but it makes for a good story. It's not hard to believe that something of the sort must have happened, but what exactly? The Wiki page on Ruskin mentions some alternate theories.

In any case there seems to have been a clash of personalities, at the very least.

Alok said...

yeah obviously he had some preconceived ideas about her body and sexuality in his head linked to his general theory of art.

may be there is an essay somewhere in there on Mimetic Representation of the female form in victorian art or something like that... :)