Friday, July 04, 2008

In a Year of Thirteen Moons Discussion

Academic film criticism generally goes over my head but I found this long discussion on youtube about Fassbinder's In a Year with Thirteen Moons really excellent, specially the comments by Thomas Elsaesser.

In a year with thirteen moons is the most personal and the most intense of all his films. I didn't really like it when I first saw it but that was more because I tuned myself off while watching, as a self-protecting move! As this review in new york times says, "Without adequate preparation, the uninitiated movie patron might think he was having a nightmare about a nightmare." I think I am more well-prepared for it now, after having seen Berlin Alexanderplatz which deals with similar subjects and similar metaphors in a (comparatively) more understated manner. Like in Berlin Alexanderplatz there is an extraordinary monologue in Thirteen Moons about how suicide is an act of affirmation, because it is a negation of the negation (which is life itself or rather the will to live). Also in Berlin Alexanderplatz the slaughterhouse scenes are more stylized and Fassbinder gives them an obvious religious (Christian) resonance something which is not there in thirteen moons, at least not at an explicit level but it is definitely possible to read it that way. In fact Elsaesser says that it is an example of a "Christological narrative" and also that the skin flaying in the slaughterhouse sequence reminds him of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting, which depicts an artist as a self-flayer. Lots of high-falutin stuff...

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