Tag Archives: Kidlat Tahimik

links and vids for the introductory post

11 Apr

Below are links and vids associated with my previous post.

More information on Third Cinema: http://thirdcinema.blueskylimit.com/thirdcinema.html

Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino “Towards a Third Cinema”

Julio Garcia Espinosa “For an Imperfect Cinema”

Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino “La Hora de los Hornos” (The Hour of the Furnaces):

Gillo Pontecorvo “The Battle of Algiers”:

Kidlat Tahimik:

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Exit Music (For the People)

24 Mar

Radiohead fans might know the blog title comes from the song “Exit Music (For A Film)” off their seminal album OK Computer.  This blog is not a fan blog, though I am a fan.  I will be dealing with issues of Art and Culture, but not in its traditional mainstream sense.  If I am talking about art I will most likely focus on the sociopolitical context that underwrites it.  I will try to tackle many subjects as I can.

“Pessimism of the intellect, Optimism of the Will” – Antonio Gramsci

The motivation for this blog is expression, not just personal expression but expression towards something: conscientizacao or conscientization/critical consciousness expounded by the Brazilian Educator Paulo Freire.  Hopefully by addressing certain topics I will generate new knowledge for myself and others, which will lead to action and intervention in the world (personal and collective levels).

“Exit Music (For A Film)” was made for the motion picture soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

 

Exit Music (For A Film)

Wake from your sleep,
the drying of your tears,
Today we escape, we escape.
Pack and get dressed
before your father hears us,
before all hell breaks loose.

Breathe, keep breathing,
don’t lose your nerve.
Breathe, keep breathing,
I can’t do this alone.

Sing us a song,
a song to keep us warm,
there’s such a chill, such a chill.

And you can laugh a spineless laugh,
we hope your rules and wisdom choke you.

And now we are one
in everlasting peace,

we hope that you choke, that you choke,
we hope that you choke, that you choke,
we hope that you choke, that you choke.

 

The song is based on the scene in the film where Juliet was going to kill herself.  According to the authorial source himself there is a separate meaning.  Thom Yorke (lead singer/writer) said this about the song: ““I saw the Zeffirelli version when I was 13 and I cried my eyes out, because I couldn’t understand why, the morning after they shagged, they didn’t just run away. The song is written for two people who should run away before all the bad stuff starts. A personal song.”

Pop culture tends to idealize the love between Romeo and Juliet.  A definite “innocent” love between youth, not yet tainted by the world.  The focused aspect of an archetypal innocent love obfuscates the political implications of sociopolitical conflict.  News flash for people, the play is a tragedy and not comedy.  The play may idealize this innocent love in the foreground but it is constantly haunted by its violence, and in this case, Romeo and Juliet cannot escape the rivalry between their clans.  A very pessimistic play indeed.

Thom Yorke is far from a mainstream pop song romantic.  However, his solution to play rubs me the wrong way (don’t worry fans I still dig the music).  There is an anti-romantic romantic in me that disagrees with Thom.  Though I enjoy the song, it speaks to a fashionable individualist idea of love, what I call “love bracketed”. 

It is a nice idea that two lovers can escape and live their lives separate from the blood feud.  However, questions arise. What happens to the other people in the story, their families and the people caught in the middle of the blood feud?  Though it may seem that the text privileges this love as a supreme example.  However, they do die at the end.  The protagonists succumb to the injustice of the social realm.   

There are many films and artistic examples that follow this line of escapism.  Using Romeo and Juliet as an example, it would be much more productive if an artist can use the ideas in the play to challenge the social injustice within the text. So instead of Romeo and Juliet planning to flee, the two would be brave and stand up to the blood feud.  Idealistic? Yes, but art has to traverse this idea of an escapist love, or this promotion of the individual or lovers investing in themselves instead of challenging that which oppresses them and others.  This idealized love bracketed away from social conflict is a narrow concept, detrimental to collective people power. 

So what?  Why is this important?  I for one do not believe in the idea of “art for art’s sake”.  When one deploys meaning whether it is through the medium of art or criticism, it is always for someone and for some purpose.  Though the intention may or may not be to disable sociopolitical action in mass numbers, the constant (re)production of art promoting the ideas of escapism and Hollywood conceptions of love will continue to reinforce a pessimistic outlook on society, one that people cannot change because the monster (blood feud, and or U.S. Hegemony) is too big. 

The blog is named after that song because I believe we should move beyond the idea of the song.  Furthermore, there are other ways you can read the title “Exit Music”.  Another way of reading the title, that is productive in relation to social justice, is that it can also read like someone declaring music to exit, for it to go away. Thus “Exit Music” taking the idea of the death/disappearance, more specifically the disappearance of art.  The reading of the statement this way has its relation to the film movement/genre Third Cinema.    

About a year ago or so I came across the Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik  on the internet (I have yet to see his films).  Through him I was introduced to the film movement/genre that is known as Third Cinema.  Third Cinema sets itself apart from other forms of cinema due to certain formal aspects and most of all its sociopolitical commitment.  The movement/genre stands in contrast to what is called First Cinema and Second Cinema.  The former is the film genre that promotes bourgeois values, passive audiences, escapism, and individualism.  Second Cinema could be considered to what we may deem “Art House Cinema”, “Auteur (author) Cinema”.  It stands in contrast to the First, but is generally centered on individualism by enthroning personal expression.  Furthermore, it is centered on the cult of the Auteur, as the master of the text. 

It is safe to say that both first and second cinema films are not void of political content, but still fall victim to individualism, spectacle, escapism, and personal expression.  Third Cinema on the other hand very stringently espouses an anti-colonial political stance and seeks to decolonize the film, the filmmaker(s), and the viewer.  This is not to be confused with Third World Cinema (film from the Third World), although Third Cinema films are typically made by people from the Third World or what is known today as the Global South.  It is aimed at inspiring and promoting mass political activity to the viewer. 

I was inspired by this idea of art production.  Moreover by this particular view on art:

“It is no longer a matter of replacing one school with another, one “ism” with another, poetry with anti-poetry, but of truly letting a thousand different flowers bloom. The future lies with folk art. But let us no longer display folk art with demagogic pride, with a celebrative air. Let us exhibit it instead as a cruel denunciation, as a painful testimony to the level at which the peoples of the world have been forced to limit their artistic creativity. The future, without doubt, will be with folk art, but then there will be no need to call it that, because nobody and nothing will any longer be able to again paralyze the creative spirit of the people.

Art will not disappear into nothingness; it will disappear into everything.” – Julio Garcia Espinosa

What I adopted from the artistic movement was to try to reproduce this same attitude in my own critical-creative (I don’t believe in the division between the two) writing.  I particularly adopted Espinosa’s idea of “disappearance”.  This is the impetus of this blog, to challenge common sense wisdom attached to U.S. Hegemony and other oppressive formations.  The aim is not for progressive democratic ideas to disappear by leaving this earth.  I would very much like for such ideas to proliferate throughout society.  The intention is for these ideas to disappear into becoming something else, transforming the common sense of fashionable liberal multiculturalism, which sustains racial, gender, and class oppression.