ENDLESS NIGHTS: the magic circle of the night
Acording to the Norgewian playwright Jon Fosse, the night sing its song, tells its own myths. This is why the circular image is appropriate: all the hymns, all the stories, all the moments of its revolution refers to itself, they are tautegorical. The allegory or reflective discourse can’t explain, exhaust, completely penetrate the phenomenon; to appropriate it, to domesticate it by subordinating its essence to an extrinsic dimension would mean to betray the incomprehensible and interminable character that permeates each of its manifestations. On the other hand, the similarity with the dark rooms of projection has been indicated from the beginnings of the cinematographic art: the famous article The Kingdom of Shadows (1896), by Maximo Gorki, or the controverted Hollywood formula “factory of dreams” are obvious evidence of the link. Nevertheless even the nocturnal films, the second constituent pole of the night-cinema binomial, embody an irreducible aura and their nature encourages the production of vertiginous lists. In this sense, the present focus proposes his personal exercise: 9 titles that can be considered an unusual constellation, a somnambulistic and filmic journey -the footage always takes place between twilight and sunrise-, an example, as variable as vibrant, of those extraordinary inventories that testify the existence of a magic and nocturnal circle.
Die Straße and Nuit de Chien: the night as a scenery of social transfiguration. In 1923, the masterpiece of Karl Grüne inaugurated the Straßenfilm genre. Coined by Siegfried Kracauer, the label contains the film discourses of the Weimar Republic, which, after the rebellion in the war context and the subsequent orientation towards the submissive, portray the encounter of the collective soul with the street, the eponymous of the adventure, the opportunity and the risk of libertarian excesses. Thus, Die Straße works as a moral radiography of a nation at the crossroads of its own uncertainty: eager for experiences that shake the tedium, but afraid of the effects that unbridled anomie can cause. Grüne captures the conflict by precipitating the viewer towards an insomniac journey that traverses the depths of postwar psychological drama. The careful illumination -paradigmatic of the most refined expressionism-, the carnival of dreamlike pictures and the immersive interpretation of Anton Edthofer sparkle and blacken the celluloid in this fundamental chapter of the history of German cinema. Almost a century later, in 2008, based on the novel Tonight (1943) by Juan Carlos Onetti – formerly transfigured into the cinematic language by Carlo di Carlo in his Per questa notte (1977)-, Nuit de Chien culminates the filmography of one of the most radically original, surprising and audacious authors of the Neuer Deutscher Film: Werner Schroeter. From the formal inventiveness and the magnetic rhythm of the plot, the film manages to capture the wild and exciting aspect of the subconscious territory, forming a tense balance between the emotional impulse and the unavoidable attraction of the mystery. Schroeter’s film testament throws, so veiled and sharped, a sociological diagnosis focused on the mechanisms of fear, paranoia and oppression. His subjugating performances, the admirable scenery and, especially, the unbridled power of each image extend to the public a sinister invitation to assume the role of omniscient observer in this agonizing dream, night-blindness and halfway between fatality and charmed.
Noite Vazia and Violated Angels: the night as a catharsis of brutality.
Against the postulates of Cinema Novo and the subsequent invective of Glauber Rocha, Walter Hugo Khouri made his biggest film in 1964: Noite Vazia. The sharp and controversial portrait of Luís Augusto and Nelson is a synecdoque not only of a broken masculinity, but also of the frustration and stagnation, after the presidencies of Getúlio Vargas and Juscelino Kubitschek, of the developmental hopes. Untying from the poetics by Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Carlos Diegues or Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Khouri confronts the bourgeoisie -focusing in São Paulo – with its own crisis and existential vacuum – in this sense, the mirror in the ceiling of the room where sexual encounters with Mara and Regina take place is symptomatically eloquent-in a new and precursor style within the Brazilian context -with the only exception of Os Cafajestes (1962), by Ruy Guerra-, close to the European aesthetics of the Nouvelle Vague and Michelangelo Antonioni. Violated Angels (1967), by Kôji Wakamatsu, also offers a tableau of political connotations that beats in the most brutal aspect of the erotic, although in this case from a formal approach opposite of what Walter Hugo Khouri did: his radicalism and violence are subversively explicit. Inspired by the torture, rape and murder of South Chicago Community Hospital nurses by Richard Speck, the Wakamatsu film condenses with an overwhelming visual display the essential features of the Pinku Eiga – in this regard, the participation in the script of Masao Adachi is worth mentioning, another standard of the genre. Violated Angels is not a criticism of the repression of the Japanese authorities, but the explosive charge of an extreme filmmaker with less moderate objectives: to scuttle the entire system.
Noche de vino tinto, Toute une Nuit and Vendredi Soir: the night as a catalyst for the love that has come. The night can also be a condition of possibility for the fortuitous encounter of wandering lives. The three films: Noche de vino tinto (1966), Toute une Nuit (1982) and Vendredi Soir (2002) are one of the most beautiful events that cinema has produced in this regard. The three films rehearse variations over the same toppic: the ephemeral nature of the love affair -in all its wonder: from what Stendhal called “passion love” to the “Proustian heart blips” – as well as the random element that always triggers or encourages the love affair. Serena Vergano, Enrique Irazoqui, Valérie Lemercier, Vincent Lindon and the specter of anonymous couples that cross Toute une Nuit thread an intimate and redemptive warp: the characters seem to save each other from the vital confusion through reciprocal affection and confident complicity, allowing to lose themselves in the shelter of the shadows – “the night will be as long as we need it to be so your sadness disappears”, is heard in the film by José María Nunes. On the other hand, the city is another protagonist in each history: Barcelona, Brussels and Paris; the buildings, the bars, the traffic jams – Vendredi Soir as a delightful supplementary chapter to Julio Cortázar’s La autopista del sur -, the empty sidewalks. The drunk parliament on Noche de vino tinto, the wonderful vinyl music and Wurlitzer chosen by Chantal Akerman – one of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Gino Lorenzi’s L’amore perdonera… – or the urban chaos resulting from a general transport strike complete the mosaic and nourish that strange and balsamic force that seizes us at sundown: “What a beautiful night. What if we go out? Let’s go to the city. Let’s dance.”
Queen Kong and Io Sono Valentina Nappi: the night as a sexual celebration. Monica Stambrini together with the directors Maria Chiaretti, Tiziana Lo Porto, Anna Negri, Regina Orioli, Titta Cosetta Raccagni, Lidia Ravviso and Slavina form the collective Le ragazze del porno. In the spirit of the Dirty Diaries (Sweden) or X-FEMMES (France), the purpose of the Italian initiative is clear: to legitimize an artistic expression that is still taboo and not recognized in its aesthetic and political dimensions. Stambrini’s two films seek to overcome the ties of gender and combine the fantastic imaginary with realism, proposing a corollary as powerful as exciting. Valentina Nappi, Lorenzo Branca and Luca Lionello, the protagonists of the two pieces, achieve with passion that nothing is artificial or complacent: Queen Kong (2016) widens the forms of erotic representation in a hypnotic combination that calls the wild voracity, the pleasure and the unreal, all from a careful mise-en-scene and the brilliant photography of Fabio Cianchetti; Io Sono Valentina Nappi (2017) is a lesson on how to film intercourse in an exalted way, in and for itself, preserving the purity of its splendor – in the sense of not being subject to utilitarian satisfaction – and avoiding any hint of banality . Otherwise, it is worth mention Bello Figo’s songs –I sono Valentina Nappi-, Le luci della centrale elettrica –Punk sentimentale-, Heroin in Tahiti –Nuda per Satana– and Disclosure and Eliza Doolittle –You & Me (Flume remix) -, which provide an emotional coloratura that goes with the diegetic action and ends up causing absolute subrogation. You can rarely experience so much pleasure in front of a screen.
Endless Nights is our particular itinerary, as a tribute, dedicated to the best alliance between the cinema and the night: that which generates in each viewer the longing for a film that never ends. It is only necessary to gather some restlessness and courage, to go towards the movie theatre and to abandon oneself in a paroxysmal journey, where theory has no place. RAMÓN DEL BUEY
Und die Seele unbewacht,
will in freien Flügen schweben,
um im Zauberkreis der Nacht
tief und tausendfach zu leben.
And my soul, unwatched,
wants to soar in freest flight
within enchanted night time circles,
to live a thousand fold profoundly.
Beim Schlafengehen, HERMANN HESSE