Saturday, October 02, 2010

The usefulness of quiet

Sorry for the long silence... I will follow up on all unattended conversations soon, I promise.

In the meantime, speaking of silence:

I have written about Maya Deren before. Last night I finally had an opportunity to finish the anthology of her short experimental films that has been sitting in my Netflix queue for months. I do recommend it.

Most of these films were produced in the forties, if I remember correctly, and what is kind of interesting about that is that many of them are silent. Not "silent" as in "no sound was recorded with the film, but producers added it later, for a modern audience" (as is the case with most so-called "silent" cinema). These films were truly silent. Which is a hard enough feat when your film is driven by some sort of narrative, but probably harder when you're dealing with abstractions, surrealism, kinetic studies, and image for its own sake, as I think Deren was.

I can imagine the strong motivation to find a way to add sound to early film, at least to the extent that early film was an extension of theater. And I can imagine the great excitement that must have obtained when someone finally figured out a way to do it. In that context, the deliberate choice to be silent seems fairly radical. In any case, I like it because it demonstrates an important principle that I sometimes lose sight of: the fact that a tool or technique exists is not a good reason to use it.

[photo credit: fradaveccs]

No comments: