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whammy alcazaren
21 November 2008 @ 09:15 am
Oh my. My computer won't save anything so i have to put everything here.

Alcazaren, Juan Manuel C. Film 161 | Prof. Jamon
06-09233 November 21, 2008

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Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera

There is the presumption of the documentary film as a creative account of the real – of issues, events, people, and places among many other possible subjects. It is the usual to expect from the documentary to see interviews, simulations of events, and, almost always, a direct message of the film maker’s intention of what the audience should partake from the film. It is not to say that the aforementioned characteristics are the standard of the documentary film, but it is to say the least that these are several of its common elements. Documentaries as well posses the quality of improbability, a constant surprise of subject and action since in its filming process it cannot be controlled. One must now take note here that the documentary film is not limited, as it is easily presumed to be, to certain topics of social relevance and an abundant shooting of talking heads. The scope and treatment of the documentary film is wide, limited only by what you can research and shoot on location given a particular topic of your choice.

Dziga Vertov’s experimental documentary film Man with a Movie Camera, as compared to the definition of the documentary film as stated above, runs along the lines of the non-traditional and the “new”. As if compared to what we can call the “Classical” Documentary film like such works as Ditsi Carolino’s Bunso and The Thin Blue Line by Errol Morris, in some ways Vertov’s film is “Alternative”, new wave especially given the time when the film was made when such motif and treatment had been barely been explored.

The Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov is in the most general sense a portrait of the director’s homeland country of Russia done in a three-part structure of day, afternoon, and night and as well technically well done with a treatment that can be considered “new”, ahead of its time.

The narrative of the documentary, if it can even be called as such, is the free flowing person’s view of the cities of Russia. (Given that I don’t understand Russian and in my viewing of the film it had no subtitles, I can’t pinpoint exactly where in Russia the film primarily targets.) In terms the film can be somewhat described as voyeuristic. The film, The Man with a Movie Camera, is in its most simple essence a film about Russia. We say therefore that it is voyeuristic because what is laid out to us on the screen by choice of Vertov is not at all staged but is completely the real. What we witness as audience to the film are the typical daily events in the cities of Russia – the day-to-day happenings and events surrounding the normal people of Russia. The Man with a Movie Camera is a portrait film of the masses. Points of example in the film include the scenes of people working, the crowded streets marking business time, people exercising by groups, and people riding in cars and by train travelling from place to place – a sign of the ever developing life of 1922 Russia in the eyes of Vertov through the eyes of the ‘man with a movie camera’ in his film. It is to be observed here, to add significant support to the idea of the film being a portrait of the city, the wide and impartial range of people and occurrences that are shown. The film shows the people of Russia doing what they normally do, a documentary of their actions caught live.

Secondly, The Man with a Movie Camera is not simply a portrait film about Russia but is as well a documentary of the documentary process itself; Although this aspect of the film is indeed staged it can be therefore be paralleled to how “Classical” documentaries would stage testimonial accounts or historic events to further the truth of their documentaries or for the simply effect of making more understandable particular events in irreversible time. Throughout the course of the film, we not only bear witness to the bare beauty of the cities of Russia but become viewers as well of the documentary process from start to end. Epitomizing this aspect of the film is the first sequence we see as it opens. The Man with a Movie Camera begins with this introduction of the camera and the “man with (the) movie camera”. The film is Brechtian, self reflective, informing its audience that it is indeed a film. This idea is well-pronounced in the scenes showing people filling up the movie theater, the technician loading the film unto the projector, and, in the shooting process, the cameraman going through all difficulty to get the shot he wants.

In additional discussion regarding the structure of the film, we will notice that the documentary film albeit slightly free flowing can be divided into three sections of day, afternoon, and night. Accordingly, the events – the day-to-day actions of the people of Russia – are arranged in order that we see them go about their morning routines, go to work, leisure afterwards and all the rest as lies accordingly. The documentary film process as depicted in the film is structured similarly in the chronological fashion, disregarding of course the first few minutes where in it is established that we as audience are watching a film; In these early sequences of The Man with a Movie Camera, we see the film as already done, edited, and already completed in order that it can be shown to its audience.

Above all things, Dziga Vertov’s documentary film The Man with a Movie Camera is highlighted among other documentaries, given in the context of its time of production and extent of technical capability then, the film was and possibly still is in another point of argument ahead of its time. It can be said that this experimental documentary The Man with a Movie Camera is and was at that time could be described as the “new” documentary cinema as accomplished through its greatly wide use of cinematographic techniques and editing style. Throughout the film are we made to see a variety of shot angles – from above buildings, from under a moving train, immersed in the crowd and numerous others. There exists for the film this mobility of camera Vertov makes great effort to accomplish and thus in effect resulting in this viewing of the cities of Russia very much more into the voyeuristic sense of getting into all the nook and crannies of the city. This should be given great notice especially given the fact that the cameras used at that time were completely bulky and difficult to carry around that movement was more often –than-not kept at the minimal. The highlight of the film’s cinematographical prowess would have to be, for me if albeit a personal opinion, the shot of the train taken from underneath it as it swiftly zooms by. Now in terms of the documentary film’s editing, it as well makes use of a great variety of editing possibilities. Transitions from wipe to fade to even the simple cuts are done with playfulness, experimenting to all extent what message can be delivered through these ordering of shots. The editors of the film made use of layering, multiple screens, and played with the duration of each shot. This experimentation with the editing of shots includes as well the film’s use of montage. A particular montage that would best serve as an example of the type of editing of the film is the “eye sequence”. In this part of the film, duration of each shot is cut short to a few seconds each and is interplayed with the sequence of a shot of an eye, then a shot of a particular group of people or location in Russia, then following again with a shot of the eye; Alluding to the Kuleshov montage or simply by concept of the persistence of vision, we assign the meaning that the eye is a symbol of the audience and it as tourist or witness to the city as it looks around at the scene shown in following. These cinematographic and editing techniques support the statement made earlier on that the documentary film Man with a Movie Camera is something of the “new”, the “new wave” of documentary cinema. The film could be considered as such simple because, given the time of production, treatments like the such used in the film had not yet been done and understandably then often more inclined to pure experimental films as opposed to the hybridity of Man with a Movie Camera being an experimental documentary film. Contributing as well to the film’s “Non-traditional documentary film” profiling is its complete non-use of the usual interviews or voice over. The film instead uses appropriately a grand musical accompaniment for its entirety.

Sources:
www (dot) wikipedia (dot) com
www (dot) inthenursery (dot) com
 
 
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whammy alcazaren
17 October 2008 @ 06:33 pm
An Oblation
By Whammy Alcazaren

The granite draped over her body, shielding the woman from pistol fire and the rampage of well-tamed golden horses. The man enveloped the woman in his solid embrace. They sat still in the middle of a field moist from blood and the air scented with the fumes of burning buildings. The man crouched over her plump body dripping with sweat and a sticky substance rancid with decay of years of neglect.

“It has been a hundred years,” the stone man told the woman dryly, “So, what do we do now?”

The woman did not reply. She shuddered.

A cannonball flew past the couple, crouched down in the middle of the battle field. It pierced the sky in a painful shrill. The stone man looked up and a golden stallion stood above him. He tightened his grasp on the naked woman’s body, chiseling the fat and accentuating her curves. The woman kept still under his embrace. She kept her eyes shut and her mouth vibrated in an inaudible fervor.

The stallion spoke in well-versed nays, “It has been so long” it shook its head with an air of arrogance, “What is left for you to do?”

The stone man firmly kept his stare of the great golden stallion.

“Give in and have us taste her meat,” the beast spoke in an excited whisper.

His grasp of the woman tore apart so slightly. But, the stone man quickly lunged back at her in an embrace from behind. His stone hands cupped the woman’s bare chest. He withdrew his gaze and buried his face away from the demanding stallion. The stone man and the woman of whom he faithfully protected sat conspicuously in the midst of the battle that surrounded them, nude in every way under the watchful eyes of the well-tamed golden horses and the black cloaked men that held their reigns atop the colonnades encircling the bloodied field.

Another cannonball flew past them from above, plunging into the stallion’s ribcage as it landed and tore through its firm, handsome body. Its glittering blue blood splattered unto the man’s granite skin. The woman shuddered. The man once again tightened his grip over her, ensuring that no drop of the stallion’s blood stain her skin. Its mouth agape, the remains of the beast lay bare in front of them. Rising from the murky pool of blue blood were dozens of golden haired children. They moaned in unison, in a deep tone like that of whales.

The woman opened her eyes and observed the hungry children.

“Woman, keep safe under me for they must not feed on you” the stone man said with great caution in his voice, “Your country men are waiting.”

A gleaming yellow bird swooped down and feasted on one of the golden children.

“You must not give up,” the stone man whispered.

The battle grew wild. Cloaked men fell from the sky and crawled from the sea. They glided silently over the bloodied field, their bodies jerking and crackling. Fire erupted from their jaws as they burned down flags. Soldiers, dressed in printed black paper, flooded the field, and atop the buildings men with high hair watched tediously the events down below. They smoked with great viciousness and whistled a deathly hum. The hum filled the ears of the people below. The golden stallions stood still and they exploded in bursts of light. A swarm of children swam in pools of glittering blue blood. The yellow winged-beasts attacked them at an instant as the cloaked men hurried to gather them and silence their painful moans. The soldiers did not act, unaware of what must be done, and instead chose to play with the paper that armored their soft bodies.

The naked woman shuddered and her eyes grew wide. She stood up, allowing herself to break free from the man’s embrace. She bore witness to the events around her. She pouted her lips and joined in on the deathly hum that filled the air. The woman burst into flames. In her waste lay dozens of brown children, swaddled in milky red blood. The stone man stood up and gathered them. He draped his granite body on their fresh, tender skin and protected them from pistol fire and the rampage of the still remaining well-tamed golden horses. +
 
 
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whammy alcazaren
16 October 2008 @ 09:31 pm
Untitled Machine: Insomniac

There is the allure of the counting of sheep. In recent times, when the world has become extremely fast paced and fleeting, sleep has become a luxury. Insomnia then in turn becomes the epidemic against it – depraving the people of much needed rest.

This ‘sleep machine’ aims to solve the problem of this ‘epidemic’, of insomnia. A television set stationed above the head resolves the dilemma of watching as you sleep. The video – a slew of semi-erotic images reminiscent of the idea of the comfort of a companion – comes with the intention to induce sleep. The television set and the video it displays hypnotizes its viewer into a relaxed and, in theory, a sleep state. But as the video comes to a close, as the drawl of the man’s voice and the images of man and woman plagued by neon lights come to an end, the sleep state ends and the audience is once again awake. Insomnia once again heralds as the problem of modern times – of the short attention span, the stress of random daily tribulations, and all the other problems that plague our minds and keep us forever awake.



Chad Cabigon
Whammy Alcazaren
 
 
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whammy alcazaren
16 October 2008 @ 09:30 pm
‘Taste’
By Whammy Alcazaren


Criticism, in its simplest sense, is a matter of opinion. Be it that such a statement is already a broad generalization, Criticism is in manners a well-versed, complex judgment over particular matters and things of importance or otherwise. Materials of the literary, artistic, scientific, or simply the routine and the common are such then subject to critique. It is unavoidably open to an audience thus given the capacity of replying in reaction either with intention or in a simple response of feelings. It is the unavoidable fact that presence alone has an effect. As is the case of the MMDA vandalisms, public structures, or private homes, we as passers-by are often than not coerced to respond simply because it is there and that we can. But as is the case inversely of works with the intention of art or expression exhibited in private formal venues we are then made to think deeper and react more logically and comprehensibly. What more is then when there is motivation to affect?

Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast (1987) proves to be exemplary in this case in point beyond the technical and narrative structure as it enables in the criticism of it a reflexivity of the act of criticism itself. Taking lead in the film, with intentional disregard of the character of Babette, is the feast prepared by the cook for the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of the father of the sisters for whom she served and who in return had took her in. Here does criticism take pivotal role, if not the act of putting into main play simple opinions. Exquisite dishes of turtle soup and baked quail are at first glance exotic and exquisite. But in the case of the conservative people of the village, where there is no preposition of the accepted levels of the richness of food, such things are then deemed as strange and controversial. Thus does it call upon the ideas brought up by C. S. Lewis in his essay “Men without Chests” from the book “The Abolition of Man” in stating, in the application here thereof, that criticism or the arrival of an opinion develops as part reason to a foundation of ‘taste’ and a debate of the personal and the standard of the people of a given community. Here must we take note that though indeed Babette’s Feast is in all sense a fine film with an arguably wonderful narrative and acceptable technical workings, these points are not the objective of the paper to discuss.

“Men without Chests” cites the Green Book, a work made by Gaius and Titius in names given to them by Lewis, and it is through them that our point here in regards to criticism can be made. First in the bi-conditional status of a criticism as stated by Lewis is the idea that criticism has, besides the use of theory and resource, a much earlier foundation of belief; the aforementioned can be thus then as well be classified as a ‘parental’ theory taught to us in such a young age when we simply accept and not choose what we would then believe in. Lewis explains this thoroughly in his essay as given example by the following statement:
“It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.” (400, Lewis)
Here must we take note of the well-chosen use of the word “condition” and the statement to “put into his mind”. Gaius and Titius, in their elementary schoolbook, establishes a foundation of structured belief and thus then becomes the point of reference for future criticism and opinion for the affected. In every sense, what Lewis says in “Men without Chests” is that most likely than not we are what we are brought up to be. The sisters of whom Babette serves for in the film are examples to support the previous statement. To look back at the film, we take note here of the sisters’ unaccomplished relationships with the Tenor and the General accordingly. The two, both made out as beautiful beyond doubt, through the course of the film ‘kept hold of themselves’ and ‘fought off desires of the flesh and of fame’. This decision, regardless of what moral or theological comment it may hold, reflects the foundations of their beliefs as taught to them by their ever faithful and conservative father. There is in this situation a clash of the pastoral against the urban, the conservative against the ‘outlandish’.

The treatment of the people of the village in regards to the feast prepared by Babette parallels that of the act of criticism and the impossibility of a ‘one taste’. Her feast is thus then judged by three sets of audience, namely the guests of Babette’s feast, the General, and us as the audience taking pleasure of her food by means of a ‘visual appetite’. As each of the set of judges arrive at their own opinion, criticism of the dishes, foundations of belief and background take immediate effect whether the author of the work may desire it or not. Example in case is the finicky one among the female guests remarks regarding the wine saying that it “must be some kind of lemonade”. One cannot assume an ignorance of character but must comply with the facts that there is a distinction of ‘taste’ between people not simply because we are thus individuals but because as individuals we posses different foundations by which we think and judge by. As did the two characters mentioned in the Green book of Gaius and Titius describe the waterfall as sublime and pretty, it is not at all farfetched to say that if another character would walk by and see for himself the waterfall he would not describe it as “sublime” or “pretty” but what he would describe it as would be something else entirely.

Now then can we discuss in more detail the important sequence of the film when Babette serves her “traditional French feast” to the unknowing and, to some extent, ignorant, but ever faithful people of the village. Here can we discuss the idea proposed by Lewis that criticism in part takes from both the personal and the standard created by the people of a said community. In the film, Babette, upon receiving knowledge that she had won 10,000 francs in the lottery, chooses to prepare a “traditional French feast” for her kind and caring employers et al. Babette prepares this with her own money and with knowledge that in the process of spending all her winnings in purchasing the ingredients for the dinner she would be disregarding what seems to be the last hopes of her leaving the remote village and starting anew. Now once again returning to the aspect of Babette’s meal, the distinct differences in opinion of the dishes served marks Lewis’ point exactly. Correct criticism is not universal by definition but rather a matter of person and location as well as foundation. Given the setting of the film, in the remoteness of their village by the sea, with the people as described previously, the acceptable criticism of Babette’s food at the offhand is immediately treated with contempt and fear. But if in any case, as mentioned by the General upon retelling the story of the famous cook of the high class restaurant in France (implied here that it was Babette he was speaking of), such dishes that Babette had prepared and suggested to be preparing upon having a scene exhibiting her purchased ingredients would have been treated with great anticipation and delight by the people who lived in France and possibly, as would possibly be the case in the previous response, would garner similar respect from other places appropriately. Now can we thus say that Opinion and Criticism is a matter of an endless debate only reaching momentary complacency given the time, the place, and the people. But there is of course, given the aforementioned, more to say of the aspects affecting criticism and opinion. Criticism is thus then obviously, to state frankly, a difficult project for one to do. Today certain matters and materials may be consider beautiful, right, or wrong but it is assured that, in the most likely, it will not remain as such forever. Criticism is an endless endeavor.

Of all that has thus been said there is then a debate over the definition of ‘Taste’. What is thus then the approximation of what is good or bad, high class or low class, true or disillusioned? Applying the film’s narrative as due parallel example to the debate, we can say that taste is of course mobile in definition from one person to the next and that it is at the same time a mass opinion. Babette’s Feast highlights this in the function of criticism. It is then made that such formal opinions are nothing but just an opinion given importance due to mass support. As many have asked before, as I say in paraphrase, “Who is to say what is Art?” And in this case in particular we ask who is to say what is Film?” and more clearly, “Who is to say what is a good film?” +


Sources:
Lewis C. S. Men Without Chests. The Abolition of Man.
 
 
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whammy alcazaren
06 September 2008 @ 10:57 am
Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag

Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, 1975), directed by Lino Brocka, is an intelligent and thought-provoking film that boldly shows the gritty complexities of the city of Manila and the struggles and suffering of its lower-class citizens. The primary narrative of the film tells the story of the fisherman Julian Madiaga (Bembol Roco) and his journey into to the city of Manila to find Ligaya Paraiso (Hilda Koronel), a childhood friend of his who later becomes his fiancée although without the approval of her parents. Throughout the story, Julian undergoes a shift in his character and ideals as he slowly learns the culture, the way of life in the suburban city of Manila. Having earlier on had the money to only search for Ligaya without a care for anything else, he is soon robbed and is forced to work in construction sites and at one time as a prostitute to survive and freely wait for Ligaya to come out from the house from which he believes she is being locked up; Julian had been able to follow the lady who came to his province and had brought Ligaya to Manila to supposedly work there. Nearing the end of the film, Julian finally finds Ligaya praying in a Church. He finds out that Ligaya had been made into a forced prostitute and was now being made to live with one of her clients with whom she had a baby. Ligaya and Julian plan to escape, but she is found out and killed. The film ends with Julian Madiaga cornered in an alleyway having been chased down by a group of people who had heard that he had killed Ligaya’s murderer, although unknowing of the client’s past crime. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag is adapted from the novel written by Palanca awardee Edgardo M. Reyes. (Paraphrased from wikipedia.com)

* * *

The film Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag is a marker of its time. It is informative in a manner that it is able to show in great detail, accuracy, and creativity the city of Manila. It is able to show the darker sides of the city such as the then occurrence of white slavery and the heavy accumulation of people dieing in unnatural ways in such an early age – a daring feat of a time when Manila was marketed to the world as a place that was clean and beautiful. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag bluntly depicts the city of Manila with such themes as the cycle of death, the search for ‘ligaya’ (happiness), and the changing landscape of Manila itself.

Throughout the film, Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag, there is a noticeable pattern of a cycle of death. Early in the film, a construction worker is hit on the head and falls down the building that is being built and unto a protruding metal barb, Julian Madiaga’s friend Atong (Lou Salvador) is wrongfully imprisoned and is beaten to death in the jail house, and even Atong’s father-in-law burns to death in a fire that had spread throughout the squatter village where they had lived. Also included in this cycle of death is Ligaya Paraiso, who is apparently strangled to death by her client and is later on pushed down the stairs to mislead the investigating police officers, and Julian Madiaga himself, who is seen at the end of the film cornered by a gang of people carrying an assortment of street-found weapons such as pieces of wood and iron pipes. The cycle itself is further highlighted in this final scene of Julian Madiaga being cornered as his actual death is not shown and the ending of the film is left open-ended for the audience themselves to imagine the events that would then follow. The purpose and style of this ending of the film suggests the idea that a violence and death of such sorts is seemingly never-ending. This is somewhat similar to the three-part film Before the Rain directed by Milco Mancevski in terms of the idea of the cycle of death and Masahista by Brillante Mendoza in terms of the editing style used to suggest that it is a cycle. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag also shows the fate of those who do not fall prey to the cycle of death as a time of great struggle and suffering. This is shown through Perla, the wife of Atong, who, after having been left with nothing and no one after the death of her family and the burning down of her home, is forced into prostitution just to survive. Also, Julian suffers through somewhat a similar situation upon the death of Ligaya; Julian is driven over the edge by this and kills Ligaya’s client out of blind anger. This would suggest that the film not only presents a cycle of death, but also a cycle of suffering.

The central narrative of the film is Julian Madiaga’s quest of finding Ligaya Paraiso – a clear and direct symbolism that alludes to man’s search for happiness being that the name Ligaya Paraiso when translated to English means Joyful Paradise. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, through its playful use of words, is able to depict the typical flight of Filipinos from the province to the city of Manila in search of a better life and, in the film’s context, happiness. The film describes this quest for ‘ligaya’ as something long and arduous as can be seen through the many struggles Julian had to go through before he was finally able to find Ligaya. There is a scene in the movie wherein members of the construction crew talk about their move to Manila from the province. At the end of the conversation, they conclude that even with all the hardships they had to go through while in Manila life was nevertheless still better off in Manila than in the province. In relation to what was said earlier on regarding the theme of the cycle of death and suffering, this idea remains present amid the slightly lighter tone of such a quest of happiness; although Julian Madiaga is able to finally meet up with Ligaya Paraiso, she ultimately dies while trying to escape with her baby from the client who was keeping her locked-up in his home. The film crushes the hope of a happy ending to the narrative and opts for a clear depiction of the brutality of life in all its realism. The theme of the cycles of death and suffering is once again highlighted. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag ends with the final image of the beautiful Ligaya Paraiso bathing at the edge of the sea superimposed on the still image of Julian giving off a fearful expression of death as he is about to be killed by the gang. Everything then fades into black.

Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, through its many neorealist type locations, detailed character backgrounds, and implementation of true situations and events in Manila at the time, has become a reliable historical reference of what the city of Manila was during the 1970s. Details scattered throughout the film prove this: larger and more buildings were being built in Manila as can be seen by the many places Julian was able to go to work to as a construction worker, Manila by night, in certain places, were locations of both male and female prostitution as can be seen in the point of the film wherein Julian meets a call boy and himself acts as a male prostitute for a time, the underground white slavery occurrences that, in the movie, Ligaya Paraiso had to suffer through although not as much as her comrades who were made addicted to morphine were; Those woman who were made addicted to morphine grew dependent on it and prostituted themselves for it. Other details in the film that would represent Manila at the time would be the Chinese character Ah Tek (Tommy Yap), the client and murderer of Ligaya, showing the dominance and wealth of the Chinese at the time, The unfair wages received by blue-collared workers as can be seen in the point of the film when Julian Madiaga was still working in the construction site, and the grave living situation of those stricken by poverty as can be seen when the whole village of Atong was burned to the ground, killing with it many people including his father-in-law. In addition to this, although what was shown in the film was meant to describe the city of Manila then, certain ideas and institutions of the city shown in the film is still present and exists even till today.
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whammy alcazaren
Elephants in America: Perception and the Domestication of Thought
By Whammy Alcazaren


Regardless of aesthetical judgment in determining the value of a film, much importance as well does the reception of the audience have in the construction of overall meaning and the assessment of quality. An ethical criticism of a film is thus then the critic of its value in terms of social, political, and personal aspects. This manner of criticism as well is subject to the identity of the reader, observer, and, in this case, viewer, of the film in the sense that his identity, personal perceptions, and nationality are influential to the overall criticism. In the ethical evaluation of film and any form of art henceforth to be subjected to it thus it become important that it be taken note that only its narrative is subject to criticism as it is the point of the criticism itself to determine the value of a film under it regardless of whatever aesthetical value it may possess.

The King and I provokes in face value alone a wealth of possible ideas for it to be judged aesthetically: for its form as a musical and as a stage adaptation to name a few. Much can be said for instance about its use of theater elements of the Overture and Intermission and the choice of camera framing that would thus follow – leading for the possible application of the self-reflexivity brought upon by a Brechtian cinema as stated by Dana Polan as opposed to the application of the Tudor Code as there is in turn not an effort to hide filmic technical aspects but rather to expose them by the act of reminding the film is thus somewhat a play within a film, a projected image watched on a flat screen. But regardless of the aforementioned, a key aspect that seems to take more of an importance given the film’s theme and topic would force then an ethical criticism of The King and I in relation to a view of such under the theory of Deconstruction.

As is the objective of an ethical critique of a subject, an evaluation of social, political, and personal qualities must be thus assessed. In the film, The King and I , ethical criticism can be applied solely even in its use of the concept of ‘the scientific way of thinking’ and the application of a particular thought to be discussed in greater detail later on to as can be summated in the one line in the movie:

“Mrs. Anna, please don’t leave us. We need you very much.”

The King and I invokes an immediate ethical criticism making comment in terms of the film’s message in the perspective of the opposition of Western and Eastern traditions and in turn an unavoidable personal reflection of the audience of what he views – all of which are thus then subject to questioning of basic importance and root of the derivation of such points.

Throughout the course of the film, it is made a constant debate the dilemma of the people of Siam in the contradiction of belief of the ideas of the West, that of scientific thought, and of theirs, that of which are based on tradition and is much rooted in the concept of their faith. In the perspective of the people it is undoubted that in whatsoever ways are to be done to achieve a state of cohesion or domestication of ideas, the debate will nevertheless lead on to a question of who is right and who is wrong. The film itself brings up this point through a discussion between the King and his son, his heir to the throne. It is discussed upon in this scene the measures of how one would then know that he knows everything, a thought made parallel to that of a King. It is questioned henceforth the idea of why contradicting ideas do exist. And thus do numerous questions follow such of that of the importance even that a side does prevail in the manner of distinguishing who is right and who is wrong.

To back track to the contradiction of beliefs and to put into play the aforementioned thought, we can now make use of the observed tension between cultures in The King and I and assess it as not merely a topic of debate regarding the terrors of colonialism and slavery as is the basic issues that constitute the film’s themes. As we as audience watch the film it would be an easy assumption to say that what is being shown, regardless of aesthetics, is an example of the ‘terrors’ of the West bringing their ideas to the East thinking them better, more civilized. A point of example in the film would be in the scenes of preparation for the visit of the British embassy to the royal palace. Rather than making a show of the cultures that are truly theirs, great effort is placed upon creating for themselves a Western banquet complete with massive gowns and “difficult” spoons and forks. It is here that we can somewhat deduce in saying that much of the dilemma of the film comes as a result of the intervention of the West. It is seemingly apparent that it is made for the people of Siam to believe that scientific thought is something essential that they need it even to the point that they disregard their own beliefs. But regardless of what was said, it is also fact that it is made out that the domestication of the idea of scientific thought is made an effort to willingly accomplish. Given the structure of the film of protagonist, antagonist, and dilemma it can be then concluded that the prevalence of scientific thought is given an edge in saying that it is right and in these modern times more correct. Here also is the belief for tradition vilified through the character of the Kralohom. It is thus the perception that it is the people of Siam that are the oppressed and the people of the West the oppressors. But a second thought of the cruelty of slavery made an issue of that we are once again made to ask who is correct? Do we condone the West in their promulgation of beliefs and make amends in saying that it is for the better if at the end slavery is made rid of? It is a question in itself that we should not and could not answer here. An ethical criticism partnered with that of Deconstruction leads us down the path in saying that the opinions are endless and the debate will lead on forever with no one really knowing who the absolute teller of the truth is.

On the other hand, an evaluation of the film in the point of view of a Filipino, that of which can in this case of an ethical reading be thought of as a theoretical scheme of the personal, would thus align itself off handedly with the perspective of the people of Siam given the fact that we are a country who have undergone our own course of colonization and thus a similar dilemma of a contradiction of foreign belief and tradition. It is fact that we have gone through ourselves even more dire modes of domestication of thought having been influenced by Spanish, Japanese, and American cultures; an influence of the Chinese culture can as well be made a point of. Given the aforementioned, all that can be said is simply put in stating that as a Filipino who has suffered the same it is natural that we side with the outcast character of the Kralohom. Villain that he may be it is besides the point of the idea I wish to bring up. It may have been in the past that we too all wished for the abundance of the domestication of foreign thought. It is fact that it was at one point our desire to be recognized as people of Spain and at another point in history we made great effort to become as ‘American’ as we could possibly be. But it is as evident now to say otherwise and that a sense of identity is all that remains to be desired. It is a common question to ask what is Filipino. What is a Filipino? What is depicted in the film, The King and I, are the earlier stages of our own journey of self understanding under the influence of foreign thought and bodies. The people of Siam are but newbies to the modern world that requires a global communication of thought and culture.

The debate that thus then ensued as a result of the reading into the narrative of The King and I is one that is brought into light but is never resolved. We are made to question among many things the justification of the promulgation and implementation of Western thought into a oppositionary set of Eastern beliefs, the right of the people of Siam to domesticate, accept, or reject these beliefs, and at an overall perception of ideas we look to the root of reasoning of why we draw such meaning from the film. As it is the predetermined factor of an ethical judgment that it is such that we look beyond aesthetics, but now with view of the theory Deconstruction, we ask but why so must it be done? Is there truly a need to create meaning beyond the aesthetics?

Now looking beyond plainly at the criticisms made of the film The King and I, we inadvertently arrive at a summation of the purpose of the ethical means of theoretical criticism, if at the very least a verbalization of the author’s opinion. I believe so that the partnership of Deconstruction and Ethical criticism has led me to a personal belief that criticism of any sort should never be such that is limited to that of the aesthetic. Criticism of Art in any of its forms, film of greatest interest to the author, should not be limited to aesthetics since such would be besides the point of the form itself. Art is never made for art’s sake, intentionally or otherwise, as it is primarily this intention itself of creating meaning, creating something out of nothing, with a purpose that transcends the aesthetic and creates dimensions of meaning. The King suggests at one point that America should breed elephants as a means of betterment in the goal of winning their war. It is trivial and even funny if taken at face value, but as we have taken great efforts to put great meaning in other dialogues, action, and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera … what is it now to put meaning to this passing thought of the King? Deconstruction leads us on to believe in an unfixed grounding of meaning of perception of things and of such that can be done – stressing here the endless possibilities of the “can”. Aesthetical judgment now only seems a limiting of oneself given the aforementioned ideas. An Ethical criticism is just one among many other theories and modes of criticism that provoke the endless swarm of the creation of meaning. +

Sources:

Booth, Wayne C. Ethical Criticism, a Banned Discipline?
Brunette, Peter. Post-structuralism and Deconstruction.
Dayan, Daniel. The Tudor-code of Classical Cinema.
Polan, Dana. A Brechtian Cinema? Towards a Politics of Self-reflexive Film.
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whammy alcazaren
06 August 2008 @ 08:45 pm
The Trip to Zentropa


It is explicit that the initial sentence or image in a set or sequence of such results in a consequential conditionary state of understanding by the reader of the particular medium. As is the purpose of the first sentence in a story or the first image and sequence in a film, it is here where intention is established and the context by which the rest of the story or film is to be taken into account is thus then based.

The film Europa by Lars Von Trier begins with a hypnotizing image of rail road tracks given motion through movement of the camera in point of view of a train itself. Accompanying this black and white image of the tracks is a drawl of a man’s voice, hypnotizing as well and sleepy in tone. From this first image are we as audience and readers of the film’s cinematic text intended to identify for ourselves the intentions of the film. We are meant to reach a balance of expectations of the film’s narrative, genre, and purpose among many other things as much as is made possible from the technical choices that have been made for the film as represented by the first visual image shown. Here do we reach an initial state of understanding of it being a realist film by means of it being black and white and done in the stylings of film noir – both assumptions made in context of the film’s date of production, release, and general characteristics. But these are thus then gone against by the film itself and in turn creates a disjointed, for a lack of a better term, sense of cinematic method – though it is not to say that it was not done well and the intention of seeming disparate qualities do not nevertheless reach excellent cohesion.

Europa, seemingly by intention of the director, betrays convention in that it goes against its first established realist cinematic method through its use of color in a black and white film and thus brings upon the need of further discussion the reasons behind the intention itself in terms of Europa being film noir in character, the historical significance of such a choice of technique, and the blurred line of self definition if it is realist or formalist.

Though not to sound illogical in account of the aforementioned statements, there is truly very little to debate upon regarding Europa’s genre typification as film noir. The stated particular genre has for its trademark characteristics the film qualities of being in black and white, making use of heavy shadows and hard diagonal lines in the framing of its shots, and an ever persistent presence of water throughout such films. Interior qualities of film noir include an ‘emphasis of moral ambiguity’, ‘sexual motivation’, and a primarily ‘crime-drama’ narrative – characteristics, both exterior and interior, most of which Europa does indeed possess. At this point do we see the nuisance Europa becomes to its supposed genre in due much to its use of color. Regardless of Von Trier’s intention of the use of dual color schemes, in the account of judging the film under genre criticism, it is a misplaced but understood deviation. A purist would say as so that what was done is unforgiveable but in general perception it is a mark of adaptation, film evolution to coincide with the times when noir films and most especially black and white films are greatly so less prevalent than it was 50 – 60 years previous. Bazin mentions such developments in his essay The Evolution of the Language of Cinema from What is Cinema? He mentions that although certain cinematic qualities ‘can be bridged’ over time there is in fact an evolution that commences – here do we relate Europa through its use of black and white as not only a reference to something that is historical but as well as a means that he puts greater highlight to the importance of the image and what constitutes it to convey its message. Bazin mentions as well ‘the introduction of new blood’ and in a later portion of the essay does he state,

“In addition to affecting the structure of the film language, it also affects the relationship of the minds of the spectators to the image, and in consequence it influences the interpretation of the spectacle.” (163 Bazin)

Here can we thus relate and use as a point of defense the deviations made by Von Trier in Europa. The film ‘bridges’ the aesthetics of the black and white films such as F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise as well as does film noir in his own terms, with his new point of view and in the context of a new audience. Thus can we say that the technical qualities of Europa are as much a making-it-his-own by Von Trier that it is very much in allusion to the “old” film making method.

In the matters of historical criticism of the film Europa, its introductory sequence and the narrative of the film as a whole acts as it is a symbolic parallelism that thus conveys its meaning and purpose. To begin with the black and white shot of the rail road tracks, we are prepared to endeavor into entering the seemingly real place of Zentropa. But to put aside the discussion of whether film noir is realist in its cinematic method, we put primary focus on the film’s narrative – characters, plot, and story development. The narrative of the film, at its very foundation, relates to that which is rooted a realist story but is at the same time wholly fictional. What is meant in the previous statement is that in some way the narrative of Europa, be it realist, incorporates a formalist method. Though setting, place, and events are in essence real, the director references to something dream-like as hinted by the opening monologue ‘transporting’ us into the different world of Zentropa.

To return to the discussion of the film’s primary narrative, Europa brings for the audience a story of an attempt at kindness towards the Nazis in a most peculiar time such would have thought to be done. Here can it be observed various intentions of the film: 1. to somewhat vilify the world in its treatment of post-World War 2 Germany and 2. To put into context a forewarning of things that may happen and of things we should thus make better of. The aforementioned is stated in light of wars occurring at the time of the film’s creation and release, namely and only possibly due to the lack of exterior input of the director outside the film, the Cold War among others.

It is concluded by Siegfried Kracauer in Basic Concepts from Theory of Film, that the medium of film in its progression from photography divides itself into the two tendencies of realistic and formative. The Realist tendency pertains, as clearly given by its title, to the real in terms of subject and similarly the manner it is portrayed through the camera. The Formalist tendency relates to the opposite of the realist.

Now, in the context of the film’s creative use of the camera as cinematic apparatus, there is much to be argued. To take into basis the belief of Bazin and the realist mode of film making in parallel to the narrative and color of the film Europa, it is as much as is to be expected as it is anticipated that the film would be as such – realist, as is mentioned earlier on, if not in just the first few sequences of the film. In historical context, it would be understandable to presume that a black and white film in the 1990s, when black and white is not at all prevalent, to be a historically rooted film. In context of what was conditioned by the first image of the rail road tracks and go further as to say the first few sequences that followed, a general flow had been established of it being realist in topic in its showing of an event with at its roots a historical basis and it going under the umbrella of film noir. This development is not kept in consistency as Von Trier does later on begin his ‘betrayal’ of the original cinematic method by intruding into the film a colored image. At this point is the film’s identity as realist or formalist questioned. Europa puts into argument itself as either leaning to the filmic tendency of realist or formalist. A point of example in the film pertaining to this is its use of a layering of both black and white and color in a single shot with a distinguishable difference of proportion between the images as can be seen in the scene where the children kill off the newly appointed mayor. Von Trier, in a way, simplifies the montage by clustering the images into a single shot. The debate can be thus then resolved by Kracauer. In line with what he says in his essay Basic Concepts from Theory of Film, what is thus then achieved and is the point of a balanced definition of such is the class of the two tendencies. It is safest to now reach a point of conclusion that the film is neither realist nor formalist but in essence possessing characteristics explicit of both the tendencies.

Europa is in terms vintage come back modernized. Von Trier experiments with convention and achieves, with difficulty I hope, a coherence of a film that is both black and white and color, realist and formalist, and all-in-all socially relevant and influenced by.

Much can be said against such an analysis of blind first impression of in this case the film Europa. But it is here that it should be taken note of that it is as well as this paper’s intention – to make judgment through the sole basis of the first image in the sequence of further images of the whole film, as it was Von Trier’s intention to do what he did, in ways that are not necessarily conventional, in his film Europa. +

Sources:
Bazin, A. The Evolution of the Language of Cinema. What us Cinema?
Kracaeur, S. Basic Concepts. Theory of Film.
Buscombe, E. Sound and Color. Historical Criticism.
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whammy alcazaren
06 August 2008 @ 08:41 pm
Don't Read. I'm just posting stuff so i won't lose them 'cause i always lose them.

RANCHERO: Complexity through Austerity
By Whammy Alcazaren


There has been since the breakout of the Cinemalaya film festival an air of anticipation from the cinema-watching masa for these films – themselves invoking into the Cinemalaya films a hopeful break of what I believe is considered the poor standard of the commercial Filipino film. Cinemalaya would thus then, in accordance of the aforementioned ideas, provide the simplest of hopes – the revitalization of quality Philippine cinema or at the very least a stage upon which independent cinema can be viewed by the general public be it that the films produced as a result of the festival are themselves already what can be considered commercial indies.

An early standout among this year’s roster of films is Michael Cardoz’s Ranchero for reasons of no notoriety of such events of commercial actors gone indie or other such news. Ranchero gained for it a certain amount of buzz due to the fact that it was chosen to be shown as part of the Paris Project of Festival Paris Cinema even before the Cinemalaya Film Festival proper. From this point can we thus now properly asses the film. Ranchero, though clearly not a crowd pleaser regardless of its prior achievement in the said festival, achieves in its austerity a very clear and powerful look into the lives of Filipino prisoners through the point of view of rancheros, inmates who prepare their and their community’s daily meals, by means of the real-time method of narrative storytelling and by the use of the deep focus shot.

Against its competitors, the other nine Cinemalaya films such as Brutus and 100, there is a clearly observable disparate quality of the manner by which the narrative of Ranchero is laid out. As compared to what can be described as the more traditional narrative structure the other films possess, Ranchero lays bare the story. It instead creates complexity through its austerity – encouraging participation of the audience to create for the story its desired conflict and from the little, nearly seemingly purposeless details having made its way on the screen, meaning of absolute importance towards the full creation and belief of the world of the ranchero. This mode of real time narrative structure used in the film takes influence from its recent prevalence among Filipino films as can be seen in Brilliante Mendoza’s Foster Child and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador. This concept of the real time, one that is much heralded by known screenwriter Armando Lao, constitutes the importance of the detail of process and, in part, the value of a single shot.

Hand in hand with the use of the real time mode, is the director’s and his cinematographer’s abundant use of the deep focus shot. By the use of such a method thus does the idea earlier mentioned and brought upon by the film itself through its particular narrative structure is a consistency of aesthetics achieved. The deep focus shot, a shot appropriated with stagnancy and a deep depth of field, serves as our well informed eye into the deeply cinematic quality of the film. As such that the bareness of the actual narrative and use of incredible detail to flesh out the story, the choice of having excessive deep focus shots maintained in long periods of time invites the audience of the film, the readers of its cinematic text, to consume through the eye a meaning otherwise done through selected imagery, angles, dialogue and others of the such in films done in what can be said in comparison to Ranchero as traditional. The audience here becomes voyeur into the lives of the rancheros, watching and taking in as much of the image that is provided and from this create meaning to properly assess the situation and internalize what events are going on within the time and space of the scene.

Ranchero is not a perfect film, it is here that it should now be noted. Regardless of what was previously mentioned of what I consider for the film its prime, key and most interesting features, it is in my opinion that I say that it is not enough in terms of both aesthetic and audience appeal for it to be considered as this year’s unnoticed (poorly awarded even) great film. The film is at the very least decent, leaving its audience with the initial feeling of simple content. Ranchero is for sure, be it as it may that I myself have a bias against the real-time method, a very good film. It is just that I feel that it could be something even more.

In hind’s sight, we now look back to what was said regarding Ranchero’s disappointing audience turn out even though having prior good press accomplished through its inclusion in the Paris Project. Thus can it be stated that it is actually the reverse of what has been said that the cinema-watching masa are thus enticed by good and quality films as proclaimed by critics – here we must insert the prior buzz Ranchero had. However there is still though, observably, an increase in the acceptance of the indie scene even with its more ‘controversial’ choice of topics. Ranchero has become not the film that makes its mark for the director, Michael Cardoz – the film seems to me something for him to start from, that we should expect something even better in the future – or does it introduce anything new or disrupt in any manner by which Filipino cinema today is done. It does, on the other hand, define the aforementioned concepts in their rawest forms – pushing them to the extremities, unique even for such kind of films. It preludes to what I believe the further domestication of the art house cinema such festivals are slowly introducing and making familiar to the general masa and not just the typical film student or buff. Ranchero is one of those that the public awaits for in the Cinemalaya Film Festival if ever they watched it or not. It is their breath of fresh air.
 
 
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whammy alcazaren
16 June 2008 @ 07:12 pm
METROPOLIS:
THE MOTHER OF THE SCIENCE FICTION FILM GENRE


The film Metropolis (1927) by German filmmaker Fritz Lang has been credited as the mother of the Science Fiction film genre, if not an important muse of the genre having been the inspiration of many Science Fiction films to follow. Metropolis has given birth to an abundance of quality and iconic Science Fiction films such as Ridley Scott’s cult film Blade Runner (1982), The Matrix (1999) trilogy, and the Star Wars series. The film has become reference and influence to many Science Fiction films that followed in terms of film narrative, imagery of set in terms of production design and wardrobe, and stock characters.

Metropolis itself is a film classified under the Science Fiction genre most notably in the aspect of the social commentary embedded in its primary narrative, the overall visual style of the film, and the importance to the plot of the woman character – both through the lead female character of Maria and her android double. As the film Metropolis has been acclaimed as the mother of the Science Fiction film genre, thus does it become of greater importance to identify its qualities as it is what is observed from the film that becomes the basis of classification of what characterizes a Science Fiction film. The aforementioned elements of Metropolis are just some of the many characteristics typical of a Science Fiction film.

THE SCIENCE FICTION GENRE

Science Fiction is a genre whose output in various mediums such as theater, literature, and film is that which is concerned with the imagination or speculation of the possibilities and consequences that science and technology may bring. 1The genre is unlimited by space and time as Science Fiction in the various mediums is presented in the vast range of past, present, and future in a setting that may or may not exist – in familiar locations or on other worlds and dimensions. Science and technology are key in the science fiction genre as it is the imagination of what can happen and be done and the distortion of familiar technologies and ideas in science is such that is the essence of what is Science Fiction; Science Fiction is based on reality.

It is important to note the difference of the Science Fiction genre and other genres, specifically the Fantasy genre. Fantasy in the various mediums that it is portrayed in is concerned with the spiritual and the mystical. The Fantasy genre discusses the supernatural. Literature and films in the line of the Fantasy genre have produced novels and feature films such as Frankenstein (1931), Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), and Interview with the Vampire (1994). The Fantasy genre concerns itself with such beings of the supernatural. Aspects of this genre, unlike the Science Fiction genre, have no basis in reality and are imagined or speculated from the basis of things that is not understood – that of the spiritual, mystical, and supernatural.

2 In the classification of genre, there exists a limitation or a typical mold by which films are set against to determine their genre categorization. The Science Fiction genre can be thus differentiated from Fantasy, as well as from the genre of Horror whose certain characteristics blur the lines of the definition of what is a Science Fiction film and what is Horror or Fantasy. In the situation of the Fantasy genre, the genre is different from the genre of Horror even though the later may be heralded as the father genre to it as monsters are common of Horror films. But from this comes more confusion and a blur of definitions as certain Science Fiction films have monsters in the literary sense as primary characters. Films such as the Alien (1979) series are problematic as it is somewhat of the Science Fiction genre, the Horror genre, and the Fantasy genre. Because of this have people been led to classify such films as hybrids – Sci-Fi Horror or Science Fantasy. Such is the problem of the idea of genre. Nevertheless, there does exist rules by which to differentiate films and their genres although not to be taken at the utmost strictness. The Fantasy genre, Science Fiction genre, and genre of Horror are not the same. Certain particular descriptions of a genre film determine the genre of a film if at least to justify the categorization of a particular film in the technical aspect.

The film genre of Science Fiction follows this scheme of things as there are certain variables or common characteristics which aid in the categorization of a film as a Science Fiction film.

Science fiction film is a film genre which emphasizes actual, extrapolative, or speculative science and the empirical method, interacting in a social context with the lesser emphasized, but still present, transcendentalism of magic and religion, in an attempt to reconcile man with the unknown (Sobchack 63).

The Science Fiction genre as channeled through the medium of film in itself possesses distinguished characteristics that the other mediums of the Science Fiction genre do not have.
Given the characteristics of the medium of film, the visual styling and use of sound is highlighted. As compared to the other mediums such as literature and theater, the visual style of the Science Fiction genre is greatly different as portrayed in film as it is able to create a more believable setting of the future with advanced technology. Although such can be achieved similarly through well done description through words and stage design in literature and theater respectively, the setting that a film creates for the genre is observably different, now even more so through the possibilities brought upon by visual effects. One must here take into play that this day and age are people more attuned to their visual senses. An example to the aspect mentioned are the visual effects used to create the many locations and alien creatures in the Star Wars (1977) trilogy. In addition to this, another characteristic of the Science Fiction film genre unique to it are the sound effects used in these films. Though once again achievable in the mediums of literature and theater, the sound effects of a Science Fiction film is greatly different and provides its audience with something more tangible and believable than the other mediums mentioned. An example of this aspect could be taken from the Star Wars trilogy. The unique sound of the Science Film Star Wars can be heard in the sound of the light sabers in the film and the imagined roars and grunts of the many alien characters the film has created a world for.

SCIENCE FICTION AND THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY


Metropolis fits the mold of what is a Science Fiction film as it has, through its narrative, a social commentary – a trait common of the Science Fiction film especially at the time of the film’s release. The primary narrative of the film revolves around the social strife between the planners and thinkers of Metropolis who live in the highest parts of the city’s skyscrapers and the laborers of the city who dwell underground. The struggle lies between these two parties and it is this social dilemma which drives the narrative of the film. Maria becomes a prophetic character for the laborers as she foretells the coming of a mediator who will bridge the gap between the two struggling parties in hopes that the problems be solved and that proper and understandable communication will be had for the two parties. The social struggle portrayed in the film is best encapsulated in the particular scene wherein Maria retells to the laborers of Metropolis a modified version of the Biblical story of the tower of Babel:
The scene changes from Maria to creative men of antiquity deciding to build a monument to the greatness of humanity and the creator of the world, high enough to reach the stars. Since they cannot build their monument by themselves, they contract workers to build it for them for wages. The camera focuses on armies of workers led to the construction site of the monument. They work hard but cannot understand the dreams of the Tower's designers, and the designers don't concern themselves with the mind of their workers. As the film explains, "The dreams of a few had turned to the curses of many". It then ironically inverts the original story's conclusion, noting that the planners and the workers spoke the same language but didn't understand each other. The workers revolt and in their fury destroy the monument. As the scene ends and the camera returns to Maria, only ruins remain of the Tower of Babel. This retelling is notable in keeping the theme of the lack of communication from the original story but placing it in the context of relations between social classes. (www (dot) Wikipedia (dot) com)

Such a film whose narrative hints on a social commentary was popular of Science Fiction films at the time. This mode of narrative, of a social commentary, can also be seen in the film Frau Im Mond (1929).

Much of the social commentary of the film lies in its representation of the working class, the city’s laborers in contrast to the luxurious thinkers and planners of Metropolis. The film depicts the working class laborers as not individuals but rather as a mass of people. The individuals of the mass of the working class are anonymous – nameless and faceless – as compared to the noted individuals of the higher class community of Metropolis – the leaders, business men, and scientists. Through the well use of film semiotics is Metropolis able to depict this representation of the people through simple imagery.

In the machine centre, they turn into hands on enormous dials, jerkily executing their mysterious work to keep the gigantic wheels moving. They are more machines than human beings – more machine even than the robot that struts toward the camera. (Lotte H. Eisner 83)

The working class laborers are dressed in simple and dull uniforms and made to move mechanically. They march from one machine to the other, push buttons, and pull levers not out of the desire to do so with the passion of knowing that what they are doing has meaning and purpose but rather out of habit. Although the audience of the film may recognize them as people, there is a sense of lifelessness from their visual image and motion, this compared to the more fanciful people who live atop the skyscrapers of Metropolis.

Social commentary provided by Science Fiction films change with the times as they reflect the fear and the problems faced by people of a particular generation. Science Fiction films of the 1950s took on the idea of other worlds and other beings, riding the wave of the race of the journey of man to reach the stars; it was in the year 1969 that man finally was able to walk on the moon. The films Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Destination Moon (1950) are examples of Science Fiction films that came out in this era. The 1970s saw the making of Science Fiction films that expressed the people’s fear of the government as can be seen in such films as Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) and George Lucas’ acclaimed short film THX 1138 (1971). Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange specifically is a take on the people’s fear at the time of being brainwashed and controlled by the government. Here can we also note the relationship of the Science Fiction film genre and Science Fiction literature. Many literatures in the genre of Science Fiction have been made into films, A Clockwork Orange included. Other examples of Science Fiction literature bridging into the medium of film are the novels I am Legend by William Matheson and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury resulting into the films The Omega Man (1971) and Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451(1966) respectively.

The more recent Science Fiction films such as Bladerunner, Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), and Minority Report (2002) comment as well on social realities. These recent Science Fiction films concern themselves with the problem of man’s relationship with the machine, of the ever growing and speedy advancement of science and technology. A fear has grown among people of how we have become over reliant to technology and how we are somewhat consumed by it that the process of communication it was meant to aid has thus become fragmented and that how are realities are now blurred. The films Bladerunner and Artificial Intelligence: AI comment on the possibility that in the future machines may take our place and that how what is in essence supposedly human has become possible to mimic and what is inherently human can no longer be recognized. On the other hand, Minority Report comments on the people’s reliance on the sciences and technology. The film questions if in the future will there still remain knowledge that we can be left to wonder about and hope to solve.

THE IMAGERY OF METROPOLIS


The visual style of the film Metropolis is typical of the Science Fiction film if not the basis of many of the Science Fiction films that followed. Metropolis, as a Science Fiction film, is true to the mold of its genre as can be seen in its production design, the set design in particular. Inspired by the styling of German expressionism, the architecture of the buildings and skyscrapers and the machinery and tunnels of the underground of Metropolis follow this theme of design as can be seen by the accentuated diagonals and the design of light and shadows reminiscent of the film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920).

Lang’s version of skyscrapers, an exaggerated dream of the New York skyline, multiplied a thousandfold and divested of all reality, is splendid. It has become truly the town of the future, reaching up into the sky in luminous immensity – quite unlike Godard’s cold Alphaville. Again it is the encounter of the Expressionism and Surrealism. Light and fog mingle to produce an atmosphere of weightlessness, of shimmering brightness. Towers soar with the pious thrust of Gothic architecture; corridors and hanging streets link them together prophetically, so that we hardly notice the toy airships from a bygone age. (Lotte H. Eisner 86)

As is the agenda of German expressionism, there lies a distortion of elements observable in the production design of the film Metropolis. As can be seen from the image of the city of Metropolis, its buildings and skyscrapers, there lies a familiarity with what is seen but partnered still with a sense of unfamiliarity. Although as an audience to what is shown we may recognize as what we see as buildings and vehicles we are made to picture this as what such familiar things would be like in the future. Here lies the distortion of elements traditional of the Science Fiction genre. In addition to this, another example of this aspect of the Science Fiction film genre can be seen in the prop clocks of Metropolis. “The office features two unfamiliar clocks: a 24-hour clock and a ten-hour clock, ten hours being the length of the workers' shifts” (www (dot) Wikipedia (dot) com). Although there is a recognition of the devices as clocks, we are left to speculate what their purpose truly is if it only has 10 and 24 hours, against the standard clocks which have 12.

THE ROLE OF THE WOMAN IN SCIENCE FICTION


The female lead of the film Metropolis, Maria, and the android made to look like her by the scientist Rotwang are integral to the narrative of the film. Through these characters does the plot of the film develop and deepen as it is because of the actions of Maria and her counterpart robotic gynoid does the narrative itself of the film progress and even begin.

In her first appearance, when she enters the garden of the sons after hurdling, as if by miracle, all the obstacles, Maria – the real Maria, the good Maria – is surrounded by a host of small children over whom she extends her arms, creating a sheltered zone outlined by the placenta-like veil that hangs from her shoulders. When she points to the children and says to Freder, “They are your brothers,” he is so thunderstruck that he stops his lovemaking and places his hand on his heart, a gesture that will be repeated throughout the film. (Penley et al. 139)

It is the result of the aforementioned scene does Freder, unknown to be early on in the film as the prophesized mediator, seek out the beautiful Maria and learn through this quest of the underground of Metropolis; Through the character of Maria is Freder enlightened. The robotic Maria created by Rotwang, in turn, similarly serves to develop the narrative of the film as it is she whom the higher class people of Metropolis fall in love with and the lower class laborers draw anger from. The android Maria develops the story as she rallies the working class laborers to go against the thinkers and planners of Metropolis – causing the concluding sequence of the film wherein the underground city of Metropolis is flooded and the upper ground, along with the city’s buildings and skyscrapers, are burning to the ground and its streets filled with the rioting and angry working class laborers.

This use of the female character as a key element in a Science Fiction film has become a common thread of the genre as can be seen in the use of such in modern films such as Bladerunner and the Star Wars Trilogy. In Ridley Scott’s cult classic Bladerunner, the lead female character of the film that serves as the drive of the film’s narrative is the replicant Rachael whom Deckard does everything to protect. The female character of Rachael in the film serves a similar purpose as the good Maria of Metropolis as it is Rachael who puts Deckard into a questioning state of the rights of a replicant as that compared to a human’s. Through the state of the character of Rachel’s unknowing of her true self as a replicant is the audience too affected and moved into the questioning of self identity of our being human as well as Deckard’s identity as replicant or human. On the other hand, in the Star Wars trilogy, this aspect of the central female character can be found in the character of Padme, the wife of Darth Vader and mother to Luke Skywalker. As revealed in the third film of the series, it is because of Anakin Skywalker’s love for her and his wish to resurrect her from the dead that is the cause of his turning to the dark side. The woman character in these Science Fiction films mentioned act as causative elements to the film’s narrative. Here it can be thus noted the obsession of the female character among Science Fiction films. This too is apparent in the film Metropolis through the robotic gynoid in relation to its creator Rotwang. The robotic gynoid prior to the events of the film was created by Rotwang in hopes of creating for himself a copy of Hel, his former love and deceased wife of Fredersen; the female character of Hel was fought over by the two men Rotwang and Fredersen, father of Freder, in events prior to those depicted in the film. Other Science Fiction films that maintain this element of the Science Fiction film is the Matrix trilogy, with Neo’s relationship with Trinity, and the film Frau Im Mond, with the love triangle between Helius, Windegger, and Friede.

METROPOLIS: THE MOTHER OF THE SCIENCE FICTION FILM GENRE

Metropolis is widely considered as the mother of the Science Fiction film genre in the simple sense that it has inspired and has become reference to from many quality and themselves iconic Science Fiction films that followed in the years then after till today. Metropolis, as a Science Fiction film, has inspired other films in the genre in terms of narrative and plot, overall visual design of setting and wardrobe, and in the film’s themes, symbols, and message. Particular Science Fiction films that have been inspired by Metropolis are Bladerunner and the Star Wars series. As mentioned previously, the observable influence of Metropolis on the film Bladerunner lies in the film’s social commentary in its narrative and in the design of its cityscape. On the other hand, the Star Wars trilogy references and is influenced by the film in the film aspect of character as well as in the design of setting and props.

The genre of Science Fiction is that which captures the imagination and speculation of the people of the present generation of what can and may happen in terms of what is real and possible through science and technology. The film Metropolis captures the essence of this greatly, assuming somewhat almost as prophetic – a forewarning of things to come. And it is this that is the essence of what a Science Fiction film is as clearly evident as well in the films that followed such as the Matrix trilogy, Minority Report, and even in the more recent film I am Legend. The message of Metropolis remains relevant even till today. In Science Fiction we imagine of tomorrow and Metropolis imagined of how society would be today. ‘“The dreams of a few had turned to the curses of many". It then ironically inverts the original story's conclusion, noting that the planners and the workers spoke the same language but didn't understand each other.’ (www (dot) Wikipedia (dot) com)

Notes

1 Gehring, Wes. Handbook of American Film Genres. 1988.

2 Grant, Barry et al. Film Genre Reader. 1986.

Works Cited

Grant, Barry et al. Film Genre Reader. 1986.

Gehring, Wes. Handbook of American Film Genres. 1988.

Eisner, Lotte. Fritz Lang. 1976.

Penley, Constance et al. Close Encounters: Film, Feminism, and Science Fiction. 1991.

www (dot) Wikipedia (dot) com

www (dot) imdb (dot) com
 
 
Current Location: Katipunan
Current Mood: complacent
 
 
whammy alcazaren
08 May 2008 @ 05:46 pm
If bored, read and comment please so i can edit.
Danke.

BOMBA
ni Whammy Alcazaren

Pinanood ko muli ang paggapang ng mga langgam paakyat ng kanyang dibdib, patungo sa dulo nito. Inaakit sila, katulad ko, ng tamis at ng mga kakaibang amoy na umaalingasaw mula sa kanyang hubad na katawan. Ipinasok ko ng mas malalim sa butas ng dingding, na naghihiwalay sa kuwarto naming dalawa, ang aking kaliwang mata upang mas maayos na mapagmasdan si Jashil. Makintab ang kanyang kulay-kape na balat dahil sa pawis na bumabalot dito – kumikinang sa bawat pag-alon ng kanyang katawan, sa bawat malambot na paghinga. Malambing na dinapuan ng mga langgam ang mala-rosas na tuktok ng dalawang ganap na mabilog at makinis na bundok sa kanyang dibdib. Linalasap nila ang tuwang naidudulot nito – parang isang nakasisira-ulong droga, ngunit hindi pa rin nagising si Jashil sa sakit ng kanilang matatakaw na kagat. Katulad ng iibang gabing siya’y aking pinanonood, si Jashil ay nanatiling tila isang estatuwa. Palaging mabilis ang tibok ng aking puso at basa ang aking buong katawan habang ginagawa ko ito.
Inangat ko ng kaunti ang aking katawan mula sa isang pagupo at pinosisyon ito sa isang mala-hayop na pagdapa. Nakataas ang pwet sa hangin, inuyuko ko ng maayos ang aking ulo’t pati ang aking mabasa-basang likod sa nakabukang bahagi ng ding-ding – ang isang maliit na butas – tulad ng mga mala-rosas na mga ibon tuwing nakababad sa tubig at naghahanap ng makakain. Naririnig ko ang paghinga ni Jashil sa kanyang mahimbing na pagtulog. Umaalingawngaw sa ulo ko ang mga dati niyang sinabi. Natatandaan ko pa rin. Hinati niya ang kanyang mga labi, na malagkit ang mga gilid at kumikintab sa silaw ng araw.
“Bosco, I’m sorry. Hindi kasi ako ready for a relationship right now.”
“Bosco, I’m sorry. Hindi kita type. Gusto ko kasi sa mga lalaking mas matangkad sa akin.”
“Bosco, I’m sorry. Ayoko kasi sa chubby.”
Tinanggihan ako ni Jashil noong tinanong ko lang naman kung gusto niya lumabas para kumain, manood ng sine, mag-iceskating, mag-bowling – hindi pa ako nakapagdesisyon noong mga panahong iyon kung ano talaga ang gusto kong gawin naming dalawa. Naglaro sa isip ko ang ideyang subukan na ang aking pagkalalaki.
Ibinago ko muli ang posisyon ng aking pagsilip sa butas – nakaupo na muli na nakasandal sa ding-ding, ang mga paa’y nakatiklop katulad ng isang batang natutulog. Nananakit ang aking katawan. Nasusunog ang aking balat dulot ng init at pagkatuyo ng hangin na sa bawat pagkiskis ng aking mga paa’t kamay sa isa’t isa ay namumula ang aking balat at paminsa’y napupunit. Dumadagdag din sa sakit na aking tinitiis ang mga sugat ng aking balat bunga ng napakalimit na pagtusok ng buhok na kamakailan lamang ay tumubo sa madidilim na bahagi ng aking katawan – ang tulis ng bawat buhok di sadyang napatalim sa ulit-ulitang pagputol nito sa pagnanasang sana’y maitago ang nagaganap nang pagtanda. Nauubusan na ako ng oras. Pinipilit ko pang maghintay, alam kong magbibigay din si Jashil. Malapit na. Kinaaawaan niya ako – alam ko ito – at ako ay naghihintay na lamang.
May kumatok sa pintuan. Sumilip ako sa butas sa dingding, hindi pa rin gumagalaw si Jashil, tahimik sa napakahimbing na pagtulog. Si Ate Viva ang kumatok, nakikilala ko dahil sa lakas ng bawat pagkatok dulot ng kanyang napakaraming suot na kulay ginto na singsing. Si Ate Viva ang tagabantay namin dito sa dorm, kaming mga estudyanteng napakalayo ang pinaggalingan para lamang na makapagaral sa Maynila at para sa iilan, na katulad ko rin, na pumipilit na makisabay sa sariling pagtanda. Sa tamang edad ay dapat lumisan na ang bata mula sa bahay ng magulang. Pagkatapos noon ay responsibilidad na ng bata ang pagiging lalaki. Alam ko ito at ako ay naghihintay na lamang.
Nagmadali akong tumayo, inayos ang suot na mabasa-basang t-shirt, at pinulot na lamang ang kumot na nakatapon sa sahig at tinali ng mabilisan sa baywang. Dahan-dahan kong binuksan ang pintuan, nagpapamukhang napagising lamang mula sa siesta dahil sa nadinig na pagkatok. Pumikit-pikit ako at nagkamot ng ulo.
“Gandang hapon Ate Viva.” Ngumiti ako pagkatapos.
Nakasuot ng pang mas batang babae si Ate Viva, tipong damit na dapat mga kababata ko lamang ang sumusuot. Malaki siyang tao at nakikita na sa kanyang mukha ang bigat ng maraming pinaglipasang mga taon mula ng kanyang kabataan. Makapal ang kanyang make-up. Nakaladlad ang kanyang buhok hanggang baywang. Nakasuot siya ng mainit na pulang tank top na buong-buo ang hawak sa lahat ng bilog ng kanyang katawan. Litaw sa kanyang mukha ang makislap na pulang mga labi.
“Okay ka lang diyan Bosco? Di ka ba naiinitan? May extra akong electric fan o kung gusto mong maligo may nakahanda akong tubig doon sa banyo ng kuwarto ko”
“Ay Hindi. Okay lang ako.”
“Sigurado ka? Baka pagalitan pa ako ng nanay mo, sabihin na di kita inaalagaan.” Kinindatan ako ng kaunti. Ngumiti siya ng kaunti. “Magpalamig ka muna.”
Sinuri ko ang kanyang katawan.
“Sorry, ayoko,” sumagot ako sa isang buntong hininga.
Sinarado ko ang pinto ng dahan-dahan sa kabagalan ng paggalaw tulad ng aking pagbukas. Mabait na nakangiti si Ate Viva, halata ang pagkayamot, humahabol ng paanyaya na pumunta pa rin sa kuwarto niya. Inalukan niya ako ng ice-tea, biskwit, at anu-ano pang bagay na pwede raw niyang maibigay na pampalamig ng katawan. Pagkatapos ng huli niyang pag-kaway ay inayos niya ang kanyang bra at siya namang naglabas ng mabigat na buntong hininga. Naramdaman ko ang bigat ng kanyang yapak palayo, pababa sa kuwarto niya.
Nahanap ko ang butas sa dingding ilang linggo mula sa araw ng aking pagkabigo habang inaayos ang aking kuwarto. Nagtatangal ako noon ng mga litrato mula sa ding-ding at inurong sa tabi ang aparador upang matakpan ang bintana na madalas nadadaanan ng mga iba pang nakatira sa dorm palabas patungo sa klase – madalas makapasok ang iba’t ibang hayop mula sa damuhan sa labas. Ayokong nasisilipan ako habang natutulog. Nahihiya ako sa mga babaeng baka sumilip at makita akong tulog – bukaka ang paa, kamay sa kung anu-anong lugar, at ang bungaga’y kalahating bukas at tumutulo ng laway. Nakahigang tulog si Jashil noon katulad ngayon. Hubad ang kanyang katawan dahil sa init ng aming maliliit na kuwarto. Katulad niya sa kanyang pagtulog, basa ang katawan ko.
Araw-araw kong pinapanood si Jashil. Ang aking kaliwang mata ay namulat-mula, tumigas ang balat ng aking mga kamay sa kakahawak ng magaspang na ding-ding, at nananakit na rin ang aking mga tuhod. Pinagnanasahan ko pa rin si Jashil – ang kanyang malambot na katawan at mababait na mga mata. Nanginginig ako’t tinatawag ng kanyang tamis at baho. Kinaaawaan niya ako – alam ko ito – at ako ay naghihintay na lamang.
Tinangihan din ako ng mga babaeng mababa ang lipad, mga puta – katulad ni Jashil. Sila dapat ang magiging kapalit ni Jashil kahit sa aspekto man lamang ng ganda at hugis ng katawan.
“Sorry sir, break ko kasi ngayon.”
“Sorry sir, pero hindi ako gumagawa ng ganyan. Dancer lang ako dito.”
“Sorry sir, masyado ka pa kasing bata. Baka, kung ano pang mangyari sa akin.”
Umayaw sila sa alok kong pera, kapalit ng kanilang oras, pagkatao’t katawan. Alin man ay hindi nila ibig na ibigay. Madapuan man ako ng kanilang pagtingin ay mabilisan silang iiwas at titingin panganan, pakaliwa – tuloy ang kanilang sayaw sa posteng mahapding kulay ginto. Nagdikit sa aking noo ang itim kong buhok na tinuyo na ng lubusan ng mainit na araw sa labas ng bahay aliwan. Sinunggaban ko ang mabilog na tipak ng taba na ang aking tuhod at ito’y pinisil-pisil sa tuwa. Narinig ko ang sarili kong magaspang na paghinga. Sumayaw sila at umugoy, dilat ang mga mata’t tila sinaniban, dinidilaan ang posteng ginto. Ang liwanag mula rito’y binubulag ako. Binubulag ako ngunit hindi ako kumilos at nanatiling nakatitig. Ninais ko ang kanilang katawan – malambot na mga bagay-bagay na binibigay sa mga taong nakarating na sa punto ng buhay kung saan matatawag na silang karapat-dapat.
Desperado akong pumunta doon sa walang tagumpay – kasama ang iba’t ibang uri ng lalaki sa iba’t ibang punto ng kanilang buhay: mga lalaking puti na ang buhok, nakasuot ng amerikana’t may hawak-hawak na panyo at relong walang mukha, mga lalaking may kasama pang ibang mga lalaki na nakatanggal na ang mga polo, at mga taong katulad ko na naka t-shirt at pantalong maong. Sa gitna ng aking pagkawala sa sayaw ng mga naggagandahang mga babae sa paligid, ipinilit kong itago ang patong-patong kong taba sa ilalim ng aking t-shirt. Nilakihan ko ang pagitan ng aking mga paa upang magmukhang tamang timbang ang aking katawan. Tumulo na ang tubig mula sa ulo ko. Sana sana’y naisip nilang nagkamali sila sa pagtanggi sa akin. Sana, sa pangalawang lingon, natipuan nila ako. Lumambot ang aking pakiramdam, walang dumating.
Tinulak ko pa nang mas malalim papasok ang aking kaliwang mata. Gumalaw ng kaunti si Jashil. Ginalaw niya ang kanyang kanang kamay mula sa kanyang makinis na hita paakyat sa kanyang tahimik na mukha’t pinunas ito. Binasa naman niya ng pawis ang kanyang mahabang itim na buhok upang ito rin ay magkaroon ng kaunting kinang. Nakikita ang dinaanan ng kanyang kamay sa guhit ng tinangalan ng basa – isang linyang dumadaan sa gitna ng kanyang puson, tiyan, at dibdib. Umalis na ang mga langgam, pumunta na sa ibang gawain.
May kumatok sa pintuan. Si Ate Viva nanaman. Malakas ang kanyang pagkatok sa pintuan na parang sinusuntok at puno ng galit. Nagmadali ako’t nagsuot na ngayon ng shorts. Tumingin ako sa salamin ng sandali’t sinigurado ang kinakailangang pagmumukhang pagkainosente’t walang ginagawang masama. Dahan-dahan kong binuksan ang pintuan. Nakatayo ng nakasandal sa bewang si Ate Viva. Nakapisil ang kanyang pwet sa masikip na shorts na suot.
“Halika Bosco. Nanay mo sa telepono.” tamad niyang sinabi.
Sinulyapan ko ang butas sa ding-ding at nagmadaling sumama kay Ate Viva. Sinarado ko ng mabuti ang pintuan, inalog ng kaunti ang hawakan para masigurado na walang makakapasok. Sinundan ko ang nakapisil na pwet ni Ate Viva pababa ng hagdanan.
“Limang minuto lang a.” mabilisan na sinabi ni Ate Viva. Tinalikuran niya ako’t lumabas para manigarilyo.
Naupo ako sa pulang monobloc na upuan sa tabi ng lamesa kung saan nakapatong yung telepono.Wala masyadong tao sa bulwagan ng dorm – dalawang tao lang na tila magkasintahan ata. Inangat ko ang awditibo at sinandal sa kanang tenga.
“Hello Ma. Bakit po?”
“ Bosco, kamusta ka na?” mahinhin na sinabi ng aking nanay.
“Mabuti naman.”
Sunod-sunod ang pagtanong ng nanay – kung maayos ba naman daw ang mga klase ko, kung may kaibigan ako, kung maayos naman daw ang lahat ng bagay-bagay.
Sumangayon na lamang ako sa lahat ng tinanong niya na hindi talagang nakikinig. Masyado akong nadala sa panonood sa magkasintahang naghahalikan sa kabilang dulo ng kuwarto. Mahigpit na nakatali ang kanilang malalambot na katawan. Mahigpit ang kapit ng kanilang mga labi, bumibitaw lamang ng paminsan-minsan para makahinga. Nakikita ko ang pagkalagkit ng kanilang paghalik, ang pagpapalitan ng tubig ng katawan. Parang isang manok na tumutuka ng pagkain, bumilis ang kanilang paghahalik at tumindi at uminit ang bawat pagtagpo ng kanilang malalambot na labi. Namumula ang balat ng lalaki. Dahan-dahan niyang binaba ang kanyang kamay sa isang himas, gumagawa ng guhit-balangkas ng katawan ng babaeng hinahalikan at siya raw na minamahal, at pinasok sa loob ng palda.
Mabilis na bumukas ang mga mata ng babae at tinulak ang lalaki palayo. Mabilis na yinakap ng lalaki ang babae at hinalikan sa leeg. Nadala ang babae ng ilang segundo. Pero, agad niyang tinulak muli ang lalaki at sinampal. Paulit-ulit nila itong ginawa. Paulit-ulit sinubukan ng lalaki na halikan ang babae na kasing ganda at husay ng kanilang naunang paghahalik pero sa walang tagumpay. Hinahanap niya muli ang napakagandang pakiramdam ng kanilang unang paghalik. Pinagnanasahan niya ito at sa bawat paghalik nila na pinanood ko tila nawawalan siya ng pagasa. Nawala ang init, ang pakiramdam ng lagkit.
“Bosco. Boco?”
“Oo. Si Tatay?”
“Wala rito, nasa kabilang bahay,” bulong niya sa akin.
“Oo.”
Tumakbo ang babae palabas ng kuwarto. Hindi siya sinundan ng lalaki, naupo na lamang siya ng komportable sa sofa at linabas ang cel phone mula sa bulsa.
“Mag-ingat ka diyan anak ha,” sigaw ng nanay ko sa telepono, “wag mong kalimutan dalhan ng pasalubong ang mga kapatid mo sa sususnod.”
“Oo,” mahinhin kong sinagot, “kakayanin ko to.”
Pagbalik sa kuwarto, linabas ko mula sa isang kulay rosas na kahon ang isa sa mga laruan kong mahigpit na tinatago at mahirap na nakuha. Kaliwang mata’y nakapasok sa butas, nakayakap ang aking katawan sa isang di-hanging goma na babaeng manika, kasing laki ng tunay na babae. Malusog ang kanyang katawan, malaki ang labi, at mabait ang tingin ng mga mata. Hinawakan ko siya’t hindi siya tumangi – walang bakas ng hiya at sakit ang aking nakikita sa kanyang mukha. Kabalat ko ang manika, kulay-lupa, at ang ilong niya’y katulad ng nanay ko. Matigas ang kanyang pangangatawan ngunit malambot sa pagpasok. Kumikiskis ang aking balat sa plastik. Uminit ang aking mga hita sa puntong tila nasusunog na sila. Namula na ang aking balat at nakikita na ang dugo sa ilalim ng balot na ito, ngunit tuloy ang aking pagkuskus sa makintab na babaeng goma. Hindi napapansin ng manika ang mga pagkakamali ng aking katawan. Sa aking pag-uungol at pagbibigay kasiyahan sa sarili ay wala siyang kinibong panglalait. Hindi niya nakikita ang diperensiya ng aking mga mata, kung papaanong ang kaliwa ay mas malaki’t mas bilog sa kanan at ang lawlaw kong taba na lumilipad-lipad sa bawat tulak ng aking katawan. Sumisikdu-sikdo ang aking pwet papasok, palabas – papasok, palabas. Dinilat ko ang aking mga mata. Inilabas ko ang dila ko’t dinilaan ang tamis at init ng hangin. Tumutulo sa sahig ang aking pawis – malapit na sa paghugas ng aking buong katawan. Malapit na ako. Malapit na ako. Malapit na ako. Nagliliwanag ang aking napakagandang gomang manika.
Pumutok ang manika! Pirapiraso ng kanyang gomang katawan ay naiwan, nakabalot sa akin parang damit. Nahulog ako sa sahig nang hindi matagumpay. Nagkikintab ang danaw ng halong goma’t pawis sa aking paanan. Lumiliwanag ang aking paligid.
“Jashil, ninanais kita.”
Nakatitig sa akin ang isang malaking bayawak at ako sa kanya. Nakapasok ang hayop sa isang butas ng bintana. Basa ang aking katawan, nag-iinit sa libog. Bunton ng tabang nakababad sa sariling pawis, luha, at dumi, naka-upo ako sa sahig – sa tabi ng butas ng ding-ding, na namamagitan sa akin sa pinagnanasahan kong si Jashil. Pinagmamasdan ko ang malaking bayawak, ang kanyang hubad at makintab na katawan. Kulay berde ang kanyang balat at kaliskis; mukha namang malambot ang malaking bayawak. Basa ang kanyang katawan katulad ko. Tumayo ako sa aking tuhod at sa mga palad ng aking mga kamay. Ipinasok ko muli ang kaliwa kong mata sa butas sa ding-ding. May kumatok sa pintuan. Tiningnan ko ang bayawak at siya sa akin. Namula ako. Lantad sa harapan niya ang aking kabuuan. Nakikita niya ang aking hubad na katawan, ang butas sa ding-ding, ang aking pinagnanasahan.
“Bosco, ninanais kita.”
Lumalakas ang ingay ng pagkatok. Gumapang ako mula sa pugad kong pawis at dumi’t dahan-dahang binuksan ang pintuan. Nakatayo si Jashil sa harapan ko, basa sa sariling pawis ang kanyang kulay-kape na katawan. Nagkatitigan kami at ako ay kanyang pinagmasdan. Nilapitan niya ako’t pinunasan ang aking mukha. Malambot ang kanyang mga kamay. Dumulas sila’t nahaplos ang aking labi, leeg, at dibdib. Tumamis at bumaho ang aming paligid. Nararamdaman ko ang init ng kanyang bawat paghinga. Tinitigan ako ni Jashil, nanliit ang kanyang mga mata. Lumapit siya, umupo sa harap ko’t tiningnan ako muli – ang kanyang pangalawang pagtinggin sa akin. Ngumiti siya ng mahinhin at pinakiramdaman ang mainit na hangin ng aking kuwarto. Lumunok siya ng mabigat. Sinarado niya ang kanyang kumikislap na mga mata – mga mababait na mga mata – ng dahan-dahan – nanginginig silang sarado. Hinubaran niya ako mula sa nakabalot na goma ng manika at hiniga sa kumakapal na danaw sa sahig gawa ng aming naghahalong pawis. Hinawakan niya ang aking ari at pinasok sa kanyang katawan. Hindi ako gumalaw ngunit nadama ko ang pag-iinit. Tinuyo niya ang kamay ko, dibdib, paa, at mukha. Ang tubig sa aking katawan ay tuluyan nang naka-agos mula sa ulo ko’t pababa at lampas sa paa. Umungol ako. Piniga ko sa mahigpit na pagsunggab ang pwet ni Jashil. Tinapon ko papalikod ang aking ulo. Kinulot ko ang daliri ng aking mga paa. Dinilat ko ang aking mga mata. Nanginginig ang katawan ni Jashil. Hindi siya umiimik. Hindi siya umuunggol. Pikit ang kanyang mga mata. Nalalasahan ko na ang tamis. Lumalakas ang alingawngaw ng tawag ng makalalaking kagustuhan. Malapit na. Malapit na. Malapit na.
“Jashil.”
“Jashil, Ninanais mo ba ako?”
“Ninanais mo ba ako?”
Pumutok ako parang bomba sa isang mahiwagang liwanag. Nagkalat-kalat ang pira-piraso ng aking katawan sa aking maliit at mainit na kuwarto. Tahimik ang aking mga kapit-bahay, walang alam sa nangyari. Naiwan ang hayop sa dilim, hinahanap-hanap na muli ang napakagandang liwanag. +
 
 
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