Last night I watched Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits. It is a remarkable film and nearly 50 years old. Why are the films now being made so ordinary in comparison! If you break the ‘plot’ down it is very simple, but the exploration of the mind of Juliet is stunning, the imagery so powerful, and so so enjoyable, a celebration of life and love, yet so sad at times it is hard to take. I so loved how in the last few minutes the film changes as Juliet accepts the spirits, accepts her life, is for the first time in the film, content.
I love this sort of ending, in a film I made a generation ago, I totally changed the imagery and feel, to create a short ‘experimental’ film to finish, using some remarkable organ music my father specially composed for me. In The Report and in Underpainting I have used the same device, creating a new beginning rather than ‘close out’, to show that these stories don’t stand alone, but are an interval or a part of a greater life. One of my favourite parts of Wagner’s Ring cycle is the final ten minutes or so, when he introduces a new theme after about 15 hours of opera, the World is moving from being ruled by the gods to man, it is a fabulous piece of music, a feeling of hope after all that conflict in the underworld!
So how do you end a time based work (film, book, music, drama, etc.)? In a whodunit, do you actually need any more than finding out the culprit? How far do we need to go on with someone’s life, when Wyatt Earp rides out into the desert in My Darling Clementine leaving Clementine watching him leave in a classic John Ford manner, wouldn’t you like to know where he goes next, who is going to wash his underwear? And then what is married life like for Mr and Mrs Darcy after all those manoeuvrings Jane Austen put them through, has his mother-in-law driven him mad enough to drown her in the lake he so alluringly arose from in the TV series?
This of course is the sequal or maybe the planned book cycle, enabling a writer to keep the characters going, finding out how they develop. Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel series of films captures the life of a boy through to a young man brilliantly, in five of my favourite films. The films use the same actor, Jean-Pierre Léaud, as he grows from a child, and so do the films. It is so sad that Truffaut died so young, I would love to see Antoine grow into middle age and older, see if he still had so many problems with women. In A S Byatt’s first novel of a quartet The Virgin in the Garden she kills off the person who appears to be the central character, (with the fridge!) which is quite a shock, literally, making you question whether she wasn’t after all the most important character. The next three books continue with the development of all those who were around her. Jean Rhys’ brilliant Wide Sargasso Sea does the opposite and is a prequel to Jane Eyre written from a very specific standpoint exploring imperialism and race.
Stories are endless. As a creator in whatever form we just choose a point to start and to finish, where those points are makes the story.
Today’s photograph was taken at about 10am in the backs of a discarded mattress, (I don’t think someone was too happy with it being dumped), it was snowing lightly, but not freezing.