THE LAST STEP OF AN ACROBAT (2018) & STORY FOR AN EMPTY THEATRE (2016)

Taking a closer look at two films of Cesare Bedogné

The last step of an acrobat” (trailer) in the words of Cesare himself: “This film appeared to us, as it unfolded almost by itself, day after day while shooting, as a mythical fairy-tale about dead sea creatures and the desire to fly – Death and Flight, that cannot exist without one another. Like a dream, it is based on a series of interconnected visions, longings and forebodings that could not possibly be reduced to a unity of meaning. As life itself. Or as the sea, which is always changing and yet remains the same, unable to betray its mystery. More like a visual poem than a narrative film, it is the story of an Equilibrist suspended on the slack rope of existence, her own territory – the thin and always changeable borderland joining all opposites, Sky and Earth, Life and Death, Light and Shadow, Elsewhere and Nowhere. This film is also about transformation and loss of identity, about the desire to become someone else, or even something else – the screech of a seagull, bleaching bones, a broken dolphin’s mouth, dissolving into deep eternity – a meditation on Melancholy and on the frailty of existence, permeated by the secret whispering of all things shipwrecked and lost. The last step is always the first, in my beginning is my end.”

Duration: 29 minutes

(STORY FOR AN EMPTY THEATRE)

“Story for an empty theater” (trailer) in the words of Cesare himself: “This film narrates an intense story of love, disease and death, inspired by the autobiographical novel “Beyond the Blue”, by the Italian photographer and writer Cesare Bedognè. The novel is at the basis of the theatrical performance of the same name which, together with the writer’s photographs, was the first material on which this film was created. In this work still photographs, classical music, theatrical coreographies and dance belonging to the Japanese Butoh’s tradition, lyrical prose, diary fragments and poems merge cinematographically, through the editing by the Russian director Aleksandr Balagura, with shots taken both in a deserted Sanatorium of the Italian Alps, the place of the writer’s past, and in the Greek island of Lesvos, the place of his present. As the book on which it is based, the film seems to wander freely in time, attempting to be more faithful to the intrinsically poetic and diachronic flow of memory rather than to the artificial linearity of conventional narration. The space of this film is thus the space of consciousness, a continuum which dilates, in one of the very last shots, into a dreamlike meditation on death, when the theatre’s stage slowly dissolves into the interior of the Sanatorium’s ruined church, and the white female character weaving together in a pattern of Japanese theatre the various shots of the film, seems to leave behind her own body and leaves the scene. Before the crumbling altar only a drifting plastic bag remains, stirred by the wind. This is a film constructed on words where images (both still and moving) do not play a merely descriptive role, but rather open a parallel poetical path. It is thus accomplished, through a polysemic correlation between word and image, what Belá Balázs believed to be one of the most intriguing possibilities of poetical expression pertaining to cinematic language. Through this filmic journey we are also led to the inner depths of the photographic image, the very stuff cinema is made of. Gelatin silver pictures merge in this film with cinematic shots, abandoning their seemingly static form: they dissolve or slowly take shape, as if still under the action of a developer in the darkroom, gradually revealing different layers of reality. The same pictures return rhythmically, in the film, and as the story unfolds they produce always diverse suggestions and meaning, in the continuously changeable and renewed flow of memory. In quite a similar manner, the actress seems to react to both the words from the book and Bach’s music, wandering freely inside and outside the stage, in a silent dialogue with the impalpable beings that from time to time seem to inhabit her, on the Greek shores, in a deserted church or in the old Sanatorium’s haunting rooms – a landscape of Absence – emptiness submerged by a sense of waiting, that counterpoints and at the same time reverberates the everlasting voice of the sea.”

Duration: 57 minutes

Both films are now available in our catalogue at Illambra.com