Monday, July 25, 2016

A film classic.

One of the advantages of being a cultured and refined creature of arts like myself is that you discover fine works of which the standard-issue bourgeoisie remain entirely ignorant. All one must do is turn on the television set to see what kinds of things entertain the great unwashed. Golly!

But that is not to say that there is nothing redeemable about the vast wasteland that is television in general. Oh, no! Fortunately there is the Public Broadcasting Service. What a treasure trove for we of elevated sensibilities. All my friends in Park Slope and Lenox Hill enjoy PBS. And it's all free! The government pays for it, you know.

I do want to give you an example of the kind of truly fine television one can only find on PBS. I had seen this short film on PBS years ago, and was thrilled to find it now available on the You Tube. I believe its English title is "Three Spheres":

What a fine piece of work! Such pathos, such representation of striving in the human heart! And yet so fascinatingly open to interpretation.

The stark, black-and-white (dare I say noir) photography reminds us of a comfortless world of hard choices. On one level it's easy to see this as a racial struggle---as African Americans struggling to fit into a white world they have not made, where expectations limit their options, delineated by white society.

And yet, in a wider scale, isn't this the struggle we all face? Trying to "fit in," to "find our place"? The balls initially fail in their quest, but through persistence they nestle in their predetermined spaces, apparently finding peace.

But is this really peace? Have they been trying to fight societal demands all along, and is this the sigh of contentment---or of acquiescence, of giving in? The point is crucial, but the director is purposely ambiguous.

Further ambiguity is caused by the choice of Gibberish for the dialogue, leaving us to wonder about the motivation of the balls, their desires and ambitions, and their conclusions from their experiences. The director keeps us guessing---and that keeps us thinking.

This is the kind of deep, demanding film that can only be seen on the television thanks to the Public Broadcasting Service. I cannot imagine this kind of thing appearing on any other venue. Three cheers for government film!

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