Orson Welles - "F is for Fake" - Chartes

(From the Wikipaedia article about Orson Welles' film, "F is for Fake")

In perhaps the most celebrated segment of the film, treating the power of art and the nature of authorship, Welles narrates a montage sequence of the medieval French landmark, Chartres Cathedral:

"Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it's without a signature. Chartres. A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left, most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked radish. There aren’t any celebrations. Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe which is disposable. You know it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust; to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us to accomplish. Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash: the triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life... we're going to die. 'Be of good heart,' cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced - but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man's name doesn't matter all that much."

remembering Bergman's films

The first Bergman film I ever saw was a television showing (on PBS) of The Virgin Spring. I remember being horrorfied by the rape sequence and traumatized by the film. I was maybe 11 years old, watching alone and really didn't understand what I was seeing. But I knew I had seen something amazing and powerful. The image of the just raped girl, standing there in shock (just before she's murdered) is still vivid 40 years later without having seen the film again.

When I turned 12, I was allowed to take the train into Manhattan alone. It was the early 70's, my parents lived on Long Island and things were looser. Probably not safer than today, but there was less worrying about your kids getting into trouble.

After a few visits to the Museum of Natural History to overcome a youthful fascination (dinosaur bones lose their appeal when you can see them anytime you want) I began to go the movies. With no one watching over me I was seeing films like the newly released "Clockwork Orange" - another shocking experience for a young adolescent.

And then I went to see "Cries and Whispers". Did I understand what I was watching? - maybe - just barely. But I was in shock from seeing (and feeling) the kind of tragic emotions I never knew existed. (They existed in my own family - but buried under the surface where I, as the youngest child, was unaware of them till much later.) My memories of plot and character are vague now - but in my mind I still see the colors of black and red and the texture of velvet somehow associated with blood. I still remember the shock of seeing tragic intimacies I never imagined.

If I see "Cries and Whispers" again someday, I will see it with an adult, analytical mind. And with the developed empathy of someone who has now spent years watching plays and movies, trying to understand characters, plot, and structure.

But I hope I always remember the sense memories of seeing something I didn't understand on a conscious level ... something that pierced into me in a way I had no language or framework to describe and thereby lessen the impact.