Precious Bodily Fluids

Films That Reach

These are films that attempt to extend, formally and discursively, beyond themselves and beyond human existence. Some “succeed” better than others. These are not simply films that are about the great unknown, God, the other, religion, or spirituality. Some of these films may contain narratives ostensibly having to do with such things, but most of them display levels of formal cooperation with their driving themes, rendered more or less explicit through dialogue. They exemplify an old but relatively uncommon trend in cinema of utilizing film’s formal tools to represent both the unrepresentable as well as the interior efforts human beings make to bridge the gulf of death between present existence and whatever, if anything, lies beyond. It is not uncommon in these films for such efforts to be followed by a return to the terrestrial and the domestic from the transcendent and the other. Most often, it seems that filmmakers must ground the great questions of human experience in human experience. These films often denote cinematic journeys that experimentally test deep and dense waters for answers. Following such submergence into oceanic depths or flight into space, not only the filmmakers, but the films themselves, apparently, must come back to their original atmosphere and breathe naturally, returning to formal and discursive normalcy.

Robert Bresson: Diary of a Country Priest (1951)A Man Escaped (1956), Au hasard Balthazar (1966), Mouchette (1967)

Akira Kurosawa: Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Red Beard (1965), Dersu Uzala (1975), Dreams (1991), Rhapsody in August (1993)

Kenji Mizoguchi: Ugetsu (1953), Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

Ingmar Bergman: The Seventh Seal (1957), The Virgin Spring (1960), Winter Light (1960), Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Alain Resnais: Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

Andrei Tarkovsky: Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972)The Mirror (1975), Stalker (1979)

Stanley Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

Terrence Malick: Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line(1998), The New World (2005), The Tree of Life (2011)

Krzysztof Kieslowski: The Decalogue (1988), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Three Colors: Blue (1993)White (1994), Red (1995)

Jacques Rivette: La belle noiseuse (1991)

Wes Anderson: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Sofia Coppola: Lost in Translation (2003)

Darren Aronofsky: The Fountain (2006)

Lars von Trier: Melancholia (2011)

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