Weekend links 525

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Polish poster by Franciszek Starowieyski, 1970.

• Tony Richardson’s Mademoiselle (1966) is one of those cult films that’s more written about than seen, despite having Jeanne Moreau in the lead role as a sociopathic schoolteacher, together with a screenplay by Marguerite Duras and Jean Genet, plus uncredited script-doctoring by David Rudkin. John Waters listed the film as a “guilty pleasure” in Crackpot but it’s been unavailable on disc for over a decade. The BFI will be releasing a restored print on blu-ray in September.

“While the hurdy-gurdy’s capacity to fill space with its unrelenting multi-tonal dirge is for some the absolute sonic dream, for others it is the stuff of nightmares.” Jennifer Lucy Allan on the pleasures and pains of a medieval musical instrument.

• “I truly believed”: Vicki Pollack of the San Francisco Diggers talking to Jay Babcock for the fifth installment of Jay’s verbal history of the hippie anarchists.

• “If you want to call yourself a composer, you follow every step of the instrumentation.” Ennio Morricone talking to Guido Bonsaver in 2006.

Dutchsteammachine converts jerky 12fps film from the NASA archive to 24fps. Here’s the Apollo 14 lunar mission: landing, EVA and liftoff.

• New music: Suddenly the World Had Dropped Away by David Toop; Skeleton and Unclean Spirit by John Carpenter; An Ascent by Scanner.

Peter Hujar’s illicit photographs of New York’s cruising utopia. Not to be confused with Alvin Batrop‘s photos of gay New York.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 651 by Dave Harrington, and Mr.K’s Side 1, Track 1’s #1 by radioShirley & Mr.K.

Simon Reynolds on the many electronic surprises to be found in the Smithsonian Folkways music archive.

The Gone Away by Belbury Poly will be the next release on the Ghost Box label.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Ed Emshwiller Day.

Shirley Collins’ favourite music.

Mademoiselle Mabry (1969) by Miles Davis | Hurdy Gurdy Man (1970) by Eartha Kitt | Danger Cruising (1979) by Pyrolator

Don’t Smoke That Cigarette by Kenneth Anger

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Another of Kenneth Anger’s post-Magick Lantern works at YouTube, and one I’d managed to miss until now. Anger’s later films have tended to be documentative—The Man We Want to Hang, Mouse Heaven, Anger Sees Red, My Surfing Lucifer—or collage projects like Ich Will!, a cut-up of Nazi propaganda films that was also on YouTube for a while before vanishing into the puce ether.

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Don’t Smoke That Cigarette (2000) is a long collage piece with none of the director’s usual preoccupations, the raw material this time being propaganda for the US tobacco industry. Anger is apparently a fervent non-smoker so this can be considered a polemical work although it also offers a glimpse for younger generations into a vanished world where almost everybody smoked some kind of tobacco, the advertising was ubiquitous, and dissenting voices very much in the minority. With a running time of 45 minutes this is also Anger’s longest film. The copy at YouTube has the look of a VHS tape that’s been duplicated several times, a degraded appearance familiar from the bootleg tapes that used to circulate in the days of “video nasty” censorship. It also turns into a video nasty of its own when Anger reinforces his message with footage of people afflicted by a variety of nicotine-induced diseases. With Johnny Roventini (the Philip Morris bellboy) as your host for the evening, more tobacco-addicted stars than there are in heaven, and “Electro”, a cigarette-smoking robot.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Anger’s Maldoror
Donald Cammell and Kenneth Anger, 1972
My Surfing Lucifer by Kenneth Anger
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome: The Eldorado Edition
Brush of Baphomet by Kenneth Anger
Anger Sees Red
Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon
Lucifer Rising posters
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok

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A belated note of thanks to Robert T. Garcia who sent me a PDF of this book a few weeks ago. The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok is a hardcover collection of three fantasy novels by artist Hannes Bok, all of which have been out of print for decades (75 years in the case of Starstone World). Bok has a lasting reputation as an illustrator of fantasy, science fiction and horror during the pulp era but he also wrote fiction and poetry for the pulps, in addition to essays for Mystic Magazine that included a short-lived astrology column. Two of Bok’s novels were published posthumously by Lin Carter in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, the existence of which intrigued me for many years, not least because the Ballantine paperbacks weren’t easy to find in UK bookshops. Bok’s fantasy isn’t quite to my taste (I prefer things to be generally darker and more grotesque) but I’m pleased to see these stories back in the world.

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Contents:
The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok‘s cover art is by Bok (published previously in Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration in a poor image, scanned here for the first time from the original).
• Original Introduction by Charles de Lint!
• Ballantine Adult Fantasy editor Lin Carter’s introductions to The Sorcerer’s Ship and Beyond the Golden Stair, plus an all-new afterword detailing the publishing history of The Sorcerer’s Ship by Bok collector and college professor William Lorenzo. Publisher, Bob Garcia provided an introduction to Starstone World.
• A number of unpublished photos of Bok.
• Bok’s pulp art for The Sorcerer’s Ship is included, plus two paintings specified by the artist as illustrating that novel: a color reprise of an interior illustration and a color portrait of the creature Yanuk done for a fan.
• Since the other two novels did not have artwork by the artist, Jim Pitts provides us a wonderful original frontispiece for each.
• Bok sketches from The Hannes Bok Sketchbook Folio, and A Hannes Bok Sketchbook plus unpublished sketches.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Ballantine Adult Fantasy covers

Zemania

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Invention for Destruction (1958).

In addition to Jean Kerchbron’s Golem my weekend viewing involved a fresh immersion in the semi-animated fantasies of Karel Zeman, one of which, Invention for Destruction, I’d not seen for many years. It hadn’t occurred to me before how closely Zeman’s technique on these films matches some of my own recent illustration when it applies original drawn elements to settings constructed from old engravings. For Zeman, combining actors with animated models and pictorial backgrounds was an economical way of bringing to life the worlds of Jules Verne, Rudolf Erich Raspe and others while retaining the feel of the original book illustrations. These films are also closer to the Max Ernst school of engraved collage than they may at first seem. The mansion at the beginning of Invention for Destruction could easily have been an illustration of a single building but Zeman offers a hybrid construction with unrealistically conflicting perspectives; later on we see a desert cavalry of camels on roller skates. It’s no surprise that Jan Svankmajer admires Zeman’s films. And having recently watched all the Svankmajers it’s good to know there are several Zeman features still to see.

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Le Golem, 1967

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There are always more Golems…

Le Golem is a 110-minute film based on Gustav Meyrink’s novel which hasn’t received as much attention as you’d expect considering the dearth of Meyrink adaptations. The production was for French TV so its obscurity may be a result of unavailability as much as anything else, television being a medium notorious for burying its own history. The DVD I was watching is an official release from INA with no subtitles (merci!), but English subs may be found online.

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Meyrink’s novel isn’t an obvious choice for film or television adaptation despite the popularity of the Golem theme. His story is an uneven blend of mysticism and melodrama related via many digressions and rambling conversations. The title and the Prague setting suggest Paul Wegener’s Der Golem (1920), with the ghetto monster dominating the proceedings, but Meyrink’s Golem remains in the shadows (if it exists at all), being more of a symbol for the mystical and psychological challenges that beset Athanasius Pernath, the novel’s protagonist. Given all this I’m curious to know who decided to adapt the story when there’s so much about the film that would confuse an audience who hadn’t read the novel. The opening scenes move rapidly from a stylised city of the 1960s to the Prague ghetto of the past while omitting the attempts of Meyrink’s narrator to make sense of his situation. A note on the DVD states that the film was broadcast at 8:30pm on the national channel, ORTF, which makes its peculiarities even more surprising.

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The director, Jean Kerchbron, spent much of his career filming adaptations of classic plays and stories for French television, ranging from adventure serials to Molière and Shakespeare. Writer Louis Pauwels was co-editor with Jacques Bergier of the popular Planète magazine, a journal of fantasy, science fiction and scientific speculation, but had little experience in the film world; Le Golem was his first feature for which he supplied the dialogue and adapted the story with Kerchbron. Pauwels and Bergier are names familiar to Anglophone readers of Fortean literature for The Morning of the Magicians (1960), their discursive treatise on “Fantastic Realism” whose success launched Planète and later gave David Bowie some ideas for lyrics. The pair refer to Meyrink in their book as a “neglected genius” prior to running an extract from one of the author’s later novels, The Green Face. Pauwels and Kerchbron manage to condense the work of the neglected genius without doing too much harm to his story, compressing some sections (a request for an explanation in a later scene is wisely rejected as “too complicated”) while omitting the overly mystical episodes that might have posed problems for a limited budget. Pauwels moves what’s left of the mysticism to Pernath’s philosophical voiceovers. Kerchbron’s direction is lively and much more elliptical than is usual for the plodding television medium. Novel and film only depart near the end when various plot threads are hastily tied together.

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