This is a fucking depressing film.
I don’t think I’ve ever started like that before.
Because it matters. How you start.
But maybe it’s just a mirror.
I can imagine few pieces of cinema summing up my life at this moment quite as well as I fidanzati does.
I’m sure there’s a dangling modifier in there somewhere.
But what about the welder?
The man adrift.
Sent to some godforsaken place for the company.
I made the right decision. But I went to the wrong place.
Unfortunately, there is no separating the two.
Too much work.
All of our thoughts occupied with work.
And what do we get out of the equation?
Might as well be nothing.
It is a particularly Italian version of hell on display in I fidanzati.
Ermanno Olmi was a brilliant director here.
And he lives. 84 years young.
Some things end well.
Young girls like happy endings.
But this one is hard to get over.
It’s really harrowing having nothing to live for.
And how would I know that?
You have a phone. It doesn’t ring.
In fact, you sometimes wonder whether your messages get delivered at all.
You have a heart.
When is the last time someone spoke to your heart?
We are shackled. Paralyzed. Crippled.
Life is sucked out of us like a lemon peel in the Sicilian heat.
No, I don’t understand.
Is this how karma works?
Surely this jungle will spare me.
I can think of Anna Canzi.
Her face is a melody.
And I relate to those sad cheeks.
You keep writing because you haven’t yet expressed it.
That which you need to get off your soul.
That living feeling inside you.
Primitive man suffering with his superstitions.
Poor man paying for his ignorance.
Not all are willfully unprepared.
What could have prepared you for this situation?
Other than this situation?
That is Situationism.
Science and humanities will argue that metaphor…or rather analogy.
That this will teach you.
It is like this. And like that. But unlike the other thing.
It is unlike anything I’ve ever known.
Youth was lonely.
This is vicious.
A bar down the street.
But only in the movies.
Yet here it is exposed for what it really would be.
Loud music and louder lights. Life! Vitality! Excitement!
Inside is an old woman at a cash register.
There is a little metal display tree with ballpoint pens on one side.
The rest of the lopsided taunt is vacant.
And then the little boy.
Getting ahead in life.
Like Michele Sindona.
Making the espresso. Quicker! Faster!
Washing the dishes…
And hauling the fruit back and forth…
The difference in price from one location to another.
They Drive by Night
It doesn’t get much more depressing.
And there should be some positive message to end it off.
And there is.
Which makes it even more sad.
Because the film was running long.
And maybe it won’t win shit at Cannes.
Did you ever think about that?
So then you have a depressing film on your hands for domestic audiences.
And they spend their hard-earned cash.
And what the fuck is this shit?
Oh…Anna, Monica…don’t go see this film.
It is so depressing!
But there’s the answer.
I fidanzati succeeds because it shows a side of life we don’t want to see.
It succeeds…53 years later.
Because it was true.
It stuck to its guns.
It was meaningful.
So many other films from that year…
Yeah. It’s a bummer.
But it’s real.
You can stare up at it and wonder how Signor Olmi painted such color in black and white.
How he lovingly distinguished gray from grey…and Juan from Gris.
Is it the same?
From language to language?
Even within the Commonwealth…
We damned Americans.
No explanation needed.
The machines rule us.
Time is our master.
Money mocks our fragility.
On every continent.
An indispensable story.
Your writing makes me want to watch films again, a habit I have quite fallen out of, but I fear they would never live up to your impeccable words. Is that possible? Probably, but it is worth trying again anyways if only to be more satisfied in the disappointment. What beautiful images you create.
That really means the world to me 🙂 Thank you! –Paul