DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Lech Majewski Day

 

‘Today, Lech J. Majewski lives in Venice, however, he often visits the region of Silesia where he was born and grew up. He works as a lecturer at the Rutger Hauer Filmfactory in Rotterdam. He started his academic education as a student of graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, a branch of the Academy in Kraków. In 1973 he entered the Directing Department at the Film School in Łódź, where he graduated in 1977. Majewski made his debut as a film director in 1978 with Zwiastowanie / Annunciation, the first part of the two-part feature film Zapowiedź ciszy / Harbinger of Silence. The first film that Majewski directed on his own was Rycerz / The Knight (1979). In 1980 the director left for England. In England, in 1982 he staged Homer’s The Odyssey. Soon after, Majewski came into contact with an American producer, Michael Hausman, and moved to Hollywood. In 1985 he directed Lot świerkowej gęsi / The Flight of the Spruce Goose, his American debut. In 2011 he presented The Mill and the Cross at the Sundance Film Festival. The film brings The Procession to Calvary, Pieter Bruegel’s 16th Century painting, to life.

‘Lech Majewski has received numerous film awards, such as the Wielki FeFe Prize awarded at the 9th Fefe Film Festival in Warsaw in recognition of his independent spirit. He won main awards at several film festivals, including the Polish Film Festival Award (Gdynia, 1999) for direction of Wojaczek. The director was also nominated to the Orzeł / Eagle Polish Film Award for his two films: Wojaczek and Angelus.

‘In the early 1990s, Lech Majewski also took up directing theatre and opera productions. He has created street art or performance as well. His theatre production of Czarny Jeździec / The Black Rider in Helbronn, Germany was given cult status and brought him the Kilianpreis award for best direction in the 1994/95 season. He was awarded the Golden Mask for visual effects of the opera production Pokój saren / The Roe’s Room staged at the Silesian Opera in 1993. He has said that he sees his life as a journey through diverse countries, art fields, languages and modes of expression.

‘Lech Majewski’s artistic journey is truly characterised by diversity, however, it distinguishes itself by consistency and loyalty towards the director’s early fascinations. Some visions have been recurring in Majewski’s works in various art forms depending on the genre in which this versatile artist creates at a given moment.

‘As early as in 1977, before his debut as a novelist, Lech Majewski published a well-received poem in Nowy Wyraz, a monthly journal devoted to rising writers. The surreal poetics of this poem, as well as the entire volume entitled Mieszkanie / Apartment, recurred years later in his opera and film by a similar title (Pokój saren / The Roe’s Room, 1997).

‘In his press interviews, Majewski has often referred to events and situations from his childhood or adolescent years that have left him with a distinct impression and years later have provided an inspiration for his artistic projects. The artist’s experiences were exceptional as for the Polish reality. He spent his childhood years in a gloomy, mining and industrial landscape of the Upper Silesia, which, as if in an unreal vision, was interwoven with the extraordinary scenery of Venice, where the future director of Ogród rozkoszy ziemskich / The Garden of Earthly Delights used to spend summer holidays at his uncle’s. Thus, it is not hard to identify the source of suggestive imagery present first in Majewski’s poems and subsequently in his films. In his works, the artist draws a picture of a human being as an integral element of nature, not privileged in any sense. He makes numerous cultural references to works which he had a chance to admire in Venice.

‘Majewski remarked that in Bosch’s In The Garden of Earthly Delights a human being is depicted in a symbiotic relationship with plants and animals. The middle part of the triptych shows an uncanny union of naked figures with the surrounding world.

‘On many occasions, the artist’s fascinations had developed in secret for years before they unexpectedly became the source of inspiration for a film. Such source could be e.g. Rafał Wojaczek’s poem, or a press information about a robbery of the century and a photograph of Ronald Biggs, an escaped prisoner relaxing on the Copacabana beach. It could also be a conversation with a friend from an elementary school who worked hard as a coalminer and dreamed about living a different life. Wojaczek, Więzień z Rio / Prisoner of Rio, or Lot świerkowej gęsi / The Flight of a Spruce Goose have all been inspired by such events.In his art, Majewski derives inspiration from more dramatic events, such as a death of a close person which he experienced and managed to overcome, recalling I realised that we treat death with an increasing superficiality, we push it aside these days when the entertainment is the sole value (interview with Katarzyna Bielas, Gazeta Wyborcza, July 12, 2004).

‘Soon after this significant loss, the director created Wypadek / Accident, an exhibition-performance, in Katowice (1996). Majewski used personal belongings of the deceased in this exhibition: “I mummified them, said the artist in the above-mentioned interview for Gazeta Wyborcza, that is, I bandaged a mobile phone, post card, necklace, high heel shoes, and a coat. I paid a tribute. At the same time, I exhibited all elements that constituted the body of this woman. There were two containers. The first one represented the amount of blood pumped within 24 hours, and the other one the amount of the pumped air. I displayed a body transformed into chemical elements in exactly the same proportions as in her body. There was an exact amount of coal, calcium, iron. Like in Metaphysics and The Garden.”

‘A similar action was performed by the main protagonist of Majewski’s novel Metafizyka / Metaphysics on which he based his film Ogród rozkoszy ziemskich / The Garden of Earthly Delights. However, before the novel and feature film had been created, Majewski filmed the exhibition in Katowice which lasted for 18 days and produced a film about art (Wypadek / Accident). Many viewers, Polish viewers used to keeping the subject of death at a certain distance in particular, found it hard to accept the art form chosen by the artist. For the director however, the installation in Katowice was an important attempt to draw near the mystery.In an interview with Jerzy Wójcik, the director said: “For millennia, a human being has tried to solve the mysteries and ‘describe’ the world, or organise it in line with one’s needs, but it becomes difficult to achieve it because even simplicity holds great mysteries. Each side of a square can be expressed in number 1, while its diagonal is incalculable. We know what a circle is, but we are not able to calculate Pi accurately.”

‘As Jerzy Wójcik put it, Majewski balances between the mystery of metaphor, symbol and the logics of numbers. With time Lech Majewski has continued to pose, in different ways, several fundamental questions regarding the mystery of existence. Thus, he populates his films with protagonists who ask similar questions. Beginning with The Knight, a film set in the Middle Ages, whose main protagonist embarks on a quest for the lost harp, just like many seekers of the Holy Grail; to Silesian naive painters, simple coalminers with their famous leader Teofil Ociepka, associated in an occult community portrayed in Angelus; to the protagonist of The Garden of Earthly Delights who tries to apply rationality and logics.

‘In many of his films, Majewski uses motifs from the tradition of esotericism aimed at penetrating metaphysical mysteries. Such as, in Lot świerkowej gęsi / The Flight of Spruce Goose and Ewangelia według Harry’ego / Gospel According to Harry, the director highlights different aspects of existential quest. His interests lie in an existential pain, which is an integral element of the extreme and reckless attitude of his protagonists, and can be found in such films as Wojaczek or Basquiat – Taniec ze śmiercią / Basquiat, a film about a legendary American graffiti artist (Majewski did not direct the film himself, however, it was based on his screenplay and his concept). Similarly to Wojaczek, the title protagonist of the film, Jean-Michel Basquiat, commits suicide at the peak of his career following his self-destructive instinct.

‘The most important thing both in art and life is mystery. We make all efforts to bring the mystery down to zero, we are afraid of it (…) Whereas I believe that this lack of knowledge is like air for our soul, said Majewski to Grzegorz Wojtowicz and he repeated similar ideas on numerous occasions.

‘Lech J. Majewski managed to find a niche for his artistic cinema in the West, which does not shy away from commercial projects. As the director admitted himself in a conversation with Tadeusz Sobolewski (Kino, no 12/1992), Więzień z Rio / Prisoner of Rio is the sole exception, or rather concession to the popular cinema. And yet, Majewski’s own vision of poetic and metaphysical cinema gains him popularity among the audience. Wojaczek, Angelus, and The Garden of Earthly Delights met with enthusiastic reception.

‘”I am only trying to make films in line with my desires… Some of my films, e.g. Gospel According to Harry, have not found their own audience, while others, like Wojaczek have enjoyed great popularity all over the world.” — Interview by Dagmara Romanowska, Kino, November 5, 2001)

 

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Stills




























































 

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Further

Lech Majewski Personal Website
Lech Majewski @ IMDb
Lech Majewski Website (in Polish)
LM @ MUBI
The Films of Lech Majewski: A Touring Exhibition
‘Lech Majewski: still life with movement’
‘Anaesthetic gardens. On Metaphysics by Lech Majewski’
‘On the Films of Lech Majewski’
‘Painting on Film: An Interview with Lech Majewski’
‘Majewski Is the Surreal McCoy’
‘Lech Majewski: Independent Ethos’
‘Going inside the metaphysics of Bruegel’s art in The Mill and the Cross’

 

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Extras


Keyframe: Lech Majewski’s Stillness in Motion


A talk with Lech Majewski about The Mill and The Cross


Lech Majewski “Jak zrobiłem swój film”.


Lech Majewski talks to Grolsch Film Works

 

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Interview

 

You’re showing Bruegel Suite at The Wapping Project onto raw brick walls. It seems at odds with the painterly nature of the film.

I love it here. You could say the walls reflect ‘the hand of time’ made visible; it keeps its own diary. I like that very much. When you look at old unrenovated paintings you can still see this incredible additional texture made by time passing. Nowadays everything is being renovated, so everything looks like plastic. The images projected on The Wapping Project walls retain a sense of time.

When I saw the walls here, I thought, “This is it”. The images I’m projecting are from Bruegel Suite, which I made alongside my film The Mill & the Cross, a film that took four years to ‘build up’. I use that term because each shot required an enormous amount of construction – there were at least 40 layers in any of the images, and up to 147 in some places. Every layer was shot separately against a green screen, then landscape filters were added, then fog filters, then different angles were included. We had to reflect the fact that Bruegel’s paintings were composed of seven contradictory angles in a single landscape, so we were trying to replicate a very magical trick.

And what, other than a visual density, is contained within these layers? They seem to offer multiple perspectives, both literally and in terms of narrative.

Bruegel was reflecting a situation that was absolutely contemporary to his time: issues around Christianity and the death of Christ, particularly in The Procession to Calvary [the painting into which Majewski’s film enters]. But then, I’m an artist in the 21st century, doing the same thing again – making it contemporary. So in a sense these layers reflect a series of endless mirrors, or bridges, between Bruegel and myself. It’s like Bruegel cast a 1,500 year bridge, and I am casting my own 500 year-old bridge – I’m sure there will be many other artists after me doing the same.

For me, these are pillars from which we can build history; it’s real art. Many events that are happening now can’t go anywhere because the bridges immediately collapse.

Which filmmakers would you call ‘pillars’ of cinema, upon whose bridges you have built upon?

There are so many. Tarkovsky, Fellini… they taught me so much. And Antonioni. In fact, he really introduced me to cinema.

One day, when I was much younger, I travelled to Venice as my uncle was a teacher in the Conservatorio there. Venice really opened my eyes to the beauty that human beings can create, as opposed to the koshmar of socialism I was living in, in Poland – a life of forced happiness. In Venice, I was standing before Giorgione’s La Tempesta, and I made the connection to Antonioni’s Blow Up, and the scene in the park.

To return to the bridges analogy, I saw another 500-year-old bridge. I thought, if Giorgione was alive today, he’d be making films like Antonioni. And that was it. In that instant I decided to leave the academy of fine arts where I was studying, and go to film school in Lodz. And from then on, I tried to paint in my films.

And do you have a sense that if Bruegel were alive he’d be making films like you?

But Bruegel was making films. I mean, when you are standing in front of Bruegel in Vienna, looking at the paintings, you are in a Fellini film. I mean, all the facciatas, and all those crazy, corpulent guys.

It’s true that many of his paintings are very cinematic. Procession to Calvary is like a slow pan.

He is a filmmaker. He’s mixing two styles: firstly, an extremely careful composition, which is constructed by an absolutely surreal landscape, mixed with very real costumes and props. But the landscape doesn’t exist. I mean, Flanders is as flat as this table, and yet Bruegel’s Flanders is full of protruding rocks and mountains, hills. The various perspectives don’t really make sense, only in a pictorial way.

Through this technique, he’s capturing a magnificent scene; the people seem to be caught off-guard, red-handed. They are captured in an instant. With other paintings, figures are looking at you and they are intensely aware of being painted, posing; they are draped in front of you. When you see Bruegel characters, they don’t give a damn whether you are looking at them or not. That is a beautiful thing, psychologically, because it draws you a lot closer, and you are instantly intimate with them, rather than being brought into the draped officialdom of posed paintings.

There is a certain sense of time and movement in Bruegel, and in turn in your film. It’s a very slow-moving film – things happen in real time. Does this sense of temporality come from its painterly origins?

Well, my initial idea was to make a feature film of motionless characters… I like stillness, I think stillness happens at the most important moments in life. When you are concentrating, you slow down. When you are horrified, you stop. When you are in love, you slow down and then stop, and you look like an idiot. The crowd passes you by, pushing and punching, but you don’t notice anything. It’s like Gaston Bachelard says: “vertical time”. I like it when time builds upon itself, time that doesn’t stretch like chewing-gum. But, in the end I decided to let the characters move. But even so, at the heart of it, when the central part of the film occurs, everything comes to a standstill.

What do you think the effect of vertical time is upon the viewer?

Well, it depends on the viewer. If you want time chewing-gum, you’ll be bored. If you are coming to see something different, then perhaps you will be satisfied. I have been showing this film all over the world, 47 countries have bought the film for distribution, every country in Europe apart from one. Can you guess which?

Poland?

No, we’re sitting in it. England. It’s strange, it’s spoken in English, it’s got Charlotte Rampling and Michael Yorke. Even Rutger Hauer! Even Andorra bought it.

I’m interested in your relationship to Poland. There is a tendency for artists from Poland to be unable to escape certain interpretations of their work, particularly if there is any violence in it. It’s often interpreted in relation to Poland’s history. How do you negotiate that? Do you see that as a part of the work?

I don’t think Poland is particularly different from other countries. So many countries have suffered. I cannot say that this work is about a history of Polish suffering, because for me the problem lies elsewhere.

The villain of my piece is the 21st century, which has brought with it the absolute devastation of the human figure. It happened in art first, and then one could argue that the armies came afterward and finished the job that the visual world had already started.

Now, we are accustomed to being fooled, we are fed very problematic ideas. I feel very strongly, after spending four years with Bruegel and being a humble observer of his might, that art offers no saviour for us now, no arcadia, no rescue.

Do you see your film as an antidote to this foolishness?

My film is a function of my unease with modern art. Mind you, I was also a perpetrator, and after all, my brainchild was the film Basquiat (1996) [Majewski wrote the screenplay], so I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are contemporary artists who are important, but I’m talking about the vast majority of works in the art market right now, a market that is full of chaotic nonsense. So, instead of the brutality of the past, it’s a kind of white-gloved brutality now.

And finally, casting Rutger Hauer? How do you get past Blade Runner?

Well, now he’s unavoidably Bruegel. He left the blade and hit the canvas.

 

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11 of Lech Majewski’s 14 films

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Rycerz (1980)
‘This is a hard film to evaluate because it doesn’t treat itself like film at all. It doesn’t even try to be appealing for the audience. In terms of its figurations and themes, The Knight is equally underplayed–all traces of plot or moral/thematic development seem to simply fizzle out, leaving the film largely unresolved and inconclusive. The boundary between the world of the film and world of the viewer is constantly violated by characters who stare into the camera–sometimes appearing to directly address the audience. Artifice is made intentionally obvious throughout. However, the film left a lasting impression on me. Because the film plays by its own rules, perhaps it is unfair to judge it based on preconceived cinematic notions. I feel like The Knight reiterated tired themes of futility and imprisonment in the search for happiness/meaning in a new (albeit strange) way. Really, I don’t know what to say about it other than it is difficult but ultimately worthwhile.’ — SportexTheLewd

 

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Prisoner of Rio (1988)
‘The fact that Ronnie Biggs co-wrote this fiasco (filmed in English) may explain the portrait of the Great Train Robber as a sharp-witted charmer, his sole real concern in life his son. The story recounts the less-than-legal efforts of cop Berkoff (macho, variable accent) to bring Biggs (Freeman, larger-than-life Londoner) back to Blighty and prison. The intrigue is messily and murkily conceived, involving undercover agents, swarthy thugs, shady fixers, and much predictable ado about Carnival. Majewski renders entire scenes devoid of dramatic point or meaning by the sort of editing that makes you wonder what’s happening, why, and where; the pacing is listless, the camera invariably wrongly placed, the whole stitched with leering shots of skimpily clad revellers and travelogue padding. Risible throughout.’ — Time Out (London)


Excerpt

 

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Gospel According to Harry (1994)
‘Starring Viggo Mortensen just moments before he was discovered by Hollywood, Gospel According to Harry is a visionary allegory set in the near future when the Pacific Ocean has dried up and California has become a desert. Against this vast canvas, Majewski tells a marital morality tale of modern discontent. With Jennifer Rubin, Rita Tushingham, and Jack Kehoe.’ — Wexner Center


Excerpt

 

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The Roe’s Room (1997)
‘A fitting introduction to Lech Majewski’s singular vision and multiple talents, THE ROE’S ROOM is the cinematic version of the “autobiographical opera” POKOJ SAREN (itself based upon a book of his poetry) which was later selected as one of the best new operas in the world by the International Theater Institute. In nineteenth century opera, emotions sing. This twentieth century film jarringly recreates these truths inside a decaying Polish apartment complex. Between the four walls of their flat, a mother, father and son grow older by the day. But their “reality” blossoms with the poetics of fantasy: milk spurts from the table, leaves sprout from a cracked shower wall and, in autumn, deer invade their living room to hide in the wheat that has grown through the carpet. THE ROE’S ROOM is a work to be felt as well as heard and seen, soaring with the harmonic beauty of song and the beatific world of dream. Within their apartment, a father, mother and son bear the dulling yoke of an ordinary urban life. His mind and heart borne aloft by the cycle of the seasons and the images and music within him, the son transforms his cloistered existence into a richly poetic emotional utopia. As autumn arrives, cracking flakes of plaster become falling leaves. With spring, a cold hard floor comes alive with meadow grass and love beckons in the form of a beautiful young girl’s outstretched hand.’ — Fandor


Excerpt


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Wojaczek (1999)
‘The last days of Rafal Wojaczek, a rebelious poet who died prematurely in his twenties like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jim Morrison. Fueled by his self-destructive life, his poetry made a lasting impression on generations of Poles. He drank and fought and walked through windows. Confronting death on a daily basis, he tried to tame it. Loved by women, he cared for no one, not even himself, living desperado-style only for poetry. Conscious of the need for myth in the mythless reality of communist Poland, he burned his life as an offering.’ — International Film Circuit


Excerpt


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Angelus (2000)
‘Thoroughly and rather inscrutably Polish, Angelus makes a fable of Poland’s 20th-century history. In it, caricatures of Hitler and Stalin mix with angels, saints, and a kooky band of sun-worshipping cultists who believe a ray from Saturn will destroy the planet. In a world director Majewski renders in stylized, eccentric tableaus, this eschatology seems fairly reasonable–even if it means a naked, virginal teen boy must be sacrificed to absorb the ray and save the Earth. (Is he a Christ figure? Well, Angelus is fairly well suffused with religious symbolism, so you do the math.) This guileless chosen one narrates the decades-spanning tale, which often suggests a gentler kind of Emir Kustericia-style absurdist nationalism (see Underground) shorn of sex and violence. What lies next for Poland after the horrors of WWII and repression of the communist era? How will the world end? Judged by the movie (if not its prophecies), more with a whimper than a bang.’ — Joan Alice


the entire film

 

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The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004)
‘Working from his own novel “Metaphysics,” writer-director Lech Majewski crafts “magic in THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS’ intimate passion plays, which are filled with loving detail” (Village Voice) and creates “a luminous, highly erotic treatise on art, love and death” (Chicago Reader). When London art historian Claudine (Claudine Spiteri) meets engineer Chris (Chris Nightingale), it is love and lust at first sight. But their spiritual and erotic connection is threatened by a devastating and deadly illness. Her remaining days on earth numbered, Claudine chooses to fan the flames of her obsession with Hieronymus Bosch by taking her lover on a trip to Venice, where the artist’s work becomes the background for their physical passion and emotional discovery. Like Dante’s Beatrice, Claudine becomes Chris’ guide into a labyrinth of sensuality, love, death, regret and redemption.’ — Fandor


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Glass Lips (2007)
‘Lech Majewski’s Glass Lips (2007) debuted as an instillation piece at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It’s original title was Blood of a Poet, paying homage to Jean Cocteau’s 1930 film. Surreal, kaleidoscopic, and predominantly silent, Glass Lips feels like a series of interrelated shorts literally forming a “motion picture.” The homoerotic frescoes of St. Sebastien are re-imaged with a Marian sheen. Mother repeatedly replaces son in martyrdom. Rows of the maternal tree, reduced to an orifice by exploring patriarchal hands. There is also resurrection. Nothing is permanent, possible because the martyr also co-created his passion, painted his pathos, and unraveled the rope which ties him to the cliches and traditions of the doomed poet. Majewski himself composed the impressive score, creating a lush language to supplant impotent words. Glass Lips not only inspires the viewer to labor in his or her voyeurism, but the film also demands some sweat from those who write about it.’ — 366 Weird Movies


Excerpt

 

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The Mill and the Cross (2011)
‘Here is a film before which words fall silent. The Mill & the Cross contains little dialogue, and that simple enough. It enters into the world of a painting, and the man who painted it. If you see no more than the opening shots, you will never forget them. It opens on a famous painting, and within the painting, a few figures move and walk. We will meet some of those people in more detail. The painting is “The Way to Calvary” (1564), by the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We might easily miss the figure of Christ among the 500 in the vast landscape. Others are going about their everyday lives. That’s a reminder of Bruegel’s famous painting “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus,” about which Auden wrote of a passing ship “that must have seen something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.” Extraordinary events take place surrounded by ordinary ones. We regard most of the events from one perspective: the front, as looking at the painting. But the camera sometimes enters into the action. There are many closer shots of the peasants, solemnly, sadly regarding the pain they witness. They are as passive as beasts. Others in the same frame may be engaged in indifferent occupations. At the center is the death of Christ, but it, too, is only a detail. Here is a film of great beauty and attention, and watching it is a form of meditation. Sometimes films take a great stride outside the narrow space of narrative tradition and present us with things to think about. Here mostly what I thought was, why must man sometimes be so cruel?’ — Roger Ebert


Trailer


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Field of Dogs (2014)
Field of Dogs is a film from Lech Majewski, a Polish poet and painter and has been working on film since 1980. His earlier films are not so well known, although he has worked in the fantastic genre a number of times with efforts such as the mediaeval fantasy The Knight (1980), The Roe’s Room (1997) and Angelus (2000) about a cult and their prophecies coming true. Majewski was the writer and what was to have been the original director of Basquiat (1996). More recently, he gained attention with his arthouse and festival hit The Mill and the Cross (2010), which restages a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in elaborate detail. Majewski calls Field of Dogs the third in a triptych of films made from artworks following The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004) and The Mill and the Cross. Though the other two are based on classical works of art, Field of Dogs is based on Dante Aligheri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy (1308-21), which Majewski calls a work of art because it is so visual in nature. The Divine Comedy, one of the classic works of literature, comes in three parts that concern the narrator’s journeys through Hell, Purgatory and finally to Paradise (or Heaven). The section that The Divine Comedy is of course always known for today, except among literary scholars, is Inferno and the image of Hell as a realm of seven circles with punishments meted out to the damned.’ — MORIA


Trailer


Excerpt


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Valley of the Gods (2019)
‘Majewski reteams with Rampling for his latest, Valley of the Gods, an ambitious sci-fi fantasy which uses Navajo folklore to enhance this story of a reclusive trillionaire (Josh Hartnett) who has the ability to alter reality as he’s shadowed by a biographer. In May of 2016, John Malkovich joined a cast which also included Keir Dullea and John Rhys-Davies. We’ve been waiting for quite some time for Majewski to unleash his latest. Filming took place in May of 2016 in Poland, but based on the amount of CGI special effects needed for the five million dollar plus budget, we’re assuming this has been quite the extensive post-production period. While The Mill on the Cross received a premiere at Sundance, his 2014 Field of Dogs received a more demure festival circuit run. With Hartnett and Rampling, we’d expect Valley of Gods to either premiere somewhere in Berlin, or perhaps in an international program in a Spring festival in the US, maybe SXSW.’ — IONCINEMA


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p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Well then, I definitely will watch it. Thank you, I’m suitably enticed. ** Sypha, I thought I remembered you being a FG fan. I guess my experience, to overly generalise, is that people I’ve met over here that are into that stuff are not more greatly numbered, but their interest has kind of more, I don’t know, depth. That does seem true about musicians and bands from these parts. That’s interesting. That’s an investigative essay someone should write. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I can’t figure out how Kyler’s blog-accessing methodology could possibly work, but I’m very glad it does. Yes, had you been able to access recent comments, Mr. Robinson an I have been tete-a-tete-ing about Hatari. I’m into it. I hope they trounce the competition, and they might just do that a la that hilariously awful Finnish Heavy Metal band some years back who won due to their refreshing incongruity. That name-needing thing is somewhat true for films in France as well. Not for films of that low a budget, but when you get to a million+, … That said, I don’t remember there being any names in Gaspar Noe’s ‘Climax’, which I think cost 3 million. But my friend Patric Chiha’s next film is a million+ project, and he had to cast two ‘names’ — names in France, that is — to get its bankrolling started. Ah, I’m very curious to see ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’. Everyone, Steve has reviewed Hu Bo’s much admired — at least in my circles — new film ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’, so go read his take. Here. My heat restoration got delayed until today. The workers were supposed to be here sat 8 am, and it’s 9:21 am, as I type, so prayers. ** h, Hi! I’ve missed you too. I’m pretty good. Working on stuff. I don’t give out grades, but yours would be a good one. I would be jealous of your snow storm if my apartment hadn’t been without heat or hot water for over two weeks. Take care. ** Kyler, Hi. ‘Black Moon’ is very odd in a good, I think, way. It’s Malle’s weirdo film. You broke your toe! Apparently not not the tiny one which I once read we break hundreds of times in our lives. May it heal pronto. Stay warm. ** Misanthrope, Hi. I remember I used to get excited when I got a new bed, but it’s true the excitement was more subtle. Strokes are super scary. I mean anyone of us could have one any second with no warning and for known reason. In fact, I’m going to stop thinking about strokes right this second. Dying young is a massive injustice. So is dying at all. ** Bill, Hi. He’s worth a multi-sensory gander for sure. As I told Steve, the heat’s return got delayed until today, and I’m counting the minutes until the fuckers with the equipment get here. Enjoy yours. ** Right. Do you know Lech Majewski’s films? They’re terrific. If you don’t, why not change that starting today? See you tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. Everytime I darken this door, I see what Ive been missing. Been working like a dawg. Few days off soon. Gotta catch up. I think its Mardi Gras aint it… a lil Mardi Gras something EMBO

  2. Everytime I darken this door, I see what Ive been missing. Been working like a dawg. Few days off soon. Gotta catch up. I think its Mardi Gras aint it… EMBO

  3. Lech Majewski’s work is new to me. Merci for this introduction. Rutger Hauer won Cinematic Immortality for THIS!

  4. Lech Majewski’s films look great although the only one available for my DVD rental is the Prisoner of Rio which seems a lesser work, going by what the internet says anyway. But I’ll keep him on my radar and hopefully our paths might cross sometime soon.

    My mum’s here in Dundee for a couple of days so that’s been nice to have the flat thoroughly tidied etc. Plus I showed her the Hatari video and she has to admit that it’s mighty impressive.

  5. Corey Heiferman

    March 5, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Hadn’t heard of Majewski before. Tbh most of the excerpts struck this particular moment’s incarnation of me as stuffy but I really dug the team of oxen plowing the supermarket linoleum.

    Thanks to Steve for the free cinema streaming website tips.

    A week later I’m sure the breakup was for the best. Feeling energized. Once I up my eyeglass prescription I want to take a solo trip somewhere and just look around a lot. My guess is Paris is for Lovers is bullshit and a solo trip would likely be worthwhile, especially since I’ve never been?

    Robert Kramer’s “Milestones” really struck a nerve with me. It’s endlessly inventive about how to film people just talking indoors and out and intercutting for montage effect. Calm yet sad affect shared by all people on screen, can’t tell if they’re coached to talk a certain way, all on the same drugs, or both.

    I have a spooky connection to that generation because I’m named after my dad’s cousin who was a Vietnam draft resistor who died very young in a car crash. His papers are preserved in an archive and our similarities spook me out so much that I half-believe I was him in my last life and my dad (who knew him fairly well) is so spooked out he doesn’t like talking about it and discourages me from thinking about it too much. I’ve tried to grapple with this off and on for the past decade. If I actually invite the idea to come in and sit for a while I wonder what’ll happen.

  6. I’m not inclined to listen to Hatari’s music without the visual accompaniment, but I hope they win Eurovision and go on to get booked at the Super Bowel for 2020, especially if they sing their lyrics’ political slogans in English while whipping each other! And perhaps a collaboration with Lordi or at least HEALTH is in the works.

    There are 2 professional actors in CLIMAX, I think. But maybe Noe’s name is enough to sell it. Do his films get reviewed in France on the basis of how provocative the critic thinks they are or they’re trying to be rather than what they actually feel like or contain?

    By now, I assume you have heat on. New York seems to be slowly climbing out of winter over the next week.

  7. Another example of why your blog is great. The stills alone are inspiring. Thanks Dennis – always in awe of how you do this every day. Many people can’t figure out how my methodology (of various kinds) could possibly work – but like you, they’re glad that it does. Yeah, there is methodology to my madness.

  8. Dennis, Totally agreed. Mars? Green New Deal? Border Wall? Cure for this or that? How about making us live forever?!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck that other shit. (Though I guess the cures could help in that regard.) Yeah, let’s work on not dying…and living like we’re 20 for billions of years.

    I do wonder, though, if we wouldn’t just get tired after a while. I wouldn’t. I want to see what becomes of it all. I want that fucking spaceship and flying car and laser pistol!

    I got the new bed today! They were supposed to come between 4:30 and 6:30 and showed up at 2:15 while I was at my doctor’s appointment. I got it up in about 10 minutes.

    This is kind of funny and cute, and you’ll know because you’ve met her and hung out with her a couple times: my mom and LPS left to go to the bank, so I go and use the bathroom; I come out and go into my room…and jumped about a foot in the air…my niece had come in from work and sneaked into my new bed…just this tiny little girl head lying there, the covers up around her. Fucker scared me shitless.

    See? You’d have fun living here. 😉

    We do have fun, even with all the bad shit LPS has been up to lately. Lots of laugh and silliness in the Wines household.

    Okay, so my closet and bookcases are next. I’m going to do those on the weekends and stop running myself ragged during the week. Then I’ll paint the walls I haven’t painted. In the meantime, I’m gonna buy a bunch of Swiffer dusters and shit and keep this room up to snuff…forever. I’m living forever, remember? 😀

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