Towards the end of this year, on a day in October, I will have lived the same amount of years in exile as I have done in the country of my birth, and after that the days will start piling on the other side of the scale. I have a feeling that those formative years as they are usually referred to—but I do aim to take each year as such—will never quite fade out of memory. The true nature of time and space is a subject open for discussion—it is argued that the distance to our past is merely an illusion.
During my early youth in and around Paris, I went to the cinema a lot. As is usually the case I only realized how spoiled I had been for choice when the time came to survive with barely a cinema in sight, and the bare cinema did not happen to show any film I really cared to see. As you will have gathered I do not keep any finger on the technological pulse so I found out about the advent of DVDs by complete fluke sitting in a bus beside a man watching an opera with a pair of headphones on. Since that day, living without a television, I have been able to revisit films I had once loved and also see hundreds of films that will never make it to the large screens around this part of the world. For that I am deeply grateful.
It is amazing to be able to revisit spaces where I once lived for the couple of hours that the film lasted, to find myself again face to face with characters that do not seem to have ever really departed. The other day H lent me Alice in the Cities and it was miraculous to hang out once more in this 1970 German black and white space and time. In the distance between the two viewings I realize I had twisted the plot somehow. I may not have fully realized the first time around that this was the tale of a fatherless child who chooses a father figure for herself, no, I remembered him as a reluctant father who had evaded his responsibilities. Also I clearly remember them finding her grandmother, a scene that I perhaps had put together in a dream. What did I find of myself there, who was I then in the darkened cinema ? What I do know is that Alice’s intent on scratching a match as a deodorizing measure after she would do her business in the bathroom made it home to me, as that particular trick had been taught to me by my not remotely German grandmother. I once was Alice for sure, playing, abandoned, strong.
Recommended viewing, for sure. And again.