Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Saragossa Manuscript

Finally finished watching Wojciech Has' three-hour opus, "Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie (1965)," or "The Manuscript Found at Saragossa." B&W, in Polish with English subtitles. Yes friends, that's right -- it says "In Dedication to Jerry Garcia." And what a long strange trip it was! Can you imagine Borges on film? Stories within stories within stories, so much that you forget whose story you're witnessing at a given time. But then you realize that it doesn't really matter.

The action centers around merchants and noblemen of Inquisition-era Spain and the ghosts and hauntings that plague them. A pair of beautiful harem girls vow their hand(s) in marriage to the lead character, Alfonse Van Worden, played by Zbigniew Cybulski. What a lucky guy! That is, until he finds himself waking up after their supposed first night of conjugal bliss on a barren hillside beneath a gallows with one hand on a pile of skulls and the other hand on a dead man's decaying face! This plot twist recurred many times, reminding me of ancient Buddhist cautionary stories to ward against the temptations of sexual desire.

Van Worden discovers a book which seems to hold the key to the mysterious goings-on. The two women, the gallows, all are portrayed vividly inside. But his attempts to discover what images or hints lie on the following pages all meet with various forms of defeat.

At the end, he meets with a literal reflection of himself cavorting outside with the two women, and remains stuck on the other side, perhaps a prisoner of his own intellectual insistence on the rationality of things, or else of his reluctance to act.

Oh, and if a three-hour B&W film containing philosophical musings on the nature of infinity doesn't float your boat, there is also the brilliant score by Krzysztof Penderecki (composer of "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" as well as the the soundtrack to Kubrick's "The Shining"). And if that doesn't float your boat either, there are also at least a half dozen stunning Polish bombshell actresses to admire.

11 Comments:

Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

That's a cool project. I remember Garcia talking about it right before he died.

6:53 PM, January 03, 2006  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

"Our heroes may be famous and beset with responsibilities and obligations, but they are still human and can even be our friends too."

Like Ewa!!

10:40 PM, January 03, 2006  
Blogger rolywholyover said...

Heheh...exactly what I was thinking (you know me too well)!

11:13 PM, January 03, 2006  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

Another fan of Bart. Cubbins! Woo hoo!

11:57 AM, January 04, 2006  
Blogger rolywholyover said...

Of course! He's the ultimate antiauthoritarian!

1:52 PM, January 04, 2006  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

...who collects conic shaped objects.

9:13 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Tommy D said...

You really are gorgeous. And it's so nice to see that intelligence doesn't take a back seat to beauty.

Tommy D

7:11 PM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger rolywholyover said...

Tommy D,

To whom is your compliment addressed? My icon is a picture of Polish beauty Ewa Sonnet, subject of my first blog post. I am male, as stated in my profile.

I'll take the compliment to my intelligence, though -- thanks!

8:11 PM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Tommy D said...

Ahh, my mistake, I thought the picture was of you, and I saw that you were a man. One of the "Great Imposters" - I think there were a few bands using that name and they all consisted of men dressed as women. Anyway, one of them was going with a drummer that joined a band that used to party at my house and she-he came with him one night. Five o'clock shadow - but she looked great under the lights from a distance. Thought you were a gorgeous man, dressed as such and if you read who you say, I thought, wow, she-he is cool.

Tommy

Not to say you ain't cool man, in fact I prefer that you wear pants and a T-shirt. I think if you looked like that picture, Amanda would be really pissed!

8:37 PM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger rolywholyover said...

Dude, no man could EVER look like Ewa Sonnet! Perhaps it's time for me to change my blogger icon... I don't think Amanda would be pissed if I looked like that -- no one can upstage SuperAmanda!

9:49 PM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger ginab said...

ooh. Postmodernism.

I otherwise need to read stories, cautionary Buddhist tales, on no-no to some or to certain acts ... because I am writing a story about a woman who'd had her heart eaten as a result and I believe she is far more real than figurative. I know who she is! Yeah! It's always nice for a writer to know their protag.

To the movie, film...I wonder if I can rent this. I'm in a college town, so maybe, probably. Maybe there's enlightenment in the duty. Maybe van Worden can't read. You see, I should see the movie first before commenting.

It's always the case. off to 'spinning'.

-g+bb

5:02 AM, January 07, 2006  

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