Not So Unexpected References

The tagline is “Be unexpected.” The fragrance created by perfumer Jacques Polge debuted on fall 2010 preceded by a media campaign which include the short advertisement “Bleu de Chanel” by Martin Scorsese featuring French actor Gaspard Ulliel. Prior to Scorsese, Baz Luhrmann had worked on Chanel No. 5.

The Rolling StonesShe Said Yeah, from band’s 1965 album December’s Children (And Everybody’s),  propels the script of the short film, in which rising international star Gaspard Ulliel plays the role of a young actor whose artistic talent, rebelliousness and good fortune have thrown him into the public eye. However, he refuses to conform to the lifestyle and expectations his newly found fame has placed upon him. As he struggles with new pressures and expectations, he runs into his first love, who for years, supplied him with the passion and turmoil that fueled his work. Faced with a decision, he pushes aside convention to embody the bold energy and elegance of Bleu De Chanel by daring to be unpredictable and refusing to bow down to convention. Scorsese had directed the 2008 Rolling Stones concert film Shine A Light. 

The song She Said Yeah was recorded by the group in September of 1965 at RCA Studios in Hollywood, the very same place where the band’s anthem (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction had been recorded a few months earlier. She Said Yeah was written by the late Sonny Bono and West Coast rockabilly performer Roddy Jackson, and had been a single for Larry Williams in the late 1950s. Williams became known with such early rock ‘n’ roll hits as Bony Maronie, Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Slow Down, the last two of which were covered by The Beatles.

 
 


Still from Mishima, a Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1984)

 
 

Still from short advertisement “Bleu de Chanel” (Martin Scorsese, 2010). The exploding screen wall seems to be inspired by Ishioka’s set design for Mishima. “We knew the old Hollywood system was gone, so we thought we could get in the cracks somehow. Francis was already at it — he was the big brother…”, Scorsese said about starting out with his friends George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. Rolling Stone Magazine 40th Anniversary (2007)

 
 

Gaspar Ulliel taking pictures to the woman he was chasing. This scene reminds the famous photo-shoot played by David Hemmings and  sixties model Veruschka in Blown-Up. In a piece called, The Man Who Set Film Free, Scorsese wrote about the sensation of seeing the Italian director’s L’Avventura for the first time, almost 50 years ago.

 
 

Movie Poster from Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)

 
 

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A Candle Burned Out a Feast

nostalghia2Stills from Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkosky, 1983)

 
 

My sight, my strength, dims,
Two invisible adamant spears;
My hearing deafens, full of distant thunder
And the breathing of home;
The knots of my tensed muscles have weakened,
Like grey oxen on a ploughed field;
Two wings at the back of my shoulders
Don’t shine anymore in the night.

I am a candle, I burned out at a feast.
Gather my wax in the morning,
And this page will prompt you
How to cry and what to be proud of,
How to give away the last third
Of joy and die easily,
And under the shade of an inadvertent home
How to burn as posthumously as a word.

Arseny Tarkovsky

My Sight, My Strenght, Dims

They Burned Their Bridges Behind Tarkovsky

 Although Tarkovsky did not openly oppose the Soviet system, his work heavily emphasized spiritual themes, that were at conflict with the official anti-religious atheist ideology, prompting the KGB to open a file on him

 
 

Offret (The Sacrifice) was the final film by Andrei Tarkovsky, who died shortly after completing it. The Sacrifice originated as a screenplay entitled The Witch, which preserved the element of a middle-aged protagonist spending the night with a reputed witch. However, in this story, his cancer was miraculously cured, and he ran away with the woman. Tarkovsky wanted personal favorite and frequent collaborator Anatoly Solonitsyn to star in this picture, as was also his intention for Nostalghia, but when Solonitsyn died from cancer in 1982, the director rewrote the screenplay into what would become The Sacrifice and also produced Nostalghia with Oleg Yankovsky as the lead. The Sacrifice lead Erland Josephson played major character Domenico in the 1983 production.

 
 

 
 

Most of the film takes place inside or around a house specially built for the production. The climactic scene at the end of the film is a long tracking shot in which Alexander burns his house and his possessions. It was done in a single, six minute, fifty second take, often incorrectly identified as Tarkovsky’s longest take. The shot was very difficult to achieve. Initially, there was only one camera used, despite Sven Nykvist‘s protest. While shooting the burning house, the camera jammed, ruining the footage. (This disaster is documented in documentary entitled Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and the documentary One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich.)

The scene had to be re shot, requiring a quick and very costly reconstruction of the house in two weeks. This time, two cameras were set up on tracks, running parallel to each other. The footage in the final version of the film is the second take, which lasts for several minutes and ends abruptly because the camera had run through an entire reel in capturing the single shot. The cast and crew broke down in tears after the take was completed.

The film reflects Tarkovsky’s respect for the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman. It was set in Sweden on the island of Gotland, close to Fårö, where many of Bergman’s films had been shot. Tarkovsky wanted to film it on Fårö, but was denied access by the military.

Erland Josephson was a recurring figure in Bergman productions, especially from Hour of the Wolf onwards; counting that 1968 production, he acted in nine of his films before The Sacrifice. The film’s production designer, Anna Asp, had previously won an Academy Award along with Susanne Lingheim for the sumptuous décor of Fanny and Alexander, and also worked on Autumn Sonata and Bergman’s 1984 television film After The Rehearsal. The Sacrifice was filmed by Bergman’s favourite cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. Additionally, one of Bergman’s sons, Daniel Bergman, worked as a camera assistant

The camera work is slow, containing the hallmarks of Tarkovsky and cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The film’s soundtrack includes three distinct pieces: the passionate aria Erbarme dich, mein Gott from Johann Sebastian Bach‘s St. Matthew Passion, soothing Japanese flute music played by Watazumi Doso Roshi, and eerie traditional chants from the Swedish forests.

 
 


In 1965, Tarkovsky directed the film Андрей Рублёв (Andrei Roublev or The Passion According to Andreiabout the life of Andrei Rublev, the fifteenth-century Russian icon painter.

 
 

During the summer of 1979, Tarkovsky traveled to Italy, where he shot the documentary Voyage in Time together with his long-time friend Tonino Guerra. Tarkovsky returned to Italy in 1980 for an extended trip during which he and Guerra completed the script for the film Nostalghia. During 1981 he traveled to the United Kingdom and Sweden. During his trip to Sweden he had considered defecting from the Soviet Union, but ultimately decided to return because of his wife and his son. Tarkovsky returned to Italy in 1982 to start shooting Nostalghia. He did not return to his home country.

 
 

Opening credits of The Sacrifice.

 
 

Leonardo da Vinci‘s painting Adoration of the Magi, seen in the opening credits and referenced in the film, depicts the ceding of a pagan world to a Christian one. Tarkovsky’s theological scheme is not as clear-cut: Alexander is an atheist who turns to God, but salvation depends on persuading a witch to sleep with him, or so he’s told by the Friedrich Nietzsche-quoting postman who arrives bearing telegrams and perhaps a divine message or two.

The concluding annihilation is powerful not least for its ambiguity: an act of faith, madness and transfiguration.

 
 

Cover art of  Зеркало (The Mirror ). In this 1975 art film, Tarkovsky paid homage to Leonardo Da Vinci and Bach’s St Matthew Passion for first time. It is a highly autobiographical and unconventionally structured film drawing on his childhood and incorporating some of his father’s poems. Tarkovsky had worked on the screenplay for The Mirror since 1967, under the consecutive titles Confession, White day and A white, white day.

 
 

Given the sheer beauty and unwieldy philosophical ambition of Tarkovsky’s films, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that his true heir is Terrence Malick — a filmmaker whose approach to space and time is fragmented where Tarkovsky’s is unified but who shares with the Russian a mystical connection to nature and the elements and a compulsion to pose unanswerable questions with utmost seriousness and sincerity. (“The Sacrifice” opens and closes with the image of what you might call a tree of life.).

 
 

One prominent element in Nostalghia (1983) is fire – Heraclitus’ source of all things – which serves as a symbol of hope and destruction/despair at the same time, as one witnesses the ending for the two male leads in the film.
 
 

Some Russians burned their bridges behind Tarkovsky, but they wouldn’t destroy the strength of his legacy. It crossed after us.