četvrtak, 28. lipnja 2012.

Hiroshi Teshigahara o Gaudiju


Hiroshi Teshigahara, slavni režiser Žene na pijesku napravio je i dokumentarac o Gaudijevoj katedrali La sagrada familia. Koji spoj!

Santiago Rubín de Celis: Teshigahara's 'Antonio Gaudi': A Wooden Cypress Basin Filled with Water to Catch Moonlight (Or How to Reflect Antoni Gaudi)

Every time I visit Barcelona and happen to walk past 'La Sagrada Familia' temple, I am amazed at the crowds of Japanese tourists packing the surroundings. I've wondered time and again what is behind the Japanese fascination with the Catalonian turn-of-the-century architect Antoni Gaudí. Perhaps it is just the prominent and refined aesthetical sense resulting from the cultural heritage of the country. Perhaps we can attribute it to the Japanese taste for novelty. Whatever the cause, it is a fact that from Kenji Imai and Tokutoshi Torii to sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, dubbed ‘the Japanese Gaudí', who has been working on the architect's still-uncompleted masterpiece 'La Sagrada Familia' for over two decades, Japanese artists have felt an irresistible attraction to Gaudí's works. An attraction shared with the busloads of Japanese tourists all over Barcelona, from the Casa Milà (better known as La Pedrera) to the Park Güell and Sagrada Familia? Hurry up, hurry up!, and back for tea.
Antonio Gaudí
Among the Japanese artists enthralled by Gaudí, we can single out the filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara, who distinguished himself in the sixties with the series of Kafkaesque, eerie, atmospheric films made with celebrated novelist-playwright-scenarist Kôbô Abe, including Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna, 1964) and The Face of Another (Tanin no kao, 1966) (1) . Teshigahara, one of the first true independent filmmakers in his country, was a sort of forerunner of the Noberu Bagu, the Japanese New Wave, which introduced modernity into Japanese film. In fact, his early productions were released simultaneously with those of Nagisa Oshima, Yoshishige Yoshida and Masahiro Shinoda. It was during a 1950's trip to America and Europe with his father, Sôfû Teshigahara, founder of the prestigious Sogetsu Ikebana School in Tokyo, that the filmmaker not only discovered the Catalonian architect but was profoundly struck by the poetry and beauty of his works. Teshigahara had some of them shot on 16 mm, material unfortunately not included in Antonio Gaudí (1985), the documentary he devoted to the artist some thirty years later.
Hiroshi Teshigahara's non-fiction work extends throughout his career and represents a very significant part of his oeuvre. It includes about a dozen short films as well as the full-length documentary dedicated to the architect. It goes without saying that the importance of this work does not rest on its quantity, but in the obvious documentary elements that can be traced in his fictional work. Speaking of this particular ‘documentalism style' Donald Richie catalogued Teshigahara's movies as "quite unusual in the Japanese film"(2). Among the first group of his non-fiction works, all of which are more or less similar to the didactic report style of documentary, Hokusai (1953) and Ikebana (1956) should be mentioned. The former is focused on the famous ukiyo-e ('pictures of the floating world', a highly popular genre in Japanese painting) painter of the Edo period, while the latter is devoted to the traditional art of floral arrangement, featuring Teshigahara's own father, Sôfû. He also made two different film portraits of the Olympic gold medallist and boxing world champion José Torres, shot in 1959 and 1965. In 1958 Teshigahara was one of the directors involved in the making of a newsreel-style snapshot of the capital of Japan entitled Tokyo 1958. This film, made as part of the trend in direct cinema, featured the American Japanologist Donald Richie as one of the interviewees. Even more outstanding is the film Antonio Gaudí, one of the most ambitious and personal of all Teshigahara's efforts.
Sôfû and Hiroshi Teshigahara
Antonio Gaudí, shot in 1984, was his first film after a hiatus from filmmaking that lasted over a decade. After the cold reviews given to Summer Soldiers (Samâ sorujâ, 1972), scripted by author John Nathan, English translator of both Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe, Teshigahara gave up working on films almost completely (3). The death of his father, Sôfû, in 1979, marked the beginning of a period in which the filmmaker personally ran the family's ikebana school, which is currently directed by his second daughter Akane Teshigahara. Between 1981 and 1984, he put filmmaking aside for flower arranging. During that period he concentrated "on other artistic pursuits and passions: calligraphy, ceramics, painting, bamboo installation, opera, and ikebana" (4). Hence, it is only natural that Teshigahara picked a subject for his comeback as personal and close to him as Gaudí's works, which had originally influenced him so much. The film is also a crucial link between the two periods his filmography is usually split into. On the one hand, Teshigahara's early works, especially the four films he made with Kôbô Abe, show a distinctive taste for experimentation and they are both aesthetically and narratively speaking close to avant-garde filmmaking. Their Kafkaesque style is clearly opposed to Japanese classic film form and narratives by such filmmakers as Ozu, Hisatora, Mizoguchi, Kinugasa or Ichikawa. On the other hand, Teshigahara´s films from the late 80's reflect profound stylistic changes. It seems as if his recent immersion in tradition-related arts had resulted in a dramatic turn to a more 'Japanese' filmmaking style. It is quite evident that behind such films as Rikyu (1989) and Basara-The Princess Goh (Gô-hime, 1992), two fine examples of jidaimono, is an obvious impulse towards what is known in Japanese historical films as ‘Monumental style'. Darrel William Davis has briefly summed up the main intention of this ‘Monumental style' as "a wish to portray Japanese History, Culture and Traditions in a sacramental manner" (5), which is precisely the case in both of these films.
From this point of view, Antonio Gaudí should be placed in between these two different positions: tradition and avant-garde. On the one hand, there is the undeniable importance that Teshigahara ascribes to Catalonian culture and folklore (even to the geography of the landscape, e.g. the sequence preceding the first view of the 'Sagrada Familia' that focuses on natural rock formations in Catalonia) in the development of Gaudí's own personal style. The entire cultural background, including the 'sardana' dancing sequence, the Romanesque paintings and carvings in churches and cathedrals, and the Catalan architectural heritage, is presented as possibly influencing his work. Moreover, this Catalan artistic heritage is shown in a narrative form that could be termed ‘ceremonial': long static close-ups, phlegmatic camera movements, the slow and elegant use of travelling shots, the musical counterpoint, the mesmerizing panning sequences, etc. A style that is pretty close to the grandiloquence of ‘Monumentality'. On the other hand, there is Teshigahara's taste for experimentation. This aspect becomes particularly clear in the organic open structure of the film, the visual narratives he favours as opposed to a more ‘dramatic' conception, the purposeful use of the soundtrack and an impressionistic descriptive tone close to avant-garde filmmaking of the 1920's. In fact, most of the film reviewers have talked of a ‘visual poem' instead of a strict documentary, similar to the city symphonies that proliferated during the '20s and '30s.
Woman of the Dunes
Woman in the Dunes
One of Antonio Gaudí's most adventurous choices is its lack of verbal narration, as it does not use any comments or interviews to connect its separate sections (6). Instead of the usual documentary voice-over device, Teshigahara structures his film by relating two independent groups of images: the first contains images representing an overview of Catalan life and culture, and the second a large number of sequences featuring Gaudí's visionary buildings such as Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Casa Vicens, Park Güell and finally his unfinished temple, amongst others.
In summary, the following diagram shows how this structure works:
A) Catalonian cultural background: The Magic Fountain of Montjuic, Barcelona's Gothic quarter streets, ‘Sardana' dancing sequence, Romanesque paintings and carvings, etc.
B) Casa Batlló: Staircase, interiors, façade, stained glass windows, decorative elements, etc.
C) La Pedrera (Casa Milà): Interiors and large rooms, mosaics, façade, chimneys, etc.
A') Catalonian landscape and rural architecture. A small village, its buildings, the people living there, the village's church, etc.
D) Casa Vicens, Güell Pavilions, Garden of the Hesperides, Palau Güell, Colegio de las Teresianas: The three façades, vegetable decorative motifs, the Roman-style mosaics, the iron entrance gate in the shape of a dragon, the monumental entrance to the Palau Güell, etc.
A'') Catalonian Monuments and the Columbus Monument, some city views of Barcelona, a fish market, fireworks, etc.
F) Colònia Güell: Church of Colònia Güell, some views of the Colònia Güell, and a meticulous description of both the church façade and interior.
A''') Catalonian landscape: Various natural rock formations.
G) Temple Expiatori Sagrada Familia: A vast number of sequences focusing Gaudí's magnum opus.
Every significant group of sequences dealing with Gaudí's works is followed by another designed for the audience to gain a sense of the culture, landscape and traditions of the region. This vision of Catalonian idiosyncrasy, seen as a definitive influence, serves to draw a series of analogies and bonds between the architect, his works and his birthplace, eventually resulting in the actual basis for his unique style. Consequently, it is not surprising that Teshigahara follows a non-chronological order in presenting the buildings e.g. Casa Batlló, the first of Gaudí's works shown in the film, dates from 1904-1906 while the construction of Güell Pavilions took place between 1884 and 1887. He is much more concerned with making this game of links evident to the audience's eye than in developing a scholarly portrait of the architect. From this particular point of view, it is logical that the Japanese filmmaker purposefully excludes any interview or narration, devoting all his interest to the images.
Gaudi 2
Antonio Gaudí
In a certain sense, the whole structure of the film resembles a trencadís-style mosaic. Trencadís is, of course, a mosaic-making technique using broken pieces of ceramic, of which Gaudí himself was a pioneer. Teshigahara conceives his film as a figurative mosaic of all the various sequences, regardless their diversity. While eschewing all verbal communication, the images manage to say a lot through the way in which they are actually shot. The superb camera work, by Junichi and Ryu Segawa and Yoshikazu Yanagida, includes an increasing number of handheld shots as the film progresses, done with the intention of capturing the haunting and sensual lines of Gaudi's buildings. The extended static close-ups let the viewer get a feel for the textures since the architectural work of Gaudí is quite remarkable for its wide range of forms, textures, and polychromy, as well as for the expressive way in which these three elements of his art are deftly combined. Other important elements in Gaudi´s flamboyant ornamental style are the knotty vegetable motifs, taken from Moorish architecture. Japanese people give a special value to knotty, sinuous forms which Shinto venerates as go-shintai repositories in which sacred spirits or kami reside. The same knotty vegetal forms are of great importance for ikebana, as all floral arrangements can be conceived as starting from them.
Although visually arresting, Antonio Gaudí is intended much more as a sensual experience than an intellectual approach to the Catalonian artist's oeuvre. A film to be felt more than to be rationalized. This is not surprising because, as with every single film by Teshigahara, aesthetics are the basis of his idea of filmmaking. One of the numberless Japanese ceremonies dedicated to the moon is named Otachimachi (7), a divination ritual. In it, the participants, wearing formal dress, stand holding a wooden cypress basin filled with water in their hands so the moonlight reflects on its surface. This would be a beautiful simile to describe Teshigahra's own intentions of capturing Gaudí's reflection in his film. However, celluloid reels should be much more sensitive than water...

 A kad smo već kod Teshigahare evo i cijele Žene u pijesku:


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