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Behind Closed Doors

Anna Thew
1988
14 mins colour 16 mm

Behind Closed Doors

Fragments of dream, nightmare and memory draw together landscape and natural sound with images of death.

"The sea runs uphill and is red. A heap of rubble, and a body to be dragged across the rubble pile, naked mother, your stomach cut along so and stitched with tight black thread... to the hollow sound of schools"

An elegy for my mother, who was not buried and whose ashes were not collected by my father. It is based on a recurrent nightmare that I was dragging my mother's naked body over a pile of rubble through mountains of Messiaen music which were impossible for me to play. In the film, I take the place of my mother. My daughter takes my place, and drags me over rubble, over rocks and out of the sea. In the final scene, film-makers bear me as a corpse, down a metal staircase as rite, dream and film transmutate.

Through spoken diaries and text, oblique reference is made to the persistence of the imagination. The "dark, savage wood" of Dante's Inferno, and Paolo and Francesca buffeted on an infernal breeze, metamorphose into an iconoclastic re-depiction after Raphael's Deposition, showing the scarred naked body of a woman. The Raft of Géricault. Footfalls on a station platform. A train announcement at Kings Cross. Bright red begonias smuggled into the intensive care unit, are superimposed over my eyes to the slowed sound of shattered glass. An epitaph of the mind, alluding to an age in which the sight and anguish of death were less hidden.

"Remember you must, express a tragedy without recalling it, that grief, shut in a box, so sit on the lid".

"a myriad of instances in transit", M. Mazière Independent Media

with Anna Thew as a corpse; Harland Miller, Yvonne Little as Paolo and Francesca; Luc Borie, Richard Heslop, Derek Jarman, Steve Farrer, Martin, Emina Kurtagic, Monica Molnar, Tania Diez, Julie Osborne, Rachel Thew, Kenny Morris, Mary Rose, deposition scene.

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