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Yann BeauvaisClick here to Print this Page
Like A Song.

Language, in all its forms, is seen as an essential element of Anna Thew's cinema, manifesting itself either in the shape of the sound or as graphic sign, such as in Blurt (1983) and Blurt Roll 2 (1987). Word and language - but here we should speak of languages, infiltrating every element of the films. But if language invades the film space, it is done in an exceptional way. We are never in the presence of a voice which would overwhelm or provide the image with its meaning. Rarely does the voice dominate, excepting in the "conversations" with Steve Moore in Assemblage for Eye Drift (1996), or with the mother's voice in Hilda. The voice is always plural and functions according to the classical polyphony found in the Fugues of J.S. Bach.

The disembodied voice over is not synchronous with the physical body which one sees. The voice is there to be heard. With Hilda the experience of film lends itself to the act of listening, in a similar way to Sue Friedrich's handling of her own accounts of childhood in Sink or Swim. The fragmented delivery of the narration entices listening. The images of the film subsist as floating fragments which come to emphasize, contradict or complement the meaning of the voice. The recourse to theatricality in scenes echoing memories does not merely underscore the distance inherent in the suggested reconstruction, but more frequently appears out of phase with it.

The apparition of a young man dressed as a sailor is not synchronous with the evocation of the memory which describes him. This play on separations enriches the film. Separations between the voice and the text, between the enunciation and its referent release a surge of sensuality, occasionally a voluptuousness that simple verbal recollection can barely hint at. This distance between the various texts, between the word and its sign, or the tonality of its rendering, lets us savour dissonance and points to a possible relationship with the multi-screen work.

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