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Public Places, Private Thoughts
Nicky Hamlyn
Public Places, Private Thoughts
Cordelia Swann's Out West (1992) is as intimate in tone as Norwood is impersonal and deadpan.

Although Swann uses the third person to relate her narrative, she is clearly the subject of the film. The opening image of the Golden Gate bridge proposes a journey, a revisiting, both visual and memorious, of time spent with her father as a young girl: "As they drove across the bridge she stood up in the back of the car and her Davy Crockett hat blew off". We see snow, desert, planks of wood, a window, scarlet brush: a mixture of the famous, the iconic and the obscurely personal. The words are sparse, but a strongly erotic mood is evoked in key recollected moments. Over a shot of wild horses the voice recounts how her father "lifted her up and whispered 'look, there's the stallion'".

Unavoidably, the story brings an adult understanding to bear on the then innocent experience of a father/daughter relationship, or does it? Does it displace the original experience, shed light on it or spoil it forever more? The process of revisiting past experiences can never guarantee a resolution to these kinds of questions, but rather adds new layers to already irretrievable experiences.

Still from Out West by Cordelia Swann, 1992
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