IT'S ABOUT TIME: Trying an Essay Film

Mieke Bal
2020 Text Matters  
This essay is about the essay, a form (as Adorno called it) of thought alive that is partial in the two senses of the word: subjective and fragmented. Thinking as social, performative, and always un-finished; as dialogic. Through the mythical figure of Cassandra, who could foresee the future but was cursed to be never believed, I tried to "figure," make a figural shape for the thoughts on the indifference of people towards the imminent ecological disaster of the world. At the invitation of
more » ... Mikurda of the Łódź Film School to come and make an essay film, within one week, but with the participation of many great professionals, I was able to create, at least in the first draft, the essay film IT'S ABOUT TIME! The ambiguity of the title suggests the bringing together of my thoughts about time, in relation to history in its interrelation with the present, and, as the exclamation mark intimates, the urgency to do something. The former is enacted by a tableau vivant of Cassandra's lover Aeneas as Caravaggio's John the Baptist, with a contemporary painting by David Reed shifting over it; and by interactions with two paintings by Ina van Zyl. The urgency is presented in many of the dialogues, quoted from various sources, especially Christa Wolf's novel Cassandra. I argue that "thinking in film," with film as a medium for thought, is what the essay film's foremost vocation is. Through a reflection on "thought-images," which I see as the result of "image-thinking," I also argue for the intellectual gain to be had from "essaying" thought artistically.
doi:10.18778/2083-2931.10.02 fatcat:i3xm7dkhdzftpo3lelkruy6gfq