Art of the Cinema

 Reposted from Weekends in Paradelle

Art imitates life and sometimes life imitates art and sometimes films imitate art.

Filmmaker Vugar Efendi put together a compilation of shots from films along with the paintings that inspired them.

You may have seen filmmakers pay homage to older films by imitating shots - the original Star Wars film has shots that echo a number of other films including John Ford's The Searchers and the Stranger Things series on Netflix has lots of tributes to films from the 1980s that the filmmakers watch and loved.

Paintings may be less obvious. Not everyone would pick up on Jean-Luc Godard filming a shot based on a painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. It is an old tradition. One referenced in Efendi's supercut is from the 1927 silent film Metropolis.

L'empire des lumières influenced William Friedkin's The Exorcist, and La Robe du soir is alluded to in Barry Jenkins' Moonlight while Architecture au clair de Lune slips into Peter Weir's The Truman Show. Some instances are unexpected: Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy used in in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Sometimes the reference is not exact but a scene feels like it is "in the style of"a painter - such as the look of the Bates's home in Hitchcock's Psycho looking like a house from an Edward Hopper painting - but without the color or sunlight. (Wim Wenders used a much more literal recreation of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks in his film The End of Violence.)

I first saw these videos mentioned on the Slate website, but the three-part video has been posted in other places too.

Here are the pairings so that you can check you "art of the cinema" knowledge.

Walk This Way

It is a depression. One of a series. Is it a footprint? If so, what made them? They were made 5.7 million years ago. Could it have been a human?   (Credit Andrzej Boczarowski)

A new study suggesting hominins were walking across a Greek island 5.7 million years ago is here to blow your mind.

I have always been interested in following and identifying animal tracks, and I have had an interest in paleontology and evolutionary biology and anything related ever since I found a fossil when I was ten years old. So, of course I was fascinated to see that multiple depressions preserved in a layer of 5.7 million-year-old sediment were found and they certainly look like they belong to a hominin, a member of our lineage.

The site where they were found at Trachilos, on the Greek island of Crete. No hominin was thought to set foot there until millions of years later.

Why do they think it is hominin? Five forward-facing toes with the big toe in line (unique among primates) and the ball of the foot and a long sole which is helps for walking long distances - and these tracks have those characteristics, though not as evolved as modern human feet.

But the Discover blog points out that it is not that simple. Ardipithecus ramidus was walking around Ethiopia 4.4 million years ago. Ardi is considered a direct ancestor to the australopiths (you may have heard of "Lucy") and down the evolutionary road, us.

But Ardi’s feet are much more ape-like with that big toe sticking out like a thumb. In other words, Ardi’s feet appear to have been more primitive than those of the potential Trachilos trekker, even though Ardi is more than a million years younger.

The fossil record has so far has told us that hominins evolved in Africa. If these are hominin footprints they may have been come from someone who originated either in Europe or Africa.

The paper that revealed these "footprints" may be more science than you want, but here is the start of the abstract for "Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete?"
"We describe late Miocene tetrapod footprints (tracks) from the Trachilos locality in western Crete (Greece), which show hominin-like characteristics. They occur in an emergent horizon within an otherwise marginal marine succession of Messinian age (latest Miocene), dated to approximately 5.7 Ma (million years), just prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis. The tracks indicate that the trackmaker lacked claws, and was bipedal, plantigrade, pentadactyl and strongly entaxonic."
Another paper was published based on the discovery of a few teeth more than 7 million years old found in Greece and Bulgaria. They might also be hominin. Might be.

Doubters may ask how we even know that the tracks are that old. They are dated by analyzing marine microfossils in layers of rock above and below them. The authors of the study point out that these were tracks made when you could walk all of Africa and into Europe without getting your feet wet.

A friend who I talked with about all this laughed and said "You believe too much in science, which always seems to turn out to be wrong."  No, I would argue, science is conservative. It wants evidence, and it will easily admit to error when new evidence is found. We know a lot about evolution, but we are still learning.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point  is a 1970 American drama film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni about the 1960s counterculture of the United States. Some of the film's most iconic scenes were shot on location at Zabriskie Point in California.

The film was the second of three English-language films that Antonioni did for MGM, but the first shot in the U.S. He had done the successful film Blowup in 1966 a mildly-successful film, The Passenger in 1975. He was best known for his 1959 film L'Avventura.

The film was an overwhelming commercial flop and got almost totally bad reviews. But, like many films, its reputation has improved with age. I saw it when it was released and thought it was nonsensical, but it had interesting cinematography which gets a big boost from the actual desert setting.

The film is available on DVD but rarely shows up at festivals and I've never seen it listed on TV. Does this give it some cult status?

It is an indictment of the American society of the time. One of the two protagonists is Mark. he is a college student who spends more time at protest rallies than isn classes. He carries a gn and tat gets him misidentified as the shooter in a cop killing. He runs away, stealing a small airplane. He meets up with Daria in the california desert and they have sex, travel a bit and pretty much do not much.

I don't know what my take would be on the film if I watched it again today. Have you seen it recently? Give us a mini-review in the comments section.

The Open Theatre of Joe Chaikin as the Lovemakers in Death Valley

I did some digging online and turned up that Harrison Ford has an uncredited role as one of the arrested student demonstrators being held inside a Los Angeles police station.

Co-stars Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette actually did fall in love during production and moved together to the experimental Fort Hill Community. Later, Daria was married to Dennis Hopper for four years. Mark teamed up with three other members of the Fort Hill Community and pulled off a bank robbery in 1973, using a gun without bullets. He went to prison and died there "accidentally."

Zabriskie Point was released a year after Easy Rider and the two are sometimes compared to each other.  Both show the "generation gap" of that decade. They are visually different films with a hippie vibe and eclectic soundtracks. Some critics say that Antonioni took the final scene of Dennis Hopper’s film and decided to make it into a feature film.

Zabriskie Point may have been chosen as a location because it is literally America's lowest point. Antonioni was very critical of the United States and the film certainly shows that.

The film is split between the phony, capitalistic big city, and the bare but beautiful desert.

I can't really recommend the film's music which is sometimes considered to be a "lost" soundtrack. On Amazon you can only get third-party/used versions. If you can get to listen to it - perhaps a borrowed copy and some psychedelics would be preferable -  you'll find some bizarre stuff.  It features The Pink Floyd (with the article "The" intact), The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Patti Page.

You can find most of these tracks on their original sources, but there are some tracks that were composed specifically for the film. Director Antonioni was attracted to Floyd's Ummagumma album, particularly the track "Careful with That Axe, Eugene."  I'll post a Spotify for it below, but here is a track list from the 2-CD version that restored the lost tracks.

Disc: 1
1. Heart Beat, Pig Meat - The Pink Floyd
2. Brother Mary - The Kaleidoscope
3. Dark Star (Excerpt) - The Grateful Dead
4. Crumbling Land - The Pink Floyd
5. Tennesee Waltz - Patti Page
6. Sugar Babe - The Youngbloods
7. Love Scene - Jerry Garcia
8. I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again - Roscoe Holcomb
9. Mickey's Tune - The Kaleidoscope
10. Dance Of Death - John Fahey
11. Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up - The Pink Floyd

Disc: 2
1. Love Scene Improvisations-Version 1 - Jerry Garcia
2. Love Scene-Version 2 - Jerry Garcia
3. Love Scene-Version 3 - Jerry Garcia
4. Love Scene-Version 4 - Jerry Garcia
5. Country Song - The Pink Floyd
6. Unknown Song - The Pink Floyd
7. Love Scene-Version 6 - The Pink Floyd
8. Love Scene-Version 4 - The Pink Floyd

The actual location of Zabriskie Point is located east of Death Valley in in California. It has some surreal erosional landscape and is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago, which is long before Death Valley came into existence.

It was named for Christian Brevoort Zabriskie who was a vice president of the Pacific Coast Borax Company which mined borax from that area.

Here is a some trivia about the place.
Philosopher Michel Foucault took an acid trip at Zabriskie Point in 1975 and said it was the greatest experience of his life.
It is shown on the cover of U2's album The Joshua Tree.
It was the location used to represent the surface of Mars in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars.