Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Morning

Thursday morning. Cardozo will be taking us to the airport a little later in the day. In the meantime, we wake early for a cup of tea in bed--an English way to start the day which has never changed for me. I had intended to get an early night, but made the mistake of starting a rented DVD that I wanted to return to Netflix before leaving. And got hooked on the story. It never fails. I start a story, I have to find out how it ends.

This one had a pretty disappointing end, I thought. "The House of Flying Daggers," a movie where even the violence is beautiful! The whole thing is a visual delight--from the palace interiors to the bamboo and birch forests and the grassy meadows. (The exquisite greens and golds and oranges of the exterior scenes reminded me of some of the landscape work of the British artist Andy Goldsworthy, whose own film, Rivers and Tides is an absoulte must-see for any Buddhist-minded person who has not yet seen it. Rent it. Please.) And the choreography of the dance and battle scenes is quite spectacular.

As I see it, the film is all about color and movement. If you see something falling, watch out--precipitation of any kind usually precedes attack. The end--an epic battle between two rival lovers--is preceded by the drifting fall of a few flakes of snow and culminates in a blizzard of the white stuff. What's lost is the resolution of the larger context, a classic struggle between a tyrannical regime and a band of what Ronald Reagan famously described as "freedom fighters." I wanted to know how this part of the story ended, and it felt to me like the film had been truncated in the interest of of keeping it within some acceptable time limits. All the more annoying for having stayed awake to find out what happened: it never did.

Ah, well. The tea is finished. Time to get up and take a morning walk before returning to the final preparations for our journey.

Photo credit: Andy Goldsworthy

1 comment:

Eli said...

I'm a huge fan of martial arts movies, and I think "House of Flying Daggers" is one of the best I've seen thus far. I completely agree about the ending: I would love to see resolution on a larger scale. They even show the military descending on the fortress, but nothing after! For me, though, the final battle is so emotionally charged that I forget about anything else. Maybe the director was attempting to show the personal importance between the two fighters my minimizing the larger conflict, like trying to capture the inability of the characters to see anything beyond their own conflict. Just a thought.

If you enjoyed the movie overall, you may also enjoy "Hero" with Jet Li. It's directed by the same man (Zhang Yimou), and relies heavily on color and aesthetic to augment the storytelling. Better still, it has a definite ending! Also, to avoid an even bigger disappointment, avoid "Curse of the Golden Flower." Terrible catharsis.