reflections on Terrence Malick’s film, Song to Song, 2017 – and on, Patti Smith because otherwise, S to S, would be unrecognizable, and I suspect, inconceivable.

i just watched for the first time terrence malick’s song to song.

i’d seen a couple of malick films before song to song, and thought highly of them. but they didn’t prepare me for the brilliance of S to S.

i’ve been trying to think of what to compare it, and can’t come up with anything, at all, in any media. it’s ‘shakespearian’ or, not to be ethnocentric about it, say to, 1001 Tales, in the way, that nothing seems to be comparable; or perhaps to the plays of  Sophicles. definitely as profound as all those authors.

i always try, when watching a film to understand how it was made. i often don’t after, say, bladerunner, because it’s too obvious in the CGI filmic era, it’s enough to say, well, that’s CGI and have done with it. [well, not completely, but mostly] it’s not important or that interesting, really. though, there is one exception to this, Fury Road… But how Malick’s song to song was made, edited, constructed, composed, etc, totally escapes me. it’s pure, to be metaphorical, alchemy, in it’s mostly naturalistic filmic idiom. it does begin with making use of some wide angle lens shots to great effect.

the following was used, as much for the visuals as for the music, in my estimation. it’s just that her music appears as often in the film as does the following. and the following two both appear more than anyone else other than patti smith. and yes, i’m partial to posting here, patti… 🙂 but malick’s wider inclusion is of great interest.

the other the musical thread of Preisner’s From The Abyss”

Sound for the visual poems of Terrence Malick’s Song To Song (2017)

As for Patti Smith, bits from her songs were included throughout. but i can’t find anything but the follow dramatic dialogue on youtube, so far… from the film:

though the entire sound track can be heard here:

https://thefilmstage.com/news/listen-to-the-soundtrack-for-terrence-malicks-song-to-song/

so, from that, malick included lines from:

my totally intuitive guess is that natalie portman was cast to represent the younger smith, and therefore, that, song to song is very auto-bio-biographical about malick, smith, and maplethorpe? and? no doubt there is much research on this that i’m unaware of. just the note of a late comer to this realm, after a first viewing of malick’s song to song. that said, not sure his film has been given the due of the greatness it deserves.

and well just because. perhaps the unstated homage of malick’s film is this:

for the record, smith’s lyrics are searingly true, about the world, period. so any poetry or music that sears less, is merely cultural detritus.

Load up on guns
Bring your friends
It’s fun to lose
and to pretend
She’s overboard
myself assured
I know, I know a dirty word

Hello, hello, hello, hello,
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out
it’s less dangerous
Here we are now
Entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now
entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido
Yeah

I’m worse at what
I do best
And for this gift
I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

Hello, hello, hello, hello,
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out
it’s less dangerous
Here we are now
Entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now
entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido
Yeah

And I forget
Just what it takes
And yet I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard
Its hard to find
Oh well, whatever, nevermind

Hello, hello, hello, hello,
Hello, hello, hello!

The empty hand of innocence
transfusing street of the sorrows
and children of the wood
Hounded, shredding all veils
and winding all sheets of the dead world droning
Overturning tables laden with silver sacrificial birds
Beating goat-skin drums
Advancing with hands out-stretched
and we keep filling them with mercury nitrate, asbestos
Baby bombs blasting blue
Scavengers picking through the ashes
Children of the mills!
Children of the junkyards!
Sleepy, illiterate, fuzzy little rats
haunted, paint-sniffin’,
stoned out of their shaved heads
Forgotten, foraging, mystical children
Foul-mouthed, glassy eyed, hallucinating

Hello, hello, hello, hello,
Hello, hello, hello!
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
Hello!

With the lights out
it’s less dangerous
Here we are now
Entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now
entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido

Ah, la la da
Ah, la la da
Ah, la la la
Ah, ma la ta
An albina
A mosquito
My libido,
Oh, My libido

Oh Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

 

then, the last stanza of Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De),  is:

In the sheets
There was a man
Dancing around
To the simple
Rock & roll
Song

_________

that dancing man, I suggest, was/is terrence malick.

reflections on Terrence Malick’s film, Song to Song, 2017 – and on, Patti Smith because otherwise, S to S, would be unrecognizable, and I suspect, inconceivable.

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