January 2005

Scene4 Alex Danin Adler
Arthur Meiselman
Farewell to Iris and To Iris Farewell

There is an awful film called "Krakatoa, East of Java", made in 1969 by a prolific television director, Bernard Kowalski. Not only is its geography wrong (Krakatoa is "west" of Java) but its turgid script and Hollywood character caricatures make it a piece of visual fast food. It does, however, offer one of the earlier popcorn rattling portrayals of a tsunami a rather good series of special effects and it predates the Irwin-Allen-era of disaster-for-effect potboilers that are still with us today.

In the spectre of the current South Asia tragedy, a film like this offers
us two insights:
How fragile we are as we bob and drift on this unstable planet with the eye of our concern turned inward and our senses dimmed to the greater universe around us;
Film has become a disposable medium and is far surpassed by the broadcast media as a form of mass communication. Art in general, film specifically, does not deliver an immediacy to absorb and understand what is happening to us; it's the nature of its process. But television, the internet, even the print media do. They give us a presence, a teleportation, if you will, into the milieu and sensations of an event. They allow us to feel and respond to what we see and hear in real time. And that's a good thing.

Albeit, they are casual and careless and often irresponsible in their rush to catch the "wave". They inundate us with edited and tossed images with the abandon of a sushi maker, and they banter numbers and facts like the smiling politicians we've all come to love. The worst is the juxtapositioning of breathless, heart-rendering  imagery and stories with  titillating advertising. Unfortunately, it's always been that way.

Some day, one day, film and art will provide us with the reflection and insight and personal meaning of events such as these which are too large in scope and emotional sweep to affect our daily lives even in real time. And, that too, will be a good thing. 

©2004 Arthur Meiselman

Arthur Meiselman is a writer,
telomeres hunter, and zingaro.
He's also the director of the Talos Ensemble
and its latest project, Suun Suun Sii

For more of his commentary and articles,
check the Archives


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