Eliot’s enduring poem of male mid-life crisis gets a proper film treatment from Laura Scrivano and actor Daniel Henshall in A Lovesong, the third interpretation of Prufrock I’ve shared here over the years. The description from Vimeo:
‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’
A solitary man wanders the streets of a city, restless with indecision. As he tumbles down a rabbit hole of seedy dive bars, half deserted streets and shots of whiskey, time fractures – and it seems he might be destined to walk these streets forever.
Shot in New York by director Laura Scrivano, A LOVESONG the first film of THE PASSION series and features actor Daniel Henshall, star of AMC’s TURN: WASHINGTON SPIES and SNOWTOWN. thepassionfilms.com
Exploring Daniel’s fascination with poetry and text and the actor’s relationship to the both script and camera, his film takes as its starting point TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, considered to be one of the founding texts of modernist poetry.
THE PASSION is an ongoing series of intimate short films, capturing some of the world’s most exciting actors in exclusive, commissioned performances, exploring and re-imagining key texts and modes of performance in contemporary settings.
Each edition of THE PASSION is crafted through a creative conversation with the featured actor, with a script being developed based on a classic text or mode of performance of the actor’s choosing.
Pushing the boundaries between cinema, storytelling, poetry, contemporary art and performance, the films will be as original, dazzling and individual as the talents that create them.
The stories THE PASSION will tell, the talents involved, the dramatic themes illuminated and the strength of each individual performance will make THE PASSION a unique and inspirational digital experience.
Usually in poetry film the most relevant collaboration is between a poet and a filmmaker, so this approach of developing scripts in conversation with actors is intriguing (though it doesn’t sound as if all the texts will be poems). A reply to a comment on Vimeo gives additional detail about the process here:
Director Laura and star Dan spent weeks talking about the poem’s possible interpretations, and on adapting the text, before our DOP was brought in to discuss how to render it on film. We were dreaming in Prufrock by the end of it.
Cortney Lamar Charleston’s searing poem, from his forthcoming collection Telepathologies (Saturnalia Books, 2017), is brought to the screen by director Seyi Peter-Thomas, Motionpoems and Station Film:
“This poem is about the precarious balance black parents have to strike in order to raise their kids ‘right,’ ” director Seyi Peter-Thomas says of Lamar Charleston’s piece. “It’s wrenching and thought-provoking.” Seyi’s film perfectly communicates this balance as it follows young Malik and his mother navigating life’s highs and lows. The moments of levity and those of unsolicited sobriety explore the complexity of Malik’s experiences as a part of a larger conversation on race and community within today’s uneasy social and political climate.
Seyi says, “Maybe what’s really being asked is how do we save a black child? And, what are the elements we must save them from? It’s a uniquely American conversation, one we’re all having on some level right now.” He hopes viewers will connect with the humanity in the film and also be prompted to ask and answer some questions of their own.
Motionpoems’ newest season of films are based on poems by black American poets, and presented in association with Cave Canem, a home for black poetry.
View more of Seyi’s work HERE.
Earlier this week, Spanish filmmakers Javi Zurrón (Myblue Audiovisual) and Eduardo Yagüe simultaneously released these two films based on the same poem by the Texas-based writer James Brush, from his collection of road poetry, Highway Sky. In the Myblue Audiovisual version, Brush’s recitation is in the soundtrack, with Yagüe’s Spanish translation in titling; in his own film, Yagüe reads the translation and the original appears on the screen. In their footage and soundtracks, the two films are completely different but complementary, interpreting the text in a similar manner. Aida Riesgo of Myblue Audiovisual stars in both, and Javi Zurrón is the male actor in Yagüe’s Gasolina.
The romance of the automobile is as old as pop music, but usually it’s some specific hot car or motorcycle, not gasoline itself, that is depicted as an object of desire. These videopoems feel simultaneously new and deeply indebted to the music video tradition, not in the soundtrack but in the iconography (a scene of a rock concert, a Ramones t-shirt, a tattoo, etc.).
This unusual and ambitious poetry film, created for the seventh season of Motionpoems by directors Jamil McGinnis and Pat Heywood, includes words from five different NYC poets, as Heywood explained in an email (links added):
The film is an adaptation of the poem ‘Things I Carry Into the World’ by Cynthia Manick. It’s an abstract meditation on the body, the feminine, the everyday realities of being young and black, and the fragility between the manmade and the natural. We worked with an incredible nonprofit, Urban Word NYC, who teamed us up with four poets: Esther Aloba, Nkosi Nkululeko, Makayla Posely, and Trace DePass, the scenes featuring them are actually adaptations of their own poems, heard briefly in the opening scene. We ended up with moments from four separate films, crafted under the umbrella of Cynthia Manick’s original poem. We found adapting poetry into film to be creatively liberating. Sort of like putting together a thematic puzzle; juxtaposing images, observing, asking questions, and finding moments of meditation to digest the poem’s text. We had our theater premiere at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis on October 27 and our online premiere on NOWNESS on November 6.
The poems excerpted at the beginning are “untitled” by Makayla Posely, “Rule #1” by Esther Aloba, “band-aids & other temporary healings” by Trace DePass, and “From the Inside” by Nkosi Nkululeko. See Vimeo for the complete credits.