“A journey around Argentina and Uruguay to illustrate words of Jorge Luis Borges,” says the Paris-based director, Neels Castillon. The soundtrack includes Borges’ own reading of the poem, as well as music by Yann Scott. The cinematography is by Kévin Michel.
Here’s the English translation Castillon supplied in the description at Vimeo:
To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.
To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.
To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into music, a sound, and a symbol.
To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness–such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.
Sometimes in the evening there’s a face
that sees us from the depths of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.
They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.
Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.
Photographer Barbara Doux directs, and also supplies the voice-over. Nguyen-Tri Mai is both author and performer. Audio recording and mixing as well as video editing are all the work of Kuba Dziewa.
Building upon some of the challenges I found with the earlier films, I wanted to almost ignore the text and sideline the structure of the recording. I put up a kind of mental block between me and the text and ‘drew’ the shapes of the sentences. These small drawings, or plans made the basic structures of the animated sequences.
Sweeney goes on to reflect on the project as a whole — the first venture into poetry film for either of them:
While working with Colette on visual responses to her poetry, I have increasingly realized that the three films are a response not just to the three poems, but more specifically, the recordings of the three poems. I am not only responding to the content and motifs contained in the poems (as one would if responding to a single word, an idea, or a title) but also directly to the length of the poem, the rhythm, spacing and sounds of the words as they are delivered in the recording.
The poems have been, to a greater or lesser extent, a script. We have found a lot of questions have arisen about how the task of making a film in this way is different to less time-based parameters of more abstract types of collaborations. It highlights the difference between spatial and time-based video and film work, and has sparked an interest for both of us in how this brief could work in reverse – a poet creating text to a finished film or video, for example. This collaboration feels like a starting point, and we would be keen to collaborate further in different contexts. In the present context, the response to the science was the poet’s, while in a future context, we would be interested to explore what happens when both the artist and the poet are responding to the science and somehow bringing the results together in a collaborative work.
According to Open Culture,
“Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986″ first appeared in print in Tornado Alley, a chapbook published by William S. Burroughs in 1989. Two years later, Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho, Milk) shot a montage that brought the poem to film, making it at least the second time the director adapted the beat writer to film.
Othniel Smith used a reading by Alan Davis Drake for Librivox and public-domain images from the Prelinger Archive to make this short film.