Art and Sex

 On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan

This meditation on the nature of creative energy does a lot with staging and lenses to explore the subject.   The story is anchored between two females (the mother and the wife) who - while both artists - manifest the creative/sexual energies in opposing ways.   The mother is “out there” in her nakedness, madness and connection to more complex layers of reality, the wife is restrained, cold.  

It is the restrained one who achieves the recognition as an artist.   The guy in between - with his uncomplicated sexuality ends up only a consumer (of art).  His promise - he got the highest mark at the university - does not translate into professional success.  Hers - she got the highest mark too - brings her eventually fame and artistic fulfillment.  

Every time  Edward visits his mother the camera and the set design switch gears.  This beautifully shows “the mother’s” sphere, her influence, the potential she brings to Edward.   Which he does not seem to understand.

There is an amazing shot of a piano recital where Florence assists in turning pages.  A long, sensuous camera move along the piano to the male player and then to Florence reveals the interaction between sensuous/sexual and artistic within Florence. 

The “why couldn’t they have sex before marriage” is just a gimmick in this story.  Perhaps there isn’t enough of their pre-marital “negotiations” to make it more believable.   As is, “the beach” revelation feels a bit contrived. 

Still, the film is trying and mostly succeeding in addressing that which usually is trivialized or misunderstood or just unseen.

I just checked out an interview with Ian McEwan on

Two things are intriguing: he reveals that Sam Mendes was supposed to direct it.  Holy Cow!   Now the energy angle becomes more obvious.   It probably would have gone even higher with Mendes.

Also, McEwan says there is a lot of him in Edward.  (not the wedding night though, he says with a smile).  Since Edward is the opposite of McEwan in terms of success and contentment (so it seems watching McEwan talking) this admission reveals a yet another layer of the primal energy manifesting itself in life.


We’re all stuck here

 LA 92

A very powerful documentary archival footage build up showing how frustration starts, boils and explodes.   Two things particularly moved me:  an Asian woman standing in a broken window of a store (probably her own) with her arms outstretched to stop the looters and yelling repetitiously with tears, anger and disbelief:  "This is America!", "This is America!", "This is America!"

Another is a quote from Rodney King.  It seems that everybody was focused (with various levels of appreciation) on his "Can we all get along", but he also said "I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while."  The latter transcended the here and now of Los Angeles in 92.  Is is always shocking current, important and forgotten.


Listen to a whisper

Excellent HBO documentary on Steven Spielberg.   Turns out he values not knowing prior how a scene would look like.  Panic is his cherished MO.  Only then he comes up with good ideas.  Interesting, that his process is emotional and visceral - not over thought.  Although clearly an overall strategy has to be applied, his approach to a scene is instinctual. 

In Jews - what you don’t see is generally scarier than what you do see (there is very little of the shark in the film.)

His camera movements (which to him is the directing) are always more than giving the viewer a sense of space.     They always reveal something additional.

I remember from an older interview with Spielberg his amazement that “they” keep hiring him.  Then his guess that “they do, because he knows where to put the camera”.  That’s what it takes - the ability to select the best camera spot!

Also: there is a page with quotes from famous people.  Below there are a few among those by Spielberg that impressed me the most:
  • “You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams that we can’t even imagine dreaming.  You have done more for the collective unconscious of this planet than you will ever know.”
  • “Our one goal is to give the world a taste of peace, friendship, and understanding through the visual arts, the art of celebration of life.”
  • “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.
  • “Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. ”