Virgin Attacks: The Potted Psalm von Sidney Peterson und James Broughton

The Potted Psalm, 1946: Ganz ohne Ton, ein assoziativer Reigen surrealer Eindrücke: Eine Frau mit schwarz-roten Lippen isst ein Blatt, ein Mann ohne Kopf, das M in Mother verschwindet unter einem Fuß und lässt ein Other entstehen, Füße eingesperrt in durchsichtigen Vakuumbehältern, leckende Zungen unter bedrohlichen Masken, Zähne und Schatten, es wirkt als wäre die berühmte Partyszene in Jean-Luc Godards Pierrot le fou zu einem Albtraum geworden: Fiebrig, angsteinflößend, poetisch.

The Potted Psalm Peterson

Peterson und Broughton, das ist eine jener Kollaborationen, die P. Adams Sitney als Virgin Attack bezeichnet hat. Damit meint er eine Auseinandersetzung mit Kino durch Filmemacher, die aus anderen Künsten kommen. James Broughton ist in diesem Fall gemeint, denn Peterson war ein Kinointellektueller. Broughton war ein Poet:

I took a sharp look
I took a long prowl
I questioned the serpent
I questioned the owl
I called up the mayor
I called on the sage
I tried reading Proust
I tried life on the stage
I went into therapy
I went out for sports
I suffered every ailment
from sniffles to warts
I went to the dogs
I went to the Pope
I climbed Annapurna
I fasted on dope
I dug up the desert
I delved in the sea
But nowhere I looked
could I recognize me

So eventually I
had to give up my plan
of escape to Siam
and accept myself here
just as I am

But it wasn’t easy

Sitney schreibt über Kollaborationen wie Buñuel und Dali, Deren und Hammid, Watson und Webber oder Claire, Pitabia und Satie. Ein Virgin Attack entsteht, weil der Blick auf das Kino nicht von innen sondern von außen geschieht und das Medium dadurch von seinen Prinzipien befreit wird und in andere Sphären gelenkt wird, die neue Möglichkeiten offenbaren. In diesem Sinn ist The Potted Psalm allerdings kein wirklicher Meilenstein. Denn die surrealen Bewegungen, den assoziativen, körperlich treffenden Schnitt hat man bereits gesehen bei den oben genannten Kollaborationen. Dies steht in einer Linie mit einer Beobachtung, die ich immer wieder von Neuem mache. Denn spricht man mit Filmemachern, hört man ganz oft, dass es sehr wichtig ist, das klassische Handwerk zu erlernen. In meiner Wahrnehmung gibt es aber auch ein nicht-klassisches Handwerk, das man erlernen kann. Warum ist es relevant die Regeln eines industriellen Filmemachens zu kennen, um sie zu brechen, wenn man gleich die Regeln eines nicht-industriellen Filmemachens lernen könnte? Peterson orientierte sich bekanntermaßen an surrealistischen Vorbildern. Sein Kino ist daher nicht zwangsläufig eines der Rebellion sondern eines der Bewunderung.

Allerdings ist The Potted Psalm auch die Geschichte eines Verschwindens und was man daraus machen kann. Denn außer dem Geld verschwand auch der Hauptdarsteller. Sitney dazu:

“In their choice of a leading player they followed a tactic of Un Chien Andalou by selecting a type who projected a quality of madness. Shortly after the completion of the Dali-Buñuel film, Pierre Batcheff killed himself; not too long after that, the leading lady also killed herself. In the case of The Potted Psalm, Harry Honig simply disappeared after one shooting session. The rest of the film had to deal with this contingency.”

The Potted Psalm Broughton

Drei Monate wurde jeden Tag alles über den Haufen geworfen und man begann von vorne. Die impressionistischen Faszinationen im Film, das Treiben fern jeder Kausalität ist Ausdruck dieser Herstellung. Ein anderer Film als dieses psychologische Sinnlichkeitsfieber konnte eigentlich nicht entstehen. Es ist ein Film, der über das dritte Bild funktioniert, also jene Räume und Gefühle, die sich in der Zusammenstellung zweier Einstellungen auftun. Was die großen Vertreter des Surrealismus eint, ist aber auch die Kraft der einzelnen Bilder, das Einfallsreichtum visueller Blicke. Wenn Pasolini in seinem Mamma Roma zu Beginn kurz mit den Mustern solcher assoziativen Schnitte flirtet, indem er kreisende Bewegungen hintereinander schneidet, dann erzielt er damit lange nicht die Wirkung von Peterson und Broughton, Maya Deren oder Bill Morrison. Denn die einzelnen Bilder dieser Filmemacher tragen schon ein weitaus größeres Unbehagen in sich. Man muss hinsehen, es ist als würden Ameisen aus Händen krabbeln. Spannungen zwischen der Metaphorik und der bloßen Existenz der Bilder bauen sich auf. Das Rationale und das Körperliche begreifen sich nicht. Wer sich für ersteres interessiert, wird frustriert, wer sich für zweites interessiert, verschließt sich vor möglichen Interpretationen.Viele Wahrheiten ergeben sich erst durch mehrmaliges Sehen, denn man müsste erst lernen, gegen die Durchkreuzung des Rationalen zu denken.

„By design and by necessity The Potted Psalm evolves disjunctively; the various women of the film (there are six in the credits) form a virtually continuous spectrum from innocent girl to savage old lady, but at any given moment of the film it is difficult to tell the middle figures apart; the mixture of motifs and styles, which in later films are typical of either Peterson or Broughton, makes it difficult to bring the film into focus as a totality.”

Im Film gibt es eine Verbindung von Tod und Sexualität, die mit einem Verlust der Mutter initiiert wird. Die Filmemacher evozieren eine bedrohliche Atmosphäre dekadenter Todesangst, ein Sterben während man mit einer Frau schläft, die sich plötzlich in eine grausame Abhängigkeit verwandelt, wie eine Droge, die einen nicht loslässt, weil sie derart schön und frigide lächelt und ausbricht aus den Grenzen einer eigenen Wahrnehmung. In diesem Sinn ist der Inhalt des Films auch gleich seiner Form, denn er verlangt tatsächlich dieses fatal-laszive Betrachten, diese Sexualität, man sollte sich den Film vielleicht nackt ansehen, zumindest darf es zu warm sein. Man sollte etwas trinken und sich hingeben, obwohl man es bereuen wird. The Potted Psalm kontrollieren zu wollen, wäre ein Irrtum. Denn nur, wenn man sich von ihm kontrollieren lässt, wird man merken wie man mit ihm stirbt (oder entjungfert wird).

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