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Post Tenebras Lux poster arrives

Welcome indeed!

If you haven’t already, then I suggest you get yourself over to the About Page for a full rundown on the project and what will be filling this site over the course of March 2013.  But for now here is a little rationale on After cinema words / Post cinematographico verba and an invitation for your cinephile eyes.

When we first saw Post Tenebras Lux we were struck by that sensation of witnessing something that might change our relationship with cinema.  Something definitely not easy to put into words.

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Battle in Heaven – Raya Martin

Still image from Battle In Heaven

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Raya Martin is an independent filmmaker (Independencia, A Short Film About the Indio Nacional (Or the Prolonged Sorrow of Filipinos) ), whose films have been featured in numerous international film festivals and as part of a retrospective at the Museum of Moving Image in New York.

Silent Light – Stephanie Oswald

Still image from Silent LightPhotograph by Stephanie Oswald

Photograph by Stephanie Oswald

Photograph by Stephanie Oswald

Photograph by Stephanie Oswald

Photograph by Stephanie Oswald

Photograph by Stephanie Oswald

Silent Light is a rather abstract and obscure film, but many of its themes actually feel quite real to me, or quite realistic. Part of my family comes from a region in the North East of France, on the border with Germany, where people have traditionally lived in an extremely austere way, and in which, to make a long story short – the Catholic Church has crushed many people’s lives. Forbidden love, sex and desire, and individual freedom made impossible by social rules – these are themes that are present in the film, and that I feel parts of my family must have experienced.

I have explored these themes with some of my photography in the past, and here are some photos that I took of a man’s house – a very religious man who came from the same region as me, in the North East of France (Alsace-Lorraine). The photos talk about the same themes as the film – religion, order, tidiness, men who can only be present as sacrificed beings and women who can only be present as saints. The little dolls at the beginning don’t dare to look at each other, and don’t survive the journey.

In an interview in BOMB Magazine, Carlos Reygadas said: “If you firmly believe in dogmas, you’ll never experience conflicts, but that’s reducing life to nothingness.” I very much agree with this, and I feel like Silent Light talks about a conflict that is resolved by going back to the norm, and as such, for me it’s a film about the death of the individual, and about going back to nothingness.

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Stephanie Oswald is a film programmer at the Star & Shadow Cinema and blogs at Film and Beyond.

Post Tenebras Lux – Patrick Brian Smith

Still from Post Tenebras Lux

The Quest for the Bevel

“A bevelled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece.” Good old Wikipedia, providing perhaps the most succinct analysis of the thematic and visual dualities that are intrinsic to Post Tenebras Lux.

Much like Peter Taylor’s “Post Tenebras Googling” for Ballesteros, I also jumped online after the credits to find out how Reygadas crafted these refracted and distorted exterior shots. Searching went something like “Post Tenebras Lux Lense//Post Tenebras Lux Double Exposure//Post Tenebras Lux 1:33 Distortion.” My enquiry ended pretty abruptly when I stumbled on an interview with Reygadas, where he claimed to have shot the film with “a unique lens, without a name” bevelled at the edges. Mystery it seemed was seeping out of the film itself post-Post Tenebras Lux.

This mysterious bevelled lense used by Reygadas dominates almost all of the films exterior shots, contrasting then with the familial interactions that take place between Juan and his family, and concomitantly lending the latter group of images a flattened texture. Within many of these exterior shots, as characters move towards the edge of the 1:33 frame, they become refracted by the bevelling- distorting their appearance, morphing their limbs, and occasionally creating a shadow of themselves.

Why then the removal of the bevelled lense for interiors? It’s easy perhaps to suggest that the bevelling lends the image an aesthetic nicety, and given Reygada’s preoccupation with the natural world he is simply offering a beautification of this in his “nature dominant” exterior shots. Perhaps easier still is the suggestion that the bevelled refraction functions better in wider shots, not suited to tighter framing within interior locations. Indeed we can even more easily suggest that Reygadas is setting in motion a dialectical relationship between the beauty and horror of nature and domesticity respectively.

Though perhaps the reason is more simple than all these. Perhaps Juan’s character can be understood as intrinsically bevelled. The edges of his being, his extremes of violence and addiction, do not match the domestication he strives for- the edges of Juan’s character are not perpendicular to his flattened outward projection of harmoniousness- they are bevelled, he is bevelled, and ultimately this is what destroys him. Within these interior domestic interactions, the visual bevel is replace by a human, bevelled. Through Post Tenebras Lux the edges of Juan’s character fall away, bevelled into oblivion.

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Patrick Brian Smith is an MA Film Studies graduate from King’s College London and film critic for The Quietus. “Thanks go to Katie Smith, her photography knowledge pointed me in the bevel direction.”

“Singing Neil Young can be really hard.”

“A lot of people say I destroy him!” Lead actress Nathalia Acevedo discusses the challenges faced when performing Neil Young’s It’s A Dream in a pivotal scene in Post Tenebras Lux.

And for those who want to sing along themselves…

Post Tenebras Lux – Paul Ridd

Still image from Post Tenebras Lux

i can’t write about post tenebras lux

i’m all like, cramming into a packed little festival screening room at 9AM on three hours sleep

i’m all like, crying in the first eight minutes when all we see are wind-swept vistas and shots of a child playing amongst cattle

but I didn’t like, understand why i felt like that, you know?

i’m telling you how like, the imagery and sounds aroused in me this feeling that somehow if i could just say what it was I was feeling, if I just, like, thought about it hard enough, but I just, like, can’t

i’m like staggering onto the street at the film’s finish, taking these thick drags of cigarette, trying to compose myself and say anything like REMOTELY coherent about the whole fucking beautiful thing

and i was like, ‘me too. yes yes. I have felt bored with lovers, wanted to hit dogs, wanted to pull my head off, wanted to take part in a rugby game despite my frame, wanted to take down the hegemonic power structures driven by heterosexual monogamous reproductive unions, money, boredom and a feeling that if we just, you know, like

and if we could just like, look at the trees once in a while maybe before like tearing them down and stop like, counting money, we could all be like ‘we’re in this together, they’re individuals, we have a team.’ you see?

then maybe having children wouldn’t be so fucking depressing and we wouldn’t have to sit about like, warbling neil young and feeling sad about everything

but I’m like, is it actually about anything? it certainly looks good

and i’m all like ‘it really fucks me off when all the critics pan it for being difficult to understand’

but, like, it is.

so if you’re all like ‘well if you like it so much, why don’t you write something about it?’

i’m like, ‘how?’

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Paul Ridd is programmer and acquisitions coordinator at Picturehouse Cinemas.

“I want to clarify this thing about the Devil…” Carlos Reygadas video interview

In the fifth of a series of short video interviews with director Carlos Reygadas about Post Tenebras Lux, the director talks about evil, conceptualisation and the inevitable loss of innocence.