Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky { July 19, 1893-April 14, 1930 (aged 36)}



Photo, 1917 (sign: «Futurist Vladimir Mayakovsky»)

«The relevance of Mayakovsky’s influence cannot be limited to Soviet poetry. While for years he was considered the Soviet poet par excellence, he also changed the perceptions of poetry in wider 20th century culture. His political activism as a propagandistic agitator was rarely understood and often looked upon unfavourably by contemporaries, even close friends like Boris Pasternak.»


Mayakovsky (centre) with friends including Lilya Brik, Eisenstein (third from left) and Boris Pasternak (second from left).


Agitprop (meaning agitation propaganda from Russian agitatsiya propaganda) poster by Mayakovsky

Vladimir Mayakovsky 1917
Our March

Beat the squares with the tramp of rebels!
Higher, rangers of haughty heads!
We’ll wash the world with a second deluge,
Now’s the hour whose coming it dreads.
Too slow, the wagon of years,
The oxen of days — too glum.
Our god is the god of speed,
Our heart — our battle drum.
Is there a gold diviner than ours/
What wasp of a bullet us can sting?
Songs are our weapons, our power of powers,
Our gold — our voices — just hear us sing!
Meadow, lie green on the earth!
With silk our days for us line!
Rainbow, give color and girth
To the fleet-foot steeds of time.
The heavens grudge us their starry glamour.
Bah! Without it our songs can thrive.
Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour
For us to be taken to heaven alive!
Sing, of delight drink deep,
Drain spring by cups, not by thimbles.
Heart step up your beat!
Our breasts be the brass of cymbals.
(via http://www.marxists.org/subject/art/literature/mayakovsky/ read more poems)


An avant-garde aesthetic movement that arose in Italy and Russia in the early 20th century. Its proponents—predominantly painters and other visual artists—called for a rejection of past forms of expression, and the embrace of industry and new technology. Speed and violence were the favored vehicles of sensation, rather than lyricism, symbolism, and “high” culture. F. T. Marinetti, in his futurist Manifesto (1909), advocated “words in freedom”—a language unbound by common syntax and order that, along with striking variations in typography, could quickly convey intense emotions. Marinetti and other Italian futurists allied themselves with militaristic nationalism, which alienated their cause internationally following World War II. Russian futurist poets such as Velimir Khlebnikov and Vladimir Mayakovsky profoundly influenced the development of Russian formalism, while in England the futurist movement was expressed as Vorticism by Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis in their magazine BLAST.

“Futurism and the New Manifesto” here:http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audioitem/1782

Vladimir Mayakovsky: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Mayakovsky


Hans Richter Encounters – “From Dada till today” (27 March to 30 June 2014)






One can also pursue politics with art.
Everything that intervenes in the processes of life, and transforms them, is politics.
Hans Richter

The oeuvre of Hans Richter (1888-1976) spanned nearly seven decades. Born in Berlin, he was one of the most significant champions of modernism. Berlin, Paris, Munich, Zurich, Moscow and New York were the major stations of his life. He was a painter and draughtsman, a Dadaist and a Constructivist, a film maker and a theoretician, as well as a great teacher. His great scroll collages remain icons of art history to this day. His work is characterised by a virtually unparalleled interpenetration of different artistic disciplines. The link between film and art was his major theme. Many of the most famous artists of the first half of the twentieth century were among his friends.

Read more: https://www.berlinerfestspiele.de/en/aktuell/festivals/gropiusbau/programm_mgb/mgb14_hans_richter/ausstellung_hans_richter/veranstaltungsdetail_74775.php

The Art of Hans Richter: http://hansrichterart.tumblr.com/

The Beatniks and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road


Pull My Daisy: 1959 Beatnik Film Stars Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Shot by Robert Frank

Sure, you could experience the Beat sensibility on film by watching The Beat Generation. But why settle for that high-gloss Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature treatment when you can get an unadulterated half-hour chunk of the real thing above, in Pull My Daisy? Both films came out in 1959, but only the latter comes from the lens of photographer Robert Frank, he of the famous photobook The Americans. And only the latter features the unconventional performing talents of Allen Ginsberg, David Amram, Delphine Seyrig, and Jack Kerouac. That Kerouac himself provides all the narration assures us we’re watching a movie fully committed to the Beat mindset. “Early morning in the universe,” he says to set the opening scene. “The wife is gettin’ up, openin’ up the windows, in this loft that’s in the Bowery of the Lower East Side of New York. She’s a painter, and her husband’s a railroad brakeman, and he’s comin’ home in a couple hours, about five hours, from the local.”

Kerouac’s ambling words seem at first like one improvisational element of many. In fact, they provided the production’s only element of improvisation: Frank and company took pains to light, shoot, script, and rehearse with great deliberateness, albeit the kind of deliberateness meant to create the impression of thrown-together, ramshackle spontaneity. But if the kind of careful craft that made Pull My Daisy seems not to fit within the anarchic subcultural collective persona of the Beats, surely the premises of its story and the consequences thereof do. The aforementioned brakeman brings a bishop home for dinner, but his exuberantly low-living buddies decide they want in on the fun. Or if there’s no fun to be had, then, in keeping with what we might identify as Beat principles, they’ll create some of their own. Or at least they’ll create a disturbance, and where could a Beat possibly draw the line between disturbance and fun?

Jack Kerouac Reads from On the Road (1959)

Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in three very short weeks in 1951. But then it took six years for the book, famously written on a long scroll, to reach the reading public in 1957. Shortly after its publication, critics were at least quick to recognize what the book meant. One New York Times reviewer called it “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as beat.” Another saw in the novel “a descriptive excitement unmatched since the days of Thomas Wolfe.” 54 years later, those early reviews have withstood the proverbial test of time. These days, Modern Library and TIME place the novel on their lists of the 100 greatest novels.

And now onto our vintage clip of the day — Jack Kerouac, the man himself, appearing on The Steve Allen Show in 1959, first fielding some questions, then reading from his beat classic.

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Turned Into Google Driving Directions & Published as a Free eBook

A couple weeks ago, Colin Marshall highlighted for you Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Map of the Hitchhiking Trip Narrated in On the Road. Now we have another Kerouacian map for you — a map for our times. Gregor Weichbrodt, a German college student, took all of the geographic stops mentioned in On the Road, plugged them into Google Maps, and ended up with a 45-page manual of driving directions, divided into chapters paralleling those of Kerouac’s original book. You can read the manual – On the Road for 17,527 Miles– as a free ebook. Likewise, you can purchase a print copy on Lulu and perhaps make it the basis for your own road trip. Wondering how long such a trip might take? Google Maps indicates that Kerouac’s journey covered some 17,527 miles and theoretically took some 272 hours.

click here: http://issuu.com/greg0r/docs/on_the_road/1?e=0/6524142


Σπάνια, έγχρωμη φωτογραφία του Charlie Chaplin στην 100η επέτειο από το κινηματογραφικό του ντεμπούτο



Η εξαιρετικά σπάνια αυτή φωτογραφία βλέπει το φως της δημοσιότητας μετά από χρόνια παραμονής της στα αρχεία του Charles Zoller ο οποίος την τράβηξε το 1918.

Πηγή: http://www.lifo.gr

Fellini’s Fantastic TV Commercials


In 1984, when he was 64 years old, Fellini agreed to make a miniature film featuring Campari, the famous Italian apéritif. The result, Oh, che bel paesaggio! (“Oh, what a beautiful landscape!”), shown above, features a man and a woman seated across from one another on a long-distance train. The man (played by Victor Poletti) smiles, but the woman (Silvia Dionisio) averts her eyes, staring sullenly out the window and picking up a remote control to switch the scenery. She grows increasingly exasperated as a sequence of desert and medieval landscapes pass by. Still smiling, the man takes the remote control, clicks it, and the beautiful Campo di Miracoli (“Field of Miracles”) of Pisa appears in the window, embellished by a towering bottle of Campari.

“In just one minute,” writes Tullio Kezich in Federico Fellini: His Life and Work, “Fellini gives us a chapter of the story of the battle between men and women, and makes reference to the neurosis of TV, insinuates that we’re disparaging the miraculous gifts of nature and history, and offers the hope that there might be a screen that will bring the joy back. The little tale is as quick as a train and has a remarkably light touch.”

Also in 1984, Fellini made a commercial titled Alta Societa (“High Society”) for Barilla rigatoni pasta (above). As with the Campari commercial, Fellini wrote the script himself and collaborated with cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri and musical director Nicola Piovani. The couple in the restaurant were played by Greta Vaian and Maurizio Mauri. The Barilla spot is perhaps the least inspired of Fellini’s commercials. Better things were yet to come.

In 1991 Fellini made a series of three commercials for the Bank of Rome called Che Brutte Notti or “The Bad Nights.” “These commercials, aired the following year,” writes Peter Bondanella in The Films of Federico Fellini, “are particularly interesting, since they find their inspiration in various dreams Fellini had sketched out in his dream notebooks during his career.”

In the episode above, titled “The Picnic Lunch Dream,” the classic damsel-in-distress scenario is turned upside down when a man (played by Paolo Villaggio) finds himself trapped on the railroad tracks with a train bearing down on him while the beautiful woman he was dining with (Anna Falchi) climbs out of reach and taunts him. But it’s all a dream, which the man tells to his psychoanalyst (Fernando Rey). The analyst interprets the dream and assures the man that his nights will be restful if he puts his money in the Banco di Roma.

The bank commercials were the last films Fellini ever made. He died a year after they aired, at age 73. In Kezich’s view, the deeply personal and imaginative ads amount to Fellini’s last testament, a brief but wondrous return to form. “In Federico’s life,” he writes, “these three commercial spots are a kind of Indian summer, the golden autumn of a patriarch of cinema who, for a moment, holds again the reins of creation.”


Hitchcock and the Holocaust


This week’s news about the forthcoming restoration and release of what was headlined “Alfred Hitchcock’s unseen Holocaust documentary” is mitigated by the fine print in Geoffrey Macnab’s report, in the Independent. The film, “Memory of the Camps,” made jointly by the British and American governments, in 1945, and intended in large measure to confront German citizens with their government’s crimes, was left unfinished at the time (on the grounds that it would be counterproductive to the goal of German postwar reconstruction). The first five reels of the edited work print were found in archives, in 1984. Commentary was recorded, and the resulting film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival, in 1984, and broadcast on PBS, in 1985. Hitchcock’s role in the production was minor but significant; as discussed on the PBS Web site, Hitchcock got involved midway through the project and advised the producers on the editing of the latter part of the film.

The first five reels, as shown in the eighties, run about fifty-five minutes. The movie begins with a brisk collage of archival footage, presenting a sardonic view of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, German expansionism, the start of war, and the defeat of Germany. Then, the content of the movie switches to documentary footage filmed by the British and American armies, and the subject switches as well: British troops arriving in the apparently placid town of Bergen are bewildered by an oppressive odor. Their effort to trace it leads them to discover the concentration camp known as Bergen-Belsen. There, the soldiers are greeted by the healthiest inmates; within, they discover the ill, the weak, the dying, and, then, the dead.

Approximately a half hour of the movie concerns Bergen-Belsen, and the filmmakers—led by the director, Sidney Bernstein—present a surprisingly wide perspective on what the British found there, and what they did when they took charge. The bodies of inmates, who died of disease and starvation, were strewn about the camp and filled the barracks, and the British forces compelled the S.S. officers who ran the camp to bury them in mass graves—and ordered local notables to watch the burials take place. Meanwhile, infrastructure became a priority: the provision of food, water, clothing, and medical care, and preventive measures against the spread of typhus, which was epidemic.

The images of emaciated corpses dragged through the dust, carried on the back, swung and tossed into pits atop other contorted and emaciated corpses, have been pressed into memory by shock and horror—not necessarily these specific images, but possibly others of the many, many hours of documentary images filmed when, after the war, the Allies liberated the camps. What’s preserved in the editing of the film is the astonishment of Allied soldiers upon discovering the camps. Their discovery was also the world’s discovery, and the film conveys the sense of a world out of joint, a total catastrophe that defies comprehension and seems like a sort of ubiquitous madness, even as its careful industrial organization becomes all the clearer.

Yet it may be the very familiarity of such images—no one of which has particular ascension over another—that shifts the emphasis, in “Memory of the Camps,” to two sequences. One presents the response of British medical authorities to the louse infestation that was responsible for the spread of typhus: burning the empty barracks. The flames that consume the wooden structures and rage in the night have a metaphorical power—suggesting both the incineration of millions of corpses, and a sort of divine vengeance against the perpetrators—that raises the images outside the realm of journalism and into a terrifying realm of art. The other, showing the mass graves covered over with earth and marked by placards, evokes, in the barrenness and vastness of the graves, the totality of the Nazi crimes that, somehow, seem to surpass their particular enumeration. In this sequence, “Memory of the Camps” comes closest to fulfilling its title—it becomes a film about memory, akin to Alain Resnais’s “Night and Fog,” in which the images of the victims in the camps already belong to the archive, and the facts of the Holocaust need to be rescued from oblivion.

The fourth and fifth reels—the ones that Hitchcock helped to shape—feature images from other concentration camps, including Dachau and Buchenwald. One of Hitchcock’s prime concerns was to emphasize the proximity of the camps to German towns in order to assert that ordinary Germans, as Bernstein said, “must have known about it.” Also, the PBS site reports that “another known contribution was Hitchcock’s including the wide establishing shots which support the documentary feel of the film and showed that the events seen could not have been staged.” These sequences emphasize the efforts by German officials to pursue the work of extermination even beyond their defeat and, at the same time, to efface the traces of their crimes by leaving no survivors.

The missing sixth reel features images of Auschwitz filmed by Soviet camera operators, and it’s this reel that has been reconstructed for the forthcoming release of “Memory of the Camps.” (The original commentary, spoken, in the 1984 version, by Trevor Howard, is also being re-recorded.) I haven’t seen that missing reel, and can’t speak to its merits. But, at the remove of nearly seventy years—in an age of image profusion and instantly visible atrocities—the first five reels of the so-called Hitchcock film are of historical significance, both in the struggle to confront the discovery of the Nazi atrocities, and, of course, in the politics of the postwar era.

Here’s how Macnab opens his article about the film in the Independent:

The British Army Film Unit cameramen who shot the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 used to joke about the reaction of Alfred Hitchcock to the horrific footage they filmed. When Hitchcock first saw the footage, the legendary British director was reportedly so traumatised that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios for a week.

Hitchcock’s response gets to the heart of the matter. The work at hand may have been necessary, but it was also impossible. That’s why “Memory of the Camps” is a document for historical study but, as a film, much less important than the works of Claude Lanzmann, who has realized, aesthetically, the experience of the death camps through the bearing of witness—and, in the process, has sought to define what might even constitute an image of the murder of European Jews at the hands of the Nazis. His latest film, “The Last of the Unjust,” opens here, on February 7th. It’s much bigger news. (http://www.newyorker.com)

See the discussion on: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/camp/faqs.html
Read,also, the article on The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/alfred-hitchcocks-unseen-holocaust-documentary-to-be-screened-9044945.html