On Top of the Whale (1982)

  |  Fantasy


On Top of the Whale (1982) Poster

A parody of anthropology, linguistics, and cultural imperialism. The film follows an unlikely team of linguists into the wilds of an ersatz Patagonia to study the last speakers of a dying ... See full summary »


7/10
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21 February 2017 | TemporaryOne-1
10
| Invisible Cities + The Excavation Of Vanishing Language
Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities is quoted late in the film Some of the main cruxes of the novella are - everything has a deep schematic foundation that mirrors everything else - stages of life, stages of love, stages of enlightenment, stages of urban growth and decline, all the stages reflect cosmological schemata - the mirroring is metaphorical, the mirroring and metaphors are infinite in detail and variation, and memory like the sea shape shifts everything (especially time and thought and space) into something rich and strange - there are civilizations beneath civilizations beneath civilizations, layers beneath layers beneath layers, there are invisibles that define and condition and preserve the visible, there are invisibles for the visuals without which the visuals fail - memory is language - memory and all the schemata and all the mirroring and metaphors all spring from one source, a concrete experience, a cosmological epigram, a multi-layered condensed dream The way the Raul Ruiz's camera eye gliding connects everything (landscapes interiors people concepts) resonates with the layered structure of Marco Polo's descriptions The film also borrows from Tarkovsky's Stalker, and the visual framing of most of the scenes is straight out of Renaissance Dutch paintings, perfect because in Dutch painting, mirrors and lenses and camera obscura were heavily used to help create paintings, and were also painted into the paintings for symbolic purposes, mirrors and mirroring play a large role in Dutch paintings and in the film Ancestry, generations, survival, dreams, monuments, mirrors, sociometry, prophet dreams of Indian tribes Pyramids, sandscape, phase of moon, images engraved in mountains, mirages Hands in the black cloven earth, artifact of a wine cup, Eva, Adam, hand print, listening, thinking triangulation of the arrangement of scenery/people - vanishing point, infinite regression, child at the apex, religious symbolism, pictoral depth simulating temporal depth Standing like Charon over the river Lethe with his stick/oar, a silvery scepter lit by distant red fire glow set against a deep inpenetratable black backdrop (chiaroscuro), each tap of the stick a nudging of the bottom of the riverbed to propel the boat forwards or backwards, to propel the chain of thoughts forward and backwards, man pondering and exploring old relics that are novel to him - similar to Jan Van Eyck painting's showcasing people entranced with technological novelties and scientific discoveries Excavation of vanishing language Reincarnation, hunger, war, rain, summer, eclipse of the sun and moon, stars, sea, earth, mother, fatal conflicts between two tribes, death, river stones, light of the moon, sea of whales, woman, fire-water, sun, deaf, artillery fire, walking with no sense of direction, thirst, endless, G-d of the mountain, raw meat, evenings alone, strong emotion at sunset, sheep, explanation of the meaning of life, violin, thirty glasses of fire-water in the morning Digging but not finding anything But then an animal skeleton in the palm of a hand, a celestial panorama at sundown, a pearly white roaring ocean, right into a scene with character examining plants, ceramics, stones, windows, camera gliding across windows and doorways Adam and Eve buried all our mirrors, lashed then cried 60 root words responsible for 300,000 Yaghan words, biblically speaking, Adam and Eve responsible for generating billions times billions times billions of people Metaphors, double and triple metaphors, generations built everything up, no factories nor airports and now exploitation, I heard a baby cry then Adam and Eve laughed, Now I understand everything, Double, triple metaphors are no coincidence, they mean the intuition of 2 and 3 as spoken, they are incapable of more modern thought because conception of the singular eludes them, they are convinced that 1 is an even number, so regression is infinite (cosmological epigram...) Books, dancing, shadow, rippling water, they bury the mirrors again, crying sounds like the crying of whales Whaling/wailing Every word or saying tacitly contains others, tacit metaphors speak between spoken metaphors, silence means more said Every heartbeat has a name Every day they construct a different language, a Gothic Cathedral dreamed up at night, forgotten by morning, proof that too much culture leads to barbarism and hinders development Illusion, the Indians' language is non-existent, they are recessives, not pure Indians, nothing they do or say has meaning, the whole world deceives me I shall not return Be careful what you say because somebody will believe it and your metaphoric images will become a religion and religion is the opinion of the people Recitative (Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities) Kublai Khan had noticed that Marco Polo's cities resembled one another, as if the passage from one to another involved not a journey but a change of elements. Now, from each city Marco described to him, the Great Khan's mind set out on its own, and after dismantling the city piece by piece, he reconstructed it in other ways, substituting components, shifting them, inverting them. Marco, meanwhile, continued reporting his journey, but the emperor was no longer listening. Kublai interrupted him: "From now on I shall describe the cities and you will tell me if they exist and are as I have conceived them. I shall begin by asking you about a city of stairs, exposed to the sirocco, on a half-moon bay. Now I shall list some of the wonders it contains....." Movements like a swimming whale, conducting the ocean, conducting the sun, conducting the invisible Draped like a Roman Emperer, Where do I come from, where is my fatherland, I was searching, but you found a new world for me People of the world, loneliness...unbearable, your visit moves my soul, soul...moves A final judgment of the people will reveal I have returned, I forget everything when I step foot in the house Wailing, Whaling, walking backwards - regression, you have traveled widely, I am afraid, I am leaving Visitor versus inhabitant, home and unhomed, communication and incommunicability, language as symbol, language as process, borders and borderlessness, impression of landscape/city/space more important than structure

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Did You Know?

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Fantasy

Details

Release Date:

20 June 1986

Language

Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish, Italian


Country of Origin

Netherlands

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