Posted by: glue | May 16, 2008

Filmic Imagination: Julian Schnabel

Randy Kennedy, Interview with Julian Schnabel, on the making of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. New York Times, 11/18/07

“As with his previous two films, it was also another chance for Mr. Schnabel a film fanatic with an Antonioni fixation to deploy many of the visual set pieces he has been carrying around in his head. In one scene, for example, in which a younger Bauby visits Lourdes with a religiously inclined girlfriend, the camera lingers for an unusually long while on a close-up of the girl’s long brown hair flying back and dancing as she sits in the back of a speeding convertible. It was an image he had wanted to shoot for years, Mr. Schnabel said, and the first one he shot in the movie, though it was not in the script.

He achieved it only by having the actress, Marina Hands, sit in the back of a moving flatbed truck with fans blasting at her. Somebody’s hair doesn’t go like that so easily just out of a car, he said. I mean, you have to agitate it a bit.”

In the film, this shot is used in a scene when Bauby and his girlfriend are on their way to Lourdes in his convertible to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. “In 1858, in the grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes in southern France, Our Lady appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl.” Bauby recalls this event, when he is in Lourdes again as a “pilgrim,” seeking a miracle cure, arranged by his therapist, a devout Catholic.

hair flying in the wind


  1. Time is flying hair.
    Ah, the mark on the wall, it was a snail.
    Virginia Woolf

    “Virginia Woolf wrote ‘The Mark on the Wall’ at the start of the First World War. She too begins with chronology. But she does not, like Thucydides, rise above ordinary time to a high point and look down on other people, other people’s reckonings. She stays in her own time. She stays right in the middle. . . . “With one’s hair flying back like the tail of a race horse,” says Virginia Woolf of the rapidity of life. Death too is rapid — in panic streets on a moonless night (“for these things took place at the end of the month,” Thucydides notes, and it was raining, not just rain but stones and ceramic tiles from women and slaves who stood on the roof and pelted the Thebans, screaming).”
    Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours.

  2. Possession is flying hair.
    Two of the most common expressions (of possession) are “wind form” (pavan rup) and “playing” (Hindi: khelna; Punjabi: khedna). When a woman is possessed, the Goddess is said to take on a wind form, enter her, and play within her. Her hair, no matter how tightly bound, is said to come undone and fly freely in response to the force of the wind (pavan). The state of possession is characterized by glazed eyes, a change in voice, and the whirling around of the head, with hair flying loose. Under normal circumstances, a respectable woman’s hair is tied up and braided, not allowed to hang loose. In a discussion of hair symbolism among Hindu and Sikh Punjabis, Paul Hershman mentions that, among the contexts in which the expression val khule (loose hair) is used, we find a woman possessed who in a trance whirls her head with her hair flying free. In this instance, the Goddess is said to have taken on pavan rup , “wind form.”

    Kathleen M. Erndl, “Seranvali, The Mother who Possesses,” in Devi: Goddesses of India, Ed. John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff.

  3. A heuretic response to this sequence (hair flying) is to ask: what is that for me? Is there an image running in my thoughts like a jingle? What is it? Does it have a pre-assigned location in some semantic field, an etymology passing through me as current through a booster? This is conduction.

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