Metamorpho-poetic Legending in 1950s Film: (1) Ashima

Much of the logic of this para-location is of course re-plausabilizing or dis-implausibilizing: legends engaging cosmic descent and re-ascent – noumenal intervention – at least in era of Franco-revolutionary or even (thus) the anti/post-Colonial world, are to a varying degree associated with immaturity or illiteracy: often indeed (viz 18th century Comedy Francaise) a frame for ridicule of artist and audience alike (see Love and Death: traces the reduction of that longest playing… O – to Offenbach) – something that happens already in UK in 1720s. That ancient enemy of metamorphical myth, raucous, unjoyful laughter, sits ever in the galleries of performance cathrdrals, waiting to pounce once electric lighting and automated sound invade. Miracles – certainly vanquishing daydfreams – may still be in the “memorized”, canonized bookshelf of vernacular opera goers but in the century or so when Marxis-Msoist Prometheans (M4 – ??? 1989) ruled under the aegis of Progress, the voices of those who would/could still narrate them are hushed.

(The case is worked out most unforgettably in Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy (trnsal 1945) where the principal remaining carrier of Legend – qua street excerpts from “Peking” opera – is shown encasing himself in a self-defeating fog (interesting and pause-provocative then that encasing and self-hypnosis/diplaceemnt becomes a trope for individuated heroism (an enabler of miracles) in the work of ZYM: Red Sorghum but much more so in Qiu Ju da guansi).

Childish (cnild[lkke) un-self-sensored reconting of oevrheard and noinally ancient (out of enmmory) tales can however be reenacted with nuch less expoosure to rationalist debunking in (or as if within) those social (etc) spaces where neither progress nor lietarcy are valued – or, worse, where carery the tyaint (hoghly familiar to…) of racial hostility. Insofar as herpic disprogress or dream-utopia matter to post-colonial cukltureal wardens, such spaces ipso facto regain sacred lierary stature – a key indeed to where and how the Romantic version of social transofrmation relocated so quickly to the Euro-Russian equivalnt of such places (Pyreneeds, Caucasus, above all Scottish highlands).

[[[[[[[[[[[[Our headline term Pastoral may not be the right word for the genre(s) I have in mind, since there are in terms of reeertory onoy a hgandful of esxamples, all set in opera-in fillm or (later) balelt- in film, too small a asnaple for catefgrazung. . But it is a useful wordf to open our fiscussiioon: all of these expreimental fimed-perofrmnces deploy into exotic-land color films featuring distinctly “outlandish” singing, dance, and instrumental sound, and were ccneived in the 1959-1964 window. As dramatic narratives, these film-operas-cum-dance draas elaborate on Ovidian transformation or magiccally guided (and foield) quest for a vansihed lover. Or both .

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