Monday, October 02, 2006

let my people go

Margate is the kind of British seaside holiday town where the British no longer holiday.
From « Reveling in a Wrathful Exodus, Plagues and All » in this morning’s New York Times.

Over the weekend filmmaker Penny Woolcock staged and shot a movie involving the whole town of Margate – and several biblical plagues orchestrated by Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson and Rufus Wainwright.

The New York Times was impressed by the event, in which almost the whole town was cast in a modern re-enactment of the Pharoh’s enslavement of Moses and his people in Egypt, or at least believed the people of Margate to be -- “The people of Margate seemed to be enjoying their Exodus” -- the Guardian not so much. Too much waiting; too much moviemaking, according the UK paper:
There are great expanses of time when it's clear that we are just sitting on the sidelines of a film set, waiting, bored, for the cameras to roll. We witness a terrifying scene in which riot police attack immigrants beside the gates of Dreamland. But it's over in a flash, and it's followed by a three-hour wait for the next "event".

This is the burning of Antony Gormley's Waste Man, an 82ft-high sculpture constructed from furniture found in the local dump. The figure catches light rapidly and burns steadily, chunks of its torso tumbling to the ground. It's an awe-inspiring spectacle, a lifetime of Guy Fawkes Nights rolled into one. What it all means, though, is anyone's guess.

And that's the problem with Exodus Day. It is not designed as a piece of integrated street theatre, so audiences have no narrative to follow, no sense of how each scene fits in with Woolcock's story.

And so it seems the secret is out: Moviemaking can be a dull and plodding activity for actors and extras.

But how cool is this: The Guardian covers an event like this under a single heading called “live reviews” – along with live theater and music and comedy reviews. Now why didn’t we think of that? (Oh, right: because we stratify and discriminate. Sorry. Forgot.)

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