Well, my day job has been increasingly busy over the past few weeks and I have not been posting as often as I was earlier during the summer. I will try to make sure that I post a couple times of week on the blog. Episode 2 of the Django Rising Podcast is being put together and should be out on Sunday the 7th of September.
Archimedes was having a bath, Newton was sitting under a tree when it happened. All of a sudden these two men knew how the problem that had been tormenting them could be solved. In science and religion the experience is called epiphany, the moment of sudden insight.
Most of us are neither a Newton nor and Archimedes, and even though we watch falling apples or have a bath from time to time, we don’t make any scientific discoveries. And yet we have moments of epiphany. The secular, every-day-experience owes a lot to the descriptions of it by Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941). In his stories and novels, characters often experience a moment in which things become manifest to them: a veil seems to be lifted, as if this person’s life is literally revealed. Joyce called these experiences “the moment the soul is born” (1).
I had this experience when I first watched a spaghetti western. In Dutch (movie titles were translated in those days) the movie was calledRingo Keert Terug, meaning Ringo’s Return or Return of Ringo (2). What attracted me most, was the high publicity board above the entrance of the theatre (Cinema Rembrandt in my birthplace, Eindhoven). It was a painting, in harsh colors, of a cowboy, handling his gun with his left hand, supporting his shooting hand with his wounded right arm. The title was also fascinating: Return of Ringo: Where had he been to? Why did he return?
I was a fan of TV-westerns like Rawhide and High Chaparral, and had already seen a couple of westerns in cinema, but this film was different from anything I had experienced before. It looked different and it sounded different. It took me a while to get used to it – a couple of minutes, a quarter of an hour – to realize that this music and the deliberate style of film making were putting me in a trance. Before the film was over, I felt hypnotized.
Simon’s blogs is always a great read. I really recommend it. This post was especially interesting to me because it mirrors my own first experience of the genre. I was 12 or 13 and into western movies and novels. That in and of itself was a little strange. Few American teenagers in the 1990s liked westerns much. One evening, the local UHF channel out of Denver, Colorado was playing For A Few Dollars More (1964). Of course, everyone who lived through the 1980s knew who Clint Eastwood was. But I did not really know much about him. So I decided to watch the film on a television with two bent rabbit ears sprawled out to catch the faint broadcast signal.
I was entranced and amazed. I had never seen anything like it, the way that the stunning visuals and music played off of each other. The film was mysterious. The westerns that I was familiar with expressed different ideas and feelings. They had different rules for making it through a different world. This was something different.
A few months later the same channel showed all three Dollars films in three consecutive nights (Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good The Bad And The Ugly). After watching all three, I was hooked.