Friday, March 2, 2007

Films You Haven't Seen But Should: The Shout

Alan Bates, John Hurt, Susannah York, based on a story by Robert Graves, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski:
An asylum director begins telling a visitor to a cricket game the story of one of his "better" patients, Crossley (Alan Bates) who is able to compete. Some time previously, Crossley accosted Anthony (John Hurt), a composer, just after church and was for some reason invited to dinner. Once at the composer's home, he tells the story of his unusual upbringing among Australian Aborigines, and of the awful and strange gifts this has left him with. Among them is the ability to bring about another's death by using a certain kind of shout. The next morning, he begins to weave an erotic spell on the composer's wife Rachel (Susannah York), and then proves his killing ability on a sheep in a field. His influence increasingly disrupts their peaceful lives, until in a confrontation, the composer finds a way to best Crossley - but which results in his being placed in a mental institution. (from
Stones, shoe buckles, shouts, seduction, suffering ... superb (and almost impossible to find).

1 comment:

katia said...

Jerzy Skolimowski’s “The Shout” is a film about the irrational side (the very nucleus) of artistic talent.
Like the main character of the film Charles Crossley, every artist just by trying to develop his talent is as if writing a story of his/her artistic achievement. Of course, Crossley will not write a book about himself – he is too occupied with his creative gift and its power, not with his personality. His genre of description of life of his talent is oral story-telling we, the viewers, are privileged to hear and to observe.
The psychology of a genuine artist as an artist (in relation to his creative power), according to the film, has three layers: unconscious tendency to worship and to exaggerate the magic power of his gift, being hooked on truth-value of his art (on its uniqueness), not on its success, and, finally, the proclivity of the artist to feel that the truth of his art is more important than his whole life and must be nurtured even if it’s by the price of the creator’s life.
The film depicts ontological rivalry between a genuine artist and artist-businessman who uses his art to become successful in money-making and fame and who is ready to re-shape his art’s truth according to market demands to make this art appealing and salable.
The “duel” of talents between Crossley and a “post-modern” composer Anthony, and Crossley’s amorous and sexual triumph over Anthony’s wife Rachel, the exceptionally attractive woman with emotional power that is equal to the universe, are depicted by Skolimowski with rare cinematic virtuosity.
The metaphoric level of Skolimowski’s communication with viewers of the film is impressively sophisticated, and we can enjoy (and be dazzled and challenged by) the symbolic density of director’s images, analogies and metaphors.
Please, visit: to read an essay about “The Shout” (with analysis of stills from the film, and also articles about the films by Godard, Resnais, Bergman, Kurosawa, Bunuel, Bresson, Pasolini, Antonioni, Alain Tanner, Cavani, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Herzog, Maurice Pialat, Wim Wenders, Rossellini, Moshe Mizrahi and Ronald Neame.

By Victor Enyutin