Part of Evocations

Pale Black

Marie Craven

(Australia, 1992, 16 mm, 13:00)

This film explores the dialectic between a tangible, ‘seen’ mise en scene and on ‘unseen’, immaterial text. Embracing both of these impulses, ‘Pale Black’ also recals a period of lyricism and symbolism within avant garde cinema, epitomised by Maya Deren’s hallucinatory invocation of the image-as-female. ‘Pale Black’ elucidates a film-making technique that has a special kinship to photography with it’s sensual, open ended and vital approach to the image as a point of transcendence. The images (there are only twenty six of them) seem to tell a particular story. The recurrent motif is domestic space – windows, doors, partially visible rooms, furniture, household cats, a lover, a woman writing. There is no sense of a world existing outside of the architecture of this domestic confine. The sound of a woman’s voice, alone, uncoloured by reminiscence, provides the counterpoint to this pure cinema of things to look at. Very shortly into the him, it becomes difficult to discern the true origins of the text she is speaking. It is full of unworldly, sometimes horrific events (including a violent murder), and impossibly precise accounts of meetings, journeys, apparitions and romantic intrigues. As the story becomes more baroque, the images on screen appear more haunting and sparse. The woman may be recounting, even reliving, past dreams; but this is never entirely clear. The narration is articulated as from the pages of a diary. Yet, if it is a diary, it is an unusually heightened, abstracted document. (Vikki Riley)


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