Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oona's Veil

Oona's Veil (2000) by Brian L. Frye; 16mm, b&w, sound, 8 minutes.

Whispering Hope, or Grace and How to Get It.

I know of only one film-record of Oona Chaplin (nee O'Neill), this screen-test made for a film in which she was cast and never appeared, having met and married Charlie Chaplin before shooting commenced. Some say that Chaplin himself directed her; history says otherwise. To hell with history. Hers was quite possibly the briefest film career ever. But then again, brevity is no obstacle to greatness.

I rephotographed the original screentest, doing 20 frame (as I recall...) lap dissolves from one from to the next. The idea was lifted wholesale from David Rimmer, though I've never seen the film(s?) in which he used the technique. Sailboat, I think, for one. I liked the brief transition from still to motion in Chris Marker's La Jetee, and wanted to extend it somehow. Anyway, I didn't like the result at first, as the image shifted a lot. So I made a duplicate negative and did some damage to it to obscure the hiccups. Ultimately, it was exposed to chemicals, buried, and left on the fire escape for a year. What remained I untangled, spliced together into something approaching a continuous strip of film, and had printed. The result became the master positive. The sound consists of a beat-up 78 of a song called "Whispering Hope," played at 33 rpm.

Unfortunately, this film seems particularly unsuitable to transmission over the internet. My apologies for the poor image quality.

"As I now beheld the robe, it seemed to me suddenly to become a mirror-image of myself: myself entire I saw in it, and it entire I saw in myself, that we were two in seperateness, and yet one again in the sameness of our forms..." The Hymn of the Pearl (Hans Jonas, trans.).

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