Chattaway goes to a lecture by Ron Reed

Chattaway goes to a lecture by Ron Reed March 21, 2005

What happens when a reviewer I admire goes to hear a lecture by a stage-director and film critic I admire?

Here’s Peter T. Chattaway pondering a lecture by Ron Reed, and considering

“the way art functions as oblation — the way it takes common elements, offers them up in an almost sacramental form of thanksgiving, and then distributes those elements to others. Listening to him, it occurred to me that the very act of photography itself is a form of “oblation” — cameras receive common light rays bouncing off of common objects, transform them into something on celluloid, and then those images are distributed to people through some sort of communal venture, whether photographs or art gallery shows or whatnot. And thus, films themselves can be a sort of “oblation” — though it probably depends on the spirit in which any given film is made. (Or does it? Considering how many crewmembers on any given shoot are just there for the pay, whose intentions count and whose do not? Do filmmakers ever accidentally stumble into making an “oblation” of some sort? And what about those of us in the audience? Can we turn a film into an “oblation” simply by receiving it and transforming it into something more than what it is, through the way we watch it, appreciate it, discuss it with others, and so on?)”

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6 responses to “Chattaway goes to a lecture by Ron Reed”

  1. Peter,

    I don’t know who those people are, simply because Joan Rivers never mentioned them, but thanks for the heads up.

    Time will tell just how revisionist the treatment may be. What I’ve noticed with English teachers (my own and those I’ve been privileged to work with), however, are that most believe that the Christianity was added ad nauseum by the Christian scribes who transcribed the original, solely pagan works.

    By the way, I haven’t read all of Grendel, but it’s pretty decent, somewhat along the lines of the post-modernity of Wicked, which I think is more honest than some more straight-way adaptations, which Beowulf and Grendel looks like it could become and which 1999’s Beowulf (arrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!) certainly was. Why’d they use that title?

  2. FWIW, a Canadian film called Beowulf & Grendel is also coming out this year, starring Stellan Skarsgärd, Gerard Butler and Sarah Polley — and the advance bumf suggests the film will explicitly deal with the Christianization of pagan hero myths.

  3. Eriol,

    Re: the secularization or paganization of Beowulf, I think your point is certainly valid. From my understanding (mostly from Norton), scholars now believe that the composer of the epic himself was a Christian, even as he was utilizing historical legends. The piece seems a sort of lament of those who died without Christ, or before the Kingdom of Heaven entered their land.

    I think a modern-day, serious adaptation would be more akin, though, to Peterson’s ‘Troy’ or Fuqua’s Arthur, taking out the supernatural to try to get at the realities of the story. Which in itself is a tremendous fabrication. It really is a mass secularization.

    As far as the lineage lists in Beowulf, you’re joking, right? Of course, I don’t remember so much a listing as I do maybe stories attached to them.

  4. I would like to see a fuller version of Watership Down but I don’t know how they would match the watercolor backdrop and tribalesque fantasy scenes. FWIW I think Beowulf is unfilmable because half of the joy in the poem are the lists of ancestors. Also the poet was adapting pagan motifs to Christianity. A movie would probably involve some sort of reversal.

  5. Oh gosh. Don’t apologize to Lambert and company. They should apologize to every English teacher in the country foolish enough to believe that this was some sort of adaptation of the great epic poem. Or any viewer thinking it may have some sort of redeeming facet because it was based on said work. Wasn’t even a good B-movie. Give me 1970’s exploitation anyday over this.

    As far as bad adaptations, 2004’s ‘Troy’ ain’t got nothin’ on 1999’s ‘Beowulf’. (Not that I’ve actually seen Peterson’s work.)

  6. The Beowulf project has been kicking around for a while now. With Neil Gaiman involved, not to mention the other names, should be interesting.

    As for Watership Down, I’ve loved the book, but never seen the film. If it receives a worthy re-make, great!

    But I’m even more interested to see that the same production company has two of Robertson Davies’ novels waiting for some eager director, writer, etc. Now that could be my idea of a good time at the movies.