Looking at (and also making) a work of art, and perhaps above all a film because of the
illusions it creates, is to pass from one world, as through a veil, into another, to become
not simply a spectator, but a participant, a wanderer on a journey in a world with different
dimensions of time and space.
If most films rely on this act of passage for their effect, some take it as their subject.
is a fine example. Its characters (and the audience) are transported by their
desires (and fears) into an elsewhere, revealed at the close of the film to be an illusion,
mere appearance, like dream. The journey is a descent, if not into a kind of hell (it is also
an ascent into the heavenly: Kim Novak), then into a madness that the film threatens
because nothing in it is stable, no identity secure, no gaze nor word certain, and where
every object and truth dissolves, as if the beckoning of desires to love, to be loved, to
possess, pursue, enter are only a lure, a trick, deceit and trap (as it is) and the journey, a
labyrinth and an illusion.
There are many films of this kind where the fiction is a frame for another fiction inside it,
like a mirror that reflects and where the passage to an elsewhere is crucial. In such films
every image is doubled and every frame interior to another. It is
Godard’s citations, of images within images and multiple framings of the same and it is
also what fascinates Chris Marker, though differently, the voyaging between spaces and
times, moments of passage between worlds, parallel zones of time, the living and the
dead, the everyday and the imaginary which are the constellations that glitter in the
One of the great early films of this kind is Buster Keaton’s
(1924) where a
film theatre projectionist, played by Keaton, enters the film he is projecting by way of a
dream to become one of its characters, (something like this happens to Scottie, in
), a detective in love, but with a fantasy, one, in the case of Keaton, doubly
projected, objectively in the theatre, subjectively in his dream such that the film always
has two perspectives and every object riven or multiple as in a Cubist work.
Three other films are worth mentioning in this regard,
Das Kabinett Des Doktor Caligari
(Fritz Lang:1927) and
The narrative of
, whose sets and action are stylised, angular, geometric and
distorted, turns out to be the imaginings of an inmate in an asylum;
fiction, quite literally, a passage into the future and also stylised;
is the Orpheus
myth of the journey of Orpheus to the Underworld to bring back his love, Eurydice, that
Cocteau transfigures and displaces. In the film, the Poet, Orphée, quite literally passes
into the other world, through a mirror and by way of doors, tunnels, corridors.
Whatever genres these various films are - Horror, Science Fiction, Myth, Comedy - the