I was bed ridden all day and instead of sleeping, I decided to make something, anything! Despite my passionate love for sleep, I knew I had to abandon the pattern of escaping into dreamworld and do something different. I’m a med student and I’ve been enamored by the human body for years. I enjoy studying it and learning all about its mechanisms. One field which I find especially interesting is pathology: the study of disease. My interest in pathology drove me to approach the subject in a different manner than typically undertaken in academic environments. Since I’m a huge fan of art in all its glorious forms, I fused artistic expression with pathological manifestation.
The following are edited images of different human body organs afflicted by various diseases. I thought it would be meaningful to try and change the way we perceive illness by adding a blast of color to things like cancer and infections.
Where babies come from
This is where your poop lives
STOP GIVING ME SHIT
Reach me rectally
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is a film about watching, observing, and absorbing. Its cinematography and production design lure us into looking more than listening. And when we look, we’re captivated by the choreography of the camera and the color within each frame.
The film includes several tracking shots, some of which are excellently executed as the characters walk towards the camera then stop then continue. These tracking shots are not elaborate and do not announce themselves like the more noticeable shots made by Lubezki, instead they ask us to move our eyes in the frame and look at more than just the tracked subject. Within the frame there are more than bodies, we can see facial expressions and subtle hand and eye movements, all of which illustrate relationships between characters. The camera does not track characters; it tracks the growth of tension between characters.
However, it is color that is the film’s highlighting characteristic. The film’s dominated by shades of blue, only opposed by orange and yellow hues in the presence of Irene (Carey Mulligan). The balance between blue and orange is beautifully painted in many of the shot-reverse-shot scenes involving the driver (perfected by Ryan Gosling’s expressive eyes) and Irene. Our eyes shift between the driver’s cold desolate blue aura and the warm embracing orange halo enveloping Irene, feeling the driver’s longing for her warm affection.
Although the film invites us to look, its protagonist rarely looks at himself. The low angle camera shots of the driver, the tracking shots following him, the close-ups on his face and eyes in the rear view mirror all objectify him as the main center of our attention and gaze. Yet the driver’s own eyes do not wander where ours do. The multiple dissolve shots of his face and the city, or his face and Irene’s, convey a message of one lost in others, be they people or environments; one looking for a host, a home. We do not get a lot of background information about the driver’s past. We’re only allowed a limited amount of information about what he does: he drives. The first shot alone is a concise introduction to his identity: his yellow scorpion jacket, his maps and bags, and his voice during a phone call. That’s how he is presented to us: a job, a tool, a means to an end. Little to no extra details about his character are given later. His emotions are revealed through his reactions to Irene and her child, to Standard (Oscar Isaac), to Shannon (Bryan Cranston), but none of these are unraveled elaborately to show us who the driver really is.
The intensity of car chases and murders are enhanced by the atypical absence of music. The suspense is not roped around thrilling music but tightly wound by the sound of silence. Our anticipation is upped by camerawork and the accompanying revving engines and screeching tires.
It’s only in the second half of the film that we get a glimpse into a darker corner of the driver’s persona. Refn is known for his blatant violence, at times romanticized as in Only God Forgives, and at others served cold as in Drive. The most important scene which exposes the driver’s nature through the use of violence is the elevator scene. His eyes see the stranger’s gun, his hands move Irene away, his lips kiss hers. The shot is beautifully accentuated through lighting as the elevator lights dim and only the driver and Irene are highlighted amidst their passionate kiss; a stolen moment, an escape from reality, salvation. The lights come back, the driver turns around and bashes the stranger’s head with his foot mercilessly, to death. Irene steps out of the elevator terrified and the doors close on the driver’s bloodied face; a stranger. The juxtaposition of the kiss and the murder in the same setting demonstrates the paradoxical personality, or rather the possibility of a natural amalgam of purity and impurity in one body; this is human nature. The dual character is hinted at when we find out that by day the driver works as a stunt driver in movies, where he dons on a mask to protect his face (or his identity?), the same mask he wears during one of his later murders. Now we get a closer look into the driver’s troubled soul. He tells his clients he doesn’t carry a gun and that implants a seed of respect in our minds; we know he sheds no blood, he’s humane. After the several murders he commits throughout the second half of the film – using his hands, a bat, a hammer, and other basic tools – Refn grabs that seed and burns it in front of us, in sweat and blood.
Director: Derek Jarman
What do you think of when you see the color blue? The sky? The sea? What does blue mean to you? The cold? The calm? Regardless of your associations and memories, Derek Jarman’s avant-garde film will refresh your perception of the color drastically.
A blank screen of blue, for 79 minutes, that’s all we’re looking at. But it’s not all that we see. Overlaid with narration, music, and various recorded sounds, the film blatantly goes against the show-don’t-tell rule but subtly shows more than we expect. Despite the static blueness, we “see” Jarman’s agonizing experience with AIDS through his lyrical voiceover which varies in tone and volume as the story progresses. Yet Jarman’s voice doesn’t just recount doctor visits and drug side effects – succinctly likening hospitals to tombs and describing waiting rooms as “Hell on Earth” – he renders his true life events interspersed with poignant lines of what cannot be anything but poetry.
The Gautama Buddha advises me to walk away from illness. But he wasn’t attached to a drip.
His laconic lyrics reveal the toll a disease like AIDS takes on a man who fights against more than just a physical affliction but all the demons that accompany it, inside and out. Jarman explores social issues like stigma and charity but also discusses philosophical questions triggered by the everyday life of an AIDS patient: transience, image, and reality. However, Jarman does not present us with blue haphazardly. He chooses it. Throughout the film, he personifies the color as a divine entity of bliss, power, and love. One that he trusts and believes in more than any of the medications he receives.
Blue protects white from innocence / Blue drags black with it / Blue is darkness made visible
The coupling of the blue screen, one devoid of everything except hue, and different sounds convey a wide range of emotions that ambush the audience and transform the sensory experience of watching the film to an intoxicating trance. At several points in the film, words are vocalized by an angelic choir of women – at others by a single woman, namely Tilda Swinton. For the most part, Jarman himself narrates the film as he whispers softly into our ears – and our eyes – his most sacred secrets. Embroidered with alliteration, powerful, if not overpowering, imagery and metaphors, the screenplay is delivered in an intense vocal performance that compensates for the lack of visual scenes. Nevertheless, the film still manages to be a work of art with form that reflects content not only because the color blue takes a life of its own in Jarman’s world but due to the other ideas that inhabit that same realm. A filmmaker, an artist, a human being riddled with pain and suffering, both physical and psychological – he refers directly to his closeted homosexuality in a satirical honest song – is burdened by his image; an image that limits, tortures, and alienates. Therefore, it is understandable and appropriate to strip the audience of all image and give them nothing but a naked color, the bare minimum, and guide them through stories and poetry alone, to “release” them – and himself – from its suffocating grip.
The Image is a prison of the soul. From the bottom of your heart, pray to be released from Image.
Despite its relatively short duration, the film may still leave some of us jaded not only due to its lack of visual stimulation but also due to its overwhelming atmosphere of gloom. But the film is not a film. The film becomes the artist because of the highly personal experiences and thoughts Jarman shares with us. Jarman invites us to look beyond blue, to see something more, and we gladly accept. We can almost “see” his tired face, his damaged eyes, his desperate soul.
Only four months after the film’s release, Derek Jarman passed away due to AIDS-related complications and we can only hope that he no longer feels “trapped by the facts of the world.”
I place a delphinium, Blue, upon your grave.
art, Ben Afflick, color, Danny Boyle, film, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Olga Kurylenko, poster, Shane Carruth, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, Terrence Malick, The Wolf of Wall Street, To the Wonder, Trance, Tyler Perry, Upstream Color
Favorite 2013 Film Posters series coming to an end.
How do they write when you dance? How do they find the words to describe you dance?
When you dance, all the red is silent because you rain, ruby and blood.
When you dance, all the blue is silent because you cry, seas and sky.
When you dance, all the green is silent because you breathe, trees of life.
How do they write when you dance?
All the voices are silent, all the ink is dry, all we are is nothing
watching you dance, in silence
waiting for birth, in silence
to break the silence, in silence.
I want to keep you in a box
because the air is stained
with sighs and cigarette smoke
and it never rained.
I want to keep you in a box
because the colors are dead
all over the place in crash
and smudge, they rained on your head.
I want to keep you in a box
and never look inside.
Afraid of pregnant air,
with dying red, asphyxiated blue, and you died.
Or did I?