Friday, June 18, 2010

Glimpses of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Doomed Golden Couple


Who didn't read F Scott Fitzgerald's 'A Diamond as Big as the Ritz' or 'The Great Gatsby' at uni?

Not in for any Eng Lit course but for the sheer Jazz Age excess expressed in the stories. And of course for the delicious writing - like creme brulee.




Curiously though and when I think back, I had absolutely no mental image of either the writer or his wife.




I'm going to redress this now.

Apart from photographs, I was stunned to find so much film footage!

So Zelda as a young woman ...



... and walking about rather saucily and hip-swinging in a garden ...

video

A little older ...




... and playing gaily about in a street ...

video

The couple with daughter Frances ...





... and in a garden ...

video

On the Riviera, where the family retreated to escape the gloom of the Great Depression - and keep the party going ...





... and in a cafe ...

video

And finally, F Scott Fitzgerald working on 'The Great Gatsby' ...

video

Happily, my visual memory bank of the gilded and alcoholic couple is now full to overflowing!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Magical Deserted City of Fatehpur Sikri, Rajasthan, India


One of the real joys of travel is the unplanned and the unexpected.

In this instance, we were travelling through Rajasthan in India a few years back by All India taxi - a great way to avoid the hassles of most other forms of public transport.

You hire the cab for a day, a week, a month or whatever and decide wherever you want to go on the sub-continent in that time. The drivers are guaranteed to speak the language you want to use and are well-informed tourist guides. You stop where ever you like and for as long as you want. And at $25 a day per person it was staggeringly inexpensive. I'm beginning to sound like the company's promotional agency!

Anyway, we were travelling towards Jaisalmer on the edge of the desert in far western Rajasthan ...

Jaisalmer, far western Rajasthan (Not my photograph)

... when the driver suggested a stop in Fatehpur Sikri, a city built as the capital of the Mughal Empire in the second half of the C16 by Akbar the Great. Soon after completion, the water supply failed and so after only ten years the complex was abandoned.

We arrived just after dawn - it was still cool and the bird song crisp clear in the fresh early morning air.

Almost alone, curious for this most populous country, we just wandered round among the empty buildings ...







... snapping details as we went ...





Magical ... magical .... magical!
'Narcissus' - A New Take





This morning I came across a shortish 1983 dance video directed by Norman McLaren (1914-1987) for the National Film Board of Canada.

It's a new take on the 'Narcissus' legend.


In the first section, a girl flirts with Narcissus ...




But he's apprehensive and finally rejects her - he's thinking of something else ...


Then, with more interest and enthusiasm, he's engaged by a boy ...












But finally rejects him too ...


... realising that the very best relationship of all - is with himself ...


... a conclusion he reaches ...




... gazing at his own reflection in a pool ...






True love!

It's parts of the second and third sections I'm posting ...

video

The choreography and the music work well together to tell these three tales of attraction. And in such gentle but sensual terms. A bare dark set pairs everything down to better focus on the characters and their stories. As does the strong side-lighting.

The piece reminds me a bit of the self-absorption expressed in 'L'apres-midi d'un faune', originally choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and with music by Claude Debussy.

Hope you enjoy!