The gloaming brings a pulsation. Here I yield. Thither I go. At the least I'll pull an all-nighter. At the most I'll be carelessly disobedient. The figurative is piffle. The literal is caution.
Six Bits of Wisdom
- “What hath night to do with sleep?” -John Milton-
- “No one but Night, with tears on her dark face, watches beside me in this windy place.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay-
- “At night we are all strangers, even to ourselves.” -Alexander McCall Smith
- “No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear his heart and eye the morning can be.” -Bram Stoker-
- “Night, the mother of fear and mystery, was coming upon me.” -H.G. Wells-
- “Beware the night, child. All cats are black in the dark.” -Jean Genet-
Toward the train station.
Some Memories Don’t Need Photos
Picture (no pun intended) a scene from circa 1990. I carried an Olympus Stylus at the time (I still shoot it when I get sentimental) and usually one or two rolls of 24 exposure ISO 200 film. I wasn’t as serious about photography then as I am now, but I always had my camera at the ready.
So I was armed with my trusty Stylus and three rolls of 24 exposure when my buddies Brad, Chris, and I went to NIU’s homecoming. I have some great memories of pre-game festivities, the game itself (we sat in the visitors’ section for giggles), and of a post-game get together. A few drinks and good times were had by all. I burnt through all three rolls of film that day. I shot a couple of keepers but most of them ended up in a shoebox. But what would have been the best shot of the trip occurred on the drive home.
It was about three in the morning when we drove past a house that had been TPed. This was (and still is) the finest job of toilet papering I’ve ever seen. It was a grand undertaking in both scale and style (we’re talking house, hedges, lawn ornaments, and every tree in the front yard were covered). The breeze was just strong enough to blow some of the toilet paper hanging from a tree into the road. Brad slowed down to about five miles an hour drive through it. Chis and I leaned out the passenger windows and were actually able to touch the Charmin softness. Of course I didn’t have any film left to shoot it so I didn’t even bother reaching for my camera.
For a while after that night I regretting not being able to take a shot of that scene, but ultimately it taught me two lessons. One is that no matter how well prepared you are you aren’t going to get every shot. The other (and the more important one to me) is that to truly enjoy a moment with friends it may be best to put the camera down.
The Visual Appeal of Journey to the End of the Night
I just got back from a week on the road, and I’m thinking about the cliché that says the journey is as important as the destination. I’m wondering if the person who said that ever drove a compact car for fourteen hours straight? I’m also thinking how that old cliché can be applied to movies? There are many movies that have rather predictable plots but we still watch. More often than not we enjoy the movie not so much for the reveal (the destination) but for the development (the journey). Eric Eason’s Journey to the End of the Night is one such movie. You won’t find anything groundbreaking in the movie’s plot, but you will discover a movie that is beautiful in its film noir imagery.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the plot of Journey to the End of the Night. Let’s just say that it has some of the standard plot features of traditional film noir: betrayal, jealousy, and double cross. The topics of plot and character development could easily be an essay on its own, but I want to focus a couple of visual elements of this movie that are great examples of film noir. First, film noir often incorporates elements of bleak urban settings into the story and Journey to the End of the Night is no exception. The best example of this is with the movie’s opening and ending credits. The opening credits give the viewer and aerial view of the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil as night is falling. There is a certain distance, both physically and emotionally in the scene. We can feel the loneliness of the city’s inhabitants and the bleak lives this movie’s characters lead. The ending credits show a similar aerial view of the city as the sun is rising in the distance. Although it may be a new day the same feelings of loneliness and a bleak future linger. Another element common to film noir that can be found in Journey to the End of the Night is the use of grain and contrast. The entire movie is shot with a subtle use of grain and contrast that adds a layer of visual subtext that reinforces feelings of fatalism common to film noir. The characters may try their best to escape the lives they lead but are often victims of fate. This use of grain and contrast also enhances the morally ambiguous lives these characters lead. These people leave gritty lives and the film grain shows this.
I spent fourteen hours one way on my recent road trip. Even though I knew what the destination held for me I made certain to take the time to enjoy the trip there. The same can be said for many movies. Even though the plot may be predictable that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the visual experience of watching it. Journey to the End of the Night utilizes a few visual elements of film noir that make it worth the trip.
Journey to the End of the Night with Brendan Fraser, Yaslin Bey, and Scott Glenn. Directed by Eric Eason.