1995: LIMITE[S]

LIMITE[S]  video-installation

Length: 110’

Year of production: 1995

Production: César Meneghetti

Concept, (re)shooting, (re)editing: César Meneghetti

Music: Heitor Villa-Lobos

Media: Tecnica mista su scatola di legno 100 X 80 X 100 cm analogical Video (Hi-8 onto Betacam SP), Monitor 21’, videoregistratore, pellicola 35mm e cassetta video

Public views: Cândido Portinari Gallery, Rome, May 1995

I BIENNALE D’ARTE ELETTRONICA E TV DI QUALITA’, S. Marta al Collegio Romano Church, Rome, December 1999

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Re-shooting in video del film Limite di Mario Peixoto (1930). Film e video: due forme di rappresentazione delle immagini in movimento si aggregano nello stesso stato. Due stati della stessa rappresentazione si materializzano in forma di immagini in movimento. Schizzi visivi alla ricerca di storie, di immagini, di simboli, si staccano da una struttura narrativa classica nel silenzio, nei confini, nei limiti degli elementi fimici, elettronici, pittorici. Liquidi. Tra il 24° e il 25° fotogramma, inizio e fine smettono di esistere generando un’altra rappresentazione della realtà.

“Limite” è uno dei film pionieri dell’avanguardia brasiliana e l’unica opera di Mário Peixoto (110 min., Brasile, 1930), definito da Sergej Eisenstein “un capolavoro a cui uno deve sottomettersi già dai primissimi momenti fino ad agonizzare nelle corde di un puro e sintetico linguaggio cinematografico”. Questa installazione ne offre una rilettura attraverso la scelta delle sequenze che descrivono i momenti più intensi e drammatici del naufragio, inteso come smarrimento esistenziale. Immagini originali che mostrano un faro vicino, ma in perenne movimento, cercano di raccontare l’impossibilità di uscire alla luce, dall’eclissi del proprio inconscio. E’ un omaggio a Peixoto e al suo “Limite” che continua a vivere e ammaliare anche nei limiti del claustrofobico contenitore, nella prospettiva spaziale suggerita dal contesto, nella sfocata visibilità legata al deteriorarsi della materia , nella natura della riproducibilità video, nei segni del tempo che corre.

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Video integrante dell’installazione LIMITE(S) esibito nella Mostra d’arte Re-pensamento brasileiro Galleria Candido Portinari Ambasciata del Brasile a Roma, febbraio-marzo 1995 a cura di Federico de Moraes. In Arte & Comunicazione ’99, I BIENNALE D’ARTE ELETTRONICA E TV DI QUALITA’, Palazzo delle esposizioni, Chiesa S. Marta al Collegio Romano, Roma, Dicembre 1999. A cura de Marco Maria Gazzano. Insieme a Robert Cahen, Nam June Paik, Mario Sasso e Andrew Wright Smith, Cripta della chiesa di Santa Marta al Collegio romano. Messa in onda a Festival.Ars Tv Eutelsat Premium Channel, Dicembre 1999.

“O filme Limite (Mário Peixoto, Brasil, 1931) se projeta sobre a vida de três pessoas, que falam de sua vida, garantindo um movimento ininterrupto do filme. Desse modo, nos propicia uma visão pessoal de cada narrador e se nega a um mero realismo, pois se constrói na visão pessoal de cada um dos naufragos. A realidade não aparece como consumada, mas como um incessante desenrolar-se, um contínuo caminhar, nada é descritivo. A palpitação dos personagens é transfigurada para nós em imagens, para entendermos os sentimentos dos personagens. O diretor MARIO PEIXOTO procura penetrar na natureza e, por conseguinte, na natureza das coisas. A natureza deixa de ser um contorno espesso para se tornar uma parte da realidade íntima dos homens com as coisas, tensão personagem-realidade. Daí a sensação que temos que o filme se desarticula totalmente da realidade, porém esse sentimento some no momento em que se estrutura o encontro dos três no bote. O encontro é a realidade concentrada, o momento de pontuar a linguagem que o próximo irá utilizar. O dar nos a chance de também olhar a condição humana, não somente na narrativa das personagens, mas na elaboração da linguagem do diretor. Um filme mudo onde se instaura a linguagem metafórica, para se decifrar o enigma imposto por Limite. Suas vidas são contadas, e quando entramos em suas narrativas, instauramos uma nova ordem, fragmentamos a história do filme a ponto de não lembrarmos de estarem no barco. Viver, existir e filmar consiste em criar uma linguagem e o diretor optou por não apenas assistirmos na tela, mas também participarmos. O objeto a ser filmado fora de lugar e se alguns suportes do ato de filmar permanecem em seu lugar esperado. O efeito de desespero e desequilibrio nao seria o mesmo. O filme quer tirar o espectador de lugar, causar a sensação de estranhamento. Limite quer afastar a idéia da imagem como suporte narrativo, romper com os limites narrativos que faz com que o cinema hoje nos pareça tão coerente. Tudo em Limite é para causar estranhamento no observador. Limite substitui uma coisa pela outra, é um filme cheio de metáforas, é este é o seu maior instrumento de distanciamento do espectador. Metáfora e tabu, coisas que não são ditas, não se usa diretamente certas imagens, procura-se transformar a realidade numa outra coisa. O Limite humano é metaforizado a todo momento, para transmitir essa mensagem, mas não é o humano que é utilizado para construir imagens, porém tudo que cerca a vida dos personagens e por isso a realidade na tela ganha outra dimensão. A dimensão da percepção humana.”

(Saulo P. de Mello)

[uk]  the original film briefing

Under the baton of the young Mário, who was then 22-3 years old, Olga Breno, Taciana Reis, Raul Schnoor and Brutus Pedreira, the film’s actors, threw themselves, along with Edgar Brazil’s camera work, into what was to become a legendary adventure. Edgar Brazil, lugging the Hernemann lent by Adhemar Gonzaga and the Kynamo, bought on hire purchase by Mário, brought the director’s “scenario” to life registering some of the strongest and most beautiful pictures in our film history. The human tragedy reflected in the three characters evokes death, suffering and the futility of life with precision rarely seen in any artistic milieu, anywhere in the world. On the screen, what was seen was pure anxiety, desperation, terror and flight – a boat, with three shipwreck victims lost at sea. “My film is about human limits,” Mário said, “like a clock which everyone thinks is moving forwards, but which in fact is counting one less, one less, one less…”

It all began with a girl, an invitation, a trance… Upon being invited by a potential girlfriend to watch a film in the old national college, the then physics student Saulo Pereira de Mello dived headfirst into one of Brazilian cinema’s greatest love stories. It was 1952 and the film was called Limite. Forty-four years later Saulo, who never did date the girl, continues to feel the same trance whenever he sees Mário Peixoto’s film.

One of the recent fruits of this affair is the archive which unites all the director’s belongings. There are original manuscripts, film projects, book and magazine collections, videos, statements, negatives and even cookery recipes belonging to Mário Peixoto. Since June this year, the Mário Peixoto Archive has been located at Videofilmes, Walter Salles Júnior’s production company, under the curatorship of Ayla Pereira de Mello

Far from being the mysterious recluse many suppose, Mário José Breves Rodrigues Peixoto was, for many, an enchanting man. It was specifically in order to correct many of these inaccuracies about the artist, and in order to promote his work, that the archive was created. “Mário was an affable, active, happy fellow, a storyteller, who put everyone immediately at ease…”, says Saulo. “All those stories about him being unsociable aren’t entirely true.”

The archive reveals much about Mário Peixoto’s personality. It consists of the director’s personal papers, handed over to Walter Salles by his heir Arleu Valle da Silva, and part of Saulo Pereira de Mello’s files, which include material collected by Plínio Sussekind. On the bookshelves, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Horacio and Barbara Cartland live peacefully beside all the Brazilian modernists. On the other side of the room, Ingrid Bergman on the cover of Photoplay magazine show us a Mário who was a fan of great cinema. The detailed screenplay and manuscript of Limite, on display until 1st September at Casa Rui Barbosa, bears witness to the director’s originality, painstakingly going over every take before starting to shoot.

The “scenario” (in the days of silent film, the French expression “scénario” was used for screenplay) was written, according to the author, in one single night upon suddenly seeing a powerful image on the cover of Vu magazine, in a street in Paris. On the magazine’s cover there was what Saulo Pereira de Mello calls the film’s proto-image: a female face fully facing us, her eyes fixed, with handcuffed male hands in the foreground. This “vision” unlocked the entire story of the film, which came to life in pictures shot in Mangaratiba and other locations along the Rio coast between May 1930 and January 1931.

Under the baton of the young Mário, who was then 22-3 years old, Olga Breno, Taciana Reis, Raul Schnoor and Brutus Pedreira, the film’s actors, threw themselves, along with Edgar Brazil’s camera work, into what was to become a legendary adventure. Lodged at the Santa Justina farm belonging to Victor Breves, who was the city’s mayor and Mário’s uncle, the crew enjoyed all the material benefits offered by the Breves family, whose aid was fundamental to the film’s realization. Edgar Brazil, lugging the Hernemann lent by Adhemar Gonzaga and the Kynamo, bought on hire purchase by Mário, brought the director’s “scenario” to life registering some of the strongest and most beautiful pictures in our film history.

The human tragedy reflected in the three characters evokes death, suffering and the futility of life with precision rarely seen in any artistic milieu, anywhere in the world. On the screen, what was seen was pure anxiety, desperation, terror and flight – a boat, with three shipwreck victims lost at sea. “My film is about human limits,” Mário said, “like a clock which everyone thinks is moving forwards, but which in fact is counting one less, one less, one less…”

First shown in Rio de Janeiro on 17th May 1932, “at its première Mário Peixoto’s film received a tepid reception from the public, lukewarm from critics, cold from the makers and icy from distributors,” wrote Saulo Pereira de Mello in his book Limite. Recently published by Rocco, Limite retrieves the film in all its aspects and traces a sharp profile of Mário Peixoto, placing the director in a Brazilian and international context. Conceived and made just as the talkies were becoming established on the international market, Limite represented the best moment in Brazilian silent film history and, ironically, the last. Ignored by distributors, who were turning to the talkies, Limite only survived thanks to the interest of professor Plínio Sussekind Rocha who, with periodic screenings at the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia, managed to keep it alive at a time when the mere idea of preserving any film, let alone a Brazilian film, seemed ludicrous. It was at one of these sessions that the student Saulo lost a girlfriend and fell hopelessly in love with a Brazilian film – a silent one. Soon after, he met Plínio and became one of the “chosen few”, students the professor selected to follow him. Amongst philosophy and cinema classes, a friendship was born which stretched across years and enabled the restoration of that which is now considered one of the finest silent films of all time. “One day Plínio said that Mário Peixoto had telephoned saying that the film Limite was deteriorating…”, recalls Saulo. “When we went to examine the film, I met Mário, and the three of us became friends.” In spite of knowing hardly anything about nitrate film conservation, Saulo Pereira de Mello led the film’s restoration which was to receive government funds thanks to efforts by the influential Plínio Sussekind and, later, by Rogerio Mello Franco de Andrade. However, at the beginning of the film’s recuperation process, all expenses were borne by the two of them. Almost two decades passed until, in 1978, it was finally possible to show, at Funarte, the complete version of the film, 47 years after its controversial première in 1931. The film’s restoration allowed for a deserving review. Limite traveled throughout the world and received high praise in many countries. Unquestionably recognized as one of Brazilian film history’s greatest legacies, Mário Peixoto’s unique work is now secure and available to the public. He never did make another film. His second project, Onde a Terra Acaba, was interrupted during shooting due to quarrels with the film’s star, Carmem Santos.