I was reading Paul Schrader’s book ‘Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer’ (Published by Da Capo Press, 1972) and came across this little word of wisdom.
“Transcendental Style is a common formalistic solution to…problems in individual cultures, and before a viewer can appreciate the solution he must experience the problems.” (p86)
And such is life…and death. We enter this time called Easter and we can view it in totally triumphalist terms and miss one crucial piece of narrative evidence – that of a man executed by the tyranny of political and religious authorities and who cries “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This eternal mystery, of how God can forsake God means we should gag at the triumphalist’s report of joyous execution!
Nowadays, film reviews have ‘spoiler alerts’ attached, so as not to give away the ending of the film, as the narrative twists and turns towards its denouement. Our problem is that most people know the ending to the Easter Story and not many preachers would issue a spoiler alert on Good Friday!
However, if we can’t ‘appreciate the solution…[before we] experience the problems’, then this gives us a dilemma. For we know the sense of forsakenness at times in our own lives, when things deviate from their expected conclusion. We participate in the sufferings of his world, we see both tragedy and depravity; we are wounded by our experience that something is very wrong with our world.
It is probably safe to say that we have more experience of Good Friday than we do of Easter Sunday in our lives, if we are honest, but equally what we crave is to know the unexpected resurrection (despite some apparently clear communication that this was on the cards!).
The problem with artistic failure is that it is done in the public gaze and is not something generally experienced by a plumber. Public humiliation is gut wrenching, depressing, it debilitates our gifts and public calling. What we need are more events in our lives which reflect the resurrection and then maybe this Easter the excitement of Easter Sunday and (spoiler alert) the resurrection of Jesus, won’t be an anti-climax, something we’ve seen and heard of before, but not quite experienced enough in our own lives.
To this end, we don’t stay with the public humiliation of Jesus, but with a quiet resurrection in a Garden somewhere, astounding those who have lovingly and dutifully arrived to attend to our fatal wounds and pallored body.
Mentoring support for word, image and performance arts
Peace and Love,