(Watch the full film here.)
The thing is, I grew up as a foreigner. Look, my father was a Jew who tried to pass for a Russian. My mother was half-Russian, because a Cossack raped her mother, and she tried to pass for a Jew. So, I was Chilean and not Chilean, because I was the son of immigrants. I was trying to pass for a Chilean, but never completely. I was never anything. Therefore, the only exile I know is the exile from myself. Because I was never myself. The nostalgia I would have to get back to myself, what am I? But not what am I as nationality. What am I as a spirit without limits. I have limits. So, each day I try more and more to go toward the anonymous which is precisely the impersonal. To try to be an impersonal person. I don’t think in terms of cities now. I think of the planet. I don’t think in terms of nationality. I think of human beings.
From a 1995 interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky by Jason Weiss (who was kind enough to forward a link to me).
From Wikipedia (final emphasis mine):
Pilgrimage is a 2001 documentary film by Werner Herzog. Accompanied only by music the film alternates between shots of pilgrims near the tomb of Saint Sergei in Sergiyev Posad, Russia and pilgrims at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico. The score was composed by John Tavener and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with vocal accompaniment by Parvin Cox and the Westminster Cathedral Choir. The film begins with an opening quote by Thomas à Kempis which is a fake quote invented by the filmmaker himself.
RIP Ken Russell.
Filmmaker Ken Russell died last night at 84. I was a huge fan of his weird wonderful films, including Lisztomania, The Music Lovers, overlooked gem The Lair of the White Worm, Altered States, and my personal favorite, The Devils (based on Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon).
Russell’s films deeply divided critics, who alternately lauded his hyperbolic visual flair and dramatic staging or lashed out at the perceived bad taste of his films. Simply put, a Russell film is turned to 10 from the get go, a style that worked well for strange projects like Lisztomania and Tommy, based on The Who’s concept album.
Russell’s career began provocatively with an adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love; the film featured a nude wrestling match between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates. Russell was able to push the limits of good taste, narrative cohesion, and sensory overload throughout the 1970s, but his career faltered in the 1980s, due in part, perhaps, because mainstream culture eventually caught up with him. Despite the histrionics and camp that marks much of his work, Russell’s singular vision as a filmmaker undoubtedly influenced a generation of filmmakers who would go on to turn the music video into an art form.
While Russell’s sensational synesthesia is not for everyone (I distinctly remember friends asking me to turn off The Devils in college), his films hold up remarkably well—and not just as documentation of the strange, grand period of filmmaking that was the 1970s. They are still provocative, even today. Russell was a strange bird, a filmmaker blending high art with popular culture who constantly pushed his audience. Do yourself a favor and check out one of his mind twisting films.