Tuesday, June 21, 2016

the lights went down

Something in the news about Donald Trump needing to "pivot" -- to (apparently) whirl around (figuratively speaking?) and change his persona and rhetoric, to be "more presidential." 

Articles and Reader Comments repeatedly using the word "pivot" -- and the only thing I could keep thinking of was the time on Friends when Ross buys a new couch and gets his friends to help him try to get it up the stairs of his apartment building.

"Pivot!"  "Pivot!" he keeps yelling, and finally Chandler goes berserk with exasperation and hollers back, "Shut up!  Shut up!  Shhhuuuuhhhhttt uuuuuuhhhhpppp!"

(And of course the concept of "shut up shut up SHUT UUUPPP" could bring us right back to Donald Trump.)


GASLIGHT:  On his website, cinema 24/7, Emanuel Levy wrote of this 1944 film, "The set decoration is by Paul Huldchinsky, a German refugee who borrows elements from German expressionist style in making the house cluttered and stifling, imbued with a claustrophobic atmosphere.  The movie received an Oscar for interior decoration (as it was then called)."

This tied into recent reading of The Brazen Age (David Reid) -- "The intellectual migration from the Europe of the dictators to America -- catching up artists...scientists;

architects, philosophers, art historians, composers; painters, physicists, publishers...was an event in the history of culture and science whose influence...continues to spread and circulate. 

The émigrés changed how Americans lit their movie sets...how they built and decorated their houses...how they studied and collected art...how they practiced science..."


In the movie, after Paula and Gregory go separate ways on the stairs...


INT.  Paula's bedroom / sitting room.

Paula sits at her dressing table, taking off earrings.

The maid, Nancy, works in the background.

Above Ingrid Bergman's head there is a light fixture, with four gaslights in ornate holders.

PAULA:  Nancy, has the master left?

~~  Yes, ma'am.  A little while ago.

~~  Please see that he has plenty of coal on the fire in his room.

~~  You already told me that, ma'am.

Persistent concern and anxiety play over Paula's facial expressions.  She concentrates on the table before her, then notices a change in the room's lighting. 

PAULA:  Nancy, did you turn the gas up in there?

~~  Turn it up?  No, why?

~~  I thought it went down in here, as if you had.

NANCY:  I never touched it.

PAULA:  But this went down.