Certainly the shots of pure light, free of any objects, give the sense of pure sensory perception: not perception of something, but just the feeling of perceiving, the raw, undifferentiated sense.
But even other shots—shots of blurred or skewed objects; shots of a sign in the darkness; shots of flowing water, both from above it and from within it—capture the feeling of just being there. And repeated shots of a woman opening her eyes directly link the images to the idea of the perception of them. In conjunction, these two aspects of the film create a dreamlike sense of ambiguous reality. You have seabirds, you have 16 cows, you have one cat in a storm who looks dead, the programmer told him.
Perhaps he likes animals so much, Alegria figured, because they're the only ones who look directly at the camera? It's like they know something. They can read human beings. In The Search For Emak Bakia, Alegria likens his meandering quest to the habits of a hare, which most people mistake as a rabbit; but, there are important distinctions between a rabbit and a hare.
They're from the same family, but totally different. Rabbits are born in underground burrows. Hares are born above ground. Rabbits are born with their eyes closed. Hares are born with their eyes open. These are essential differences.
Hares are always escaping capture. Rabbits are more comfortable with being domesticated. They can feel safe in a cage. Hares are not as adaptable. One could say that Man Ray acted like a hare. He escaped mainstream art. People tried to trap him. He made four films and had a proposal to make a fifth by a big company with a lot of money but he declined.
That's for rabbits. The meaning of Emak Bakia—"leave me alone"—ties into this. Hares can jump into the air, change direction, and land ready to move in a different direction. Like the knuckleball, the hare is unpredictable and erratic. You never quite know where it's going. Here or there? The straight line is for gregarious animals who follow each other.
It's boring. It's not free. The chronology of the story in his film was real. He was a man searching for a house that failed to readily appear so he tried to find other things named like the house.
But as he was going along and the film kept growing, he realized that the house was not important; the substitutions for Emak Bakia were not important. The main thing was the path, the search, to be on the way. Thus, the house appears in the middle and not the end of the film and is, in effect, the true beginning of the film. That's when chance began to work hard. Alegria didn't miss a beat and said he admired his mother and his father. They were, as he stated earlier, from a tiny mountain village.
They taught him how to make a film without knowing they were teaching him how to make a film and those are arguably the best teachers. If you want your child to become a pianist, you have lost your way as a parent because you will have to force them to learn how to be a pianist. The best lessons are involuntary. His father was a shepherd since childhood. When his parents finally moved to the city in their old age, his father took a pencil in his hand and a piece of paper and for the first time began to write all the words that were disappearing in the Basque world.
The names of the birds, for example. Kostalangorri, the bird with the red tail. Zumiriki, the island in the river. He was making a little dictionary. In years since, he has thought a lot about why his father was doing that. The lesson is that if the word for the bird with the red tail kostalangorri disappears, the bird itself will also vanish. Words in the Basque culture have tremendous strength and harbor a connection with nature. His father tried to fix things in time and Alegria feels he is doing something similar with his cinema.
Perhaps that is the magic of cinema? Through his film, the name of the house was recovered and restored. His mother always taught him, without knowing she was teaching him, to have a strong faith in magic, which references back to the conflict between his journalistic and creative instincts. Journalists are rationalists. Creative people pursue the magical side. By way of example, he remembers when he fell off his bicycle as a child and hurt his knee.
His mother applied iodine to his scrapes and then blew on them. Iodine might be the science; but her breath was the magic. To this day, he doesn't know which made his injury recover more: the science or the magic; but, he's convinced that without the magic there would have been no recovery.
And that's the lesson for making a film. You have to know how to fix words. You have to know how to disappear into the white paper or the blank screen. But also you have to use magic for that. It's an interesting film, however, because it was made in that moment between Dadaism and Surrealism.
You can see that half of the film is Dadaist and the other half is Surrealist. One is more visual and the other has some narrative, though a minor deference. He likes to think that his film is a realistic exercise of a surrealistic movie. He incorporated all the intertitles that Man Ray used in his films. There were 57 of them and he knew each one by heart.
For him it was like a cinematic exercise. There's one intertitle that says, "Now we are in Paris. When he was filming the nightmare of the pigs, hidden away in the pig sty, he remembered that one of Man Ray's intertitles read "L'intrus", the intruder, and he thought, yes, that works here. Man Ray used his intertitles in an unconnected way but Alegria wanted to do the opposite: he wanted to use them to tell a specific story, which was in essence a classic story of a man searching for a treasure who finds a princess.
I understood why he decided to use intertitles to advance his narrative rather than a voiceover, but I was curious why he decided the intertitles should be in English? Per the transnational practice of using intertitles in traditional silent cinema, I wondered if he had plans to translate his intertitles into different languages to distribute in different countries? He confirmed he already has translated the intertitles of the film into five different languages; that there existed five versions of the film.
The first was in Basque. Then Spanish. Then French. Then English. Now there's one in Italian and the most recent in Hebrew. Interestingly, the film's title in Basque is Emak Bakia Baita; "baita" means house in Basque, but it also means house in Hebrew!
It's a word both languages share. In Arab, "bait beit" is also a house. In Italy, there is a small shepherd's cottage built on the mountains and they call it "baita". When the film screened in Poland, a Jewish member of his audience said that "emak bakia" in Hebrew sounds similar to the Biblical expression "a valley of tears", implying that Emak Bakia Baita might translate as "the house of the valley of tears.
Finally, "baita" is only used in the north part of the Basque country. You can find houses in a river basin that are referred to as "baita", but if they are built near to the river they are referred to as "etxea".
It interests Alegria how the words travel with the water. He explained that he used intertitles not just because Man Ray used them in his film, but because of a mistake. He loves mistakes. Though we are seeing eyes, they are not effective eyes — these eyes are looking, but not seeing anything.
Like Bunuel does in Andalou, Man Ray is taunting the viewer in Emak Bakia, suggesting with these eyeless women that the viewer, though watching the film, does not understand what is going on. Though Man Ray is slightly more discreet than Bunuel in the condemnation of the spectator, both filmmakers are making a statement about the role of the audience in their films.
Both filmmakers are confrontationally suggesting to the audience that they have reinvented their role as satisfied customer. In this regard, these films become attached to political statement; they are seeking response, action, and change with their films. Arguably, however, their movement came too late. By the time Un Chien Andalou was made, avant-garde, a movement meant to be in defiance of the traditional cinema, had become the norm.
Most audiences were no longer shocked by what Bunuel was doing and depicting, but instead respectfully accepted that it was art simply because it was irrational. The movement succeeds because the audience is no longer involved; we do not get that we are the punch-line of the joke; the movement exists not for us, but in spite of us.
Works Cited Ades, Dawn. London: Thames and Hudson, Print Aiken, Edward A. Aron, Robert. Emak Bakia. Man Ray. Kino International, DVD Gale, Matthew. Matthew Gale. Hedges, Inez. Languages of Revolt: Dada and surrealist literature and film. Durham N. C: Duke University Press, Print Marks, Scott. Perlmutter, Ruth.
For her, that house was very important. He spelled it out for them. On the Battle Between Journalistic and Creative Instincts Alegria felt the journalist within him was alive only in the first seven minutes of the film, after which he killed him, and then a more poetic persona emerged.
He was a having a coffee in a park in Biarritz when he saw the plastic glove blowing around in the wind and thought to himself, "Okay. There's a special wind there. In conjunction, these two aspects of the film create a dreamlike sense of ambiguous reality. But even other shots—shots of blurred or skewed objects; shots of a sign in the darkness; shots of flowing water, both from above it and from within it—capture the feeling of just being there. People tried to trap him. It's like they know something.
On Befriending A Hungarian Princess When he first arrived at Emak Bakia, he didn't speak French and the first person he spoke to, the gardener, was trying to tell him that someone else had visited the week before but he couldn't understand her. Towards the middle of the film Jacques Rigaut appears dressed in female clothing and make-up.
The film is more sensual than Man Ray's earlier works. On Befriending A Hungarian Princess When he first arrived at Emak Bakia, he didn't speak French and the first person he spoke to, the gardener, was trying to tell him that someone else had visited the week before but he couldn't understand her. He also filmed live-action sequences of an amusement park carousel and other subjects, including the nude torso of his model and lover, Kiki of Montparnasse. Alegria contacted him because one of his novels was entitled The Sleeping Woman. Per the transnational practice of using intertitles in traditional silent cinema, I wondered if he had plans to translate his intertitles into different languages to distribute in different countries? The collars are then used as a focus for the film, rotating through double exposures.
While he was in the process of editing the film, he discovered that the clown whose tombstone he examined at the beginning of the film was not really dead so he felt compelled to add that. He was a having a coffee in a park in Biarritz when he saw the plastic glove blowing around in the wind and thought to himself, "Okay.
And she remembered the big lightning storm.
The first was the big Saint Bernard Biri who she used to ride like a horse around the grounds. But then the owners of Emak Bakia phoned him to say they were sitting with their lawyers and drafting new regulations for the house and were able, at that juncture, to rename the house. Was he making a movie? Gallery label, October Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change?
Hares can jump into the air, change direction, and land ready to move in a different direction. But when Emak Bakia did not appear in the archives, he took it as a measure of success. The farms in the South have different architecture and the terrain is more mountainous.
Indeed, the characters in his novels suffer from insomnia. On the Distinction Between Chemical and Spiritual Restorations Regarding whether one of his original intentions was to reawaken an interest in Man Ray's filmic work, Alegria ventured that two kinds of restoration could be achieved with movies. His father tried to fix things in time and Alegria feels he is doing something similar with his cinema. The shot hence periodically morphs between non-representation and representation, such that each is contained in the other. Emak Bakia. These films are not political in the sense that they express a rejection of post-war society, but in the sense that they express instead a hostile attitude towards their viewers, calling to attention the problems with treating existing art and avant-garde cinema as products to be consumed and enjoyed.
A number of the earliest works were lost or accidentally destroyed the same is true of many of the early classic objects by his friend Marcel Duchamp, Perlmutter, Ruth.