I was asked recently who my favorite woman filmmaker was. I didn't hesitate in my answer, Julie Taymor.
She's not a real filmmaker in the sense I demand, more of a set designer with an eye that understands the effect of camera placement and the rhythms of movement and color in the multiple threads of the drama, the motion we see and the motions we make.
I recently saw the masterful "Dracula" by Guy Madden, so took the effort to search this project out. I am so glad I did.
First of all, you have to understand the simple state in which it exists. It is a Greek play, so therefore a stark and abstract thing, about sight and fate. On this, a Frenchman (himself a master filmmaker) overlaid a libretto (in Latin!) that added a level of reflection, where the characters see each other in a more self-aware fashion than Greeks could.
Philip Glass constructed music for the opera thus drawn, music that may be his best opera because the notions have to do with richly elaborated starkness. And that's generally how his music forms.
Now take that stack, and restage, reimagine it with imperious Shinto narration, and temple- derived sets. Have the actors affect Kabuki manner, itself extremely refined notions of visual conveyance (and incidentally almost never filmed well).
The best Japanese conductor. Some strong performers.
Now, add Taymor to the equation.
I know many of my readers will have not seen the film and want to imagine what it is like.
Taymor's influences are shadow puppets from Indonesia, recast as giant animated puppets that the characters wear. Each is a Golem, a stone-like abstraction inhabited by someone clearly on fire. She uses Welles-like angles and Greenaway-like composition, and like both of those, every element of what you see and how you see is deeply, deeply integrated.
I am considering this as one of the two films from 95 that I allow on my most watch list.
Is it important that it is by a woman? Well, I have to answer that if I did not know it was a woman, I could not deduce it. I mean, who could tell Lionel Hampton was gay through his jazz? Even he didn't know.
But knowing enriches the thing.
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
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