Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Ambiguous Report About the End of My Painting

"An Ambiguous Painting About the End of the World", 2010

24" x 20", oil on wood

Finally finished it! I could work on some pieces forever, and even though there is a lot that bugs me about this painting, I'm sick of working on it. This was to be my homage to Giorgio de Chirico, but I don't think I'm going to be painting any more arches any time soon. I also went with De Chirico's color palette for the most part: ochre ground and blue-green sky. These are colors I wouldn't have naturally used. I don't know if it's what I took from De Chirico that bothers me about this piece, or if it's just that nagging regret I often have just after finishing a painting. Oh well, it was an experiment.

The other experiment here was posting a photo after each painting session to show my progress. This is another experiment I don't care to repeat any time soon. I referred to this piece as "New Painting" for each of these updates, as I had no working title. Absolutely nothing came to mind until one night when I was browsing the web for "end of the world films". You see from the outset I had the vague idea that this painting was about the end of the world. Anyway, while browsing the web I came across a Slovakian film called "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World". It didn't matter to me at that moment whether I would ever see the film or if it was any good. I knew I had a name for my painting!

"An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World" is certainly a provocative name for a movie. I decided I had to see it after all, but even though the film was released only 13 years ago, it seemed it was already completely out of print. Thank god for filesharing sites! I found and downloaded the .rar files below and with the help of Winrar put the film together.

The movie begins with a double death slash suicide. A heroic-looking man carries a dead woman in his arms through the snow to the edge of a cliff, shoots himself and they both fall into the void. We are then transported back in time to the events that proceeded this tragedy. We begin two decades earlier at a joyful folk wedding in a quaint village high in the mountains. Everyone is enjoying themselves and then some wolves are spotted. The men take off after them, guns blazing, in a show of drunken bravado, but while they are gone, chasing after only two wolves, the rest of the pack descends upon the remaining villagers, mostly women and children. This scene is very well done. It has a surreal horror movie quality. The wolves just keep coming, bursting through padlocked doors and shattering windows. The clip below has no subtitles, but you don't really need them.

The bride who loses her bridegroom to the wolves gives birth later that same evening, and she promises her daughter to the 10 year old boy who saved her life. The bride Verona and the boy Goran are the two tragic lovers who die at the beginning of the film. I'm not going to go over the whole film here, but I'll hit the highlights. There is basically just disruption after tragic disruption in life of the little village. There is a traveling circus who get tricked into staying in the village and they soon corrupt the villagers. They give up honest farming, start growing poppy and hemp and turn into smugglers. Earthquakes rock the villages and houses sick into the ground. Some of the sheep smuggled in from across the border (Poland?) are later found to carry a disease that kills off most of the children. A military unit flies in some doctors to help the sick, but they can save no one. Instead they seem more interested in the "hemp" being dried to make marijuana and begin making arrests and threats. In one of my favorite lines from the movie, one of the military "medics" tells the mayor of the little village, "This is a free country now, and you are under surveillance". Later the military attack the fields, burning the illegal crops and as a consequence what's left of the sad little village.

Amidst all this there is a surreal cast of characters that includes a horny dwarf, a giantess, a chimpanzee named "Madonna" and a village idiot who turns into a prophet after reading Nostradamus. He quotes Nostradamus throughout the later part of the film and many of the tragedies that befall the village are supposedly taken from the seer's prognostications. Caught up in the middle of all this is the sad love story of Goran and Verona, who die at the beginning and end of the film. This an epic movie that never gets boring even at 140 minutes. The scenery alone is spectacular. There's a lot of symbolism throughout and I guess we are to see this tiny Slovakian village "at the end of the world" as a microcosm of the whole world. A tag-line for the movie says its "A film about the world not being round and love always being sinful, or about the wolves inside us".

It's too bad that this great film by Juraj Jakubisko is out of print or at least not available here. But at least I got to watch a decent .avi. I downloaded the english subtitles from, but I at first I didn't know how the .srt file could be added to the .avi so I could watch it in english. Media Player Classic, which is a free video player has the ability to load subtitles or .srt files. And if you want to burn these .avis to a dvd to watch on your television DVDFlick is great free dvd authoring app. It's especially great for foreign films, because allows you to load your own subtitles. You can even chose the typeface, color and position of them on the screen. As far as I can tell, DVDFlick does everything any other DVD authoring software can do and more. It even gives you the option to play Tetris while your files are being encoded. The only downside to DVDFlick as far as I can see is that is doesn't make fancy menus. Your menu screens won't have moving pictures or fancy options, not that you need any of that shit.

By the way if you've downloaded "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World" and the english subs available online, you know that the subs for "Nejasna Sprava O Konci Sveta CD2" or the second disc are way wrong. It was so frustrating that there were no other english subs available for what the download calls CD2 of the movie that I wrote a new .srt file for the second half of the film with the help of my wife, who's Czech. I uploaded the corrected .srt for the second half of the film today. You can download it here.

I should also mention that the director of "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World", Juraj Jakubisko recently directed a film called "Bathory", about the life of Elizabeth Bathory, that looks like it could be interesting. You know who she was, right? The Blood Witch of Cachtice, the Countess Dracula, the most murderous woman in history! Well I've written enough with this post, so I'm gonna let "Hot Fact Babe" Damianne fill you in on all the gory details...

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