Friday

Week 17: Text: Genet's Encyclopedie du Cinema

PANREALISM: An offshoot of critical thought within the Fabian Society around the turn of the 20th Century, concentrated upon opposition to the rise of new visual media technologies, in particular the innovation of the moving image cinematograph. In the PANREALIST MANIFESTO (1911) the movement’s founder, THEODORE BAKER, predicts “An era of darkness in which moving image screens shall infiltrate and dominate our theatres, our schools and our homes, whence they shall astound our senses and numb our hearts. We shall find no wonder except in representation and no love but for idealized images of the human form. The fine arts shall subsist in its employ and forget the great responsibility that was once theirs: to lift men and women's focus up and out of their own petty fears, fancies and predelictions to regard our common human dilemma.”
A rift within the movement opened up c. 1922 with the rise of the radical PHOTOREALIST faction, whose opposition was confined to the use of special effects in film. Their violent protests outside the premier of CECIL B. DEMILLE’s King of Kings (1927) against the multiple exposure sequences employed in the film to depict Christ’s miracles incurred the reprobation of the Los Angeles Police Department and an investigation into the group’s activities soon followed. Several allegations against the group were made in the press but no formal charges were brought. In particular it was alleged that the group’s young leader, JANE RIKOWSKI, had murdered her father, Vaudeville entertainer and proto-film producer, WILLY BANKS. Industry legend has it that she sought to avenge the murder of her mother, Bridget BANKS, nee Belia Rikowski, by boiling him alive in oil, melting the corpse down and making film stock out of it. At the launch of the PHOTOREALIST MANIFESTO in Dublin, 1923, Jane Rikowski announced that the group’s principles represented “the negative of [my] Father’s body of work” and proceeded to screen a SCRATCH FILM onto which she had etched the words of the manifesto. The film makes several references to Banks’s STOP TRICK film The Magician’s Breakfast (1912) a “repugnant and infantile distortion of reality, the bad seed that preceded the current crop of monstrous spectacles.” The words “Die Magician Die” appear overtly at regular intervals, interrupting the flow of polemical text. Recent soft acid tests have revealed a constant subliminal refrain running the entire length of the film: “Who’s that sitting in Mummy’s chair?” The source(s) of the fats, oils and petrochemicals used to create the film stock itself have yet to be identified.

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