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Let us suppose an ideal state which would be the perfect, completed crystal. Ophiils's images are perfect crystals. Their facets are oblique mirrors, as in Madame de . . . And the mirrors are not content with reflecting the actual image, but constitute the prism, the lens where the split image constantly runs after itself to connect up with itself, as on the circus-track in Lola Montez. On the track or in the crystal, the imprisoned characters bustle, acting and acted on, a bit like Raymond Roussel's heroes exercising their prowess at the heart of a diamond or a glass cage, under an iridescent light (The Tender Enemy). One can only just turn in the crystal: hence the round of episodes, and also of colours (Lola Montez), of waltzes and also of earrings (Madame de .. .), of the master of ceremonies' visions in the round in La ronde. Crystalline perfection lets no outside subsist: there is no outside of the mirror or the film set, but only an obverse where the characters who disappear or die go, abandoned by life which thrusts itself back into the film set. In House of Pleasure, the tearing-off of the old dancer's mask reveals no outside but an obverse which sends and guides the busy doctor back to the ball.2'1 And, even in his tender and familiar asides, the pitiless M. Loyal in Lola Montez keeps on thrusting the failing heroine back on the stage. I f we consider the relations between theatre and cinema in general, we no longer find ourselves in the classical situation where the two arts are two different ways of actualizing the same virtual image, but neither do we find ourselves in the situation of a 'montage of attraction', where a theatrical spectacle (or a circus, etc.), being filmed, itself P'ays the role of a virtual image which would serve to extend the actual images by succeeding them for a time, during a sequence. Lhe situation is quite different: the actual image and the virtual image coexist and crystallize; they enter into a circuit which brings us constantly back from one to the other; they form one and the same 'scene' where the characters belong to the real and yet play a role. In short, it is the whole of the real, life in its entirety, which has become spectacle, in accordance with the demands of a pure optical and sound perception. The scene, then, is not restricted to providing a sequence but becomes the cinematographic unity which replaces the shot or itself constitutes a sequence shot. It is a properly cinematographic theatricality, the 'excess of theatricality' that Bazin spoke of, and that only cinema can give to theatre.

Its origin would perhaps be Tod Browning's masterpieces. At any event, Ophuls's monsters do not really need a monstrous appearance. They pursue their round in frozen and iced images. And what do we see in the perfect crystal? Time, but time which has already rolled up, rounded itself, at the same time as it was splitting. Lola Montez can include flashbacks: the film would be enough to confirm, if it were necessary, the degree to which the flashback is a secondary procedure whose value arises only from serving a deeper move. For what counts is not the link between the actual and miserable present (the circus) and the recollection-image of former magnificent presents. The evocation is certainly there; but what it reveals at a deeper level is the dividing in two of time, which makes all the presents pass and makes them tend towards the circus as if towards their future, but also preserves all the pasts and puts them into the circus as so many virtual images in pure recollections. Lola Montez herself experiences the vertigo of this dividing in two when, drunk and feverish, she is about to throw herself from the top of the marquee into the tiny net which is waiting for her below: the whole scene is seen as in the lens of the pen-holder dear to Raymond Roussel. The dividing in two, the differentiation of the two images, actual and virtual, does not go to the limit, because the resulting circuit repeatedly takes us back from one kind to the other. There is only a vertigo, an oscillation.

In Renoir too, from The Little Match-Girl where the Christmas tree appears adorned with crystals, automata and living beings, objects and reflections enter into a circuit of coexistence and exchange which constitutes a 'theatricality in the pure state'. And it is in The Golden Coach that this coexistence and exchange will be taken to their highest point, with the two sides of the camera or the image, the actual image and the virtual image. But what are we to say when the image ceases to be flat or double-faced, and depth of field adds a third side to it? It is depth of field, for example in La regie du jeu, which ensures a nesting of frames, a waterfall of mirrors, a system of rhymes between masters and valets, living beings and automata, theatre and reality, actual and virtual. It is depth of field which substitutes the scene for the shot. We will be all the more hesitant to give it the role intended by Bazin, namely a pure function of reality. The function of depth is rather to constitute the image in crystal, and to absorb the real which thus passes as much into the virtual as into the actual.27 There is, however, a great difference between the crystals of Renoir and those of Ophiils. In Renoir, the crystal is never pure and perfect; it has a failing, a point of flight, a 'flaw'. It is always cracked. And this is what depth of field reveals: there is not simply a rolling-up of a round in the crystal; something is going to slip away in the background, in depth, through the third side or third dimension, through the crack. This was already true of the mirror in the flat image, as in The Golden Coach, but it was less visible, whilst depth makes it clear that the crystal is there so something can escape in it, in the background, through the background. La règle du jeu produces a coexistence of the actual image of men and the virtual image of beasts, the actual image of living beings and the virtual image of automata, the actual image of characters and the virtual image of their roles during the party, the actual image of the masters <nd their virtual image in the servants, the actual image of the servants and their virtual image in the masters. Everything is mirror-images, distributed in depth. But depth of field always arranges a background in the circuit through which something can flee: the crack. It is interesting that a number of answers have been given to the question, who does not play the rules of the game? Truffaut, for instance, says that it is the airman. Yet the airman remains locked into the crystal, prisoner of his role, and hides when the woman proposes that he should escape with her. As Bamberger observed, the only character who is out of line [hors règle], not allowed in the château and yet Ijelonging to it, neither outside nor inside, but always in the background, is the gamekeeper, the only person who does not have a double or reflection. Bursting in, despite the prohibition, jn pursuit of the poaching valet, mistakenly killing the airman, he •s the one who breaks the circuit, who shatters the cracked crystal with rifle shots and causes its contents to escape.

I xi règle du jeu is one of Renoir's finest films, but it does not give us the key to the others. For it is pessimistic, and proceeds by violence. And it does violence first of all to Renoir's complete idea. 1 ''is complete idea is that the crystal or the scene is not restricted to putting into circuit the actual image and the virtual image, and absorbing the real into a generalized theatre. Without recourse to violence, and through the development of an experimentation, something will come out of the crystal, a new Real will come out beyond the actual and virtual. Everything happens as if the circuit served to try out roles, as if roles were being tried in it until the right one were found, the one with which we escape to enter a clarified reality. In short, the circuit, the round, are not closed because they are selective, and produce a winner each time. Renoir has sometimes been criticized for his taste for the makeshift and improvisation, both in his direction in general, and in his directing of the actors. This is in fact a creative virtue, linked to the substitution of the scene for the shot. According to Renoir, theatre is inseparable - for both characters and actors - from the enterprise of experimenting with and selecting roles, until you find the one which goes beyond theatre and enters life.28 In his pessimistic moments, Renoir is doubtful that there can be a winner: in that case there are only the keeper's shots which make the crystal explode, as in La règle du jeu, or the turbulence of the river swollen by the storm and stung by the rain in A Day in the Country. But, following his temperament, Renoir bets on a win: something takes shape inside the crystal which will succeed in leaving through the crack and spreading freely. This was already the case with Boudu, who rediscovers the thread of water when he comes out of the intimate, closed-in theatre of the bookshop where he has tried many roles. It will be the case with Harriet in the grandiose film The River, where the children, sheltered in a kind of crystal or Hindu pavilion, try roles, some of which take a tragic turn, as a result of which the younger brother dies tragically, but in which the girl will serve her apprenticeship, until she finds in it the powerful will for life which becomes identified with the river and joins it again on the outside. A film strangely close to Lawrence. For Renoir, theatre is primary, but because life must emerge from it. Theatre is valuable only as a search for an art of living; this is what the disparate couple in Little Theatre learn. 'Where then, does theatre finish and life begin?' remains the question always asked by Renoir. We are born in a crystal, but the crystal retains only death, and life must come out of it, after trying itself out. Even as an adult, the teacher in Picnic on the Grass will experience this adventure. The wild dance at the end of French Cancan is not a round, a flowing-back of life into the circuit, into the theatrical scene, as in Ophüls, but, on the contrary, a allop, a means by which theatre opens into life, pours out into life carrying Nini along in a troubled stream. At the end of The Golden Coach, three characters will have found their living role, while Camilla will remain in the crystal, to try still other roles in it, one of which will perhaps make her discover the true Camilla.2"

This is why, although he fully shares the general taste of the French school for water, Renoir makes such a special use of it. There are, according to him, two states of water, the frozen water of the glass pane, the flat mirror, or the deep crystal, and the fast, flowing water (or the wind, which plays the same role in Picnic on the Grass). Rather than being naturalism, this is much closer to Maupassant, who often sees things through a pane, before following their course on a river. In A Day in the Country it is through the window that the two men observe the family arriving, each of the two playing his role, one that of the cynic, the other that of the scrupulous sentimentalist. But, when the action develops on the river, the test of life causes the roles to be dropped, and shows a good sort in the cynic, while the sentimental one is revealed as an unscrupulous seducer.

What we see through the pane or in the crystal is time, in its double movement of making presents pass, replacing one by the next while going towards the future, but also of preserving all the past, dropping it into an obscure depth. This dividing in two, this differentiation, did not achieve completion in Ophiils because time rolled itself up, and its two aspects relaunched themselves into the circuit whose poles they recharged while blocking up the future. Now, in contrast, the dividing in two can come to completion, but precisely on condition that one of the two tendencies leaves the crystal, through the point of flight. From the indiscernibility of the actual and the virtual, a new distinction must emerge, like a new reality which was not pre-existent. Everything that has happened falls back into the crystal and stays there: this is all the frozen, fixed, finished-with and over-conforming roles that the characters have tried in turn, dead roles or roles of death, the macabre dance of recollections that Bergson speaks of, as in the château in La règle du jeu or the fortress in Grand Illusion. Some of these roles may be heroic, like •he two enemy officers in pursuit of rites which are already outmoded, or charming, like the test of first love: they are none ^e less condemned, because already destined for recollection. And yet the trying out of roles is indispensable. It is indispensable s° that the other tendency, that of presents which pass and are replaced, emerges from the scene and launches itself towards a future, creates this future as a bursting forth of life. The two fugitives will be saved by the sacrifice of the other. Harriet will be saved because she will be able to renounce the role of her first love. Saved from the waters, Boudu will also be saved by the waters, abandoning the successive roles granted him by the too intimate dreams of the bookshop and his wife. One leaves the theatre to get to life, but one leaves it imperceptibly, on the thread of the stream, that is, of time. It is by leaving it that time gives itself a future. Hence the importance of the question: where does life begin? Time in the crystal is differentiated into two movements, but one of them takes charge of the future and freedom, provided that it leaves the crystal. Then the real will be created; at the same time as it escapes the eternal referral back of the actual and the virtual, the present and the past. When Sartre criticized Welles (and Citizen Kane) for having reconstituted time on the basis of the past, instead of understanding it in terms of a dimension of the future, he was perhaps unaware that the film-maker closest to his wishes was Renoir. It was Renoir who had a lively awareness of the identity of freedom with a collective or individual future, with a leap towards the future, an opening of the future. This is even Renoir's political consciousness, the way in which he conceives the French Revolution or the Popular Front.

There is perhaps yet a third state: the crystal caught in its formation and growth, related to the 'seeds' which make it up. In fact there is never a completed crystal; each crystal is infinite by right, in the process of being made, and is made with a seed which incorporates the environment and forces it to crystallize. The question is no longer that of knowing what comes out of the crystal and how, but, on the contrary, how to get into it. For each entrance is itself a crystalline seed, a component element. We recognize the method that will be increasingly adopted by Fellini. He began with films of wandering, which relaxed the sensory-motor connections, and made pure sound-and-optical images rise up - photo-novel, investigation-photo, music-hall, party. But the concerns were still those of escaping, leaving and going away. He became increasingly concerned with entering into a new element, and multiplying the entrances. There are geographical entrances, psychic ones, historical, archaelogical, etc: all the entrances into Rome, or into the world of clowns. Sometimes an entrance is explicitly double; thus the crossing of the Rubicon in fellini's Roma is a historical evocation, but a comical one, through the intermediary of a school memory. One could, for example, make a count of these entrances as so many types of image in 8V2: the childhood recollection, the nightmare, the distraction, the dreaming, the fantasy, the feeling of already having been there.*" Hence the honeycomb-presentation, the cubicled images, the huts, niches, cabins and windows which mark Satyricon, Juliet of the Spirits, and City of Women. Two things happen at once. On the one hand, purely optical and sound-images crystallize: they attract their contents, make them crystallize and compose them from an actual image and its virtual image, its mirror-image. These are so many seeds or entrances: in Fellini, numbers and amusements have replaced the scene, and made the depth of field redundant. But, on the other hand, by entering into coalescence the images constitute one and the same crystal in the course of infinite growth. For the crystal as a whole is only the ordered set of its seeds or the transversal of all its entrances.

Fellini has fully grasped the economic principle which says that only admission [entree] pays. The only unity of Rome is that of the spectacle which connects all its entrances. The spectacle becomes universal, and keeps on growing, precisely because it has no object other than entrances into the spectacle, which are so many seeds in this respect. Amengual has given a profound definition of this originality of spectacle in Fellini, with no distinction between watching and watched, without spectators, without exit, without wings or stage: less a theatre than a kind of giant Luna Park, where movement, which has become movement of world, makes us pass from one shop-window to another, from one entrance to another through all the cubicles.*' Thus, we can see from this the difference between Fellini and Renoir or Ophiils: Fellini's crystal does not include any crack through which we could, we should, leave to reach life; but neither has it the perfection of an established and cut crystal which would hold life to freeze it. It is a crystal which is always in the process of formation, expansion, which makes everything it touches crystalline, and to which its seeds give a capacity for indefinite growth. It ls life as spectacle, and yet in its spontaneity.

Does this mean that all entrances are equal? Yes, certainly, in so far as they are seeds. Of course seeds maintain the distinction that there was between the types of sound and optical images that they make crystallize - perceptions, recollections, dreams, fanta-Sles ■ • • But these distinctions become indiscernible, because there is a homogeneity of seed and crystal, the whole of the latter being no more than a greater seed in the process of growth. But other differences are introduced, in so far as the crystal is an ordered set: certain seeds abort and others are successful; certain entrances open while others close again, as in the frescoes of Rome which turn blank on being looked at and become opaque. It is not possible to predict this, even if one has premonitions; nevertheless, a selection is made (although in a completely different way from in Renoir). Let us take the entrances or successive seeds in one of Fellini's masterpieces, The Clowns. The first, as often in Fellini, is the childhood memory; but it will crystallize with impressions of nightmare and poverty (the imbecile clown). The second entrance is the historical and sociological investigation with an interview of clowns: the clowns and the filmed locations enter into resonance with the crew in process of filming, and form another impasse. The third, the worst, is more archaeological, in the television archives. At least, it persuades us, at this point in our classification, that the imaginary counts for more than the archive (only the imaginary can develop the seed). Then the fourth entrance is kinesthic: but it is not a movement-image which represents a circus spectacle, it is a mirror-image which represents a movement of world, a depersonalized movement, and reflects the death of the circus in the death of the clown. It is the hallucinatory perception of the clown's death, the funeral gallop ('faster, faster') where the funeral carriage is transformed into a champagne bottle from which the clown pops. And this fourth entrance is in turn replugged, in the emptiness and silence, like at the end of a party. But an old clown, left behind at the fourth entrance (he was out of breath, the movement was going too fast), is going to open a fifth, purely of sound and music: with his trumpet he invoked his vanished companion, and the other trumpet replied. Across death it was like a 'beginning of world', a sound-crystal, the two trumpets each alone, and yet each a mirror, an echo . .

The organization of the crystal is bipolar, or rather two-sided. In surrounding the seed, it sometimes passes on an acceleration, a hurrying, sometimes a hopping or fragmenting, which will constitute the opaque side of the crystal; and sometimes it gives it a limpidity which is like the test of the eternal. On one side would be written 'Saved!', and on the other 'Doomed!', in an apocalyptic landscape like the desert in SatyriconBut we cannot tell in advance; an opaque side may even become limpid through

•-.perceptible transformation, and a limpid side be revealed as deceptive and become dark like Claudia in 8V2. Will everything be saved, as the final round in 8V2 leads us to believe, carrying along all the seeds around the white child? Will everything be lost, as in • he mechancial starts and funerary fragmentations which lead to the woman-automaton in Casanova? It is never wholly one or wholly the other, and the opaque side of the crystal, for instance, the ship of death on the sea of plastic in Amarcord, also points to the other side which extricates itself and does not die, whilst the limpid side, like the rocket of the future in 8'/2, waits for the seeds to come out of their honeycomb or their funerary haste to carry them off. In fact, the selection is so complex, and the imbrication so tight, that Fellini created a word, something like 'procadence', to indicate both the inexorable course of decadence and the possibility of freshness or creation which must accompany it (it is in this sense that he calls himself fully an 'accomplice' of decadence and ruination).

What we see in the crystal is always the bursting forth of life, of time, in its dividing in two or differentiation. However, in opposition to Renoir, not only does nothing leave the crystal -since it keeps on and on growing - but it is as if the signs of selection are reversed. In Fellini, it is the present, the parade of presents that pass, which constitutes the danse macabre. They run, but to the tomb, not towards the future. Fellini is the author who was able to produce the most prodigious galleries of monsters: a tracking shot surveys them, stopping at one or another, but they are always caught in the present, birds of prey disturbed by the camera, diving into it for a moment. Salvation can come only from the other side, from the side of the pasts which are preserved: there, a fixed shot isolates a character, takes him out of the line, and gives him, even if it is only for an instant, a chance which is in itself eternal, a virtuality which will be valid for ever even if it is not actualized. It is not that Fellini has a particular taste 'or memory and recollection-images: there is no cult of former presents in his work. It is in fact like in Péguy, where the horizontal succession of presents which pass outlines a route to death, whilst for every present there corresponds a vertical line which unites it at a deep level with its own past, as well as to the past of the other presents, constituting between them all one and [he same coexistence, one and the same contemporaneity, the 'n-ternal' [internet] rather than the eternal. It is not in the recollection-image but in pure recollection that we remain contemporary with the child that we were as the believer feels himself contemporary with Christ. The child in us, says Fellini, is contemporary with the adult, the old man and the adolescent. Thus it is that the past which is preserved takes on all the virtues of beginning and beginning again: it is what holds in its depths or in its sides the surge of the new reality, the bursting forth of life. One of the finest images in Amarcord shows the group of schoolboys, the timid one, the prankster, the dreamer, the good pupil, etc., who meet in front of the big hotel as soon as the season is over; and, while the snow crystals fall, each on his own and yet all of them together sketch a clumsy dance-step or an imitation of a musical instrument, one going in a straight line, another tracing circles, another turning round on the spot. .. There is in this image a science of precisely measured distance which separates each of them from the others, and yet an organization which connects them. They lodge themselves in a depth which is no longer that of memory, but that of a coexistence where we become their contemporaries, as they become the contemporaries of all the 'seasons' past and to come. The two aspects, the present that passes and goes to death, the past which is preserved and retains the seed of life, repeatedly interfere and cut into each other. It is the line of those taking the waters in a nightmare in 8V2, but interrupted by the dream-image of the luminous girl, the white nurse who gives out the tumblers. Whatever the speed or the slowness, the line, the tracking shot is a race, a cavalcade, a gallop. But safety comes from a ritornello which is placed or unrolls round a face, and extracts it from the line. La Strada was already the quest for the moment when the wandering ritornello could settle on the man who is finally at peace. And on whom will the ritornello place itself, calming the anxiety in 8V2, on Claudia, on the wife, or even on the mistress, or only on the white child, the internal [internet] or contemporary of all the pasts, who saves everything that can be saved?

The crystal-image is as much a matter of sound as it is optical, and Félix Guattari was right to define the crystal of time as being a 'ritornello' par excellence.*4 Or, perhaps, the melodic ritornello is only a musical component which contrasts and is mixed with another, rhythmic component: the gallop. The horse and the bird would be two great figures, one of which carries away and speeds up the other, but the other of which is reborn from itself up to the final destruction or extinction (in many dances, an accelerated gallop comes as the conclusion of figures of rounds).

The gallop and the ritornello are what we hear in the crystal, as the two dimensions of musical time, the one being the hastening of the presents which are passing, the other the raising or falling back of pasts which are preserved. Now, if we consider the problem of a specificity of cinema music, it seems to us that this specificity cannot simply be defined by a dialectic of the sound and the optical which would enter into a new synthesis (Eisen-stein, Adorno). Cinema music, through itself, tends towards releasing the ritornello and the gallop as two pure and self-sufficient elements, while many other components necessarily intervene in music in general, except in exceptional cases such as the Bolero. This is already true in the Western, where the little melodic phrase comes as the interruption of galloping rhythms (Blowing Wild by Zinnemann and Tiomkin); it is even more obvious in musical comedy, where ahe rhythmic stepping and walking, which is sometimes military even for the girls, come up against the melodic song. But the two elements are also combined as in Daybreak by Carné and Jaubert, where the basses and the percussion give the rhythm while the little flute launches the melody. In Gremillon, one of the cinema's most musician-like authors, the gallop of the farandoles returns us back to the repeat of the ritornellos, the two separated or brought together (Roland-Manuel). It is these tendencies that achieve perfect expression when the cinematographic image becomes crystal-image. In Ophiils, the two elements fuse in the identification of the round with the gallop, while in Renoir and Fellini they are distinct, one of them taking on to itself the force of life, the o.ther the power of death. But, for Renoir, the force of life is on the side of the presents which are launched towards the future, on the side of the gallop, whether this is that of the French cancan or the Marseillaise, whilst the ritornello has the melancholy of that which is already falling back into the past. For Fellini, it seems to he the opposite: the gallop accompanies the world which runs to its end, the earthquake, the incredible entropy, the hearse, but 'he ritornello immortalizes a beginning of world and removes it from passing time. The galloping of the circus clowns*5* and the ritornello of the ordinary clowns. Again things are never that stniple, and there is something unascribable in the distinction of ntornellos from gallops. It is this that makes the collaboration >etween Fellini and the musician Nino Rota extraordinary. At the end of Orchestra Rehearsals, we first hear the purest gallop from 'he violins, but a ritornello rises imperceptibly to succeed it, until the two intertwine with one another more and more closely, throttling themselves like wrestlers, lost-saved, lost-saved . .. The two musical movements become the object of the film, and time itself becomes a thing of sound.

The final state to be considered would be the crystal in the process of decomposition. The work of Visconti shows this. This work reached its perfection when Visconti was able both to distinguish and put into play, in varying combinations, four fundamental elements which haunted him. In the first place, the aristocratic world of the rich, the aristocratic former-rich: this is what is crystalline, but like a synthetic crystal, because it is outside history and nature, outside divine creation. The abbot in The Leopard will explain it: we do not understand these rich, because they have created a world to themselves, whose laws we are unable to grasp, and where what seems to us secondary or even inopportune takes on an extraordinary urgency and importance; their motives always escape us like rites whose religion is not known (as in the old prince who gets his country back and orders a picnic). This world is not that of the creative artist, even though Death in Venice presents a musician, but precisely one whose work has been too intellectual and cerebral. Nor is it a world of simple art enthusiasts. Rather, they are surrounded by art; they are profoundly 'knowledgeable about' art both as works and as life, but it is this knowledge which separates them from life and creation, as in the teacher in Conversation Piece. They demand freedom, but a freedom which they enjoy like an empty privilege which could come to them from elsewhere, from the forebears from whom they are descended, and from the art by which they are surrounded. Ludwig II wants 'to prove his freedom', whilst the true creator, Wagner, is of another race, much more prosaic and less abstract in reality. Ludwig II wants roles and more roles, like those that he tears from the exhausted actor. The king orders his deserted castles, as the prince his picnic, in a movement which empties art and life of all interiority. Visconti's genius culminates in the great scenes or 'compositions', often in red and gold: opera in Senso, reception rooms in The leopard, Munich castle in Ludwig, grand hotel rooms in Venice and music-room in The Innocent: crystalline images of an aristocratic world. But, in the second place, these crystalline environments are inseparable from a process of decomposition which eats away at them from within, and makes them dark and opaque: the rotting of Ludwig I Is teeth, family rot which takes over the teacher in Conversation Piece, the debasement of Ludwig II's love-affairs; and incest everywhere as in the Bavarian family, the return of Sandra, the abomination of The Damned-, everywhere the thirst for murder •tnd suicide, or the need for forgetting and death, as the old urince says on behalf of the whole of Sicily. It is not just that these aristocrats are on the brink of being ruined; the approaching ruin is only a consequence. For it is a vanished past, but one which survives in the artificial crystal, which is waiting for them, absorbing them and snapping them up, taking away all their power at the same time as they become lodged in it. Thus the famous tracking shot with which Sandra opens: this is not displacement in space but sinking into time without exit. Vis-conti's great compositions have a saturation which determines their darkening. Everything becomes confused, to the point of indiscernibility of the two women in The Innocent. In Ludwig, in The Damned, the crystal is inseparable from a process of making opaque which now makes triumphant the bluish, violet and sepulchral shades, those of the moon as twilight of the gods or lost kingdom of heroes (the sun-moon movement thus has a completely different value than in German expressionism, and especially in the French school).

The third element in Visconti is history. Because, of course, it doubles decomposition, accelerates or even explains it: wars, assumption of power by new forces, the rise of the new rich, who are not interested in penetrating the secret laws of the old world, but aim to make it disappear. However, history is not identical with the internal decomposition of the crystal; it is an autonomous factor which stands on its own, and to which Visconti sometimes dedicates marvellous images and sometimes grants a presence which is all the more intense for being elliptical and out-of-field. In Ludwig, very little history will be seen; we know about the horrors of war and Prussia's assumption of power only indirectly, all the more so, perhaps, because Ludwig II wants to know nothing about it. History growls at the door. In Senso, in contrast, history is present, with the Italian movement, the famous battle and the abrupt elimination of Garibaldi's sup-Porters; or, in The Damned, with the rise of Hitler, the organiz-a,lon of the SS, and the exterminations of the SA. But, present or out-of-field, history is never scenery. It is caught obliquely in a ow-angled perspective in a rising or setting ray, a kind of laser which comes and cuts into the crystal, disorganizes its substance, ■'stens its darkening and disperses its sides, under a pressure that is all the more powerful for being external, like the plague in Venice, or the silent arrival of the SS at dawn . ..

And then there is the fourth element, the most important in Visconti, because it ensures the unity and circulation of the others. This is the idea, or rather the revelation, that something arrives too late. Caught in time, this could perhaps have avoided the natural decomposition and historical dismantling of the crystal-image. But it is history, and nature itself, the structure of the crystal, which make it impossible for this to arrive in time. Already in Senso, the distraught lover cried 'Too late, too late', too late in relation to the history that divides us, but also because of our nature, as rotten in you as in me. The prince, in The Leopard, hears the 'too late' which spreads through the whole of Sicily: the island, whose sea Visconti never shows, is so completely embedded in the past of its nature and history that even the new regime will be powerless to do anything for it. 'Too late' will constantly be the rhythm of the images in Ludwig, because it is his fate. This something that comes too late is always the perceptual and sensual revelation of a unity of nature and man. Thus it is not a simple lack; it is the mode of being of this grandiose revelation. The 'too-late' is not an accident that takes place in time but a dimension of time itself. As a dimension of time, it is, through the crystal, the one which is opposed to the static dimension of the past as this survives and weighs in the interior of the crystal. It is a sublime clarity which is opposed to the opaque, but it has the property of arriving too late, dynamically. As perceptible revelation, the too-late is a matter of unity of nature and man, as world or milieu. But, as sensual revelation, the unity becomes personal. Thus the shattering revelation of the musician in Death in Venice, when through the young boy he has a vision of what has been lacking in his work: sensual beauty. It is the unbearable revelation of the teacher in Conversation Piece, when he discovers a petty criminal in the young man, his lover in nature and his son in culture. Already in Obsession, Visconti's first film, the possibility of homosexuality arose as the chance of salvation, of escaping from a stifling past, but too late. However, let us not think that homosexuality is Visconti's obsession. Amongst the finest of the The Leopard"s images is the one where the old prince, having given approval for the love-match between his nephew and the daughter of the nouveau riche, to save what can be saved, has a revelation in a dance with the girl: their glances embrace; they are for each other and at each other, while the nephew is pushed into the background, himself fascinated and nullified by the grandeur f this couple, but it is too late for the old man and the girl alike.

Visconti is not in control of the four elements right from the hpcinning of his work: often they are still difficult to distinguish, or encroach on each other. But Visconti is searching and has a foreboding. It has often been observed that the fishermen in The forth Trembles present a slowness, a hieratic quality which was the sign of a natural aristocracy, in contrast to the nouveaux riches; and, if the fishermen's attempt fails, it is not just because of the wholesalers, but because of the weight of an archaic past which ensures that their project is too late.*' Rocco himself is not just a 'saint'; he is an aristocrat by nature, in his family of poor peasants: but too late to come back to the village, because the city is already totally corrupt, because everything has become opaque and because history has already brought change to the village ... But it seems to us that it is in The Leopard that Visconti achieves complete control, as it were the harmony of his four elements. The searing too-late becomes as intense as the 'Nevermore' of Edgar Allan Poe; it also explains the direction Visconti would have been able to take in translating Proust." And Visconti's pleas cannot be reduced to his apparent aristocratic pessimism: the work of art will be made from this plea, as with the pain and suffering from which we make a statue. The too-late conditions the work of art, and conditions its success, since the perceptible and sensual unity of nature and man is the essence of art par excellence, in so far as it is characteristic of it to arrive too late in all other respects except precisely this one: time regained. As Baroncelli put it, the Beautiful truly becomes a dimension in Visconti; it 'plays the rple of the fourth dimension'.5*

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