a little east of reality

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

speak to me in the language of molière

Last night I watched Molière. (Yes, I do sometimes follow up a movie in the cinema with a DVD at home. Because I can.) It's made me want to read/watch/find out more about his plays, mainly because of the implication in the movie that he reinterpreted comedy (of the time) to transform it from mere farce to something that exposed the tragedy of life and allowed people to laugh in spite of it. This is such an important element of good comedy plays/movies today that it intrigues me, the idea of who did it first and how they did it.

It's like when I found out that I Love Lucy was the first American sitcom. It was the first time I'd ever considered that (of course...duh!) someone had to have done this first. When something becomes so mainstream, it's easy to forget that someone pioneered it. I remember a friend saying that she didn't enjoy reading Tolkien because he seemed so derivative (not realising at the time that all the other similar fantasy she'd read was actually derivative of him (not that he didn't borrow from older mythologies, but still...).

I felt the same when I saw a (wonderful) Vivienne Westwood exhibition a few years ago. The first section was all punk fashion and it looked so genuine, but also so typical...until it suddenly dawned on me that she was designing these clothes when nothing else like it existed. Her clothes reflected a sentiment, eventually a movement, represented in emerging music at the time, but not yet captured in fashion. The wearers, who nowadays would barely rate a stare from passersby, were often threatened in public. Train guards sometimes had to protect punks from being bashed on public trains. Imagine that scenario now! But punk (music, later fashion) represented not only rebellion against conformity, but a sharp, critical honesty that people resented about UK society at that time.

So interesting, too, this relationship between music and fashion. I was explaining grunge fashion to Keyboard Kid the other night (he's so young! Imagine being so young that you don't know what grunge is...freaks me out), not only what it was, but how it grew initially out of the desire of bands in the Seattle music scene to return something more real and honest and unprettied (music-wise) after the synthetic, over-synthesised glam of the 80s. The clothes didn't represent that (initially) but was just what the bands wore because it was cheap and easy and they were more focussed on the music. It's almost ironic that it became a fashion in the first place.

I had an idea recently for a novel, something I haven't seen anywhere else. I have no doubt that someone else has probably done it before, but it's such an intriguing daydream, to picture sending something to a publisher that is entirely new to them. Entirely new and intriguing.

Which brings me back to Molière. Lovely film if you're in the mood for reading subtitles ~ funny, poignant, occasionally heart-wrenching. But mostly funny.

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