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2021-09-30 18:21:05 (UTC)

Malina (special interest infodump)

"Around me, the angels lose their wings, they bare me as they bare the sick to heaven. In a year or two, I'll return to the same spot, to confuse the place, the time, to confuse you, and me, and others."

On my first watch of Malina, I closed it about a third of the way through, because I was bored and I might've only had a week of MUBI subscription to go. I wanted to spend my focus on queer films, or nazisploitation.

But I kept thinking about it. I struggled to remember the name (because it's a person's name, which I'm terrible at remembering) but I found it and read up on what it was actually supposed to be about. I wanted to see how it ended.

Found a stream for the first half of the film, which was frustrating. But then MUBI did that £1 for 3 months thing, which is awesome, and finally watched it all the way through. I've watched it all the way through 3 times now, and each time I notice something I didn't before.

I intend to commit the film to memory so that I can watch it without subtitles. And to read the book, so I can understand it better.

Today I learned that the book it's based on was the only novel ever finished by Ingeborg Bachmann, and the screenplay was adapted by someone who knew the writer personally. Bachmann wrote radio dramas too! She could've made it a screenplay. If she was inclined to the visual aspect, I suppose. But perhaps the idea of seeing (or hearing) something so deeply personal with another person acting it out, felt like too much.

Of course 'Malina' struck a chord with me (or "it vibed" with me,) am I not doing almost the same thing as Bachmann did, with these public entries? The protagonist is also a writer, and it's so melodramatic and densely impressionistic. It could only be autobiographical, at least to some degree.

It openly expresses a shame I have, in that she depends on the men in her life for emotional support, even to keep track of that's real. I think it also touches on the key argument that Catherine MacKinnon made when she said ”All Sex [between men and women] Is Rape", especially if you see fascism as a patriarchal construct. (Yes, this here tranny is saying that a radical "feminist" had a point, like broken clocks often do.) The protagonist NEEDS men, or to be a man, for protection under the fascist patriarchy.

She's deeply traumatised by men and yet needs them. Needs Ivan in such a profoundly all-consuming way that she cannot seem to get anyone to empathise with, and, like Ivan says, "The world has problems" and "If you're not happy, you'll never write anything good." Out of shame, she can only conceive of showing her feelings to the world posthumously. I get that too. I think that aspect must be what stuck it in my mind, because it's so relateable and I'd never seen it portrayed like that before, that inability to tell anyone how they really feel about someone and how it makes one turn to self-destruction.
She tries her best to tell Ivan and he remains aloof. Even though he's evidently attracted to her, it can never be what she wants it to be.

I don't relate to how he treats her with what seems almost like contempt, like she's a fussy child and he's tired... Maybe I just read it as contempt? It's hard to say because it's so much from the protagonist's PoV. And the contempt isn't always there; he's playful at times, and he does care in his aloof way. The scene with the pen-knife that he uses to fix the radio seems to suggest he's more concerned than he let's on.

I thought Ivan's face didn't change expression all through the film, but I think what confused me was that, in that particular scene, he has the same smouldering smirk as he did when we first see him; but today I noticed that at the end of that pen-knife scene, he holds tension in his lips.

Of course this is one of my favourite films. And isn't art a wonderful thing? To make things whether or not they're made to be widely liked or commercially successful, but to create a common language, a major representation, of specific personal experiences. It's comforting. Even if never find anyone who feels the same way about this story as I do, at least I know they're out there.

Plus the ending BEGS to be made into a "This is fine." meme but I can't take screenshots of anything on MUBI, alas. How dare they have anti-piracy in place, honestly lol


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