Phantom Thread some years on

Started by Bleep, March 08, 2022, 12:28:53 AM

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Everything that happens in Phantom Thread takes place every day in the life of an artist : so to speak : one undifferentiated duration, sliced up any way you like it. PTA is close. As he himself says, we are all still learning.


Here on Xixax I once communicated a number of intricate linkages between PT's script and Shakespeare's plays, particularly Hamlet. Since these posts remain, no repetition of their content is here required.

But I have made a new discovery.

Back in the day, I contemplated the chilling depth of Alma's initial revelation : "Every piece of me."

Chilling, because "every piece" would, we must agree, encompass all that is bad in her as well as all that is good. Such is evoked in the all-inclusive word "every".

Now: in Hamlet (3.1), King Claudius, murderer of his brother, is informed that a play is scheduled for performance that very night in the palace; and the king is very happy to hear it.

First, this is the news he receives :

POLONIUS : "players  . . . are here . . . and have already order[ed] . . . to play tonight."

And POLONIUS continues : "Hamlet . . . beseech'd me to entreat your Majesties to hear and see the matter."

To all this, in its creepy truth, the king's response is very like Alma's :

KING: "With all my heart."

Why is this response by the king creepy? Because the performance of the players in their play will kindle in the king's heart all the horrible deeds he's done to his brother. Thus, King Claudius' cheery response, "With all my heart", is a creepy prolepsis, because the impromptu play will indeed encompass every piece of his heart—including all that is bad in there.

And this linguistic joke from the cleverest of authors is on the king himself.

And so it it that Hamlet the character, at one point, describes people in general : "Man delights not me."

Love, Scroobily.

Another link between PT(A) and Shakespeare, of which there are many.


Hi, folks.

In my short paper "First Thematic Lens Flare in Cinema History?" (2018), I examine the use of a rainbow-shaped flare in Eyes Wide Shut. The essay is available online, so no need to expand here.

Since EWS, I have seen two more uses of the Thematic Lens Flare.

Phantom Thread. In the second omelette scene we see the rainbow lens flare prominent in the frame as an omen of death.

Spielberg's West Side Story. When the lovers first meet, the film frame is ablaze with striking flares of a density and duration never before seen in a Spielberg movie. Then all lens flares virtually disappear for the rest of the film's running time. Then, near the end of the story, when one lover is searching for the other, and scans an empty street, all those lens flares from over an hour of running time earler return to fill the sky : a visual reminder of what is burning in the character's heart.

Extra : A new short fun YT composed of screenshots from classic films : how many can you name? I bet PTA could name them. 


Alma's "Let me drive" is powerfully reminiscent of Medea's appeal for "committe habenas, genitor" ("let me take the reins, father"; Seneca, 33), which, in both cases, leads to horror.

Best wishes.


On Jonny Greenwood's Score

When I recently heard the first few minutes of the score of PT, my mind almost melted from the genius. I didn't notice it at the time of first release, because Debussy got in the way. The first theme, yes, recalls Debussy : but the second theme (or bridge passage) recalls, very strongly, Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. Greenwood is a massive artist.


Another auditory sighting of "so and so" (in this instance, "those so and so's") :

Sunset Boulevard (1950) : a fitting conjunction, since this film concerns the early days of Hollywood.

Moreover, the angle of the shot of Cyril peering over a balcony down upon the woman wearing Woodcock's couture dress at a gala function, a set-up which originally recalled to me Rebecca (1940), also kinda recalls the angle of this shot (but reversed) from the climactic moments of Sunset Blvd :

Best wishes.