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#2397: film minister (fwd)
From: David x Young <Frelgo@interport.net>
I feel I should address the generous offer of a position of Film
Minister in that curious off-campus government.
My first act would be to ban Wes Craven under the penalty of Doc
torture from ever returning to Haiti for that piece of cinematic
excrescence that almost destroyed a wonderful book THE SERPENT AND THE
RAINBOW. Craven's raw-head-and-bloody-bones approach to filmaking
hardly earns him the position of a "master " when you consider the
subtle works of a James Whale or a Val Lewton, just to mention a pair of
alternatives. (and Lewton's I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE--- despite the
dreadful title-- made sixty years ago--- still has the fairest depiction
of Vodun ever to come from Hollywood).
SERPENT, Zombie drug inquiry aside, has a historical section that is
one of the best pieces of scholarly research in recent writings, and
certainly should be required reading for anyone in the UN or US State
Department. That the Craven film turned off potential readers for this
book is an utter disgrace.
There is something utterly unique, magical and majestic (not to be
found elsewhere in the Caribbean) about the raw phenomenon of Haiti that
seems to get lost under the weight of do-gooder trivia and "Democracy"
posturing in the recent years since 1986 when the world began to pay
attention. To get clear on this you have to go to the great masterpiece
of Alejo Carpentier's , THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD. (what a film that
could be in the right hands! In the early sixties I tried to get the
film rights--- which could have been had for about $40,000--- but never
could raise the scratch).
An equal masterpiece--of a more intimate nature-- is the Marcelin
Brothers' ALL MEN ARE MAD. For anyone who is puzzled by the Quixotic
nature of Haitian politics (beyond the greed factor) this book is a
must-read. No less a literary icon than Edmund Wilson called it a 'most
distinguished work of literature'. These two works stride easily over
the Danticats , etcetera, of current fashionability.
In 1986, thanks to then Tourist Director Aubelin Jolicoeur, I came to
Haiti to shoot a lot of stuff in that peaceful and optimistic post Baby
Doc-preNamphy nasties period in the spring and summer. Unfortunately
Aubelin got dechoukeed and fortunately I ended up with a lot of
interesting footage, which, $$ permitting, I shall soon turn into a
film. Another documentary, shot 1956-1969 is SEVEN HAITIAN MOODS.
If anyone's curiosity is whetted, a taste of work of mine from 1955 re
Haiti is on the website www.bluuchip.com and related information on
CNN&TIME this sunday Feb 20 at 9pm.
Other works include three screenplays; THE UNEXPECTED ZOMBI (fiction)
CHRISTOPHE KING (historical work-in-progress) begun under the
inspiration of Walky Busenius and Theo Duval, and RWACONGO, based on
the true story of Faustin Wirkus, "The White King Of La Gonave". Here we
have a 'benevolent dictator' par excellence. Marine Wirkus was an
uneducated stud of a good man who had the hip sense to recognize the
intelligence of the rural Congo Farm societies of La Gonave and used his
office to enhance and better them. In reward the societies, under a very
wise Mambo, persuaded him as the reincarnation of Souloque and made him
the 'Congo King'. This almost magical harmony of alien approaches is in
itself a great love story and the best example of American aid ever to
come to Haiti. But even the great god Demme was too square to pick up on
I now resign my position as Minister of Film.
David X Young