Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chaotic Bodies: The Firemen's Ball Beauty Pageant (part 1)

In The Firemen's Ball, Miloš Forman makes extensive use of a very crowded mise en scène in order to make his points about the absurdity and chaos of collective action in socialist societies. His frames are frequently packed with people, often moving rapidly and creating chaotic compositions that reveal isolated body parts and motion-blurred imagery. And yet, although Forman is attempting to capture the sense of chaos, his compositions still have a certain formal logic to them that defies their snatched-on-the-fly quality. This is especially true in the film's sublime beauty pageant sequence, a hilarious set-up in which the contestants all flee while the men in the audience attempt to capture them and, eventually, begin dragging entirely unrelated women on stage as well. This scene is particularly well structured despite its chaotic appearance, and Forman's formal and thematic concerns show through even in the most seemingly tossed-off visuals from this sequence.

Continue reading at the Film of the Month Club


Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

I submitted a detailed comment to your fascinating post over at the FOTM Club site, but so far, nobody seems to be home to post it. I'm really very disenchanted. Why start something in May if you know your members (mostly academics) are taking the summer off? This film and The Golden Chance deserved better.

Ed Howard said...

Yea, I'm with you on that (though I didn't realize comments had to be moderated at FOTM, I think that's a recent change, and for the worse too). I've been thinking of e-mailing Chris to ask him to rethink some of the organization in the club -- especially setting up an email list for participants and announcing films far in advance so people have a chance to keep up. It'd be nice to know now what the films will be for the next few months at least. It's hard to get a discussion going in just a few weeks, especially if part of that time involves waiting for rentals and online DVD orders to show up. Anyway, I look forward to continuing the conversation once your comment is posted.

Anonymous said...

I think you should do it. You can say I agree with you if you want some solidarity. I'm just not sure he's around. I sent him an e-mail this morning and so far, no reply updates to the site.