Skip to main content

The Knight



* Francisco de Goya, Tio Paquete (1820)

(If the object of search is a laughing face, what conjures up immediately is a series of grinning, genial aristocrats’ portraiture produced by Frans Hals. It takes rather a deviated scrutiny if one stretched so much to point out any maliciousness within Hals’ artless faces, but there are those faces that seem to command all the evil spirits the instance you see them. Goya’s is such a face. What enhances the painting’s threatening danger is the presumably deliberate hollowed-out of the eyes and the seemingly bottomless mouth. Lacking of any manifold colours can be an oppressive effect to the viewer, and everything can suddenly seem all-encompassingly menacing.)


It would be a comforting wonder if everyone was an actor in his play; to treat the stage of world all his dialogues were reduced to what was written in the book, and some cues were needed before he uttered. Within that roughly-fabricated image do we miss the audience? Fortunately the play proceeds on unaware of its spectators; we can judge and scrutinize the whole thing at ease, for the actors are ever-oblivious of our hovering presence. And thus we witness at the outset a man traipsing along an empty street. Partially visible to us is his face displaying his vain defense from age and bitter inclemency; astonished we are when almost piercing us through are shots of angry flames initiated from the man’s dignified gaze. A noble man on his furtive flee.

Whatever affairs so hasty and glorious that propel him to abandon the town he devotes not only his physical loyalty but age-old love? There are times when the rusty smell emanated from the house incites no longer a feeling of reassuring warmth, instead, a formidable desire of apocalyptic destruction slowly forms within him. The house is no sooner infested with portions of murderous fantasy, and the pungency of smell gradually seeps into his uncorrupted vein. Others wake up to the sun of new hope and lifted mood, the sun however is imbued with malicious red in his witness, and he declares to hear the badgering trumpet prompting every sleepy soldier to gear up and fight. While he strikes up his sword and slays whatever pricks his suspicion, people mock the ludicrous performance as such and still cannot stop marveling at the fleet of his sanity. A crudely-feigned shadowboxing it might appear to his worrying peers when yet another day havocs wreaked all due to his relentless sword, but it enters his notion that the place is virtually inhabited by enemies. Every corner he turns the foe will be right before him; the menacing hot breath blows cold on his undaunted face. Anytime the candlelit untimely flickers, his shadow coruscatingly defies its duplication.

It is thus his duty to leave everything to shatters and sheds. Such determination needs little for any deity to make sturdy; harbours in his hardened heart for long, hatreds and resentments blend in unaccountably. He bids the unspecified others to summon clouds of all-encompassing fogs- a perfect setting an unapologetic undertaking. It is always the moment the heart throbs the most fervent that it subjects hopelessly and inexplicably to something the faintest. The delicate face of her absorbing serenely in her slumber bewitches him. Under the undiluted moonlit he lets his finger waltz down the toothless outline of her face. Without a moment of hesitance but surely with much sighs and moans, all schemes draw to a halt.

Plunging into the pitch of dark we see him sweep by, leaving a town ordained to be in tatters in the wake of his looming shadow, and recompenses such resentful failure with a soft target of next. We all credit him with the most cordial standing ovation when the last sight of his fleeting motion escapes our persistent gaze. Passion and staunch reverence tumble in our blood, already rendered hot as the play progresses. Not a born killer but a predestined one he was, an irreversible character he is eternally affixed, and the imminent days of glory he is thus doomed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Honore Daumier

“If you shut up truth and bury it under ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”- Émile Zola
Exited HonorĂ© Victorin Daumier, 10 February 1879, in an impoverishment that many of his contemporaries, especially his foes, would have thought was his long overdue retribution- the painter was blind, heavily in debt, and later relegated to a pauper’s grave. His friends, upon visiting his resting place, would, I imagine, see it a chance to admonish their children: “Now that’s a lesson for you cheeky devils whose tongues rattle off things that should better stay unspoken.” But Daumier devoted his life in revealing those “unspoken things.” His lithography ink proved sharper than most writers’ pens. He vented his rage and stigmatised others’ infamy in his satirical and, oftentimes, side-splitting cartoons. The tone was relentlessly acerbic but only because Daumier was exposing truths that, in the time…

Review: Late Spring (1949)

As a storyteller, Yasujiro Ozu insists on an implausibly objective stance that refrains from direct commentary or criticism; his camera customarily assumes the role of a detached observer, to whom the characters in the film, staring or talking straight to the camera, occasionally address, with an intimacy akin to that between a host and his guest, a closeness that is underpinned by a mutual recognition of the psychological distance that separates the two. The audience, whose perspective, in this case, conflates the camera’s (the director’s), an invisible character’s in the film (to whom the other characters address) and their own, is thus situated amidst this spatial complexity which, as a rule, every work of art necessarily creates.
In Late Spring (1948), the camera serves in part as an underlying comment to the story, which is noted by its economy of details. A prolonged shot of a departing train, on which the father and daughter travel to the city for a one-day excursion, prefigures…

Review: Breathless (1960)

Jean Luc Godard’s first feature feels oddly like a swansong: in many respects the film seems a self-mockery of what it ostensibly celebrates – the new, the bold, the reckless; the 60s zeitgeist that resurrects the anguished ghosts of the 1920s, who, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald, grow up to “find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faith in man shaken.” For the children of the ‘60s, their wars are of a kind in which the opponents constantly change roles: sometimes they are the unmerciful authorities bent on making miserable lives out of their inferiors; in other times they are the society at large, weeding out in its insidious and devious way the errant law-breakers. They all seem to be donning the same masks, through which the warriors recognise themselves.
This fight with one’s inner demon necessarily evokes concerns of mortality and death - timeless concerns that acquire an added pungency in the 1960s: would a dangerous, unheeding spell of hedonism finally defy life’s incontrove…