Engulfed by Nature: Psychological and Supernatural Landscapes

Date(s) - Thu. May. 14, 2015
7:00 pm GMT - 10:00 pm GMT

The Horse Hospital

Jasper Sharp

£10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs

TICKETS: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/315971

‘There is magic all around us’, Udo Kier famously states at a key point in Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), a sentiment reiterated by one of the characters in Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil (1992), which sees its protagonists drawn out of their mundane suburban environment in small-town South Africa into the heart of the Namib desert to be confronted by their darkest demons.

Stanley’s film in particular presents a sublime example of how landscape and elemental conditions can be evoked to express dangerous forces existing beyond man’s perceptual and belief systems, but also, in contrast, how heightened psychological states can be given visual form through use of such timeless spaces, taking the viewer out of their comfort zones and back into nature at its most wild, mysterious and untamed.

In an ever-urbanising world, the textures, rhythms and sounds of nature can be made to seem increasingly alien and alienating on film, making us realize we are but a small part of a wider world beyond our control. Works ranging from Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964) through José Larraz’s Symptoms (1974) and Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout (1978) reframe our perceptions, interrogating the boundaries between the physiological and the supernatural, as interior worlds collapse beneath the weight of exterior ones.

This lecture and screening by Jasper Sharp will look at how such mysterious invisible forces of nature are given vent in a number of films depicting the rupture between these rational and irrational domains. It will explore how pantheistic belief systems that hold that spirits reside in everything, such as Japan’s Shinto religion, overlap with a British folk tradition of supernatural writers such as Arthur Machen and William Hope Hodgson, and how foreign directors often have a keener, more nuanced eye for the expressive potential of the English landscape to portray characters off-kilter with their environment.