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Unhappiness Was My God
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
The films I make are easily misunderstood. “I move from realism to fantasy without the spectator ever noticing.” I drive a 1967 Rambler through the streets of Shimokitazawa, looking for landscapes to use for my films. So far, I have made three movies, and all of them have been pretty much accepted by the filmgoer. On the other hand, I don’t really care if they like them or not. I know shit. I just want to have fun, you know. “I like to take risks. My films never follow the current trend.” Perhaps that is the reason why I lost my audience.
My current film project is to do a film based on Arthur Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell,” starring the musician Ivo Pogorelić. It was a matter of entering Hell itself to get funding for the film, but due to the success of “Le Samourai,” I found backers from a small theater group in Shimokitazawa, who want to expand their theater into the cinema world. Besides having a great looking star, Ivo is also going to supply the soundtrack, which will be mostly music by Chopin. The producers (the theater people) want to change the title to “Unhappiness Was My God.” To me, it sounds a touch pretentious, mostly due that I like crime films, with their short to the point titles. Some say poetry is cinema, but I find it to be more suitable for the pulp crime narrative. So in my script, I have changed Rimbaud’s poetic prose into hard-boiled dialogue. It should work, especially coming from Ivo’s mouth.
The beauty of this project is the fact that it will be my last film. One reason why I’m attached to “A Season in Hell” is because it was Rimbaud’s last book. Doing art is a bit like a slow death. I can stall the mortal moment when the end comes, by doing more work, but I think to have a small number of films under my name, will serve my purpose, artistically and financially in the long (short) run. By being too sensitive, I have wasted my life.
On the other hand, my “artistic” life is doing fine. The more I personally suffer, the greater my work becomes. It’s a double-edged sword, but I rather have a good job than happiness anyway.
“In the morning I had a look so lost, a face so dead, that perhaps those whom I met did not see me.” It is hard to drive my Rambler on the streets of Shimokitazawa, due to the smallness of the roads here, which are more like alleys that lead to nowhere and one comes back to a full circle. “A Season in Hell” (my version) is based on driving around here and trying to look for a parking spot. I can never find one, so I just continue to drive around and around. Ivo is going to play the driver as he recites key phrases from the Rimbaud book. He will dress like a French gangster, and I’m also thinking of adding some prose from a David Goodis novel as well. The juxtaposition of Rimbaud and Goodis’ text together can cause a certain amount of tension that will be good for the film.
I will mostly be shooting in the night because I feel the material doesn’t work in the daylight. I’m also putting this in my contract, that the film must be shown only at nighttime. Even if the theater is dark, I want people to leave the theater and find darkness outside instead of daylight. It’s crucial that everything works in unison. My last film must be perfect. There is no second act in a European’s life. Once the film is finished, viewers can actually see my blood on the screen. Due that it takes everything I have to make a movie like “Unhappiness Was My God.” The only high I have in life is to watch the finished work, due to the fact “I never drink … wine. ”