Described as the world’s first multi-venue interactive premiere (having been broadcast live by satellite from London’s BFI Southbank to dozens of cinemas across the UK and Europe) and involving a ‘revolutionary release strategy’, being simultaneously available on mobile, online, digital screens and DVD formats, Sally Potter’s Rage (2009) is supposedly a documentary made by a schoolboy who uses his mobile phone camera to shoot intimate interviews with people working at a New York fashion house. The result is a crisp expose of an industry and more importantly a critique of the fashion culture we have all come to inhabit. Arguably, its knowingly contemporary approach to a highly contemporary subject is ‘Ballardian’ in style. And the fact that the film has been made for release on both the big and small (mobile) screen results in a very specific, pared down aesthetic. Potter herself describes its ‘genre’ as naked cinema. It is her suggestion of a ‘neutral’ approach to, or rather neutral vision of, the fashion world (which we are purposefully never shown) that has really captured my interest.
There is no zero point in writing a script, of course. Just the illusion of nothingness before the something appears. But confronting emptiness, a kind of void-state, whilst sometimes terrifying (will anything ever happen?) is also exhilarating. A long view opens up, where all seems possible. Not just fresh starts, freed from habits of all kinds, personal and professional, but even the horizon itself changes.
After the long haul of a film (never less than three years in my experience) one needs to catch up, find out who you have become whilst immersed in the journey. Sometimes you can take the film with you as you change, but with others you must stay true to the original concept even if you feel you have moved on.
RAGE is an example of a film that has morphed continuously during its long evolution (I wrote the first draft after completing ORLANDO). Now, at last, its entry into the world has been made consistent with its themes and storyline.
A boy-child, who we know only as Michelangelo but remains unseen and unheard, interviews his subjects with a cellphone and posts his material on the internet over a period of seven increasingly catastrophic days. Now the film itself will appear, for the first time, on cellphones, in episodes day by day for a week (and then on the internet.)
Amazingly, it seems this has never been done before.
It is nice to be the first to take the leap, but even more gratifying is that there is a unity between the story itself and how it is released.
– Sally Potter (from Blog)
What a long way to have come… I still fondly remember the time I sat alone watching the majestic Orlando (1992).
…but in both cases, whether an adaptation of Woolf’s modernist ‘classic’ or in portraying (or betraying?) the postmodern heights of contemporary consumer culture, Sally Potter demonstrates an acute aesthetic that resonates with great emotion, just as choosing what colour to paint a wall arouses so much wonder and connection…