Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

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Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Macrology » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:18 am

Saturday, February 15, 2020
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Wanderers of the Desert (Nacer Khemir, 1984)
Letterboxd wrote:The first of Nacer Khemir’s highly-regarded Desert Trilogy that includes The Dove’s Lost Necklace and Bab’Aziz – The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul. Khemir creates an exotic world with Wanderers of the Desert when a young teacher arrives to take over a village school isolated in the shimmering desert. Legendary figures materialize out of wells and the desert itself, groups of children hurry through a labyrinth of underground corridors, the teacher is whisked away to a mysterious rendezvous and never returns.

Class Trip Discussion Thread
Past Trips, Senior Year:

#1 - Ex Drummer (2007, Koen Mortier, Belgium) | Slentert
#2 - The Territory (1981, Raul Ruiz, Portugal) | Rock
#3 - Wake In Fright (1971, Ted Kotcheff, Australia) | Popcorn Reviews
#4 - Night Must Fall (1964, Karel Reisz, UK) | Captain Terror
#5 - Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat, France | Oxnard Montalvo
#6 - Marseille (2004, Angela Schanelec, Germany) | Oxnard Montalvo
#7 - Hunger (1966, Henning Carlson, Den/Swede) | Popcorn Reviews
#8 - Eden and After (1970, Alain Robbe-Grillet, France) | Jinnistan
#9 - Prospero's Books (1991, Peter Greenaway, United Kingdom) | Oxnard Montalvo
#10 - At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964, José Mojica Marins, Brazil) | Popcorn Reviews
#11 - Celebration in the Botanical Garden (Elo Havetta, 1969) | Oxnard Montalvo


Past Trips, Junior Year:

#1 - La maternelle (1933, Jean Benoît-Lévy & Marie Epstein, France) | wigwam
#2 - Time and Winds (2006, Reha Erdem, Turkey) | Oxnard Montalvo
#3 - Clean, Shaven (1993, Lodge Kerrigan, USA) | Popcorn Reviews
#4 - Diabeł (1972, Andrzej Żuławski, Poland) | Oxnard Montalvo
#5 - Black Friday (2004, Anurag Kashyap, India) | Rock
#6 - Schizopolis (1996, Steven Soderbergh, USA) | Slentert
#7 - Hearts and Minds (1974, Peter Davis, USA) | Popcorn Reviews
#8 - Xtro (1982, Harry Bromley Davenport, UK) | crumbsroom
#9 - The House (1997, Šarūnas Bartas, France) | Oxnard Montalvo
#10 - Spider-Baby (1967, Jack Hill, USA) | Slentert
#11 - Oh Lucy! (2017, Atsuko Hirayanagi, Japan/USA) | Shieldmaiden
#12 - The Heartbreak Kid (1972, Elaine May, USA) | Jinnistan

Past Trips, Sophomore Year:

#1 - The Worthless (1982, Mika Kaurismäki, Finland) | snapper
#2 - Shopping for Fangs (1997, Quentin Lee and Justin Lin, USA) | takeshi
#3 - The Heart of the Wise Lives in the House of Sorrow (2009, Marin Malešević, Serbia) | Shieldmaiden
#4 - The Forbidden Quest (1993, Peter Delpeut, Netherlands) | kopello
#5 - São Bernardo (1972, Leon Hirszman, Brazil) | Bandy Greensacks
#6 - Evdokia (1971, Alexis Damianos, Greece) | Epistemophobia
#7 - The Ball at the Anjō House (1947, Kōzaburō Yoshimura, Japan) | snapper
#8 - Sérail (1976, Eduardo de Gregorio, France) | takeshi
#9 - Passport for a Corpse (1962, Mario Gariazzo, Italy) | JediMoonShyne
#10 - Aksuat (1997, Serik Aprimov, Kazakhstan) | Shieldmaiden
#11 - Dangerously Excited (2011, Koo, South Korea) | wigwam
#12 - Himala (1982, Ishmael Bernal, Philippines) | snapper

Past Trips, Freshman Year:

#1 - Distant Journey (1949, Alfréd Radok, Czechoslovakia) | snapper
#2 - Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968, Susumu Hani, Japan) | Das
#3 - The Policewoman (2003, Joaquim Sapinho, Portugal) | charulata
#4 - Freeze, Die, Come to Life! (1989, Vitali Kanevsky, USSR) | Bandy Greensacks
#5 - The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974, Francesco Barilli, Italy) | Trip
#6 - Weddings and Babies (1958, Morris Engel, USA) | snapper
#7 - The Man with Three Coffins (1987, Lee Jang-ho, South Korea) | Notes from Underground
#8 - Malina (1991, Werner Schroeter, Germany) | Shieldmaiden
#9 - Bad Luck (1960, Andrzej Munk, Poland) | B-Side
#10 - The Girl with the Suitcase (1961, Valerio Zurlini, Italy) | JediMoonShyne
#11 - The Engagement of Anna (1972, Pantelis Voulgaris, Greece) | BandyGreensacks
#12 - Our Neighbor, Miss Yae (1934. Yasujirō Shimazu, Japan) | snapper
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:56 pm

schwing

if anyone needs a hook-up, you know where to find me
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:41 pm

I'll be there.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Macrology » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:09 pm

Alright, let's trudge through the spambots and get this ball rolling.

The film has so little plot it's hard to provide a synopsis, but here are some basics:
A man is sent to teach at a school (which doesn't exist) in a village (which barely exists). While the villagers are on pilgrimage, he disappears, and an officer is sent to investigate his disappearance.

This village, which is on the verge of ruin and feels almost like a mirage in the desert, is populated by characters who obsess over local folklore about buried treasure and prophecies, whose youth disappear to wander aimlessly through the surrounding desert. It devotes particular attention to a child named Houcine, who brags to his friends that he can tell the biggest lie in town and breaks mirrors to build a "garden" from the shattered fragments. The film is a melange of Sufi mysticism and Arabic cultural tropes (including references to buraqs and Sindbad), and it's largely about the incompatibility of modern and traditional ways of living.

One might describe the film as magical realism, although I would make a distinction. In Latin American magical realism, we have reality punctuated with magical episodes; here, the realistic and magical are indistinguishably intertwined, and magic strikes us as a routine, even banal part of daily life. A child speaks to a man or spirit who lives inside of a well. People wander through the desert for years without any discernible access to food or water. A man reads a book that describes and determines his fate. The angel of death appears as a beggar at the door. A young woman living in the village seems to reappear as an old woman who leads the teacher into the desert and out of the story.

These occurrences are accepted as simple facts of life by the villagers; even the teacher doesn't seem particularly perturbed by them. It isn't until the officer arrives to inquire about the teacher's disappearance that anyone starts to question these bizarre incidents. It's this section that highlights the disparity between modern logic and a more intuitive and Protean worldview. Unfortunately, I felt like the first half was more substantial and compelling; the film doesn't handle this modern/traditional dialectic very deftly, and the second half feels cluttered and unfocused.

There's also a running theme of departure, migration, wandering, pilgrimage - especially the gradual movement from villages to cities (as seen in Houcine leaving the village for Cordoba at the end) as the country modernizes.

Overall, the film didn't make a huge impression on me, but I did like its measured pace, its nonchalant treatment of the poetic and the supernatural, and its sparse but beautiful compositions (even if the transfer leaves something to be desired).

I'll have a few more things to add later, including other films it brought to mind, but that should get things going!
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:35 am

I thought it felt like Ruiz, maybe Three Crowns of the Sailor, where the there's no plot as such, but everything hangs together like a dream. The metaphors are obvious, yes. (The children grow up and move away; the old people stay and can't remember where their treasure is.) I wanted the mirror subplot to have some meaning, and I agree that the policeman didn't work too well. But the colors are beautiful, the girl is a mystery, the man in the well made my hair stand on end. I really enjoyed it!
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:52 am

I'll get to this one either later tonight or tomorrow. I was a bit busier than expected this weekend.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Macrology » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:56 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:35 am
I thought it felt like Ruiz, maybe Three Crowns of the Sailor, where the there's no plot as such, but everything hangs together like a dream. The metaphors are obvious, yes. (The children grow up and move away; the old people stay and can't remember where their treasure is.) I wanted the mirror subplot to have some meaning, and I agree that the policeman didn't work too well. But the colors are beautiful, the girl is a mystery, the man in the well made my hair stand on end. I really enjoyed it!
Yes. The metaphors are obvious, but in the way that dreams are often obvious - transmuted in such a way to make the obvious strange and new. The policeman getting involved had a lot of potential, it just ended up feeling half-baked.

Definitely some Ruiz in there. The intuitive use of folklore and the unaffected shooting style brought to mind Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh (and 90s Makhmalbaf generally). The Taviani brothers also came to mind, particularly Padre Padrone - again, with the folk logic and the casual interpolations of the poetic and the supernatural.

I may have said in the previous thread, I came to this through Godard's The Image Book, which criticizes the Western canon for largely ignoring Arabic cinema. I don't recall whether this film is specifically cited by Godard or whether I read about it in an article after seeing the film, but that's what originally piqued my curiosity. It's also the first film in what's called his Desert Trilogy, with each film made about a decade apart.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:29 pm

I guess the policeman was there so some outside figure could comment on how arcane and insular the village is. though we sort of get that just from the way the kid is yearning to break out. come to think of it, it kinda ends like Celebration of the Botanical Garden in that way with the youth moving on and seeking the wider world. whereas the teacher (who I assume comes from a more modern environment given his clothes) is all too willing to be absorbed by the mystery of the desert. which is familiar thematic territory.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:09 pm

How I read the policeman was that he serves as a contrast to the other villagers who recognize all the weirdness of the village, yet don't seem to react to it as much as you'd expect they would. I've seen a number of unconventional films where the characters have a nonchalant reaction to the bizarre events presented in their environments, but I think the officer is meant to act as an example of how an outsider would react to the village. With the ending, given how the boy comments on how the village is flawed and how the officer disappeared (we see him leave, but I'm not sure if the boy knows this), he decides that it's time to leave. That's, essentially, the gist of what goes on. The characters seem fine with all the mysteries of the village and the surrounding desert, but the arrival of the teacher and the cop who were outsiders to the village and their experiences and outcomes there are what causes the boy to leave. I'd say this works pretty well.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:06 am

I didn't mean to get too tied up in the metaphor; surely the escaping boy is a lot more likely to end up with the Wanderers than in Cordoba (or any real place). It's a cursed village, after all.

I really need to see Gabbeh.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:36 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:06 am
I didn't mean to get too tied up in the metaphor; surely the escaping boy is a lot more likely to end up with the Wanderers than in Cordoba (or any real place). It's a cursed village, after all.
yeah, it's possible. but since the movie doesn't show that, I'll keep in the mind the possibility that he might make it out.

or at least that the desire to leave is present.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:19 pm

Now that we're done, should we start another round of these or create a different type of thread altogether?
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:34 pm

uh I dunno. either or. I still have some movies saved for such things.

and I'll try to stay in the loop. lately, it's like I've been too down to watch much of anything. or just I feel like watching movies is about as good as doing heroin and the guilt overwhelms me and so forth....

what I'm saying is
I hope I can be available for whatever.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:36 pm

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:34 pm
uh I dunno. either or. I still have some movies saved for such things.

and I'll try to stay in the loop. lately, it's like I've been too down to watch much of anything. or just I feel like watching movies is about as good as doing heroin and the guilt overwhelms me and so forth....

what I'm saying is
I hope I can be available for whatever.
I'm sorry to hear that. I wish you the best of luck with it.

As for what to do next, if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to drop them.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:39 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:36 pm
I'm sorry to hear that. I wish you the best of luck with it.

As for what to do next, if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to drop them.
I'm not in serious danger though, I wouldn't worry too much about me. and I still like coming here to look at the photos in Macrology's thread.

as for ideas for doing something different, maybe a good idea is everybody makes a list of 10 directors they have seen exactly 0 movies from and somebody else can choose a movie for everyone to watch from that list.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:01 pm

I don't know what kind of restrictions you guys are under out there in the real world and if some Class Trips or some kind of board-wide movie-watching would be up your alley (assuming y'all don't have a ton of stuff on your watchlists).

but the only reason I leave it to you guys is because I likely will not be having time off (unless I get sick) and my hours are already starting to increase. obviously people will be doing a lot more online shopping and who knows how long this will go on for.
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Re: Corrie Class Trip 4.0 #12: Wanderers of the Desert (Sat. 2/15)

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:46 pm

I'd be willing to do more of these. I just hope enough people use them as it's usually only a few of us who take part in these threads. However, if enough of us will be willing to stick around, I'd be happy to keep going.
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