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Film ID  ACE103
Article  The
Title  Eternal Day of Michel de Ghelderode 1892-1962. Synthesis - Mask - Spectacle
Date  1981
Director  Quay Brothers
Production Company  Atelier Koninck
Synopsis  A dramatised account, incorporating puppets, animation and archive film, of the life and work of Belgian avant garde dramatist, Michel de Ghelderode (1898-1962).
Minutes  29 min
Full synopsis  ACE103.2 (00:00:00 - 00:09:15)
Maps: Belgium since 1831, 15th century Flanders. Caption: “Tout est flamand, sauf la langue que j’utilise accidentellement. Ma position d’écrivain «d’expression française» en un pays belge où il n’existe pas de langue belge est celle de papegay sur sa perche. Je ne suis pas un écrivain belge, ni un écrivain de Belgique, ni un écrivain en Belgique. Je suis un homme qui écrit dans une chambre.” Translated VO. Window in door of prison cell. VO: “Each one sees, each one hears what pleases him… Caption: “1924. Le Cavalier Bizarre (The Eccentric Cavalier). Sketch in one act. Extract.” Puppet windmills, man on horseback, monsters. Ghelderode’s VO talking about plays for an imaginary audience. Actor announces a city in Flanders “of the 16th and 20th centuries simultaneously”, and the character of Faust who “appears to be a clown to whom a tragedian’s role has been entrusted”. Caption: “1925. La mort du docteur Faust. Tragedy for the music hall in a prologue and three episodes. Extract.” Faust in a mask with objects including a skull and a humming top: “Past worlds, future worlds – forward!” Tailors dummies, an explosion, the Devil outside the window. Footage of Ghelderode walking into theatre. Caption: “Born Adhémar Adolphe Louis Martens at Ixelles in Brussels of Flemish parents. In 1918 shortly after his entrance into literature he signs for the first time Michel de Ghelderode.” Ghelderode in the theatre. Caption:“At the centre of the Ghelderode’s theatre, a figure who is a mask of the playwright himself.” Ghelderode’s words VO saying that he “put on a thousand masks so as not to sneer”. The sea; VO talking about Christopher Columbus “becoming a synthesis … of all travellers … of all ages”. Caption: “1927. Christophe Colomb. Dramatic fairytale in three scenes. Extract.” Columbus interviewed by a journalist.

ACE103.3 (00:09:15 - 00:16:47)
Ghelderode reading. VO, “I believe that the theatre is a sort of ideal, almost religious, ceremonial, where … all social and philosophical systems can take refuge.” Photographs of carnivals. Ghelderode writing; VO saying that the theatre chose him. Ghelderode walking in the street; VO talking about choosing paintings by Bosch, Brueghel (The Triumph of Death/De Triomf van de Dood, c.1562) and James Ensor (The Masks and Death/Les masques et la mort, 1897; photograph of Ensor in front of his Christ’s Entry into Brussels/L’Entrée du Christ à Bruxelles (1889); Masks Arguing About a Hanged Man/Les Masques se disputant un pendu, 1891). Nuns at canal-side; Bruges; funeral procession; Ghelderode’s VO on his liking for the city. Ghelderode writing; leaving his house; his VO talking about Elizabethan and Spanish theatre. Caption: “Between 1923 and 1946 de Ghelderode worked as a civil servant at the Administration Communale de Schaerbeek.” Ghelderode walking in the streets; his VO talking about wanting “to break the conventional frame of the theatre. Caption: “His writing was virtually unknown outside Belgium until 1949. If his fame is postwar, his theatre is no for nearly all 47 plays were written between 1918 and 1937.” Caption: “1935. Hop, Signor! Drama in one act. Extract.” Caption: “Scene. Juréal: called “Signor”; two dwarfs; Margaret: Juréal’s wife; the executioner.” The dwarfs argue and pretend to joust; Juréal joins them. Marionettes Margaret and Executioner.

ACE103.4 (00:16:47 - 00:24:18)
Sign for Théatre Toone VI; VO announcing Le siege d'Ostende (1933). Caption: “Toone marionette theatre had its birth in the quartier of the Marolles in Brussels. Its dynasty goes back to 1812 with Toone I and extends to the present with Toone VII. De Ghelderode wrote five texts for marionettes.” Ghelderode at the marionette theatre; VO talking about puppet theatre and man as puppet, etc. Caption: “1937. Fastes d’Enfer (Chronicles of Hell). Tragedy-bouffe in one act. Extract.” Caption: “Jan in Eremo, Bishop of Lapideopolis, lay dead in his mortuary chamber having been poisoned by his entourage of odious priests led by Simon Laquedeem.” Puppet Laquedeem complains about the “false corpse”, calls to Eremo, but is finally convinced he is dead.

ACE103.5 (00:24:18 - 00:29:01)
Caption: “Final synthesis. 1934. Masques Ostendais. Pantomime. Sortilèges. Hop, Signor! ” Various characters, including the two Masks from the Ensor painting, the two dwarfs, etc; Ghelderode VO saying that we have several faces and “we will never reduce this aspect of one’s being to one sole mask, but multiple… And the masks will take their vengeance upon you”. A skeleton: “We are living in an age lacking in marvels”. Caption: “Epitaphe. Here lies this author with a dramatic existence Michel de Ghelderode alone of his kind and last of his name do not imitate his example and abstain from thinking of him in your prayers from the depths of the infinite he’ll bore the shit out of you.”; VO reads this in French. Credits.

Full credits  Réalisation Atelier Koninck with special thanks to Jean Francis, Bruxelles; Mise en scène The Brothers Quaij, Keith Griffiths; Décors: Puppets animation architecture images Brothers Quaij, Puppet armatures Olivier Gillon, Paris VI Elmer Quaij, Costumes Lys Flowerday, Marionettes masks Flowerday, Brothers Quaij; Editing, sound Larry Sider; Music for organ, organ and timpani Stefan Cicho?ski St Pius X church organ, Assisted on the pedals by Sasha Cicho?ski; Harmonium Claire Bœdts; Music for Fastes d’Enfer: B C Gilbert, G Lewis, Danse extract from Dome 3, Published by Rough Trade Music; Music for final synthesis, Masques Ostendais, Sortilèges, Hop, Signor! : Léo Ferré, Editions Ferré; Voice of Ghelderode Jan Rosel; All texts drawn from Theatre Complet (I-V), Ostend Interviews, letters and prose; Translations Hauger, Flowerday, Quaij. Cast: The Cherub Company; Director, Andrew Visnewski; Faust/Juréal, Tom Hunsinger; Columbus, Phillip Cade; Reporter, Phillip Bretherton; Dwarfs, Pam Scoby, Chainy Lane; Margaret/Executioner, David Prescott. With Victoria Plum, Richard Bates, Anthony Wise; Photography Mike Tomlinson, Peter Harvey, Andrew Cottom; Additional Photography Koninck; Lighting Assistance Richard Johnson, Ben Ormerod; Archive film of Michel de Ghelderode: Director Luc de Heusch, Re-edited Atelier Koninck, With the kind permission of Radio Télévision Belge. We would like to acknowledge Jean Francis, L’eternal aujourdhui de Michel de Ghelderode, Louis Musin Editeur Bruxelles, Pol Vandrome, Roland Benes Jean-Paul Humpers, Jo Cayet, Jean Darlier, SAEM, Mme Soiron, Bibliothèque Royal Albert, Bruxelles, Musée du Parc de la Boverie, Liège, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent, Koninklijk Museum, Antwerpen, Georges Champroux, Actualit, Ambassade van Belge, Photo Antony, Gueuze et Kriek à la Mort Subite, Bruxelles. With thanks to Rodney Wilson, Barry Callaghan, Ian Christie, Argon Neon, Drama Centre London, Royal College of Art, Filmatics, Frameline, Granada Publishing, White Light, Synchrosonics, Cine Contact, And all the street markets of London and Bruxelles. Producer Keith Griffiths for Atelier Koninck. © Arts Council of Great Britain MCMLXXXI.
Watch segments  ACE103.2 (00:00:00 - 00:09:15)
ACE103.3 (00:09:15 - 00:16:47)
ACE103.4 (00:16:47 - 00:24:18)
ACE103.5 (00:24:18 - 00:29:01)
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