Assembled by the esteemed critic, curator, and archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai, Passio juxtaposes flashes of archival imagery against a void of visual silence seared by rapid bursts of hand-drawn calligraphy (by Brody Neuenschwander, the calligrapher on Prospero's Booksand The Pillow Book). The chief subject is agony: nudes wrenched in epileptic fits, dueling beetles, eye surgeries. Hand-colored psychedelic crystal patterns enliven the horrorshow; scenes from the natural world rebuke the record of human cruelty.
The clipped, avid rhythms are reminiscent of late GodardPassio could be the terrifying coda to Histoire(s) du Cinémabut the cumulative effect, monumentalized by Pärt, is unprecedented. I was devastated by Passio on a flat-screen monitor, and can only imagine its harrowing rapture when performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Trinity Church during the festival. God knows how they'll manage the 35mm.
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