Nov 3, 2009

The Woman Who Powders Herself (La Femme qui se poudre )

Art Fags beware! You’re in for a surrealistic scare! La Femme qui se poudre (The Woman Who Powders Herself) is a short film that has been no doubt neglected just as the maker of the film Patrick Bokanowski. Despite his Polack sounding name, Patrick Bokanowski is a French filmmaker obviously following in the footsteps of France’s greatest filmmaker/poet Jean Cocteau. Like Cocteau, Bokanowski is able to say something through visuals that the human mind could otherwise never articulate. Like all good poetry, The Woman Who Powders Herself is best looked at without trying to intellectualize and overanalyze. With a short film like this, one should just let the beauty seep into ones soul.

As a child I used to go to a certain unnamed life-saving museum on the east coast. At the museum there is an attraction know as laughing Sal, the former automaton Queen of a boardwalk Funhouse. Unlike most children, I was not afraid of Sal. I actually hoped her grotesque large manmade body would come to life and scare other vulnerable children. But alas, that never happened, but I also never forgot about laughing Sal. As soon as the screen faded to the first image of The Woman Who Powders Herself, I felt as if I was reunited with Sal, in all her beyond homely glory. Like my recollection of laughing Sal, the short film has the feeling of a vague yet soul piercing dream.

The score featured in The Woman Who Powders Herself sounds like it was created by a schizophrenic folly artist. The score (if you can even call it that) compliments the film in a way that very few other films have been successful with. To put it very simply, The Woman Who Powers Herself has neither linear story nor linear sound but a collection of perfectly collected broken pieces that could have been found in Jean Cocteau’s own personal hell (although I believe Cocteau’s hell would feature a man powdering his face). A truly complete piece of cinematic art should always (well almost always) have it’s own original score. Although I consider myself a fan of Luis Buñuel’s Un chien andalou and Aryan genius composer Richard Wagner, the short would have been more of masterpiece had the whole film been of 100% original material.

It is fairly hard to tell whether or not The Woman Who Powders Herself had an influence on any other artists, but for a work of it’s originality and artistry, it had to influence someone. Before he was a hack, it seems that Begotten director E. Elias Merhige took a note or two from The Woman Who Powders Herself. People wearing featureless masks is always a good way to creep out filmgoers, especially in gritty black/white films. Lets not forget the particular dark liquid featured on the floor in The Woman Who Powders Herself that looked like a similar liquid (and with a similar shot composition) as god kills himself in Begotten. The difference between both films is that The Woman Who Powders Herself was at the right runtime at around 15 minutes whereas Begotten was an hour too long. I also wonder in Douglas P. alpha-neo-folk group Death In June saw The Woman Who Powder Herself and decided to wear a featureless mask with his German camouflage outfit.

Some people have said The Woman Who Powders Herself is a commentary on the idea of female beauty in the Victorian era. Although I do not deny this assertion, I could really care less. For me, The Woman Who Powders Herself is a somewhat modern day phantasmagoria that I can enjoy in the comfort of my living room. Very few films transfer me to a dream world of such extravagance and of such a fantastic nature. The Woman Who Powders Herself will stay in my mind’s eye just the way that Eraserhead, The Blood of a Poet, Begotten (the first 15 minutes of course), Fireworks, and Meshes of the Afternoon have been burnt there.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

Where can I find this movie? Looked everywhere.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I just watched this on Youtube and it was indeed one of the most bizarre and surreal 15 minutes of my entire life. By the way, dont forget what i said about Isabella Nightingale Marsh, when she was 10 in 1995 that girl really was one of the most ass-tonishing masturbation aids of all-time (its just such a shame that she was worthless British garbage as well).