Friday, November 16, 2007

The Roe's Room (Pókoj saren) d. Lech Majewski, 1997

The director, in a Q&A following the screening, made mention of various influences and references on and in the film - Giorgio de Chirico, surrealism, miniature deer, and on. A man three seats to my left began half-whispering to his viewing partner about all these various references, his whispers amounting to not much more than, "Oh damn, I recognize that. Let me tell you about how smart I am." Full disclosure: let me admit that I didn't know who Chirico was until tonight's screening. Let me further say that I had a helluva time looking up his name on the internets. Carrico? Korico? Corico? Those Italians, amirite?

The Roe's Room is very much a work of symbolism. As if it mattered, the director himself said as much in the Q&A. He described a tree that spans three floors of a tenement building - central to a scene that I don't really care to detail - as a symbol for the body's desires, the body itself, and the morality of the body, a quick redux of the id, ego, and superego. Broken into four chapters corresponding to the four seasons, the film is roughly about a tri-part family - mother, father, son - whose apartment grows more natural, covered in grass and the aforementioned miniature deer, as the seasons progress. By the end of Winter, ivy is pushing its way through the walls.

Symbolism can be an effective trope when employed right, when the tenor, to speak metaphorically, is as apparent as the vehicle. In The Roe's Room, the entirety of the thing is vehicle. The film is so autobiographic that the meaning objects that the symbols point to are really only apparent to one man: the filmmaker. Again, this can also work (for proof, see Guy Maddin's Cowards Bend the Knee), but a focus on something other than symbolism - tone, visuals, plot - is necessary. What The Roe's Room amounts to is my viewing compatriot, playing connect the dots with the film and what he's learned before. It alienates most viewers - those that don't get the extremely univocal meaning of the film - and panders to the other set, making them feel good for knowing what they know while simultaneously offering nothing new.


Post a Comment

<< Home