《思凡》:高山上的觀自在邊緣new




《思凡》在1947年公映,在心理戲劇以及視聽科藝範疇已帶來多方探討。現在用2019年的眼光閱讀,仍可引發更多維度的思覺性漣漪。

故事起首,即設定教會委派女修士們前往印度的高海拔區域,作出教育推廣任務,電影公映時段是第二次大戰之後,難免令人聯想故事反映當時西方教廷對戰後的疆域調整,戲劇處理亦儼如一場西方文化推廣的軍事策略行為。

片初鏡頭,以老女修士望窗開始,以及由女主角Sister Clodagh閱讀男主角寄來的信件(配上男聲讀信的畫外音),以視聽媒體展開對高山地區(The Place of Mopu)風土人情的意象描述。視聽描繪東西思維,以及男女觀點有別的基本矛盾,戲劇性就這樣建構起來。

電影尤其利用門窗的意象用來反映眾位角色內在心理的戲劇表現,聯同鏡頭的角度選取,別具用心。

例如開首,由老修女望窗的光影處理,除了取自荷蘭畫家維梅爾(Johannes Vermeer)的油畫意象,亦令人聯想起《印度愛經》(Kama Sutra)所言:女子如有看窗的習性,容易引發起遐思雜想。若果大家留意,每場對門與窗的戲劇處理,都不斷引發觀眾進入角色內心的情感效應,尤其是對女性複雜的心理描繪。如同導演自言,此片是他最具情慾糾纏的視像作品,角色在腦中生出的小小思緒的波動,都化成一隻又一隻具備情緒的影像蝴蝶,舞動在每個鏡頭的細節中,引發一次又一次幾何形式的思覺交纏,令人重看又重看時,依然感情洋溢,看之無盡。

在高山上由宮殿改變成教學院的The Palace of Mopu,戲劇安排眾位女修士們志不在上山修心養性,而是來到異地去推廣教育,為鄉親改善生活。例如Sister Clodagh常握在手中的文件夾,表達她上山是在執行一次教廷委託的神職任命。

可是,修士們來到靈山之中,潛藏在每一個人心內的人性欲望本源,以及知性與情感禁忌之門,都被山上烈風吹打至頭暈目眩。

戲劇設定在高山上的意義,亦有一種以電影來回應德國納粹電影《意志的勝利》(Triumph of the Will,1935)的意圖,在山上不單止成為靈性與情慾鬥爭的戰場,亦是一種大戰之後西方文化重新調整的課題。

《思凡》的視覺表達至現在仍然帶尖端性,而且引發後來不少經典電影的視覺互聯。

例如片首老修女委派修女上山的任務,電影首場的機動吊扇投影在修女角色上,現在大家都會聯想起《現代啟示錄》(Apocalypse Now,1979)開場的相同處理。設在高山上的育鳥場,當大家看到那些被風吹至旋轉的雀籠影像,會不會聯想起《東邪西毒》(1994)呢?還有,當眾位修女的道袍被風吹動,也有否想起是旗在動或是心動?是次選映,大家不妨將《東邪西毒》的視覺形式套入,見證這座雪嶺原來就是西毒歐陽峰一直遙望的白駝山。

還有,此片對色彩的細膩描繪,最令人驚嘆的,是利用當年菲林拍攝三原色素的技術掌握,帶出戲劇性的情緒效果。例如,修女服裝的白,在日與夜以及冬春之間不同的場合,也以不同色度配合。尤其在尾場Sister Ruth在最後意亂情迷中,在對着男主角Mr. Dean的大特寫主觀鏡頭,由紅白藍合一的三原色彩轉化成令人引起思潮激動的血紅之色,至今仍是技術性撃倒的經典鏡頭。

《思凡》在1947年已用視像色彩拍出細膩的心理表達,以及在山上的烈風吹動描繪人心的激動,利用本來出塵的女修士在高山上的道袍飄盪中,帶領觀者進入思覺旋風。利用超理性的技術性視覺表達,深度描寫思覺性的迷區,反映影像威力。

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Self-Reflection on the Top of the World - Black Narcissus

Released in 1947, Black Narcissus' psychodrama and technological aspects have long been discussed. Yet we may still look at its psychotic repercussions with the eyes of  2019.

The story kicks off with a group of nuns being sent to educational work up the Himalayas. If we consider the year when this film was released, it is possible to read this story in the light of the Church's adjusting its sphere of influence following WWII. The dramatic treatment may also be viewed as an act of tactical promotion of Western culture.

The opening shot has the Sister Superior looking out of the window. Sister Clodagh, our heroine, reads a letter from the male protagonist, whose voice we hear in the voice-over. These depictions by cinematic means not only transport us to Mopu, but also introduce the contradictions of West and East, Male and Female, out of which the drama unfolds.

Throughout the movie, doors and windows reveal the psychological states of the characters. Such expressions are further enhanced by specific camera angles.

The Sister Superior's looking out the window is indeed Vermeer-ish. And as the Kama Sutra says, "A woman constantly looking out the window are likely to have confused thoughts." I urge you to pay attention to the scenes with doors and windows, these are indeed portals to the emotions of the characters, especially the female psyche. The directors admitted that Black Narcissus was their most erotic work. Every emotional ripple is transformed into emotional "visual butterflies" that flutter in our minds. The effect seems to be additive with repeated viewings.

Spiritual enlightenment isn't really why the nuns go up to the Palace of Mopu. They're there to educate and improve the wellbeing of the inhabitants. The folder constantly in Clodagh's hands signify her mission as ordained by the Church.

But the holy mountain unleashes their human desires. The gales throw open the doors of intellect, emotions and taboos, literally blowing the nuns' minds away. 

The mountain setting seems to be a response to the Nazi propaganda Triumph of the Will (1935). The mountains aren't just the battleground of spirituality and lust but also addressing the reestablishment of Western civilization after the war.

Black Narcissus' visual expression still retains its edge and inspires other classical movies as well.

When the film starts, the ceiling fan casting its shadow on the nun resembles the beginning of Apocalypse Now (1979) where Captain Willard is given his mission. Up on the bird farm, the bird cages swinging in the mountain wind reminds me of the wind imagery in Ashes of Time (1994), where the swaying robes and flags symbolizes the stirring of the heart. If I may extend the association, the snow mountain here might as well be the White Camel Mountain longingly gazed by Ouyang Feng.

The myriad shades of colours are jaw-dropping. Different hues of the Technicolor film stock represent emotions dramatically. The whiteness of a nun's gown varies in the course of the day and of the year. In Sister Ruth's frenzy, her POW shot on Mr. Dean shifts from a multi-coloured image to a furious red. A memorable shot in film history.

With colours and gales representing states of mind, we're swept into a psychotic whirlwind that blows off the nuns' ascetic camouflage, revealing their deeper obsessions. Black Narcissus is the quintessential example of how visual imagery can depict the blind spots of the psyche.

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