“A short film about the quest for sacred art in Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh”
La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura (trans: Nostalgia for a Distant Future Utopia) takes its title from a work by Italian avant garde composer Luigi Nono. This film was made while Alfred Eaker was a student at the John Herron School of Art. Al invited me to co-direct this short piece from his screenplay. Subsequent editorial embellishments were supplied by J. Ross Eaker, who also served as cinematographer. The story of Paul and Vincent’s combative relationship is well worn cinematic territory, the usual focus being on Vincent’s impulsive, self destructive behavior. Our decision was to examine their aesthetic and spiritual struggles, with a focus on Paul’s equally self destructive ego and immorality. Much of the dialogue is taken directly from their personal correspondence. Historicity and realism are eschewed and the approach is impressionistic; Brechtian if you will. This was a budgetary move to be certain, but allowed the text and themes domination over the mis-en-scene. What results is an examination of the art and essence of two flawed men whose influence dominated the following century and beyond. An aphorism used by Nono speaks to our intentions: Caminantes, no hay caminos, hay que caminar (Travellers, there are no roads, there is just traveling.) –James Mannan
“La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura” Review
(Richard Propes, Original article at the The Independent Critic)
La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura is yet the latest short film to be given birth by the extraordinary and experimental mind of Alfred Eaker, one of Indy’s most unique and spiritual voices who, quite sadly, recently relocated in following a sense of call and purpose to Portland, Oregon.
Indy’s loss is Portland’s gain.
Uniting once again with frequent collaborator James Mannan, another unique voice with whom I was blessed to share some academic time in theatrical studies, Eaker serves up this 12-minute experimental short film weaving together the lives of artists Paul Gauguin (Eaker) and Vincent Van Gogh (Mannan). This time, however, we aren’t served up the usual essays about Van Gogh’s impulsive and self-destructive behavior but instead are privvy to their aesthetic and spiritual struggles, struggles that are often spoken through words taken from their actual correspondence.
La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura isn’t mainstream cinema. I’d venture a guess that 95% of the people who’d watch it at a mainstream cinema would find it either boring, heady, pretentious, or they’d just plain say “it sucks.”
It doesn’t suck.
I must confess that given Eaker’s longstanding history of intelligent and searching cinema, there’s something positively awesome about giving him the movie poster quote “It doesn’t suck.”
The film is intentionally more impressionistic in presentation, forsaking a sense of historicity and realism in favor of a film that more closely reflects the artistic natures of the artists portrayed. Gauguin and Van Gogh are known to have had a turbulent relationship, a turbulence captured nicely in the performances of Eaker and Mannan in both words and images.
La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura is, for as intelligent and insightful as it is, a remarkably straightforward and even simple film about two artists and their lifelong journeys through ego, Gauguin, and impulsivity, Van Gogh. Having screened at Anderson, Indiana’s Homegrown Hoosier Film Festival not long before Eaker’s departure, it is a film that leaves us with one last road trip on Alfred Eaker’s artistic journey.
I’ve enjoyed the ride.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic