'what yields to gravity'*
1) Aleksandr (Stalker), Anatoliy (the writer) and Nikolay (the scientist), drop exhausted to the groundafter finding themselves brought back around in an illogical circle in The Zone; a malign borderlandthat does not adhere to reason, logic, the laws of science or nature. The three men crawl into the wetmoss in a fatigued stupour, sinking into the fleshy, cushioning earth as if climbing into bed; theysurrender to The Zone.
1) Aleksandr (Stalker), Anatoliy (the writer) and Nikolay (the scientist), drop exhausted to the ground after finding themselves brought back around in an illogical circle in The Zone; a malign borderland that does not adhere to reason, logic, the laws of science or nature. The three men crawl into the wet moss in a fatigued stupour, sinking into the fleshy, cushioning earth as if climbing into bed; they surrender to The Zone.
<< still from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979), an adaption of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's novel, Roadside Picnic (1971)
2) Jessica runs fromher house to the woods in climactic realisation that her husband, friend andthe townspeople have fallen victim to a female vampire. Running until sheappears asleep on her feet, eyes closed, her limbs give way beneath her; shefalls to the ground as the soundtrack turns from frantic electronics to asimple, solo folk harp. She lies face down on the floor, breathing heavy, likea child sound asleep in a parent’s arms. The scene fades from daylight totwilight.
Still from John D. Hancock’s Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) >>
3) Josh drops to the leafy forest floor and rolls in to a cradle-likehollow between a grouping of trees. The sun is shining in stark contrast to thepitch-black scenes of terror from the night before. He’s laughing and jokingwith his companions despite their apparent predicament: the three film studentshave walked in circles for several days, have been hounded by the ‘Blair Witch’throughout the night and now they’ve lost their map. He lies for a short timein blissful resignation to this hostile and unknown environment.
<< still from Daniel Myrick and EduardoSanchez’s The Blair Witch Project (1999)
4) Miranda, Marion, Irma and Edith lie on huge slabs of smooth rock in the mid-afternoon heat atHanging Rock. Moments later the first three girls leave Edith and exeunt in a trancelike state into thelooming rock columns of the dormant volcano. Only Irma is seen again.
Stalker (1), Lets Scare Jessica to Death (2), The Blair Witch Project (3) and Picnic at Hanging Rock(4) all remain ambiguous as to the nature of the forces as play, the ‘monsters’ are indistinct from theirenvironment, the context and the characters. In Stalker the implied ‘supernatural’ forces within TheZone lie dangerously close to credible when considered in the context of an age of nuclear weaponry.Jessica, our protagonist in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, has a history of mental illness, includinghallucinations. The spectre of the vampire in gothic literature and horror is one closely bound to thehistory of psychoanalysis, emerging in gothic fiction concurrent with Freud’s theories of sexuality; andso it remains unclear as to whether the vampire is indeed supernatural, or a projection of Jessica’s owninsecurities and fears. The Blair Witch herself never appears to the camera in The Blair Witch Project(1999), she could be a mere product of a collective panic created by the blurring of myths with reality.Finally, the dreamlike exeunt of Miranda, Marion and Irma in Picnic at Hanging Rock could be arepresentation of Edith’s hazy memory of their disappearance, or perhaps they were under the controlof primordial forces both within themselves (as adolescent girls) and/or without (the dormant volcano“a million years old... or thereabouts.” *1)
If we consider the bodies as forms, the actors as constructed characters, and ‘a function of the well-built, form’ as ‘vertical because it can resist gravity; what yields to gravity*, then, is anti-form.’*2 Inthese four examples the consequences of verticality and the separation brought about through man’s“erecting himself from the earth”*3 are hereby undone: we’ve crossed the threshold, we are engulfed,absorbed, absolved.
* * *
1) Mathematics Mistress, Miss Greta McCraw, corrects the driver’s information about Hanging Rock in Picnic at HangingRock. She also later goes missing, last seen wearing ‘only her bloomers’.
2) ‘Horizontality’, Formless: A Users Guide