Sunday, 1 April 2012

Once Upon a Time in Anatoliya

I recommend the film Once Upon a Time in Anatoliya, which I saw yesterday evening. It has been described as 'life -changing' by one reviewer. That may or may not be the case. To paraphrase the report made by the Cambridge philosopher G E Moore about the young Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus ('I myself consider that this is a work of genius; but, even if I am completely mistaken and it is nothing of the sort, it is well above the standard required for the Ph.D. degree') the film is, if not a work of genius, well above the usual standard. I hope I do not spoil anyone's future enjoyment by saying that about an hour into the film I thought to myself 'This reminds me of Chekhov' - and, sure enough, when the credits rolled, the great man's name came up as having inspired the screenplay. It is a film worthy of comparison with the very greatest, because, while being apparently about a particular incident in a particular place, by the end you realise it is about the human condition. A propos:a re-mastered version of Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion was advertised as being on its way to a cinema near you. I had to consult Wikipedia to find the Moore quote, and found myself drawn into the entry for Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell (who I had wrongly remembered as having assessed Wittgenstein's Tractatus for a degree - Wittgenstein had been invited to teach at the university, but had not graduated therefore needed to be awarded a qualification). Wittgenstein worked as a gardener on several occasions during his lifetime, and as a hospital orderly, delivering pills from the dispensary to patients whom he would advise 'do not take them'. He also designed, built and flew his own aeroplane, and designed a house (down to the door handles which alone took a year - luckily the client was his forbearing sister). This in turn reminds me that I did take Decline and Fall to read on the train yesterday, and laughed immoderately all the way down. In it, there is an Austrian architect called Otto Silenus who designs a modernist house for one of the main characters, Margot Best-Chetwynde. All the characters in the book are based on people in Evelyn Waugh's circle, or recognisable versions of real people, so I suppose Waugh might have had Wittgenstein in mind. What a day.

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