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October 22, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-10-22

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The Michigan Doily-Saturday, October 22, 1977-Page 5

Mengershausen dreams

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Who says you must be sleeping to
enter a dream world? Just walk into
the Alice Simsar Gallery and you
enter a world of dreamy, ethereal
and mysterious ethchings and gou-
aches of western American desert
country, sensitively created by Cor-
nelia von Mengershausen.
Von Mengershausen, born in Bayr-
ishzell, Germany in 1945, studied at
the School of Applied Arts in Basel,
Switzerland and the Academy and
University of Munich. She is present-
ly living in Rancho Santa Fe, Califor-
nia, this area being the primary im-
petus for her most recent landscape
works, on view until Nov. 9.
Although von Mengershausen is
relatively young for an established
artist (only 33 years old), she has
displayed her work in seven one-
woman exhibitions and six group
exhibitions all over the world. She
has also just completed a book en-

titled (K'ehgosone), consisting of
Indian verses and illustrations.
Von Mengerhausen's works reveal
her personal response to landscapes.
She often explores cliffs, gullies,
water-created erosions and shadows
in a series. Her delicate use of
limited earth-toned colors, and
slightly abstract, often non-descript,
forms, creates landscapes which are
incredibly quiet, intimate and subtle-
ly blurred. They contain the qualities
of both fantasy and reality, apparent
in a mirage or dream image.
In examining all of her landscape
interpretations, two characteristics
are evident that interact to make the
works interesting and beautifully
unique. The spatial depth and airi-
ness, along with the splashes of faded
color evoke a very general, overall,
hazy impression of the various rock
and land masses, far in the distance.
Yet, upon closer inspection, there
is also an incredible degree of detail.

Numerous needle-thin, black etched,
lines constitute one rock, and every
possible gradation in shade of her
basic black, gray and beige is
These shades of color genMr dif-
fuse together, delicately feeding into
the faded, washed background. Such
ultra fine detail in her relatively
small works, mostly 11x14 or small-
er, also makes von Mengershausen's
landscapes a personal and intimate
statement about the tranquil hush of
the desert, speaking to the viewer on
a one-to-one basis.
Von Mengershausen explores the
same landscape theme with the two
mediums of etching and gouache.
'The etching, Shadowscape II, is one
of the most realistic etchings of the
collection, although it still plays with
abstract forms in shadow and rock.
Like all of her works, there are no
hard or perfectly straight edges. The
lines are always sensitively drawn

with a slight waver or variation.
Even the .edges of her paper are
neatly ripped, intensifying additional
softness while avoiding angular, cold
and precise lines or corners.
Harsh, vivid colors are also ex
tinct. The soft grays, blacks, tans and
whites gently roll into one another4
fading in and out of dominance. Th4
evokes the feeling of movement but
more specifically, the subtle move-
ment of mysterious shadows across
the desert.
Shadowscape V is a gouache; a
painting in which the paint consisten-
cy is so incredibly thin and opaque,
that many layers of different
smudged color are distinguishable. It
is evident from the many shades of
transparent color, that von Mengers-
hausen is not even interested i
creating a literal interpretation, bui
rather in creating the general visual
distortions that evolve when gazing
at shadows from afar.
However, she still maintains her
amazing ability to combine the
general and the intimate by allowing
the masses of moving colors t
evolve into the most personal, intri>
cate patterns and textures, recogniz
able only when standing one foot
away from the work.
All of Cornelia von Mengershau
sen's landscapes are uninhabited andi
have no suggestion of civilization
whatsoever by means of roads or
villages. They are landscapes sb
removed that no one could evet
inhabit them.

..r.r.wr r

EMU's new 'Kabuki Oedipus'

Jocasta stands transfixed, both un-
willing mother and unknowing wife
to Oedipus.
The flowered kimono falls away,
revealing beneath it "Shirosozoku",
the white ceremonial clothes of
death. The Oriental aura transcends
traditional Sophocles.
You are seeing Kabuki Oedipus,
Eastern Michigan University drama
professor Robert McElya's bold at-
tempt to assimilate Japan's most
spectacular dramatic form into the
world of Western theatre.
Kabuki is the theatre of the larger
than life. McElya has divided his
lines between characters and his own
version of Kabuki.
The result: Oedipus speaks before
the citizens of Thebes, and a moment
later, the chorus voices his unspoken
Exposed to oriental "theatre in
classes at the University of Wiscon-
sin, McElya became interested in
applying Eastern drama to Western
theatre. His colleagues suggested it

was time to try a production on stage,
so he decided on Oedipus.
Greek drama is highly ritualistic,
as is Kabuki. There is the same sort
of acting style.
One wonders how much of the
trappings of "Japanese" drama
could have been left out. This would
leave the focus on the concepts and
approaches to dramatic presenta-
tion that underly the surfaces of
"One great thing about using
Japanese techniques is that it begins
to dawn on the cast that, no matter
what kind of acting theyare doing,
they have to work hard at it".
McElya let them work things out
on their own. He gave them books of
Japanese prints to the chorus and
by WCBN and
"g' Michigan Union
or763 1s_ 9

told them to "find a pose you like,
then strike it."
He feels that his young actors,
while not always succeeding, have
made a bold attemrpt to meet the
challenges, or rather the opportuni-
ties of the Kabuki style. When
Oedipus and Creon (the prophet) ride'
a chorus crescendo into the fiery
dramatic tableau, their emotional
intensity etched in frozen movement,
one has a sense of what he means.

Plenty yoks
Conductor Leonard Bernstein (right) shares a laugh with Mstislav Rostro-
povich at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washing-
ton last Tuesday as they prepare for a performance.

A super science fiction film about survival in a post atomic
wilderness. "An incredibly hilarious and terrifyng vision of
future earth."
FRI OCT. 21-7:30 and 9:15 '
The all time favorite about law school at Harvard and what to "
do with the degree.
SAT. OCT. 22-7:30 and 9:30

'Rolling Thunder'


First of




new wave Vietnam war flicks

Rolling Thunder, currently on view at the Michigan
Theater, is if nothing else a kind of film landmark - it is the
first entry on an already long list of movies about to descend
upon us dealing directly or obliquely with the Vietnam War
and participants therein. The list ranges all the way from
Francis Coppola's already celebrated, much-delayed Apoca-
lypse Now to some Henry Winkler-starring farce, the name
of which perhaps fortunately escapes me.
This sudden flood of Southeast Asia retrospectives marks
an abrupt reversal in the attitude of major domestic film-
makers, who heretofore habitually shied away from Viet-
nam-connected material in fear that the American public
wasn't willing to pay to watch recreations of a national
nightmare only recently removed from us. Well, if Rolling
Thunder is any indication of works to come, then the bigwigs'
paranois over potential controversy is unfounded; Holly-
wood's traditional kid-gloves treatment of anything and
everything may succeed in trivializing even this dark night of
the national soul into so much slam-bang two-fisted pablum.
Rolling Thunder soft-focuses on the reorientation dilem-
ma of Major Charles Rane (William Devane), just returned
to his home in Texas after seven years in a North Vietnamese
prison camp. I wouldn't presume to know what such a pro-
tracted period of physical torture, emotional chaos and con-
suming deprivation of all that is familiar and good would do
to a person, but obviously the effect would be profound and
perhaps unerasable. We are all familiar with the still-
ongoing incidents involving murder, suicide and psychic dis-
integration among many of our repatriated POWs; obviously
it involves a mass malady of long-range manisfestation
alarming enough to merit a sober, intimate cinematic ap-
praisal of what has happened and what is to be done. Alas,
American filmdom has rarely been given to intimacy.
Rolling Thunder'turns out to be merely the latest install-
ment in the rancidly enduring Revenge Film genre, a move-
ment initiated by the powerful, repellently creative
Walking Tall and since perpetuated by a couple of dozen in-
ferior, septic (thought money-making) imitators. Encased in
the revenge formula, Rolling Thunder's Vietnam backdrop
ultimately proves even more incidental to its plot than Bruce
Dern's POW psychosis was to Black Sunday. For all that
happens in this film, Thunder's protagonist could just as
easily be a wronged truck driver, a put-upon sheriff or any of
the other nouveau-traditional stereotypes of the getting-even
Its eye ravenously on the box office, Rolling Thunder
pulls all its punches figuratively while it throws as many as it
can literally. The first third or so of the film deals super-
ficially with the domestic reconditioning problems common
to many POWs: Rane's cultural shock at the seven-year
changes in our social mores, his constrained attempts to get
to know his son whom he remembers only as an infant, his.
belated discovery that his wife loves another man and plans
to get a divorce.
There is one good, on-target scene acidly depicting
Rane's barely disguised disgust over a garish, Cadillac-
awarding welcome home ceremony. But otherwise little is
revealed about our protagonist's inner workings other than
his outer image as an emotionless, burned-out zombie, say-

the celuloid dregs of the eye-for-an-eye syndrome, never
again to extricate itself.
Our hero finds himself accosted in his house by four
thugs bent on stealing a $2,500 silver dollar prize awarded
Rane to commemorate each day of his Vietnam incarcera-
tion. He won't tell them where the loot is, so the refined four-
some tries to loosen his tongue by chopping up his hand in his
garbage disposal. Rane remains silent, but his just-arrived
wife and kid quickly spill the beans over the money's
location. This proves a bad strategic move, as the bandits
proceed to gun down all three of them, wife and son fatally.
Rane makes a slow hospital recovery, then, equipped
with an artificial hook for a right hand, begins a predictably
obsessed quest to hunt down the four culprits. The film may
be weakly implying that violence, whether war-borne or
domestic, is inescapable and all one can ultimatgely do is
strike back. But the parallel is fuzily drawn at best and cer-
tainly secondary to the sheer cathartic bloodlust endemic to
Revenge Cinema. You could hear the Michigan audience
fairly excrete with anticipation as Rane finally sets out on his
gory trackdown.
Rolling Thunder does nothing to disappoint the fanatics.
Its violence is carved out with a graphic expertise more ac-
complished than in most run-of-the-mill revenge flicks, if
that can be said to be a compliment. Naturally, Rane's hand
hook is converted into a lethal weapon; along the course of
his search, we get treated to captivating shots of the hook
impaling a man's hand to a table, later on thrusting itself into
another victim's crotch.
The film sails mindlessly through other gruesomely in-
ventive killings and dismemberments, climaxing with an
armageddon shootout in a Mexican whorehouse. While bloat-
ed Johns and naked women flee their approach, Rane and a
fellow ex-POW (Tommy Lee Jones) wipe out the bad guys,
then stagger victoriously out ofrthescrimson inferno as the
picture's credits abruptly wheel across the screen.
Despite the physical exertion employed, all the assorted
executions are carried out with a splendiferous lack of
emotion by both heroes and villains. An existential morality
play, perhaps (we are all helpless victims)? Not likely. The
Revenge Film cultists demand a minimum level of personali-
ity attached to their protagonists' physiques, and screen-
writer Paul Schrader has complied alarmingly with their
wishes. Possibly he needed the money, but for whatever
reason Schrader has penned what amounts to an intellectu-
ally blunted, poverty-class version of his own Taxi Driver,
and he ought to be ashamed of himself.
Devane, a splendid character actor given his first
starring role, is simply the wrong type to play a semi-cata-
tonic. Devane excels in energy and emotional movement in
films, and his enshackelment here in the severe limitations
of his character render the part even less revealing and in-
teresting than Rane would be had a more inner-directed ac-
tor played the role. Tommy Lee Jones is more successful as
Rane's partner-in-arms; a silent meditative performer of
fascinating promise, Jones somehow managed to emerge un-
scathed from last year's otherwise execable Jackson County
Jail, and would surely have turned Rane into a more pul-
satingly quixoticfigure than Devane does.
But best of all is Linda Haynes as a young blonde who
befriends (and loves) Rane early on, then becomes his semi-
reluctant companion through the maze of his vigilante chase.

CREDIT _;_,.,

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