I recently came across these two short films by the French director Chris Marker (1921-2012) from Bestiaire (1990). The first one is a cat sleeping on a piano. And the second a series of owls, mostly swivelling their heads rather amazingly.
Looking at the cat, I realised for the first time that sleeping can be an art form.
Also, the next time I find it hard to sleep I am going to try to imagine being that cat and see what happens. (I shall stop short of lying down on top of the piano keyboard, however).
The owls go through a range of motion which is so far beyond our abilities as to seem aliens or objects (periscopes, perhaps).
Also, there is something about these films which seems to belong to another time, although though they are quite recent. Perhaps it is just the fact that they seem completely separate from our new multi-tasking customs. Marker focuses on one thing and doesn’t get distracted.
Chat écoutant la musique
An owl is an owl is an owl
If you have now become curious about how far an owl can swivel its head, look at this:
(best seen if you stand back and squint a little and imagine it as a set of slightly cubist paintings with runny paint and everything a little crooked)
Tonight I dine alone but,
I am a party of one.
I have brought all my music
in my head
and I have
poems read to me
by poets I have never met.
They flit between the waiters
and bend their verses round the oil,
the pepper and the vinegar. Read more…
I can’t find where the original of this picture comes from. I suppose the instrument must be a gattoforte, because it must be pinching their tails or something not too pleasant, so there is no way they are yowling softly, which means it is definitely not a gattopiano I think someone should compose a piece to go with it, using some sampled cat sounds. In the meantime, since we don’t have a septet yet, while five cats sit on the sidelines, here is a recording of Rossini’s Cat Duet (Duetto buffo di due gatti) performed by Victoria de los Angeles and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf .