20 December 2008

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Here is a series of facts. As far as we can discern the word 'fact' to mean 'a thing that is indisputably the case'*.

Steven Sebring has been shooting this film since 1995. The film won Best Cinematography at Sundance Film Festival. It is really beautiful and makes me love Patti Smith even more than I already did. There is wonderful live footage from Patti Smith concerts. There is also intimate glimpses into Smith's home- and touring-life; scenes with her parents, her children and her close friends. The film is narrated by Smith. Her voice carries the film along with this wonderful lolling North-East American accent, elucidating personal and professional anecdotes and experiences.

Smith shows us a lot of the memorabilia from her career and life: Beautiful photographs taken by herself and others, including many by her friend Robert Mapplethorpe; her favourite dress as a child; the famous tambourine, painted by Mapplethorpe; her own paintings (inspired by fellow-American Jackson Pollock); her guitar (once tuned by Bob Dylan); and many other glorious objects (in the sense that an object is 'a material thing that can be seen and touched'*). Smith also presents us with non-material memorabilia: Her thoughts, her words, her image, her way. She is very generous with her smiles, which aids the film enormously in its portrayal of her life as we feel welcome in our observation of the Patti Smith world, rather than voyeuristic. On reflection, this last sentence is quite possibly a fact, but maybe not.

One of the my favourite lines in this film is when Patti says, "Life is an adventure of our own design intersected by fate in a series of lucky and unlucky accidents." She says this line twice in the film, once near the start and once near the end. I think Patti Smith is one of the best known and visible examples of life, in the sense that life means 'the existence of an individual human being'*, and in the sense that life means 'a way of living'*. Actually, that last sentence may or may not be fact.

Philip Glass appears in this film performing his piece Metamorphosis Three, to which Patti Smith reads one of Allen Ginsberg's poems. Their performance is brilliant, in the sense that brilliant means 'very bright and radiant'*. This second sentence also may not be fact, but in my opinion it is.

These are YouTube videos which are relevant to the film Patti Smith: Dream of Life and also the above text:

For more information on this film visit DreamOfLifeTheMovie.com.

*Definition according to Apple's Dashboard Dictionary.


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