Tuesday, August 02, 2011

One more song and it’s over

In an interview once, Robert Forster answered the question ‘Which living person do you most admire?’ by saying ‘I am fond of Peter Falk’. I love that answer, mostly because I, in turn, am fond of Robert Forster. Although I’ve never seen an episode of Columbo all the way through, I do remember enjoying his performance in Wings of Desire, which is what I thought about when he died recently. I watched it again at the weekend. He plays himself, kind of – people are always pointing him out, ‘Look, there’s Columbo!’ – but he is also a fallen angel, and occasionally speaks to other angels whom no-one else can see. In the film, angels are all around, listening in to the private thoughts of Berlin’s citizens, trying to comfort them in times of distress (though literally imperceptible, they can somehow connect emotionally), but also comparing notes about the more unusual things they think. Near the end Bruno Ganz’s character Damiel, another fallen angel, wanders into a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig. They’re playing ‘The Carny’. Damiel is trying to find the woman for whom he has given up his angelhood, who is there too, in the crowd. His friend Cassiel stands onstage next to Nick, unseen. In the pause between songs, this is what he alone can hear:
One more song and it’s over. But I’m not going to tell you about a girl, I’m not going to tell you about a girl.
Cut from black and white to colour, Cassiel becomes invisible, and...
Ah wanna tell ya ’bout a girl
Staccato piano and bunched up, tense drums plunge us into ‘From Her To Eternity’, the rawest of Cave’s many absolute classic masterpieces. Blixa looks like death, there are chandeliers. It’s a breathtaking moment.


Richard said...

That hair! Each of his quiffs is as wide as his face at nose level. What, for the record, are the other classic masterpieces? I never made it much past The Ship Song and Red Right Hand, to my discredit.

Chris said...

Cave's masterpieces are interesting, because they are deliberately masterpieces, but somehow that doesn't stop them being masterpieces. So: 'From Her To Eternity', 'Tupelo', 'The Mercy Seat', 'And The Ass Saw The Angel', 'Papa Won't Leave You, Henry'. 'Stagger Lee' doesn't quite fit that mould, but that, too, and along the same lines, chapter 3 of 'Bunny Munro'.

And yes - an angry young man with immaculate hair!

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