The Ingrid Bergman Tribute at BAM

cactus-flower-hawn-bergman-lenz

If there is one way to describe the recent work of Isabella Rossellini, it is as a series of acts of generosity. In her series, Green Porno, as well as a one woman show of the same name she also performed at BAM, Rossellini shared some rather idiosyncratic knowledge of the mating habits of animals. In this new production she appeared in at BAM, she summoned her mother, Ingrid Bergman, with the aid of Jeremy Irons. This summoning was aided by film clips, both from Bergman’s private home movies and her many screen appearances, as well as Bergman’s own words from an out of print memoir. Such wonderful surprises as Bergman’s comic acting as an energetic nun in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and sublime boogying in Cactus Flower (1969) as well as her more iconic performance in Casablanca (1942) were showcased.  Yet, there was something strangely effective to this production and the portrait of Bergman that was offered.

As with the Green Porno production, this performance was distinctly hard to classify. While Rossellini and Irons mostly stuck to reading Bergman’s own words from scripts, neither could be said to be ‘portraying’ Bergman. They were most simply allowing Bergman the chance to speak through them, both excitedly sharing her words with the assembled crowd. Bergman’s life was not a strictly happy one. She lost both of her parents early in her life. In a particularly poignant moment of the evening, Rossellini read Bergman’s recollection of first encountering her lost mother in home movies. Rossellini engaged with her lost mother’s image and words in this production.

Almost every time something particularly juicy or funny from Bergman’s memoirs or a film clip drew a notable reaction from the audience, Rossellini would quietly look up and share in our affection for this woman, her mother. The production showed Bergman as something else than just icon. She was shown as a mother, a wife, a person who went through great suffering and who finally lived a joyful life, using the fullness of emotion to create full characters. At the start and end of the production, Bergman was quoted about feeling a kinship to birds. Rossellini has of course carried this fixation of her mother even further in her own work for animal rights. In these moments, one saw a beautiful continuity between mother and daughter, life and work. This was a special and unique night of remembering and of life.

Advertisements

TIFF Journal: On Transcendence

4af770c2f3252b140dac51736f6d76be

In the midst of heavy rain and aggressive sun in early September, I found myself hidden away in a dark movie theater–or to be more precise in several theaters all across Toronto. This was of course for the Toronto Film Festival which brings huge crowds to see new films from around the world. The TIFF is one of the most maximalist of festivals, bringing with it an almost unique variety of films and different aesthetics from the commercial to the far extremes of experimental. Even seeing an average of three films each day, I viewed only what can be called a sampling. One searches watching film after film, if not for a great film (though I did see several and found an almost completely strong lineup) then for the truly radiant or transcendent moment.

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, this came when the aging Turner goes to pose for a daguerreotype and talks with the overeager photographer. The photographer tells Turner he has previously photographed natural scenes including in Niagara Falls, showing us the change from when painting was the only way to access images of the world to when photographs (and of course moving pictures) would slowly become the way we saw the world. In the most beautiful sections of the film, Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope photograph natural landscape in such a way as to become the scenes painted by Turner–most memorably with the movement of a train.

Godard’s latest, Goodbye To Language 3D, offered the novelty of watching a film by Godard with 3D glasses. Far from accessible, this film felt more like an assaultive experimental work with its intensely replayed classical music, loud screams and other bodily functions, abundant nudity and abstract and often impenetrable dialogue (particularly with Godard’s spotty subtitles). Still, the film unquestionably works a spell on the viewer. At a certain point in the film, I just decided to let it simply wash over me with its sometimes stunning images of nature and, yes, Godard’s own cute dog. Perhaps the closest film in spirit to the vintage works of the French New Wave yet completely contemporary was the new film by Xavier Dolan, Mommy, which included one of the best three person dance scenes since Godard’s own Bande A Parte and is a portrait of a juvenile delinquent as full of wonder and energy as The 400 Blows.

Some other highlights were the dance scenes in Mia Hanson-Love’s Eden, Romain Duris’ joy in going shopping for clothes in Francois Ozon’s brilliant and tricky The New Girlfreind, the perfectly scored soccer game in Matías Piñeiro’s very enjoyable The Princess Of France, the colors and surprise musical numbers in the brilliantly bizarre The Voices from Marjane Satrapi, the lovely moments of motion and energy amid the largely still The Tale Of Princess Kaguya, the wonderfully sung The Last Five Years and the slow burning tension in Melanie Laurant’s relentless study of cruelty and love, Breathe. Hal Hartley’s latest, Ned Rifle, brings his trilogy of films started with Henry Fool and Fay Grimm to a close with the best of the films, with an end as shocking as it is retrospectively inevitable. Noah Baumbach’s film, While We’re Young, manages to be at once a broad comedy and perfectly specific in showing the ludicrous disconnect of hipsters who only use vintage technology and the older generations obsessed with staring into the voids of their smartphones.

In watching 20+ films you notice some interesting refrains. Some examples: I saw three documentaries about older men who very much enjoy their work and, in the case of two of the three, aerobics (Seymour: An Introduction, The Fifty Year Argument and The Kingdom Of Dreams and Madness) and two films in very different keys about aging actresses (played by Juliette Binoche and Julianne Moore) going back to roles from their youth (or mother’s youth) and their complicated relationships with their personal assistants, both with stars of the Twilight films (Clouds Of Silas Maria and Maps To The Stars). Perhaps the most surprising group of films came with Wild, Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game, all studies of loneliness. They were about people isolated and apart, often alone: on the trail, in the boxing ring and in the lab. The standout among these was Foxcatcher, a beautiful and heartbreaking film about the slowly destructive loneliness of two men which features a mercilessly self loathing performance by Channing Tatum.

A film which can be called among the most remarkable at this year’s festival was Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look Of Silence, his follow up to The Act Of Killing. While The Act Of Killing could be said to be in some sense about filmmaking ,The Look Of Silence is about film-viewing, the brother of one of the killed, Adi, viewing the footage as well as meeting with those responsible for killings, all to try to understand how these actions came to be committed. The film is one of profound empathy and courage as Adi goes to confront, without aggression, the perpetrators. The interactions are always powerful, sometimes disturbing and sometimes moving but with a constant seeking for reconciliation. Oppenheimer chooses poetic images and juxtapositions to show what life in Indonesia is like for Adi and his family after this trauma. This film reminded me just how much cinema can change the way we see the world and bring a new understanding, even of that which seems incomprehensible.

Dispatch from The Luminato Festival: Cineastas

Cineastas, a new play by Mariano Pensotti was just presented as part of the Luminato festival in Toronto, a giant festival of arts which also brought Matthew Barney among others. The play was an exploration of the relationship of life and work for several filmmakers in contemporary Argentina. Argentina has become one of the most interesting countries to me for contemporary cinema, just recently Matias Pineiro’s Viola and Jazmin Lopez’s Leones. Pensotti and this production makes me think that Argentinian theater is just as exciting. Watching the play made me consider how as a filmmaker, one may strive to bring an authentic life onto the screen yet who can say that life is more true than cinema. At one point in the play, a McDonalds CEO recalls the shoot of a commercial directed by Spike Lee in which a village was built. The poor began living in the set and they could not be made to leave. Is this not now a real village?  Later in the play, a filmmaker goes into a church, a converted cinema of his childhood and finds himself moved to join the group. Is this really that different from the transcendent experience we seek from the cinema?

The striving of all the filmmakers in this play is for the real, all too often deleted from films. The stories in the play were simple yet resonant. One award winning filmmaker is given a script about returning refugees. She dismisses it until she finds herself considering if her lost father could in fact be alive. The script opens something in her despite her refusal to connect to it. In another, a popular director is diagnosed with cancer and seeks to put the entirety of his life into his slight comedy. He leaves story behind to try to show what is left behind of a beautiful mundane existence.  A film can be called life but edited. Images are found by the filmmaker and placed against one another to create new meaning.  The stage was arranged in a split screen, one half the lives and the other the films, providing a unique chance for theater to achieve montage, two images which through their connect or disconnect create a dialogue. The actors in the production all gave the production wonderful energy. Pensotti has a wonderful eye for images and manages to use the theatrical space to powerfully consider this relationship of life and film (and so theater and film.)

REVIEW: Dormant Beauty

If Sleeping Beauty were to fall into that deep sleep now, would she be placed on life support? Marco Bellochio’s new film, Dormant Beauty, takes a complicated and layered look at a situation from a number of years ago in Italy where the decision of whether or not a woman, Eluana Englaro, in a deep coma, could be taken off of life support was made extremely public and brought into court. Bellochio makes this far from a sensatiMaya_Sansa_in_DORMANT_BEAUTY_Photo_courtesy_of_Celluloid-Dreamsonalistic docudrama however. He places several stories alongside the TV screens blaring out coverage. In one segment, an actress (played by a wonderfully melodramatic Isabelle Huppert) performs the role of the cloistered nun as she cares for her daughter kept alive by a tube pumping air for an audience of mirrors. Her son fights to get her to return to the stage. Meanwhile, a senator (Toni Servillo of The Great Beauty) tries to decide how to vote on Eluana’s case which brings ghosts of his past. At the same time, his distant daughter Maria (a lovely Alba Rohrwacher) marches for Eluana to be kept alive and falls in love with a man who protests against it. A doctor watches, obsessively, the body of a suicidal drug addict who is in a coma and wishes no longer to be alive. Bellochio shows all the meanings that this real event could have for these different people, all of the implications that it brings. This news story becomes the driving force between a network of stilled relationships, between lovers, mothers and sons and fathers and daughters. This is a story not just of one sleeping beauty but several, all waiting to awaken…or go forever to sleep.

The film is quietly surreal. In one scene, a group runs around rapidly unwrapping plastic covered bodies at a hospital, the thrown plastic turning the calm space into a carnival. Bellochio has a masterful eye for choosing images to express the most in every scene. An especially comic and powerful image came when a group of politicians stood against a projection of their party’s rally as they were photographed, the projection making their faces indecipherable, a blank mass. When the senator decides to split with the party later in the film after having a differing opinion on Eluana’s case, he passes the same projection, his face a silhouette. This separation between the  man and his party is expressed through these images in a way perhaps deeper than language. Each of the plots and images has something distinct and unexpected to say about the nature of these relationships. The film, moving far outside the specific Italian events, makes one think about the very nature of love and care. What does it mean to care for someone who may or may not want to be rescued, I found myself asking. At the end of the film, a sleeping beauty is awakened by her prince but we cannot say whether or not she will soon drift back to the sleep of death. She opens the window. Can she stay still?

Dormant Beauty is released Friday, June 6th at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Dispatch From Inside Out: Toronto LGBT Film Festival

In the early summertime in Toronto,  the floor of the entrance of the  TIFF Bell Lightbox was covered by a pink, not red, carpet. The Inside Out festival was happening and the place was crowded with audiences there to see new queer films. An inarguable fact of the contemporary film landscape is that much of the most interesting work is from queer filmmakers and/or about queer stories. Just in the past year, Alain Guiraudie‘s startling Stranger by the Lake and Xavier Dolan’s compelling thriller Tom At The Farm (also screened at Inside Out) were some of the most captivating work I saw. Other films, like the divisive Blue Is The Warmest Color, reached larger audiences and moved to something like mainstream acceptance. Increasingly work which would formerly not receive release or recognition beyond festivals like Inside Out has gotten mainstream attention. Still, this year’s Inside Out offered a chance to see some deeply idiosyncratic, hilarious, telling and radical queer films.

From Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian LivesUnearthed from the National Film Board Of Canada’s archives was Forbidden Loves: The Unashamed Tales Of Lesbian Lives, a wonderful documentary about the perhaps hidden stories of lesbians in the forties and fifties. Watching the film, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another, more recent Canadian documentary released by the NFB Stories We Tell which showed the director Sarah Polley looking into her family’s past and the many different versions there were, using recreations of old footage. In a similar device, the directors of this film, Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman choose to use the pulp paperbacks which were some of the few cultural representations of lesbians available at the time, always with a death at the end. We see women talking about how they read these books voraciously for the rare representation they provided. and incorporate a  kind of fantasy film made from these kind of stories but without any of the punishment usually implied, unashamed.  This choice to visually represent something almost unseen, hidden in our local culture is similar to Polley’s illustration of her family’s secrets through created home footage and is quite valuable. The film is quite entertaining and alive with the stories of these women and their lives, never at a remove. These are stories which should be told and heard from a time in which they were all too hidden.

Midway through Nancy Kates’ new documentary, Regarding Susan Sontag, Terry Castle says that the cover of Sontag’s book of stories I, Etcetera of Sontag wearing all black and looking out at the reader “was a kind of pin up for every graduate school lesbian I knew.” Not unlike the covers of the paperbacks in Forbidden Loves, Sontag’s alluring image provided an almost guilty draw for lesbian readers. Sontag was from the same era as the women in Forbidden Love, bisexual and having most of her relationships with women but loosely closeted for her whole life.  As Fran Lebowitz says in the documentary in defense of Sontag’s decision “why is it a private thing? Because for someone my age, for most of your life it had to be a secret thing.” Her sexuality can be said to be something coded, hidden  in her work and this argument is made in the film (Wayne Koystenbaum asks “does the author of Notes On Camp have to come out?”). The two films, Forbidden Love and Regarding Susan Sontag, make surprisingly good companion pieces about the time in which lesbian relationships were hidden. They claim a history through these tattered paperbacks lying on lesbian bookshelves.

Speaking of camp, another one of my favorite films at Inside Out was Cupcakes by the Israeli director Eytan Fox about a ragtag group of friends entering a singing competition not altogether unlike EuroVision. This film was joyful to watch, full of color, humor and life, just like a good pop song. That Fox, usually regarded as a director of far darker fair, can make a film as pop as this one is wonderful. We cannot underestimate the worth of good kitsch. The Foxy Merkins by Madeleine Olnek was also amusing, showing an unlikely prostitute and pimp’s life stationed outside that hotbed of hooking…Talbot’s clothing stores. Lisa Haas gave a particularly good performance as Margaret, full of uncertainty as she makes her way in the world.

But my favorite film of the festival? That would have to be the last one I saw, Me, Myself and Mum by Guillaume Gallienne, about not conforming to the expectations of society about gender and sexuality. Gallienne gives a remarkable performance, both as his young self and the mother who he grows up imitating. He is a true performer, a master of the gesture which shows character. The film had perhaps the most wonderfully shocking ending for a film at Inside Out–which I won’t spoil here. The film is also absolutely hilarious. A must see, if you ask me, and well worth checking, well, out.

A Interview with Géraldine Pailhas on Young And Beautiful

In the late afternoon on a chilly March day, I meet the French actress Géraldine Pailhas in the lobby of a New York hotel, almost hidden among the sidewalks. We are there to talk about Pailhas’s newest film, showing as part of Rondez Vous With French Cinema, Francois Ozon’s impressive new film, Young And Beautiful, a film which eludes simple summary. It’s about prostitution, sure. Seemingly, the subject is a girl selling herself in the pursuit of cash. The girl asks for five hundred dollars from her johns, the same amount which her absent father sends her for birthdays. Her mother (played by Pailhas) is distant as well, conducting affairs and remembering her wild younger days. Slowly, things dissolve. Ozon makes a careful, lovely film which shows nuance and surprising tenderness in a story which would seem ripe for exploitation. As well, the film features some of the best and most precise use of music in any film this year with a careful selection of four songs by Francoise Hardy. The interview with Pailhas provided my favorite kind of exchange, the chance to discuss and explore the process behind a fascinating film as well as to hear about Pailhas’s career in the French film world.

The Story 

Gabriel Chazan: I wanted to start by asking how much you thought the story of the film was particular to the French context or was a general story…

Géraldine Pailhas:  I was wondering what story exactly to you?

GC: Yeah, there are so many stories [in the film] and I want to talk about that. I saw it as an entirely different story than what I’d expected…

GP: Because some people are focusing on the prostitution of this young girl. This to be the first subject, the one which attracts people or also repulses people. But to me, it’s probably a more like a pretext to talk about adolescence and about this very, very  tense moment of everybody’s life where you can feel mutation in your body, in your mind, in your emotions and that you don’t fit. To what, to where, to whom? I don’t know. Anybody can experience his own suffering in that moment, more or less because some people go through that pretty easily. It’s later that something happens. But for me, the movie is more wide than just the idea of this young girl being a prostitute. So it’s also less French than we could think also because it’s about every single adolescence.

GC: The way I saw the film, it was mostly about family. Because in my viewing the two figures, the man and his wife, who she meets through prostitution are very reflective of the mother figure and the father figure who are in some ways absent, the father living in Italy and the mother distant. I was curious, playing the mother, how you regarded that and how you saw the film as being about family.

GP: I think what you just said is very interesting, about those two characters that just are added to the original family. Of course, they also can also represent the most important person as the mother and the dad. The mother as the one who finally understands her daughter and she’s Charlotte [Rampling] and the dad who can love his daughter and be close to her and take care of her and… But this is more dangerous to go that way. [laughs] I think you can add sex everywhere and you can also take it out of every situation. I mean, that’s quite sad, eh? You can find sex everywhere. For me, the story can be many things. It can also be a chess board. It can also be a horror movie…

GC: Yeah, the first shot is this shadow looming over this young girl…

GP: Yeah, he, Francois, succeeds to create a very open film with tensions and nothing is shown precisely or told or explained. That’s probably what is a problem for a few audience spectators. Those people need to be taken by hand which I understand completely but this movie would not do that for them. It’s something about empathy, I think and there is a lot of space for empathy in this movie because you can decide to whom you want to feel empathy or not, who is going to stay mysterious to the end… I think I have the answer for that. [laughs]

Of course, the center is family. Because in family, there is love but there is also death. You can completely crush your kids if you give them too much of something. Too much love or too much indifference. But it’s the center of all the abuses and too much love is one of them.

The Mother

GC: I was curious how in playing the mother you saw her in relation to the daughter. She often talks about how she was wild in her youth and I was wondering if you saw the daughter as trying to re-stage that… How did you regard the mother? How did you find compassion for the mother?

GP: I was kind of mad at her so I had to get rid of that feeling because it’s exactly the same thing, the same reaction that the character has toward her daughter. She is mad at her daughter because the daughter has everything she needs, that she thinks she needs. I was mad at the character because she also has everything she needs: the husband, the beautiful kids, the nice neighborhood, the money also and I was thinking that she was not curious enough to not only accept what she has got but also to go further and to investigate. Just to be able to know who she is living with and not only think that she is the maitresse where everybody is trapped. So I was mad at her because of that, because she has the opportunity of working on herself and…

GC: …and chooses not to, yeah.

GP:  Then I tried to understand her and I did, I think. I wanted to give life to her so it was very important to have empathy and she touched me. Because she’s lost, she’s so wrong and…that’s humanity. That’s all about humanity, I think. She thought she was sweet. She thought she was tender and gentle. She thought she was perfect and there’s nothing about perfection in humanity [laughs] so she was not human. In this story, her daughter is, in a way, teaching her humanity by hurting her that much.

GC: I appreciated that so much in the film. That empathy is really strong for viewers and I think that was what surprised me in the film so much…

GP: Why?

GC: It felt so affirming in the end and it felt like it was moving toward tenderness by the end, very slowly but I thought that was a really impressive and surprising shift for me…

GP: At the same time, nothing is ending…

GC: Nothing is perfected…

GP: And satisfying because she will never be that gentle girl that the mother wants her to be. I mean, some day she will probably meet someone whom she really loves. You can kind of hope that for her. At the same time, why? There’s many ways to find a life, get a life and I hate the idea that there is only one model and that’s the mother’s one which is not perfect.

GC: Yeah, I saw it as the daughter going against the mother’s model [of how to be]. I thought that’s a really complicated friction that happens in the film. The daughter in a sense fulfills what the mother laid out for her, to just be a wild young woman. But her expectation is so exceeded by the daughter’s rebelliousness. I just found that really fascinating…

Ozon’s Methods

GC: It’s such a careful movie. Every shot was so mapped out, so tight. I was interested in how long the set ups took and just how the shoot was?

GP: Do you know that Francois does the frame himself?

GC: Oh yeah?

GP: Yeah, he shoots the film.

GC: That makes a lot of sense. It’s so precise.

GP: I very often forget to tell people that because very few people know, actually. It’s very special for an actress or actor to be confronted. The first look of the camera, the director is behind.

GC: That must give so much intimacy to the shoot.

GP: Yes. I think everything is more immediate and obvious also. You can correct things even more easily. He’s good. I mean, I love the way he films.

GC:  You’ve shot with him before [Young And Beautiful]

GP: Yes, I have.  On the set because he is the driver in two ways, it goes really fast. And he’s a very faithful director so he knows his crew very well. He changes from time to time but mostly it’s people who he’s been working with most of the time.

GC: So it’s a shorthand.

GP: Yeah,  where there’s obstacles, with him it’s always about the solution first which means that we finished two days in advance.  [laughs]

GC: That’s a rare thing to hear.

GP: Yes, it’s the opposite almost of every other project and I really, deeply understand why it’s so difficult somewhere else with somebody else. But it’s also kind of a miracle to see Francois being that human and that efficient. He has the biggest capacity of work that I’ve ever seen and some jealous people could say that he doesn’t work enough just to explain why he’s so great compared to them. But that’s not true. He’s a hard worker and I admire him. All the people who work with him admire him and love him. He’s a very lovable person.

Pailhas’s Carreer 

GC: I was interested if you could talk a little bit about your experience of acting in the French film world.

GP:  I’m an actress because I love cinema, because I love directors and I want to be their favorite actress. I want to be the one who can get through the idea they’re trying to sell and I want to be the voice, the body of the directors. That’s most of the time what I want to be and to do. I’m really lucky because the directors I’ve been working with trust me, most of the time entirely and I respect them and so there is an exchange of respect and intelligence I guess and I can go really far.

GC: What films inspired you to be an actress?

GP: Do you know Maurice Pialat?

GC: Yeah.

GP: I was a dancer. I wanted to be a classical dancer, ballet, but I was fascinated by a few movies and by a few directors. This one was particularly touching to me as a man before I even knew his movies. Then I started to watch his movies and I was thinking that if I may be an actress someday, which I didn’t want to [laughs], I would love to play a role in one of his movies. Then I became an actress and I made his last movie in 1995 and it was extraordinary.

GC: How did training in ballet influence you as an actress?

GP: It makes you quicker, every move on the set is something that I don’t have to think of. It’s very natural and I don’t feel lost. I don’t have to look for my place. I’m free with my whole body.

Young And Beautiful will be released April 25th in New York

[This interview has been condensed and edited.]

REVIEW: Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno: Live on Stage

What was the production the Italian American actress Isabella Rossellini performed at BAM this past week anyways? Was it a science presentation, a one woman show, a screening of her short films, standup comedy, an autobiography, an “in person” communion with celebrity or was it all that at once in one simple piece? To answer this presents a challenge. When Rossellini took the stage, one could sense her celebrity and glamour taking over the room. While she was dressed plainly, just in a simple dress and pearls, she still had that draw, that aura. She walked out clutching flowers, one beautiful, one slightly plain. She told those in the audience for this seemingly polite gathering: “ladies and gentlemen, we’re here to talk about sex.” She explained that the flowers were an example of sexuality in nature, pollinated to reproduce. She threw aside the plain flowers explaining that they had not the sexual appeal of the more lovely flowers. Yet was she there to talk about sex at all?

As she said early in the show, the production was not pornographic though still “obscene.” Unlike one might have expected, Rossellini did not perform her videos originally made for the Sundance Channel “live” and dress in costume (except for one brief, wonderful exception when she became a hamster) but rather presented them as a dramatic monologue, a peculiar one woman show of a lecture. Rossellini presented her research on the different mating habits of animals, ranging from ducks to salmon to elephants. Her interest seemed ultimately in the individuality of the animals, the wide range of species, the ways that they change and evolve. The show was ultimately about something else entirely, biodiversity. The strange thing about artwork related to sex is how much it can be said to represent  larger human experience and issues.

This was clearly understood by Rossellini as well as her collaborator on the script for the production, Jean-Claude Carrière, the screenwriter for many of Bunuel’s films about other complex sexualities such as The Obscure Object Of Desire. The fascinating eleme14-green-pornont of viewing the different processes of animal reproduction from Rossellini’s deeply human and performative interpretation is the way it makes the viewer consider his or her own sexuality and place in the world. The beauty and humanity in looking at the different mating habits explored by Rossellini comes in seeing every human desire realized in some animal process: Rossellini described her father’s desire to become pregnant, impossible in human men, realized in several animals; Rossellini professed her own relation to salmon, who are able to protect themselves against unwanted mates through creating a labyrinth.

The argument made passionately by Rossellini in the production is a simple one: there is no deep separation between the beauty of nature and the beauty of humanity: that is to say the diversity and specificity of creatures. To go back to my earlier question, I would look at the quote from Carrière in the notes for the production “…biology is the greatest show on earth.” The most enjoyable part of the production for me was the chance to see science as cinema (Rossellini’s shorts) and theater. Whatever creature this production was is one ever changing, impossible to classify. At the end of the play, Rossellini went back to the bible to consider Noah’s taking of two of each creature, one male, one female. As she described, it is not quite that simple: some animals only have one gender and reproduce asexually, some creatures shift gender over time. In this way, perhaps it is best not to classify the production but to accept the combination of so many different elements to birth a unique creature.