Thursday, April 22, 2010
I can't find a good biography online, so I'll have to wait 'til I can buy it in paperback before I'm sure I'm on a right track about this woman. But I'm going to say this, anyway.
I think Seraphine was misinterpreted from the moment her patron "discovered" her. I don't think anybody ever really listened to what she said about her life and, instead, found her self expression unacceptable, simply because she was unconventional [read: especially for a "mere manual laborer." And a woman, at that.]
She was called to paint, and to paint visionary interpretations of the fractal qualities of the natural world.
She wasn't, as some interpret, wasteful with money. She had no concept of finances, and nobody bothered to teach her. She was at the whim of her patron and his decisions, just as she'd been at the whim of employers and landlords. And, just as with them, she was probably exploited by her patron.
Some interpret her as being "obsessed" that the end of the world was coming. I can't verify this. It, too, may be a misinterpretation.
Here's what I got from the final scene of her freedom:
I think her angels had told her to paint her way to absolution, redemption. I think she had to be baptized in paint, in order to become a Bride of Christ (in other words, a Nun). I think she gave away her most valuable possessions to people in the village who had respected her and shown her kindness. I believe that, once her parcels were empty, she planned to devote her life to her church.
I believe she was intercepted by small minded authorities, called by small minded gossips, who put her in a hell hole [also called "mental asylum"] and "diagnosed by small minded doctors who exploited her and encouraged her patron not only not to have contact with her, but to pay for better accommodations by preying on his guilt.
I think her spiritual intentions will never be fully understood because those who could have witnessed her filtered her through their own assumptions and prejudices.
I think she had fulfilled her duties to her spirituality and was on her way to be married to her God.
I think the world who would do this to such a talent is crazy, not Seraphine.
I'm putting this in Outsider Art because it is.
I live in a landscape nearly identical to this. No mall, no industry on the edge of town, no nightclub with dancing, no suburban development. Just tumbleweeds, prairies, road runners, sky . . .
I recognized some of my neighbors in this film: not the main characters, though.
It's nice to see someone talk about small town USA without cynicism, superiority, snobbery and contempt.
This is a production about loving plain old US citizens, warts and all.
It's a "what would happen if . . ." contemplation of culture.
My favorite part was the talent show, particularly the two auctioneers, battling to be fastest, accompanied by a yodeling roper.
It's "Spinal Tap" with cowboy boots.
I think "The Matrix" stole their green on black video read out from this film.
The preacher, by the way, was played by the guy who's been playing Edward Quartermain on "General Hospital."
John Goodman's song should have been in a slightly lower key; he had to struggle.
It's visually fun, but the art never gets too distracting.
It's a fun ride!