Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mirrors of Time

Last night, I watched a flick called "Jar City" on Netflix streaming. It's a foreign film shot in Iceland with an all-Icelandic cast. The dialogue, as you might expect, is spoken in Icelandish or whatever they call the language of Iceland. Since I'm a competent reader of English, I was able to follow along thanks to the subtitles, of course.

I gotta say, whatever they call whatever it is they speak in Iceland sounds about as foreign to me as most any language I've ever heard. I've watched plenty of foreign films. Many of them made in places like Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spanish-speaking countries and elsewhere. All of those languages (none of which I can speak) have words you can pick out that sound a little English. Not so for Icelandish. Just like it's not so for most any Asian, Middle-Eastern, or African country. (Except South Africa.)

But Iceland isn't in Asia, the Middle-East, or Africa. It's technically Europe... I think. Anyway, you've heard the phrase, "Sounds Greek to me," haven't you? It refers, of course, to someone or some thing you can't understand at all. Well, I'm changing the phrase to, "Sounds Icelandish to me." Iceland, if you didn't know, has a bleak, barren, and alien-looking landscape. No wonder they invented a language so alien sounding.

"Jar City" is a pretty good murder mystery thriller revolving around the well-deserved demise of some old scumbag with a very heinous past. The protagonist is a conflicted police detective who has lots of personal shit going on in his private life. (Sounds very Hollywood-familiar, doesn't it?) The film also has to do with a rare brain disease passed on by paternal parents and grandparents; a disease that often manifests itself in the very young and is lethal.

Part of the murder mystery focuses on what happened to one of the dead scumbag's old friends who disappeared years before. His disappearance holds a big clue to the murder mystery. It turns out the friend (who had disappeared) was an avid amateur photographer. The detective discovers this when he interviews the missing dude's elderly mother. When asked what it was her son so loved about photography, the old lady says her son used to often say, "Photographs are mirrors of time."

Those mirrors of time, it turns out, play a big part in unraveling the mystery.

I'm sharing this because I thought it's a cool and somewhat different way of describing photography or, rather, photographs. Often -- especially thanks to Kodak who may not be around much longer -- the ways in which photographs are often described tend to be about the memories associated with them rather than time. Calling them "mirrors of time" almost makes time sound like something tangible. I kinda like that. Sure, photographers talk about those little moments in time captured by the clicks of a shutter. But it seems like photographs themselves are more often associated with memories rather than time itself. It's all semantics, of course... and metaphor. But I enjoy different sorts of metaphors, analogies, and the kinds of semantics which can be used to describe things. They can be very thought-provoking.

BTW, my next post, which will be in the very early part of next year, will have everything to do with glamour photography and nothing to do with foreign films from Iceland. I promise.

The pretty girl at the top is Paris. It's a mirror of time when I still had my own studio. That was then and this is now but I still have plenty of mirrors of my time spent in my own studio.

1 comment:

rob young said...

Icelandic is the answer to your question. :-) The book Jar City is a pretty good read, so are the rest of the books by that author. I can't spell his name, much less pronounce it.

And Iceland is a seriously cool country. Been there twice and plannning to go again soon. And it is a long way from Australia.