Videomatica Rental Is Dead - Long Live Limelight VideoSaturday, January 07, 2012
1. f. Vaso interior del candil.
2. f. Vaso pequeño en que se pone aceite u otra materia combustible para que ardan una o más mechas.
3. f. neguilla (‖ planta).
4. f. pl. Línea de luces en el proscenio del teatro.
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados
|Edgar Degas, Ballet Rehersal on Stage, 1984|
Oil on canvas, 65 x 82cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
The reason for the above citing of the definition of candileja is that for many years I have been ignorant of the word. It would pop up here and there whenever I read references in Spanish to Charles Chaplin’s 1952 film Limelight with that very young and beautiful Claire Bloom. The film in Spanish has the title Candilejas. And somewhere below I will connect it all to Limelight Video on Alma St.
It is here where I want to confess (many others if they have the chance, too) that often when people would mention the film I would say something deep like, “A fascinating film. A film by a true genius.” For years if anybody would bring up the subject of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers I would comment,” It is one of the greatest stories of all time.” And Yet until four weeks ago I had not seen Limelight and I did not read Dumas (most of Dumas in my effort to make up for lost time until 8 years ago).
Orchestra Musicians c. 1870-72
Oil on canvas (69 x 49cm)
Städtische Galerie Städelschen Kunstinstitut
Frankfurt am Main
I remember with personal embarrassment and incident that involved my young Spanish neighbour in Arboledas, Estado de México in 1972. We found out that we were avid science fiction novel readers. I lent him Sirius by Olaf Stapleton and in exchange he handed me, El Retorno de las Estrellas by Stanislaw Lem. At the time I really did not like to read in Spanish and I doubt my neighbour could read English well. A month later we returned each other’s books and in our discussion on the merits of the books we had read, I am sure that he did not read Serius as I had not Lem’s Return From the Stars. It is perhaps because of this that I think there has been a demise of the cocktail party. Isn’t it really a gathering of people who while drinking discourse on that which they do not know?
Returning to the definition of candileja, the relevant citation is number 4. A candileja is the row of lights in a theatre’s proscenium. The reason for the use of the plural of the word for Chaplin’s film is that the word evokes the idea of variety shows at the end of the 19th century. In Spanish there is no translation for the calcium lights that were used well into the late 1870s as then equivalents to the follow spots (electric ones) used to highlight solo performers in theatre, ballet and stage musicals. The closest equivalent in Spanish is to be the centre of attention as a translation to be in the limelight.
For me and I would believe many in the theatrical lighting world the best exponent to the pleasures of 19th century theatrical light (and I would add an exponent with a high degree of accuracy) is French impressionist Edgar Degas in his paintings, pastels and sketches of ballerinas and their performances at the Paris Opera Ballet. Notice in the pictures here how the light shines on the lower part of the ballerina's faces.
I could lie and tell you that my viewing, with my wife, granddaughters and my friend John Lekich) of Chaplin’s Limelight coincided with my discovery of Limelight Video. That is not the case. Our viewing came from a copy of the film that I found in my Oakridge Branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
|Edgar Degas, L'E|
Pastel over monotype (58 x 42cm)
Musée du Louvre des arts graphiques, fonds Orsay
I posted a blog in which I mentioned one of these films and a very nice woman sent me an email that the film was available at Limelight Video on 2505 Alma Street. I went to investigate.
Twice I wrote about the demise of Videomatica, Vancouver’s secret for those of us who considered ourselves to be part of an elite of film viewers who eschewed modern film making.
I am happy to report that Limelight Video (they have Hammett, they have Goya in Bordeaux) has The Glass Key as a VHS. I have quickly re-connected my VHS machine. Limelight is all that Videomatica was but with the added advantage that it is very clean and orderly. The staff is extremely courteous and pleasant and they make it a point to examine every DVD you take out and if it needs cleaning they pop them into a machine.
The clincher is one of my top five desert island films. The film in question, The Member of the Wedding, is based on a 1946 novel by Southern writer Carson McCullers. It was made into a Broadway play with Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, and Brandon De Wilde in 1950. The play became a film in 1952, directed by Fred Zinnemann and with Ethel Waters, Julie Harris and Brandon De Wilde.
Julie Harris plays a tomboyish 12-year-old (not quite that age in the film where the 20 or more year old Harris acts a young girl around 15) Frankie Adams. Most of the action happens as dialogue in a kitchen between Harris and the black Ethel Waters.
Harris’s performance as well as Waters’s and De Wilde’s are what I would define as virtuoso.
The film is available at Limelight Video as a VHS. Get that machine connected is my advice!
|Lady Fey, Alex W-H, Vancouver Magazine, Jan 1980|
Lady Fey by Ben Metcalfe