Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at 7:30pm
Gregory Markopoulos’s Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Introduced by P. Adams Sitney

Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort, Gregory Markopoulos, 1947-48, 16mm, 70 mins

Light Industry presents a rare screening of Gregory Markopoulos’s Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort, a trilogy consisting of Psyche, Lysis, and Charmides. Shot in Los Angeles when Markopolous was still a college student, Psyche is the artist's first foray into 16mm, an oblique Kodachrome retelling of Pierre Louÿs’s unfinished romance of the same name. “The first thing which I did was to delete the novelette of its lush rhetoric and retain only its symbolic color,” Markopoulos later wrote. “In Psyche, color plays an important role, similar to the role which color plays in the paintings of Toulouse Lautrec. Color reflects the true character of the individual before us, whether it be on the screen, in a painting, or in the street. Color is Eros.”

Lysis and Charmides were produced in Markopoulos’s hometown of Toledo, Ohio, and each was inspired by one of Plato’s dialogues. Edited in-camera and set to Arthur Honegger and Paul Claudel’s oratorio Dance of Death, Lysis was described by the filmmaker as “a study in stream-of-consciousness poetry of a lost, wandering, homosexual soul. There is a symbolic birth in the opening scene; the wanderings; the reincarnations of one soul into a still greater soul, until in the final cycle the soul of immortality or of understanding is given to the wanderer; we see him going toward the far city.” According to Markopoulos, Charmides was “completely unplanned,” and marries footage of young men on a college campus to Darius Milhaud’s symphonic suite Proteus; in Charmides, the artist explained, “psychological distance between image and sound, in this case music, becomes the film.”

P. Adams Sitney once observed that “three interrelated characteristics define Markopoulos’s style: color, rhythm, and atemporal construction. Color, rather than story, has been the emotional vehicle of his films.” These elements are already at play in Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort, and so too is the filmmaker’s radical approach to narrative design and literary adaptation. “As Markopoulos’s art developed, the distinction between imagination and actuality dissolved completely and several ‘shimmering threads’ of continuity began to appear simultaneously, sometimes interweaving into a fine net,” wrote Sitney. “Nevertheless, the extent to which Psyche forecasts one whole line of Markopoulos’s evolution, as the second film of his trilogy, Lysis, does another, is extraordinary.”

Prints courtesy of Pacific Film Archive.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.