by José Sarmiento Hinojosa
What if the elements of memory and the subject matter of desire could be condensed in a permanent register of something that slips memory but has inevitably left a permanent watermark in our conscience? To carry a film journal would be a most welcome task, a vital activity where the initial pulsations of the most basic instincts of mankind would be recorded: love, desire, passion, death. Saul Levine, one would say, is one of many filmmakers that have traversed this path of recollection of memories in film, but what seems so particular in his style of experimental filmmaking is the sudden familiarity one reaches before the screen when watching several of his films. Levine’s oeuvre, in this narrative of the glimpses, surrounds us with the warmth of the memory that persists deep in our mind, evoking a plethora of emotions and sensations, an accomplished work if there’s any.
Nearsight, in its two minute runtime, it’s a perfect example of how the eye mechanism of Levine works. The element of memory and desire is deeply present in the images of Nancy Frumkin, a rescued friend from the past who plays a harmless game of erotic connotations with the filmmaker. And whereas in some other work, this imprint of passion would feel forced or even staged, here in just two minutes we are witness to the innocence of observation and erotic discovery while we catch some small fragments of this encounter. Indeed, Levine’s work of editing is very much alike the mechanism of memory: we catch fragments, glimpses, small images which resist oblivion; a breast, a gaze, a ladybug.
To inhabit Saul Levine work is to become part of his camera/brain, the mechanical eye that keeps memories in hand. But for all this technical talk, there is something more important to be said: that Levine’s work is a craft and an art which reaches deep inside our souls. Beyond the registry of images, it appropriates the warmth of nostalgia as a pivotal element when revisiting his films, especially years after they’re done. Nearsight takes us up close the youth and playful passion of two friends, but beyond that, is shows us that we do not dwell alone in our memories.
You can watch Nearsight here.