Dialogue with a Woman Departed

Dialogue with a Woman Departed

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By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Dialogue With a Woman Departed is a monumental film. In the ever mutating genre of the film diary, the love letter of Leo Hurwitz, American blacklisted documentary filmmaker, to his former wife, Peggy Lawson, takes the form of a four hour love poem in which the filmmaker creates not a diary of himself, but that of his deceased wife, bringing her back to life in spirit through long footage of the depression, World War II, and other world events. It’s not much a portrait of his long life partner, but an homage to her spirit, their shared views of the world, their undying relation. Hurwitz also brings his wife back to life, gives her a voice, a presence in the film, a ghostly sensation that leaks through the celluloid and takes shelter in the images of a world in crisis. For the filmmaker, evoking the memory of his wife is a way of reaffirmation of his convictions, his own particular gaze on his surroundings, both filled with beauty and terror.