4.16 — GANJA & HESS and Ecstasy

This week we look at the 1973 film GANJA & HESS. After some pretty favourable reviews, we talk about the thoroughly confusing nature of the film, the idea of cinema as an immersive experience, and the different versions of the movie Bill Gunn was forced into making (and wanted to make) — all the while dancing around the idea of the ecstatic or out-of-body experience. (We don’t actually talk about it in the episode, but it seemed very appropriate as a theme for this week’s Prestige, given our discussions of religion, blood, sex, and race.)

Next Time
We move from the…well, not sublime to the ridiculous, but it is a change of tone! Our next film is the 1989 black comedy VAMPIRE’S KISS.

Recent Media
THE GREAT BRITISH MENU (2006–): Jennie Bond, Mark Bazeley, Wendy Lloyd
THE CHEFS’ BRIGADE (2019–): Jason Atherton, Anna Maxwell Martin
JAMES ACASTER: REPERTOIRE (2018): James Acaster

Recommendations
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968): George A. Romero, Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea
VALHALLA RISING (2009): Nicolas Winding Refn, Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson
SCROOGED (1988): Richard Donner, Bill Murray, Karen Allen
GET OUT (2017): Jordan Peele, Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams

Footnotes
After our discussion of the importance of sound in this film, this seems a good article to start off with: www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/a19566/a-brief-history-of-sound-in-cinema. It turns out ‘ululation’ is the right word: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ululation. Rob mentions cinéma vérité when discussing the church scenes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinéma_vérité. This book is good on Blaxploitation cinema in general: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1EeSAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false, and this article has more on BLACULA in particular: https://film.avclub.com/blacula-blew-some-fresh-air-into-a-musty-genre-crypt-1826873409. Finally, given some of what we’ve been talking about in this episode, it seems pertinent to mention the #1619 Project from the NY Times, information on which can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html.