Lucy's Dream


Lucy's Dream - video still

Video editing, 6 mn 42.

Lucy’s dream combines and evidences the similarities that develop between two related sequences from Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Elaborating common situations and motifs, they have the particular quality of echoing each other within the film’s structure so as to mark out an important rupture in the progression of the narrative.

The double exposure effects which super-impose the sequences over each other compromise the narrative imagined by the American producer and screenwriter. While the repetition effect in the film serves to signal the retreat of the Captain’s Ghost (Rex Harrison) from Lucy Muir’s (Gene Tierney) life in the plot, the super-impositions applied to this video piece, instead, highlight the persistence of his intrusions and their propensity to take possession of, and redefine, the very substance of the tale.

The super-imposition of the sequences shown, resulting from an almost stroboscopic series of alternations performed by this piece, creates an effect serving to conjure a number of ghostly apparitions. After inviting the figures to enter into a dialogue, this process quickly introduces a troubling sense of splitting and interweaving of those figures, which, through rendering them indistinguishable, transforms the visitor’s perception of positioning in space and time.

In this troubled realm, subject to a host of alterations, the movement initiated within the scenes brought together creates pronounced stretching effects. By redistributing all of its figurative elements within the space, they work to weaken the image’s texture, creating a breach that instantly releases a threatening torrent. In a thematic flooding comparable to that presiding over the montage in Little Foxes, water pours into the frame. Wave after wave it rolls in, swallowing all in its path.

Should we refer to the reading grid offered by the series title, we may see this liquid element as a material representation of the emotions of Lucy Muir, the character shown sleeping at that very point in the montage. Once reached by the water and literally submerged by it, the young woman nonetheless succeeds in stemming its flow by rising from her armchair and sealing the gaping breach behind her (by closing the doors of a French window that appeared to be the source of the influx) – confirming through this very act the degree of control she is capable of exerting on the process at hand through her characteristic ability to master her own emotions. Following her intervention, calm is once again restored in the room where she was sleeping and the horizon clears in a visual effect that appears to open up the boundaries of the space.

The biographical components that infiltrate a number of the series installations here invite us to consider the fates of Gene Tierney and Dora Maar. How could we not see, reflected in this liquid unleashing, this filling of the screen by Lora’s Tears, the dramatic events and setbacks endured by both women in their respective lives and their attempts to cope with their now well-known frailties, before eventually regaining control of their fates? If we call them to witness, could it be said that Lucy’s dream invites spectators to share the consuming agonies of their torments, but also to feel the spiritual strength that leads them out of their darkest moments?

When exhibited for the first time in Marseille, at Où, Lucy’s dream was presented in a space opening out through two sets of French windows (upon which, at night, the projected images would reflect and duplicate the raging torrents), with crumpled sheets of white paper arranged on the floor, echoing the foam of the waves crashing against the rocks in the montage, with both correspondences serving to instigate a pathway for communication between the room in which Lucy Muir is shown and that inhabited by visitors, in the aim of promoting the transmission of emotions between the two spaces.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet