Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Waste Land... Movie

There was a film that came out back in 2010 (and was nominated for and Oscar in 2011) called Waste Land. The movie is about an artist, Muniz, who goes back to his hometown of Brazil in order to photograph, and then paint portraits of, catadores, or "garbage pickers." These people are unemployed, but dig through the garbage dump ("waste land") to find unwanted trash to make art from. Muniz found their ability to see the beauty and the artistic possibilities in trash inspiring. The following passage from Eliot's The Waste Land, which we talked about just yesterday, was included in an article I read about the film.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

I think the film is kind of opposite of the poem with respect to the fact that in the poem, the people seem to be unable to find purpose in a world that is full of beauty. In the film, however, the people are able to find beauty in a trash dump. The passage from Eliot's poem relates to the film because it's basically describing a literal waste land, and he's asking the reader what kind of life could possibly come from it-- the "catadores" in the film seem to answer this question.

Below are two of the painted portraits by Muniz from the film.



Jack Zheng said...

This made me think of Baudelaire, who finds beauty in a rotting carcass. It seems as if a lot of Baudelaire's ideas are the same as those that Eliot expresses in "The Wasteland" (Europe has become corrupt, etc.), but the two of them have different points of view on beauty and waste, as you have said about Muniz and Eliot.

madison kahn said...

In response to your comment about Baudelaire, Eliot too talks about the whole life out of death thing. I think this is interesting because Eliot otherwise seems to be portraying a society unable to find hope/life in anything. However. He also many times alludes or even directly addresses the idea of life out of death. It's a little ironic when you really think about it. Why is Eliot suggesting that life has no meaning but death brings newfound life, and therefore, meaning. To me, this idea presents a Christian viewpoint (the idea of faith in afterlife). I don't know if Eliot was coming at this poem from a Christian perspective, but I think that in this aspect of the poem, it seems to be the case.

Belin Manalle said...

This reminded me of the movie Elmo in Trashland like I brought up in class. However, in that movie the idea of a waste land is depicted in a positive manner. There is a queen and a society within this wasteland and instead of being a miserable place for our society, it is a positive place for the people and just a parallel universe.

Belin Manalle said...

I also want to get more into the depth of Wall-E. This is more of a modern negative depiction of a wasteland. Society has messed up any chance that they had on earth and instead of becoming their place of living, they live in the sky and literally deposit all of their waste on earth. To me this is the ultimate wasteland.