Mary Jordan - Jack Smith And The Destruction of Atlantis
Please note: This DVD has region code 1 (U.S. and Canada).
Fleeing the dreary Midwest of his childhood for New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1950’s, Smith would influence and inspire a generation of filmmakers and artists while steadfastly maintaining an oath of poverty and self-imposed obscurity. He was an openly gay artist who drew upon the gaudy Technicolor fantasies of Maria Montez for his own personal mythology.
Pulling bits of scenery and costumes from dustbins and recruiting actors off the street, Smith would explore his hothouse vision with fevered abandon.
Flaming Creatures (1963), Smith’s only completed film, would create a sensation.
Mary Jordan’s statement is that Smith, who died penniless of AIDS in 1989, was ruthlessly pillaged and then discarded by the art intelligentsia. Jordan, using her camera in the manner of a high-powered rifle, goes on a safari hunt to shoot the purported “villains” in Smith’s life, frequently with their tacit permission. Underground film maven Jonas Mekas is front row and center in Jordan’s sights. Mekas allegedly took Flaming Creatures away from Smith, roadshowing it in the manner of exploitation hucksters of yore, later turning it into the cause célèbre that it would become for defenders of free expression. Mekas happily admits to being partially responsible for this claim.
Next on the hit list are Andy Warhol and Federico Fellini, both no longer around to defend themselves. Warhol was probably inspired by Smith to pick up a movie camera to begin making his own films, but their approaches were as different as you could possibly get. Jordan then argues that Fellini copied some of the visuals he used in Juliet of the Spirits and Satyricon from Smith. Fellini, in the company of such extravagant film stylists in his native Italy, may have heard of Smith, but had far better sources of inspiration nearby.
Actors: Judith Malina, Taylor Mead, Mario Montez, Holly Woodlawn, Gary Indiana
95 mins., Colour, NTSC