Amos Vogel, R.I.P.

For most of ECSTATIC's short life span, a quote from one of the great authors and programmers of film culture has graced the front page:

"The power of the image, our fear of it, the thrill that pulls us toward it, is real. Short of closing one's eyes - in cinema, a difficult and unprecedented act - there is no defense against it."
                                                                                 --Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art

Of course I know the old adage about books and their covers, but few exteriors have so immediately established a connection with me than Vogel's 1974 bible of the avant-garde Film as a Subversive Art, virtually crying out to me:  "This book is one of your books!"  It was a combination of the title and the indelible image of Milena Dravic from one of my most formative cinema obsessions, Dusan Makavejev's WR:  Mysteries of the Organism (1971), that had sealed the deal.  I have been reading it, browsing it, and imaging the life of Vogel through it ever since.  

Vogel died a few days ago at the age of 91.  His contribution to progressive film culture in the United States is pervasive, mostly due to his decades of radical programming through Cinema 16 in New York, dating back to the 1940's.  Werner Herzog wrote in a letter to the Film Society of Lincoln Center:  "I am still not capable--or rather unwilling--to understand the fact that Amos has passed away, because a man like him cannot be dead.  His traces are everywhere."

For more on this most essential purveyor of the unpredictable, see the excellent documentary Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16 (2003), directed by Paul Cronin, here.  


1 comment:

jason said...

well said, my friend.