Much to Say About Silence

There is much to think about when it comes to Kenneth MacPherson's Borderline, a silent film about an affair and interracial relationships. The most informal and delineated of these thoughts is the obvious: what was even happening? Perhaps it was the nature of movies and film today; I've never seen a silent film, and this was a weird silent film to start with. It took nearly an hour of me puzzling my thoughts together until I came to something of a conclusion--and even then, I'm still not entirely sure. However, this brings me to my next point: surrealism. Since we're still talking about surrealism this week, I thought about how surrealism worked within the movie to make it several things that perhaps did not belong in conjunction but worked to make some kind of whole. The flashing scenes between body parts--as Lily's post points out, the hands particularly, though also shots that focused on more intimate body parts as well--and people in different rooms was particularly off-putting. Almost so much so that the story of an interracial couple in a 1930 silent film is almost forgotten--at least until characters make racial slurs that remind the audience what the focus of the film is. In fact, the film's use of the body and use of racial tension really isn't all the disconnected as it might seem. The threat of violence seems to underline several scenes, followed by a clenched fist or actual violence between characters (such as with the White married couple, who are violent with each other throughout the film). Interestingly enough, the murder of the white woman is the clearest moment the movie has, if only because the woman's husband is not as unwelcomed in the hotel as Pete, the Black husband who has been cheated on. In this scene, it becomes clear how skewed the movie views society, that a White murderer seems less threatening than a Black man. 

Other than that, I'm curious as to how surrealists viewed women in context with their movement. The sources we had read for surrealism mentioned little of the women artists of that time period, and in the two surrealist films we have watched, women seem to be the "causation" behind psychological breaks from reality. And if my own thoughts seem a little scattered tonight, then perhaps it is only in reaction to surrealism itself: the things that probably shouldn't go together making some sort of cohesive whole.


I'd like to make a late addition, which is that in reading the articles and essays for this week, I realized that Eslanda Robeson, who plays Adah in the novel, is actually descended from Black slaves. This is my mistake.