Raymonde Carasco 1933-2009
Gradiva Sketch 1 (1978)
Director: Raymonde Carasco
Year: 1978
Time: 26 mins
Music: Paul Mefano, Irène Jarsky, Pierre-Yves Artaud

Step by step, delusions escape us like a snake between two stones. The solemn, ritualized repetition of a maiden's foot stepping on ancient stones has been described as a synecdoche, a trope by which the part represents the whole. The whole in this case is W. Jensen's novel Gradiva, immortalized by Freud, Bréton and many later French intellectuals like Jean Rouch or Derrida. It is a story about a archeologist who is entranced by the of figure an ancient bas-relief depicting the walk of a young woman from Pompei. Shot with the assistance of Bruno Nuytten (known for his work with Duras), Carasco's Gradiva is a poetic construction about the fetishization of desire, one that seems to go against Freud's reading: the gracious movement of the maiden's foot is seen to be the object itself, not a mere referent, of male desire. The apparently endless succession of steps and its differing rhythms draw us closer to the unrreal enchantment of the fetish - the naked foot tenderly caressing Pompei's stones as if to consciously entice and elude the viewer; the textures and whimsical lighting of decaying walls and stones; movement and flesh in themselves. Based on contemporary flute techniques and tape, Paul Mefano's score is an appropriately poetic succession of long and short movements that often seem to elude perception. At some points, Gradiva's long-held notes slowly evolve around themselves, confounding tone and hiss and allowing acoustic space to breathe softly like a spring breeze; at others, phrases seem to be repeated and echoed into patterns that never emerge or disclose completely. Beautiful and enticing as few films have ever been. -- Eye of Sound