Galician Caress (of clay) (1961/1995)
Directed by José Val del Omar
The great Spanish experimental filmmaker Val del Omar sought new views from the ground up. He brought his camera to diverse locales around his nation with the goal of rendering their essences in ways that were extraterrestrial to the point of sublime. A Val del Omar film renders Nature and the human beings inhabiting it through extreme zooms, stop-motion, high-contrast lighting, printed negative reversals, and other expansions of conventional film language without once forsaking clarity or sympathy. His masterpiece is typically considered to be the film series Elemental Triptych of Spain, whose parts (each roughly twenty minutes long) represent three different sets of Spanish regions and elements. Val del Omar shot Galician Caress (of clay) after Water-Mirror of Granada and Fire in Castille. It was intended as the first film in the series, and remained incomplete at the time of his death.
“Val del Omar works from myth, icon, and tradition,” says the Galician filmmaker Lois Patiño (Costa da Morte) about a film that opens with a dedication to Gallegos. “In Galician Caress (of clay), he approaches some elements that were (and still are) essential parts of Galician culture. We can reduce them to two—religion and stone—which Val del Omar mixes into one. Everything in the film works together to convey a spectral experience, one in which religious sculptures awaken into life and human beings turn into phantoms made of stone. Val del Omar approaches the emotional essence of Galicia and its people through an interest in the nation’s cultural and spiritual feel. His filmic poem’s open images express a sensation of transcendence in a way that achieves lasting beauty and resonance.”
The three parts of Elementary Triptych of Spain will screen at Anthology on 35mm in Val del Omar’s intended order together with a digital copy of series prelude Vibration of Granada. Series curator Lur Olaizola Lizarralde will introduce the March 17th screening, and the Spanish filmmaker, programmer, and researcher Ruth Somalo will present the screening on March 18th. Aaron Cutler (March 17, 7:30pm; March 18, 8:30pm at Anthology Film Archives’s Val del Omar retrospective)