Godfather of American underground cinema Jonas Mekas gets dark
Taken from the January 2011 issue of Dazed & Confused:
The godfather of American underground cinema, 88-year-old Jonas Mekas has just finished a new feature, Sleepless Nights Stories set to be released this year, while the Serpentine Gallery prepares a grand retrospective of his work in the spring. He suggested his friend Ken Jacobs’s The Blonde Cobra for Cult Vault, released by the experimental filmmaker in 1963. Described by Jacobs as “a look in on an exploding life; on a man of imagination suffering prefashionable lower East Side deprivation and consumed with American 1950s, 40s, 30s disgust”, Mekas championed his fellow Williamsburg resident when he wrote the movie journal column in The Village Voice.
“When I was a writer on cinema, an editor of Film Culture, or The Village Voice, my position was to champion cinema. I had to be very open. For example, with Ken Jacobs’s film The Blonde Cobra: one could say it’s horrible, but it’s so unique, that horror and evil, and that Baudelaire-mood is so well expressed and daring that it is a masterpiece. He is one of the great inventors in cinema. The Blonde Cobra does not depress you, though it deals with evil aspects of existence. It does not depress because works of art – if they’re really works of art – won’t depress you, even if they deal with the horrors of life like Goya did. It will uplift you. You’re put on a completely different level. You meditate on it and you know that’s more or less how humanity is.”