“The Shout” is a film about the irrational side (the very nucleus) of artistic talent.
Like the main character of the film Charles Crossley (Alan Bates), every artist by psychological call, just by trying to develop his talent is as if writing a story of his/her artistic achievement. Of course, Crossley will not write a book about himself – he is too occupied with his creative gift and its power, not with his personality. His genre of description of life of his talent is oral story-telling we, the viewers, are privileged to hear and to observe.

The psychology of a genuine artist as an artist (in relation to his creative power), according to the film, has three layers: unconscious tendency to worship and to exaggerate the magic power of his gift, being hooked on truth-value of his art (on its uniqueness), not on its success, and, finally, the proclivity of the artist to feel that the truth of his art is more important than his whole life and must be nurtured even if it’s by the price of the creator’s life. In “The Shout” Skolimowski gives us chance to see in details how much the relation of the artist to his artistic gift is part of his creative achievement, that it is not enough to assess the work of art to understand it, that how the artist perceives his very creation of work of art is a part of the value and of the meaning of the creative result.

The film depicts ontological rivalry between a genuine artist and artist-businessman who uses his art to become successful in money-making and fame and who is ready to re-shape his art’s truth according to market demands to make this art appealing and salable. Until the artist is just an artifact-creator, like Rachel’s husband Anthony (John Hurt), he never will lose his inferiority complex and will be doomed to create more and more artifacts instead of reaching feeling of being a “maestro of artistic insight”.

The “duel” of talents between Crossley and a “post-modern” composer Anthony, and Crossley’s amorous and sexual triumph over Anthony’s wife Rachel (Susannah York – in one of the most miraculous among her performances in cinema), the exceptionally attractive woman with emotional power that is “equal to the universe”, are depicted by Skolimowski with rare cinematic virtuosity.

The metaphoric level of Skolimowski’s communication with viewers of the film is impressively sophisticated, and we can enjoy (and be dazzled and challenged by) the symbolic density of director’s images, analogies and metaphors.

The acting in the film as a characterization of the personality of the characters concentrates not on the circumstances which make a person react, not on characters as they projecting their personalities into their reactions on the circumstances, but on what can be called the “metaphysical”/archetypal essence of each human being. Skolimowski depicts each personage, even the one with the smallest screen time, as absolute, pre-empiric type of a human being whose “essence”, as if, has been written “metaphysically” – by the imagination of the artist personified by a magnificent mental patient Charles Crossley.

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Jerzy Skolimowski – the auteur of “The Shout”

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The first earthshaking encounter of pink-bodied and simpleminded couple with the magnificent magic of art

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Is Rachel triumphantly seduced by the power of artist-sorcerer or is she herself the creative seductress entering through the artist’s art to his very heart?

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Transformation of Rachel into a Baconian monster of feminine obedience to the will of the artist or of voluntary obedience to the emanation of the work of art

Reproduction of Francis Bacon’s painting on the wall of Anthony’s studio
Reproduction of Francis Bacon’s painting on the wall of Anthony’s studio (expressing his secret dream to dominate his wife, a dream realized by Crossley)

Crossley steps away and lets Rachel to be with her husband
Artist (Charles Crossley) and his art are generous (real master is efficient in both, charming and in releasing his charms) – Crossley steps away and lets Rachel to be with her husband, amidst the amorous crumbs of Crossley-Rachel‘s ontological orgies.

Posted July 12, 2012 –   Jerzy Skolimowski’s “The Shout”, 1978 (Based on Robert Graves’ Short Story) – A Cinematic Poem about the Sacred Madness of Art and its “Supernatural” Ability to Influence Life by Acting-Out Politics