Film Scouts Diaries

2012 Torino Film Festival Diaries
Part 5

by Henri Béhar


Robert Wilson Exhibit At The Palazzo Madama

On the Piazza del Castello (Castle Square), near the TFF hospitality space, the Palazzo Madama is hosting a extraordinary installation by stage director-painter-photographer-videaste Robert Wilson who has, in fact, taken over the entire first floor. I am told Wilson's installation has been around for quite a while and shown in various international museums, but somehow I had missed it.

As you go from room to room, you find, here, a photograph of Marianne Faithfull hanging upside down from the frame, her elongated black dress almost a replica of bat wings. There, Isabelle Huppert as Greta Garbo or Princess Caroline of Monaco evoking her mother Grace Kelly in Rear Window. On this wall, Mikhail Baryshnikov in a pose evoking St.-Sebastian (minus the arrows). On that wall, a photograph of Jeanne Moreau as Mary Stuart facing an almost identical (yet centuries older) portrait of a woman that is part of the museum permanent collection. – and you begin to imagine the conversation these two strong women might have when you are not around.

Move on and enter a room that has been turned into the most stunning video-zoo – literally. In a total daze, you are eyeball-to-eyeball with a black panther, a skunk, a psychedelic horned frog, snow owls against pop backgrounds, whose gazes follow you as you make your way through the room.

Further down, melding with portraits and sculptures of long-past eras, life-size video screens featuring a wide range of celebrities (for lack of a better word).


Among them:

- Steven Buscemi as a butcher, standing behind a carcass laid out on a transparent table top, chewing nervously (in slow motion) and tap-tap-tapping his left foot.

- A very kinetic (speeded up?) Isabella Rossellini with blonde tresses, a black dress, a white petticoat and red stockings, looking like Alice on amphetamines.

- Winona Ryder as a flower-coiffed woman buried up to her neck, Beckett-style, in a sand dune.

- Willem Dafoe bare-chested against a wall of flames.

- Brad Pitt against an ice-blue background, wearing only white boxer shorts and white socks, standing in a rain that seems borrowed from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The downpour subsides down to a petite rain, then stops. Pause. Pitt lifts his hand ever so slowly, points a water pistol toward the camera. Pause. He shoots – pause - then ever so slowly brings his arm down. Resume rain.

And the visitor bounces off from past to present to future, totally discombobulated, totally immersed in an ocean of timelessness.

(Most of those portraits are dated 2004. The name "VOOM Portraits" comes from Voom HD Networks, a TV company specializing in high-definition entertainment, which provided the technology Robert Wilson needed. You can see them in full on YouTube.)

Museo del Cinema

No trip to Turin would be complete without a visit to the Museo del Cinema. Thanks in a large part to its artistic director Alberto Barbera (one of the most admired and respected figures in the film industry worldwide), the museum is considered the best film museum in the world. The main event this time around is an all-encompassing exhibition on Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The walls of the cathedral-high atrium are lined with everything – I mean everything – that could be associated with the preparation, writing, sort-of-storyboarding and shooting of that classic – including the semi-rusted cans that contained 16 mm footage of scenes everyone thought were definitely lost. Walking up the ramp that snakes up to the top of the dome, you go from disbelief to wonderment (the items are displayed with enormous sensitivity and elegance). Then you turn around and, watching it all from above, you lose sense of both time and place. You are no longer in 2012 and in Torino, you are in Metropolis (yep, it is that great)…until someone whisks you off to the railway station just in time for you to catch your train back to Paris.


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