mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 30: Peter Black-Real Fiction

Neil Pardington — In Moving Pictures

page 34

Neil Pardington

In Moving Pictures

A bending man in a shirt and tie is about to tear a newspaper, Norfolk Pines line the Napier foreshore, a mother and daughter peer out of their car window, the Mona Lisa grins from a TV screen on a billboard claiming to be ‘the masterpiece of the television age’.

These glimpses, hinting at lives and stories lived at either side of the defining moment, are drawn together by a simple and common thread. Obliquely framing each view is the black mask of a car window.

Black's allusion to cinema in the title of his series of images ‘Moving Pictures’ [pp106-27] is no accident. Entire theatres and their audiences are absorbed into this same black void; their collective gaze fixed expectantly on the road ahead.

‘Moving pictures’ was an early name for what we now call cinema, film, or more commonly, ‘the movies’—a boiled-down version of its original, more descriptive title. Where are you going? We're going to ‘the movies’ people say—the term ‘moving pictures’ now reserved for history books, archives and award ceremonies.

In the movies, the ‘road movie’ is a popular and timeless genre, reinventing itself for each successive generation, and giving us countless memorable jaunts from the safety of our theatre seats. It Happened One Night, Some Like it Hot, L'Avventura, La Strada, North by Northwest, Easy Rider, Badlands, Bonnie and Clyde, The Getaway (Peckinpah), Kings of the Road, Paris Texas, Stranger than Paradise, Wild at Heart, Natural Born Killers, One False Move … like the road, the list seems endless.

It's a simple formula that works time and again—the car, or journey, providing the momentum for the story to unfold: They're running from the law, or the mob; looking for someone, looking for work, going somewhere, or just going nowhere. You don't even need a reason to be on the road—the road is reason enough. Every story is a journey of sorts, and what better way to get there than with the pedal to the metal.

We know that whatever you want to say about the world can be found at the roadside, or at least on a journey from one place to the next. We don't know where we've been, or where we're going, but one thing's for sure, anything can happen on the highway.