Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Thoughts About Jess

I want to express my thanks to everyone who has called or written me personally to express their shared sorrow. Naturally I share your regret that Jess is no longer among us, making new movies, but there is still quite a wealth of material out there for us to see, to see again, or to see differently. Will any of us ever truly get to the bottom of all he left us?

Of course I regret that we never met in person, but I think there is no doubt that we experienced a perfect meeting on some special metaphysical level. The one time we spoke on the phone, we both laughed for nearly a full minute before we could begin a proper conversation, so amused were we both to be finally talking together. It was very much like catching up with a friend from some other lifetime. Would shaking his hand have made any difference? We seemed to cross-pollenate one another, odd as that seems; we had a genuine and complete correspondence. I am pleased that I had some hand in reversing what was once the common wisdom about him and his work, and that he acknowledged my efforts on his behalf in a warm and appreciative manner. A shared love of his work also became a password into many important friendships in my life... and there is much more work for us still to do.

Yes, I shed some tears this morning, but listening to Clifford Brown's "I'll Remember April" -- a song I posted on Facebook in tribute to Jess -- reminded me that grief is selfishness. To really be in the presence of Jess Franco, all you need do is listen to great jazz, the most alive music there is. Wherever Jess is, the mystery is taking him into his confidence as a final reward. His best movies addressed the balance of those two great mysteries, sex and death, and he now knows more about the poem he spent his life writing than he ever did while alive.

So I am moved by his death, but not sad; I am actually happy for Jess. No one achieved more; he is the unchallenged King of the Mountain. He went out with a new movie awaiting release. His work just hit Blu-ray this past year and he's got numerous films now being restored and awaiting release on this state-of-the-art medium. He can put his infirmities behind and rejoin the love of his life and the loves of his life. Now that his filmography is complete, its full arc and all its oceanic confluences can be measured and charted; maybe it's the kick in the ass I need to come to complete grips with this book I've been compiling on the back burner and get it done. In the meantime, there are more Blu-rays coming up and I'm hopeful of recording audio commentaries for at least a couple of them.

Jess Franco is finished with life, but life is far from finished with him.

(Photo above, courtesy of Alain Petit's collection.)

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