The coat and scarf appear in several scenes, a recurring motif like a silent character in the film. The camera lingers in close up on the scarf, then cuts to a wholly unrelated scene, the two acrobats outside an abattoir for example, or the one in which the film’s main protagonist describes her obsession with oral hygiene. The identity of the owner of the coat is never revealed. Other random images thread through the film: a nun on a bicycle, a dead parakeet, the sound of castanets. The director is notorious for her anarchic working methods, sometimes disappearing from the shoot for hours to wander the local neighbourhood in search of ideas. Scripts, she says, are the enemy of cinema. When the feature is finished, she plans to make a short companion piece, using footage left over from the editing, a montage of images and sounds which will express the quintessence of her work.

Episode 31

‘There’s so much of the past I regret,’ Bill said. ‘So much I wish I could undo, or re-do. I think about that a lot, you know. I spend a great deal of time regretting events in my life.’ ‘The past is over,’ Frank said, unbending a paperclip. ‘Gone. There’s nothing you can do about it.’ Bill nodded: ‘I know it’s not healthy worrying like this, that I can’t go back and change anything. I’m aware that I am wasting my life dwelling on what can’t be altered, but I can’t seem to let it go.’ ‘You have to live for the present,’ Frank said, using the length of paperclip wire he’d unfolded to pick at something lodged between his teeth. ‘Do you know what’s particularly annoying about all this worrying?’ Bill asked. Frank pulled his fingers out of his mouth. ‘What?’ ‘That one day I know I’ll be wasting still more of my life lamenting the time I’m spending now regretting that things in the past weren’t different.’

Lost Masterpiece

The American painter Lee Sullivan, who died at the age of 23, is perhaps best known for his ambition to recreate Frenhofer’s lost painting of La Belle-Noiseuse, based on the description of the work provided by Balzac in the story ‘Le chef-d’oeuvre inconnu.’ Sullivan was convinced that Frenhofer had produced a masterpiece of abstract expressionism avant la lettre, a feat of imagination unparalleled in the history of art. So revolutionary was the work in its conception that even the forward-thinking Poussin and Porbus, the only two artists to ever see the painting, were unable to comprehend it. Even Balzac seemed not to appreciate the full significance of the extraordinary picture. It was so ahead of its time that Frenhofer lost faith in his vision and burned all his canvases along with himself. Sullivan worked from the limited information provided by Balzac producing a series of paintings in which he attempted to re-imagine the Dutch master’s work. Sadly, Sullivan died in tragic circumstances when the barn in Vermont he used as both studio and living space burned down. The inquest returned a verdict of accidental death, Sullivan having apparently fallen asleep with a lighted cigarette in his mouth. No images survive of the artists ‘Frenhofer’ pictures.