Dazed like in a Bosch painting or a Dali dream
Review of Magnolia (1999) movie, by Stefan Stenudd
It's not that the three hours passed quickly — they really didn't — but I was mesmerized the whole time. It was like not only watching, but being contained inside a painting by Bosch, the Medieval "surrealist", or a dream in the head of Dali, Bosch's 20th century equivalent.
Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd
Caroline meets those who do not age, and this ability can be transmitted. But there are grisly downsides. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).
Everything in the film — the scenery, the characters, the events — had a heavy scent of higher truth, of outlining the world as it really is.
No, I'm not sure that the world according to director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson is more true than anyone else's — but his vision is portrayed with such clarity and emphasis, it is definitely true to him, and believable to us others.
We get to follow the absurd situation of several characters, and how their drastic fates get interwoven. It's a sophisticated plot, indeed, which could easily turn it into more of an intellectual construction than a story of flesh and blood. It doesn't happen, though, and don't ask me why not. I guess it's simply too well told.
Usually, the writer and the director being one and the same, lessens the end result. When a story is to be realized — on stage or on screen — it gains from the natural conflict between writer and director. Already there, a struggle is introduced. Anderson is one of the few to pull it off — which puts him way up there among Bergman and the like.
But can he repeat his feat? I wonder. The width and depth of Magnolia rather suggest that he has, by this movie, told all the stories he had in his head. I hope I'm wrong.
6 January 2003
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I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both English and Swedish. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas, and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.