Whenever I start editing another chapter for my book, I spread out all the film stills within the chapter and decide which ones to use in the book. Today, as I was doing this, I noticed my tendency to choose images that focus on hands. I also tend to do this with images I choose from films I review on this blog. Looking at these images all together is striking; it's like coming face-to-face with my own preoccupations.
When I try to pinpoint why I'm fascinated with images of hands in film, I always return to the opening passages from Andrei Makine's novel, Once Upon the River Love. The novel begins with a sensual sexual encounter between the narrator and an unknown woman, described like a movie. Throughout their encounter, the woman's fingers are arguably her most expressive body part. While the male narrator touches her body, she touches the piano keys in front of her. Yes, there's cliche in these opening passages, but there's also something else. Call it a hint.
When the narrator stops describing his encounter with the woman and speaks to his writer friend, he names his sexual encounter 'raw material'. I love that. For me, images of hands suggest 'raw material', a promise of something. This 'something' doesn't necessarily refer to desire or intimacy, it's just a general feeling of promise, like something is about to happen. They also remind me that if I want to examine the big picture of the topography of a film, I need to focus on the small detail first.
This probably doesn't make much sense to anyone but me, so I'm sorry for this aimless rambling. It does help me though, to put these thoughts out in a single post. It's like I'm going through a process of 'organising' my ideas. I hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday, it's back to editing for me.
Image credits: click on the images for their source film (from my own flickr account).