Sunday, January 22, 2012
Richard Woolley - Inside and Outside (1974)
Richard Woolley's ambitious Inside and Outside is structured around a series of dichotomies--inside/outside, East/West, theory/practice--that it progressively deconstructs. In the front room of a Berlin commune, a man and a woman diligently study communist texts. They solemnly discuss the alienating effects of modern industrial society, the isolation of the individual in a world of competition and consumerism. They complacently express their gratitude for the Communist Party, which gives their life direction and meaning, lecturing the viewer, "The Party shows us the right way and we happily obey." And they hold onto their love as an antidote to the atomization of society, saying, right after Woolley presents a Hollywood-style closeup of their kiss, "We have no need of other people." Despite their faith in the Party and love, the film reveals their position to be highly contradictory. The room is decorated with a picture of Marx, but the space's political iconography is also contaminated by a photograph of a naked woman on a bookshelf and by the multiple Coca Cola signs that can be seen on the building across the street. The couple abstractly tackles the subject of the loneliness of life in the city by reading from books rather than by paying attention to the concrete evidence of community visible on the other side of the window. After the couple kisses, the woman serves the man a beer and starts to dust, her political commitment apparently not interfering with traditional gender norms. Woolley also contrasts the artificial style of the actors who play the couple with the real behavior of the non-actors who pass by outside and often stop to peer in at the spectacle being filmed inside. So as the film progresses, the solipsistic world of the couple is increasingly exposed to all it was structured to keep out, and the film ends with the man and woman being expelled from the reassuring comforts of their room, its books, and their ideology in order to seek a revolutionary way of life not founded upon the exclusion of the real.