Monday, July 4, 2011

Trust30; day 35: Energy

“The world belongs to the energetic.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s easy to blame our failure to meet our goals or to live our dream lives on a lack of energy, and we don’t always stop to think about the quality of energy in our lives. Yet we can choose to create and manage our own energy flow.

Think of an instance when you’ve been so involved in an activity that you’ve lost track of time, and then identity the passions and energies you were feeding. Who was there with you? What were you doing? What will you do to make time for moments like that one more often?

Ah, "the Zone."

No, not the diet plan...

The magical place where one can learn firsthand the relativity of time and space, that's the zone of which I speak. Where you are so engrossed in something, so utterly absorbed that you and the experience become one. When you "come to" and glance at a clock, you feel disbelief that numerous hours have flown as mere seconds.

You are, of course, painfully aware that the reverse effect exists as well (as every school child glancing at a clock, waiting for recess, lunch or final bell can easily attest to.) Yes, we won't go there but it does serve as the "necessary evil."

By the way, isn't it ironic that "evil" spelled backwards is "live"? Anyway...

For me, that rendezvous with the zone happens often when I am totally enthralled by a great film or play. Music does it for me more often than any other vehicle.

Let me share with you one particularly powerful night where as far as I was concerned, time and space blended into one glorious "now" and all else simply ceased to be.

It happened January 23, 1981 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. For both the description of the event as well as the history, I am going to "borrow" from Wikipedia:

"Napoléon (1927) is an epic silent French film directed by Abel Gance that tells the story of the rise of Napoleon I of France.

It begins from his youth in school where he managed a snowball fight like a military campaign, to his victory in invading Italy in 1797. Planned to be the first of six movies about Napoleon Bonaparte, it was realised after the completion of the film that the costs involved would make this impossible.

Ahead of its time in its use of handheld cameras and editing, many scenes were hand tinted or toned. Gance had intended the final reel of the film to be screened as a triptych via triple projection, or Polyvision.

It was first released in a gala premiere at the Paris Opéra in April 1927. Napoléon had been screened in only 8 European cities when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the rights to the film, but after screening it intact in London, it was cut drastically in length, and only the central panel of the widescreen sequences retained before it was put on limited release in the United States, where it was indifferently received at a time when talkies were just starting to appear.

The film historian Kevin Brownlow conducted the reconstruction of the film in the years leading up to 1980, including the Polyvision scenes. As a boy, Brownlow had purchased two 9.5mm reels of the film from a street market. He was captivated by the cinematic boldness of short clips, and his research led to a lifelong fascination with the film and a quest to reconstruct it. At 9:00PM MT, Friday, Aug 31, 1979 Napoleon was shown to a crowd of hundreds at the Telluride Film Festival, in Telluride, CO. The film was presented in full Polyvision at the specially constructed Abel Gance Open Air Cinema, which is still in use today. Gance was in attendance and watched from the window of the New Sheridan Hotel. Kevin Brownlow was also in attendance and presented M. Gance with his Silver Medallion. His 1980 reconstruction was re-edited and released in the United States by American Zoetrope (through Universal Pictures) with a score by Carmine Coppola performed live at the screenings. The restoration premiered in the United States at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on January 23-25, 1981. Gance could not attend because of his health. At the end of the January 24 screening, a telephone was brought onstage and the audience was told that Gance was listening on the other end and wished to know what they had thought of his film. The audience erupted in an ovation of applause and cheers that lasted several minutes. The acclaim surrounding the film's revival brought Gance much-belated recognition as a master director before his death only 11 months later, in November 1981."

That night in New York, watching a 300 minute long silent film that was eons ahead of its time, accompanied by a full symphony performing a score (and conducted) by Carmine Coppola, the father of Francis Ford Coppola, was almost indescribably magnificent and I felt joyous and privileged to be a part of it.

When the gigantic stage of Radio City was filled with three enormous screens joined as one; when the final reel projected as a triptych, three different scenes of war, each individually bathed in blue, white and red of the French flag; as the score played by the orchestra swelled to an enormous scale yet maintained triumph and reverence... this is where time vanished.

Swept up in the moment?

No, soaring into the cosmos. I shiver with delight even now as I write of it.

This is the feeling, the joy, that I aspire to create so that others may experience a fraction of what I felt that night. What a joy and honor that would be.


  1. Wow! What a magnificent memory. And the great part is, there is even greater magnificence ahead of you, of that I am certain. I'm just grateful to be a beneficiary of that magnificence.

  2. Awesome post; And evil spelled backwards is live, made me laugh out loud.

    That experience sounds amazing. I'm sure you had a hard time using words to do it justice. I don't blame you for wanting to create that momentum.

  3. Thanks Rich and Denise. It was astounding, even as I consider it today.

    And Denise, to carry it one step further, "devil" spelled backwards is "lived."

    The irony is so rich...