The Velvet Underground, the group that said not to everything

"The music probes the sky," is read at the frontispiece of the Todd Haynes documentary, determined to put an image to what it was, it is still and will be The

The Velvet Underground, the group that said not to everything

"The music probes the sky," is read at the frontispiece of the Todd Haynes documentary, determined to put an image to what it was, it is still and will be The Velvet Underground. Baudelaire phrase wants to be both warning and book style. If the sound of the New York band rearranged the energy of a convulsive and electrical time from which it emerged, as an athex of the head of Zeus, the promise of a future not necessarily better but infinitely more desirable (and even desired), The film that was presented in Cannes and that now premieres at Apple TV offers the perfect synestical image of that burst.

But how do you represent what does not have a face? How to reimaginate the past of a group from which, despite the myth that keeps it intact, just conserved traditional graphic material? Yes, there are an infinity of photographs and movies collected at random as in a shipwreck, but nothing more. In fact, the reason for never before a job has been addressed as this resides in such a routine and lazy reason as it is not preserved just anything rolled by their performances or memory beyond the legend of the famous exploding plastic Inevitable with the That Paul Morrissey revolutionized the concept of a live performance.

"Unlike what happens with any other band, in this case, the idea of simply making a documentary was impossible. The experimental file material or of the time we ultimately use is not there to decorate the story but it is the very firmament that music, as Baudelaire would say, excavably and probes, "says Haynes aware of having made the need virtue. And follows: "The true argument is not so much the band and the space itself in which it first emerged and shortly afterwards completely transformed. See the New York before the Velvet and see what was left of that city after the irruption of the phenomenon led by Lou Reed and John Cale is as much as seeing the group's own face. "

The film, which can only be called as it is called (The Velvet Underground), is a collage that like a kaleidoscope of acid and sleep explodes in the view of the viewer through the dumps left by 600 footage and more than 7,000 still images . And in the middle, the testimonies of the survivors, with John Cale at the head, and of the great absent, Lou Reed (died in 2013), whose presence is summoned in a hypnotic ouija through the infinite recordings of his ever-raised fire-breaking voice .

The first to appear is John Cale. Haynes does not hide the nothingly veiled preference for him. In 1962, the musician was presented in the CBS program I've Got to Secret. The secret of him was a concert in which for passion of spectators and walkers he played the piano the same piece over and over again for 18 hours. The Welsh Skeleton Skeleton and Opaque Hair arrived in New York to revolutionize everything. And do it from the first instant and from the apartment he shared with the filmmaker and artist of more things Jack Smith and the actor, as well as Multimedia Genius, Tony Conrad. They say that the three of them devoted a good part of their time to feel from within the intense pleasure of a single note sustained up far beyond the bearable by any other who was not any of the three.

Maybe only one more could be capable of so much: Lou Reed. Cale and he met for the same reason as the murderer flirting with the victim of him: to closely appreciate the color of the blood of alien. One was the pure, radical and mystical artist. The other, the black angel of all sins, violent, capricious and proud of each one's weaknesses. It is told in the documentary that is a lie that as a child the father of him would apply electroshocks to heal the incipient and persistent homosexuality of him. He tells him about him and in the denial goes the trail of a legend in love with each of him. It is said that a good day, obstinate vocational suicide, the man who turned the heroin into the redemption flag was cut off his hand with a crystal because he simply wanted to do it and stop touching. But everything is nothing more than memories yarn in a puzzle that becomes great in each of the gaps of it, in the detailed description of the hollow.

"They", the director speaks, "worked completely outside all from the first second. They wanted to be an exception in the 60s, which was already an exceptional exception ". Reed read Burroughs, Ginsberg, Selby and Delmore Schwartz, and from there, from his convinced to walk towards the abyss, the night, the dark rags of tight leather and, again, the heroine was known from the first second a star of rock. And the mixture, by itself cacophonic between the elegant forms experimenter and the aggressive experimenter of itself became body in the sour sound of an impossible miracle.

It was Paul Morrissey's idea to bring Nico to the band. It is said that Andy Warhol, the presumable producer of that first album with her (The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967) did not really do anything. Or better, she did nothing but fall in love with Lou exactly as Nico. The traces parade down the screen, which are also injured, of that time and everything, little by little, it takes sense. He speaks the filmmaker Jonas Mekas and at his side the unplassifiable inventor of mute sounds and blind struends Mount Young. He speaks the criticism of Amy Taubin cinema and, of course, the Battery of the Maureen Tucker group, which transformed percussion into amembling threat.

When he arrived here, it is clear that a Todd Haynes documentary can not be just a documentary. In fact, and in a strict sense, it is his first documentary of him. But it does not seem. And it is not for the same reason that his movie about Bob Dylan, I'm not there, he finished being the opposite of a movie about anyone's life, and his tape around with the busy glam of David Bowie and Iggy Pop It was transformed into the strident narration of the strident spirit of an essentially shrill time. "The ability of rebellion and revolution of an artist depends to a large extent on the conviction of him to say no. And the Velvet said not to everything, placing himself in a completely unprecedented place for all, "says the director in his desire perhaps to coincide the revolutionary denial of the group of obsessions with his own. All The Velvet Underground is nothing more than a documentary that refuses to be built from another site other than the pecios of a time that no longer exists and through lost images forever. And so.

By the time the next album arrives, White Light / White Heat, 1968, and everything is already said. The yellow and sweet sound of that banana that invaded the cover of its debut has changed everything. The miracle is consummated and everyone is clear that the world has just been split in two. There is only a snoring drunkenness of amphetamines that, counts the tape, was the culture broth of that second album. They were the ones who introduced the desire to experience everything and the idea that Rock and Roll could and should or be an art form or not be nothing more than anything.

The self-destructive eagerness of Reed, in the Narration of Haynes, can everything. Reed gets ruthless immediately of CALE as he had previously dispossed with the grace of Andy Warhol. Who knows if it were not really all the result of a meticulous exercise of creative suicide. Who knows if the supposed uncontrolled fury with which Haynes draws each Reed's decision did not obey a calculated plan perfectly perfect. And Satanic. The truth is that, against the thesis of the film, the substitution of Cale by Doug Yule did not translate into anything but in the prodigious third album of the band. In 1969, The Velvet Underground (always the same title) was, as it becomes clear again, a deeply passional work, deeply mystical and profoundly dirty. Pure Reed. By the time you reach the last album, Loaded, 1970, the movie is already exhausted, tired of its intensity. And CALE returns to the old story of reunion with Reed, friendship (or almost) recovered. And of the convulsion of the beginning, the calm of the eternal myth is reached.

Haynes tells that the first time he arrived in New York was just 11 years old. It was a family trip. It ran, if the accounts are correct, the year 1972. The Velvet for him was just nothing then. But the city impressed him so much that he decided at that same moment that he would leave Him's Natal California to go live there. Then he discovered that New York was what was then because of Reed, Cale, Morrison, Tucker and Nico; Five types convinced that music surveys and excavates the same sky.

Updated Date: 16 October 2021, 06:05

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