Leon Wieseltier Loves Turner Classic Movies
Posted on March 7, 2015 at 3:46 pm
When I turn on the television, unless there is some specific program I am planning to watch I always start with Turner Classic Movies to see what’s on there. And much of the time, that’s where I stop. It’s also the only channel I routinely check to see if there’s something coming up I should schedule on the DVR. I love TCM. So I was delighted to see the revised New York Times Magazine’s second issue has a thoughtful tribute to TCM from Leon Wieseltier. It is a pleasure to read. And he provides a benefit to watching old movies I had not considered in quite this way.
Movies are quick corrections for the fact that we exist in only one place at only one time. (Of course there are circumstances in which being only in one place only at one time is a definition of bliss.) I switch on TCM and find swift transit beyond the confines of my position. Alongside my reality there appears another reality — the world out there and not in here. One objective of melancholy is to block the evidence of a more variegated existence, but a film quickly removes the blockage. It sneaks past the feelings that act as walls….When I watch the older movies on TCM, I am struck by the beauty of gray, which makes up the bulk of black and white. How can the absence of color be so gorgeous? Black and white is so tonally unified, so tone-poetic. Shadows seem more natural, like structural elements of the composition. The dated look of the films is itself an image of time, like the varnish on old paintings that becomes inextricable from their visual resonance.