November 21, 2013

Charles Brasch goes to the pictures

I’ve been making my way through Charles Brasch Journals 1938-45 (Otago University Press, 2013). Brasch didn’t see many films, or if he did, he doesn’t tell us. But here is one example. We are in London in August, 1940. War is on everyone’s mind.

“We went to the film of The Grapes of Wrath. The faces of the three men talking by night, at the beginning, were now El Greco, now Brueghel, faces distorted by horror & by being isolated by the camera. The very poor everywhere, maybe, that is to say in ‘civilised’ countries, pass their lives in slave state or police state conditions. One can sense in American cities the lawlessness & brutality that Steinbeck exposes here; & during the terrible scenes of the camps in California I kept thinking that that is what Nazi rule would be like. That is what now all Europe has come to.
“I shan’t forget the scenes & faces of this film.”

[italics added]