Η εικόνα των δύο κοριτσιών με τη βιντεοκασέτα που περιγράφει η Zadie Smith στο πιο πρόσφατο βιβλίο της, Swing Time, με ταξιδεύει στα δικά μου παιδικά χρόνια. Ίσως, γι’ αυτό ξεχώρισα αυτό το παράθεμα και αποφάσισα να το μοιραστώ μαζί σας. Γι’ αυτό, και γιατί γίνεται αναφορά σε μια αγαπημένη μου ασπρόμαυρη ταινία, στο Top Hat.
We had a favourite video, it was labelled ‘Saturday Cartoons and Top Hat’ and moved weekly from my flat to Tracey’s and back, played so ofter that tracking now ate the frame, from above and below. Because of this we couldn’t risk forward-winding while playing – it made the tracking worse – so we forward-wound ‘blind’, guessing at duration by assessing the width of the black tape as it flew from one reel to another. Tracey was an expert forward-winder, she seemed to know in her body exactly when we’d gone past the irrelevant cartoons and when to press stop to reach, for example, the song ‘Cheek to Cheek’. It strokes me now that if I want to watch this same clip – as I did a few minutes ago, just before writing this – it’s no effort at all, it’s the work of a moment, I type my request in the box and it’s there. Back then there was a craft to it. We were the first generation to have, in our own homes, the means to re- and forward-wind reality: even very small children could press their fingers against those clunky buttons and see what-has-been become what-is or what-will-be. When Tracey was about this process she was absolutely concentrated, she would not press play until she had Fred and Ginger exactly where she wanted them, on the balcony, among the bougainvillea and the Doric columns. At which point she began to read the dance, as I never could, she saw everything, the stray ostrich feathers hitting the floor, the weak muscles in Ginger’s back, the way Fred had to jerk her up from any supine position, spoiling the flow, ruining the line. She noticed the most important thing of all, which is the dance lesson within the performance. With Fred and Ginger you can always see the dance lesson. In a sense the dance lesson is the performance. He’s not looking at her with love, not even fake movie love. He’s looking at her as Miss Isabel looked at us: don’t forget x, please keep in mind y, arm up now, leg down, spin, dip, bow.
– Swing Time, Zadie Smith (p.56-57)
Παρακάτω το περίφημο στιγμιότυπο με τον Fred Astaire και την Ginger Rogers να χορεύουν το περίφημο, πλέον, ‘Cheek to Cheek’ στην ταινία Top Hat.