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A Short History of the Future

By Jerry Tartaglia 2013 DV 20 minutes


“A Short History of the Future is a film essay based upon my study of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1932 film Das Blaue Licht. Selected sequences from her film have been reedited in order to highlight the interior process of creative focus in the mind of a film artist who believes in the “neutrality” of art and the dominance of egoic  self- expression.

There is voice-over commentary in several languages: Italian, Arabic, Romanian, English, and French. This is done in order to force the viewer to read the subtitles, break out of the passive film viewing mode, and to participate in the creation of Cinematic meaning.

The question “who is the arbiter of Cinematic Meaning: the artist or the viewer,” becomes particularly relevant when considering the role of the Moving Image Arts within the political arena. Leni Riefenstahl claimed “artistic neutrality” while she courted the funding and support of National Socialist leaders Josef Goebbels and Adolf Hitler. The implication of her strategy is that the moral values rest with the viewer. Whether or not there can be such a compartmentalized approach to creativity depends upon the choices made by an artist during one’s creative evolution.

A Short History of the Future is structured in five segments, each one positing a different relationship of artist-viewer-meaning. The work reflects what I believe to be the natural evolution of an artist’s creative vision which fluctuates between internal and external concerns, while the moral vision remains always with the artist.”

Narration Written and edited by Jerry Tartaglia

Italian translation and narration by Giovanni Fortini
Arabic translation and narration by Abdul Alshagmom
Romanian translation and narration by Eduard Dumitrache
French translation and narration by Tyler Arcaro

The Text of the Film:


Prologue: Queering the Text

Is it the image or sound; the mind of the viewer or the film’s creator, that creates the meaning and implication?


1. Kunstleben

How beautiful is the countryside of my homeland: this peaceful way of living in harmony with Nature. It is a way of life that enables the creation of art.

I experience the vision of light. I see the light that others cannot see. I pursue only the ideal. I wait and , I observe. I wait in expectation of a promise of vision. The vision comes; I am enthralled. I create. I am used as a vehicle, and  I am made whole. Then, the vision fades.


2. Verses For the End of Time


Some are called to remember and endure

Some are called to sleep and to forget

Some are called to love and to dream

I speak this narration in a language that I myself cannot understand

I approach a film that is more than eighty years old. To the cynic it is old, but to me it is new and fresh because the past is never dead; it isn’t even past.

I try to find the meaning of the present in the past by finding evidence of the the past within the present.

Like the young men in an old film by the woman of the past, I am drawn to the enigma. I do not understand the attraction. I do not know the goal. I cannot find the purpose nor define  the means.

I cannot understand the language of the soul.

It speaks to me in metaphors of light and shadow.

It appears like the rising of the moon.


3. Das Ich und das Es


How they hate me  – those townspeople-

Always eager to taunt me and torture me with their ignorant name calling.

Their base minds were born in the squalor of their ignorant superstitions.

They have no aspirations to the beauty that I see.

They claim that it is revenge that drives me.

They think that pride motivates me.

But They lack the intelligence to understand that the will to survive is my source of power and the hunger for love is my sustenance.

A thirst for power and a hunger for love!

Thirst and hunger are my compelling drives.

Even in the cross, Christ himself sought power over the world – the supreme masochist – who endured the greatest suffering to finally control the whole of western thought.

So I embrace the hatred of my neighbors- I am justified through their rejection.

Their hatred empowers me; their persecutions inspire me; their condemnations justify me.

I’ll not be one of those failed artists who die in obscurity.

I deserve more. I deserve eternal fame, public attention,  prosperity, and glory. 

4. Neutrality

Art is an isolated abstraction

People as individuals are not relevant

Employ the Will to enforce  the self image upon the world

The Ich exists independently

The Ich exists apart from others

Content does not matter.

There are some filmmakers who believe that they must not disturb the universe. They are silent observers, rather than leaders or curators. They do not direct the events of the world in which they live. Rather, they are moved along by them, floating down the river of life. I am not one of these. I am an artist who chooses the direction of my life and my work. I direct the world through the creation of my Cinema because I can see what the others cannot see. I am empowered.”

The image on the screen is neutral. It has neither volition nor the ability to make moral choices. The image on the screen is a projection. The moral value of the image is another kind of projection: it is a projection of the moral  values of the viewer, not of the image maker.

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