Sunday, 5 December 2010

Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 2009)

So ‘police’ as an adjective, a word that modifies a noun… yet with no noun to modify. Something is missing… but what? Which word does ‘police’ prefigure? It is tempting to specify immediately: ‘officer’. Perhaps we should, however, resist this temptation. What has the title deliberately done? In not specifying the noun, an indeterminacy is foregrounded, in the sense of an in/finite delay. The title, in this way, becomes significant in what it leaves unsignified. First, this can be seen as an indicator of the centrality that language will have. Words become politicised. Second – and, I maintain, far more importantly – the missing noun becomes a structural device in the film’s form. And it is here, with the way the missing noun structures the images, that a far more radical political reading of Police, Adjective appears. The transition between, or clarification of, these two politics takes place in the (now famous) penultimate scene of the film. Cristi has been called into Captain Anghelache’s office. The meeting is to review the case Cristi has (reluctantly) been working on...

A young plain clothes police officer, Cristi has been tasked with following Alex, a teenage student suspected of being a drug dealer. Cristi soon ascertains Alex just smokes a little weed with his mates. It is nothing. Porumboiu films these sequences in long takes, endless followings and waitings (the film form beautifully – and bravely – capturing the longueurs of the investigation). For Deleuze, this is the task of modern political cinema which has as its time-image the noosign. Noosigns constitute a new image of thought, tear thinking away from the domain of thought (the already thought, the movement-image, classical cinema) and explore the unthought. The unthought: that what cannot (yet) be thought. In Police, Adjective this unthought appears through the body as gest. ‘It is no longer a matter of following and trailing an everyday body, but of making it pass through a ceremony, of introducing it into a glass cage or a crystal, of imposing a carnival or a masquerade on it which makes it into a grotesque body… until at last the disappearance of the visible body is achieved’ (C2:190). Isn’t this just the trial that Cristi’s body undergoes? The everyday body that is seen in the first part of the film exists until the ceremony in Anghelache’s office, and thereafter, it disappears. This is Cristi’s body as gest – in its collective enunciation. ‘The gest is necessarily social and political, following Brecht’s requirements, but it is necessarily something different as well… It is bio-vital, metaphysical and aesthetic’ (C2:194)...

To read the full exploration of Police, Adjective through the Deleuze's sign of 'the body of gest,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images...


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