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Luigi Pirandello

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Shoot! by Luigi Pirandello
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 24 December 2012

Pirandello delves into the new world of motion pictures in his 1915 novel with a brilliant showcase of his literary talent (which later won him a nobel prize). The story told by camera technician Gubbio is as unsettling as it is intriguing. The first person account gives the narrator control over the speed of his account just as he has control over the speed of film he turns with the handle of his camera. However that is the limit of his influence, he merely moves the story on rather than directing. Just as he is able to stay "impassive" while recording film for the studio, so too in the telling of the tale. It is precisely this, that makes him good at his job, remaining detached from the action which his camera absorbs.

The text is written in the past, Gubbio turning the operator's handle all day at Kosmograph studios and writing about the days events at night. The stories of the people involved in making movies is more exciting than the cinematic entertainment they are trying to create and their story builds to a climax caught on film (thanks once more to Gubbio impassiveness) stranger than could ever be scripted.

This book is like Man With A Movie Camera meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The setting draws pictures later found in stylish european cinemas and grips us with sinister undertones; Pirandello is able to make horrors appear at whim with descriptions of machines. He blasts the so call art being created by these new mediums as they kill the art of the human hand. He likens the role of his protaganists (a hand which turns a handle) to another character, a printer, who's sole purpose is to feed plates of lead into the machine which replaced him. So we know his people aren't irrelevant, but they play a bit part or "cog" in the greater machine.

Pirandello's machines take our souls so that we become impassive like Gubbio, so that when a real tiger is killed for entertainment in a fake jungle by a fake hunter we simply play our parts; actor, camera operator, reader. Pirandello pre-dates and predicts the matrix by blending man and machine and reality with fantasy perfectly.