Academic journal article Framework

The Fall Dossier: Extracts

Academic journal article Framework

The Fall Dossier: Extracts

Article excerpt

Writing in the Guardian, Derek Malcolm once commented that "Whitehead was always the chronicler of public events and the way they relate to private experience."1 Among the material that makes up Whitehead's archive, this intersection is particularly pronounced in the notebooks and diaries he has been collating since childhood. These extensive volumes document his day- to- day circumstances and personal relationships with remarkable candor. They also appear to have functioned as a space for the cultivation and development of his literary and cinematic projects.

Of these texts, some of the most important are the writings he composed between 1967 and 1969- the period he spent making The Fall. Unusually for his diaries, Whitehead had each notebook typed as he filled one volume and began to write the next, and this material was also specifically ring fenced as The Fall Dossier, a title that appears throughout the text itself. Such preparation indicates that Whitehead had an eye to publication from the outset of The Fall project. However, his intentions in this respect extended further than the desire to document a series of "behind the scenes" anecdotes. As he described in a 1969 letter to Michael Kustow (who was arranging screenings of The Fall at the Institute of Contemporary Arts), the Dossier typescript represented a body of "raw notes" that should ideally be turned into "something else." The suggestion was that this "something" was to be significantly more than a "making of" account.2 A copy of the original typescript in Whitehead's archive exhibits signs of an initial attempt to act on this intention. The text is interspersed with newspaper cuttings pertaining to Whitehead's work and the surrounding sociopo litical situation, while other passages are highlighted relating to his relationship with Alberta Tiburzi and his theorization of the mass media. The potential text that these markers point to looks beyond "how I made The Fall" and outlines a "schizoid" journal/novel/notebook that operates in parallel to the film. It charts and considers the emergence, intersection, and interplay of three "narratives": a compositional account of The Fall, a description of the personal and psychological effects of this creative pro cess, and Whitehead's increasingly self- conscious awareness of his own portrayal in the various organs of the late sixties media.

Presented here is a selection of extracts that are intended to give an indication of the simultaneously introverted and extroverted nature of the material. The first set covers some of the early planning and shooting stages of the film, October 1- November 27, 1967.

The Fall Dossier begins on September 20, 1967, with Whitehead's arrival in New York to attend the New York Film Festival. His films Tonite Let's All Make Love in London and Benefit of the Doubt are playing as part of the festival under the tile "The London Scene." The screening takes place on September 26 and is a critical success. Soon afterward, Whitehead is invited to make a documentary in the same spirit as these London films covering "The New York Scene." He concludes his short trip and returns to En gland, facing the prospect of working on an ambitious new film project.

10th October 1967

35,000 ftabove the Atlantic TWA

Now is a good time to reflect!- suspended in space and time- returning from trip to New York, the new world, which can only be called a success, even a triumph.

But so what?

So curious to succeed with so much that I have already disowned. I'm a fraud and I know it. I've watched myself playing out the role for two weeks- and I can see and accept the reasons for it all. In some ways I think I'm doing the right thing: playing my cards right. It is obviously good to consolidate a success and bad to reject it. What is important is not to lose my own perspective- to be sure all the time that I know what I have done and how it compares to what I must do, and have a responsibility to do. …

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