The Thoughts That Once We Had
It is probably fair to say that Thom Andersen’s practice as a filmmaker is closely connected to his practice as a teacher. It might also be fair to assume that for him, teaching is on a par with studying, just as making films is on a par with seeing and discussing them. No wonder his films tend to be inspired or shaped by the themes and questions that are also discussed in his classes, and by the resistance, or the embrace, the pleasure or the galvanization that he receives from his (fellow) students. The idea for Los Angeles Plays Itself, for example, initially came from a discussion that Andersen had in class about L.A. Confidential. The final part of Los Angeles Plays Itself was moreover inspired by a course he teaches on the books, Cinema I and Cinema II, by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (published in 1983 and 1985 respectively), with particular focus on Deleuze’s treatment of neo-realism. On the face of it, Thom Andersen’s brand new film, The Thoughts That Once We Had – a wonderful title, presumably borrowed from Robert Aldrich‘s Kiss Me Deadly – is a deepening and widening of his fascination with Deleuze’s ideas on cinema. Does this film extend Deleuze’s particular take on film history, defined by a rupture between the classical cinema of the movement-image and the modern cinema of the time-image? Does it offer an update of what the ideas of “visionary aesthetics” or “wandering forms” could mean today? Does it elaborate on how cinema can contribute to restoring our belief in this world at a time when, day by day, it looks more and more like a bad movie? Your guess is as good as ours. But we will find out together soon enough.