Watched Insignificance for the first time the other day and absolutely loved it. I thought the use of the four main celebrities to examine ideas of personal and collective trauma was very good and the way the film subtly builds up to some really striking images and scenes was remarkable. Although there are a few of his later films I've yet to see, I would definitely place this in my top couple of Roeg films (Performance is pretty much my favourite film of all time). The final scenes were absolutely astonishing. Watching the image of
the actress on flames and then her charred, irradiated corpse
was pretty Ballardian, or at least evocative of the kind of imagery Ballard utilised so well in that brief period around The Atrocity Exhibition
to explore the relationship between the collective culture psyche and trauma, violence etc. that may be buried (consciously and unconsciously) under the surface of an individual and/or society. In some regards the Professor is the key to this film as both the traumas he revisits are by their very nature both personal and shared.
The other dynamic that struck me was the issue of identity in the Ballplayer/Actress relationship. The Ballplayer is haunted by the need to maintain his public persona as the driving force in his life, whereas the actress seems to want to lead a normal life, the pain of being trapped as this icon no one wants to understand being one of her many traumas. Similarly the only two characters with any kind of sympathetic relationship are the two (the Prof. and the Actress) who both seem to have quite complex relationships with their respective public personas, but who find a common ground in the relative safety of a quasi-private space (the ambiguity of a hotel room - not entirely public or private space) adding to the themes of identity and collective and private memory. For tall these reasons, I felt Insignificance was perhaps Roeg's most 'political' film, perhaps alongside some of the examinations of corporate America in
. Having said that the complex relationship between different spheres of society, not to mention the obvious reference to 'Old England' in Performance (though it could be argued these were more Cammell than Roeg) does lend to the argument that I have made before that the political is often an area of Roeg's works that is perhaps under examined, when regarded next to other more overt themes.
Cycling back to the point about Ballard, it reminded me that at the time of the release of the film High Rise, I think I read somewhere that at one point Roeg's name was attached to direct (back in the late 70s or so). I'm not sure how true this is, or where I read or heard it. It may have been because of the relationship Jeremy Thomas and Roeg had at that time, but does anyone know any more about this?