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Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: Bliss ()
Date: June 15, 2009 10:08

Can anyone tell me what was the book that wwas featured in the film 'Performance'?

Thanks in advance.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: SwayStones ()
Date: June 15, 2009 10:14

You mean those ?



and a documentary film (Kevin MacDonald and Chris Rodley’s Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance )

I am a Frenchie ,as Mick affectionately called them in the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977 .

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: Bliss ()
Date: June 15, 2009 11:08

Thank you, but no. I mean the book by Borges that was shown very frequently in the film. I went through all the Borges books listed on amazon, all 80 pages of them, but so many lacked photos of the covers that I couldn't find it.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Date: June 15, 2009 11:18

Perhaps you mean this one >

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: Bliss ()
Date: June 15, 2009 11:29

No, that one is written by E G Cousins, a crime writer who is a personal favourite of Anita's. I am talking about the book whose cover was shown numerous times throughout the film, and had Borges' picture on it. I feel sure it is one of his more common ones, but an old edition.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2009-06-15 12:31 by Bliss.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: SwayStones ()
Date: June 15, 2009 11:39

Do you mean the book Jagger reads when he stands up with a long dress ? Or
gangsters reading Borges on their coffee break ?
BTW,I had forgotten that Borges face appeared in the movie ...

I am a Frenchie ,as Mick affectionately called them in the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977 .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2009-06-15 11:43 by SwayStones.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: Bliss ()
Date: June 15, 2009 12:03

Yes, that one. They show flashes of it at other times during the film, notably at the end.

ETA, I found it.

Here is some info for anyone interested:

'That Borges is an influence is obvious – not only are various characters seen reading a copy of A Personal Anthology (1968), but the image of Borges’ face appears during the last few moments, reflected in a mirror at a crucial instant.'

'Additional Information

Below are two excerpts that highlight the Borgesian influence on Performance. (A word of warning – the second reveals the ending of the film.)

Donald Cammell: Nic [Roeg] and I had been friends for years. We both read the same books, which to my mind is more important than seeing the same films. Our initial inspiration came from Borges and Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair, a story which makes a kind of ecstatic exploration of a character’s fatal encounter with his double or alter ego – as in Performance. I was fascinated by the idea of murder which might also be suicide.
(Interview with Daily Cinema)

The story’s complexity is congenial to Turner’s universe which is much like those described in the Borges stories to which the film periodically refers as tales within a tale. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is the name given to a world with inverted natural laws, whose objects have no clear definition and whose nouns exist as endless strings of adjectives. Preparing for his own imminent murder-suicide while Chas lurks in the basement like a waiting assassin, reads aloud from The South, which is about a convalescent who leaves his sanatorium for a train journey to an obscure province, engaging in a fatal knife fight pre-ordained the day he opens a volume of The Thousand and One Nights. But perhaps the most important story is Death and the Compass, which is never directly mentioned. Here, the police inspector tries to decipher an oracular series of homicides whose locations describe a geometric puzzle, the final piece completed only when the inspector himself enters the murderer’s carefully assembled lair. This is an understated allusion to Performance’s own geometric murder when Chas aims his gun precisely at the section of Turner’s head that corresponds to the patch of hair Chas mysteriously leaves on the chauffeur’s scalp. The connection becomes more obvious when Borges’s photograph flashes in a shattered looking glass as the camera takes us on a visceral tracking shot down Turner’s punctured skull.
(Lanza, Joseph. Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy And Misadventures Of Nicolas Roeg. Paj Publications, 1989. Pg. 96)

That Donald Cammell has been influenced by Borges may be further illustrated by two more examples. His 1977 film Demon Seed – a visionary but unsettling work where an AI named Proteus attempts to conceive a child with a human woman – contains a scene where a programmer discusses the paradox of Shi Huang Ti, as related by Borges in The Wall and the Books. The second example is more grim, as it involves Cammell’s suicide. After shooting himself in the head with a shotgun, he remarked to his wife that he “couldn’t see Borges yet.” He died a few moments later, with the ambulance on its way to his home.

Offsite Links

PhinnWeb “Performance” Page – An excellent page devoted to the film, with images, articles, reviews, and more.

The Man That Time Forgot – A wonderful article on Donald Cammell, online at PhinnWeb. Contains some information about the filming of Performance.'

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2009-06-15 14:52 by Bliss.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: June 15, 2009 15:41

There's a lot of myths surrounding Donald's death, the fact is he died instantly from the gun shot and the ambulance arrived within 10 minutes. He was pronounced dead 12 minutes after China Kong made the 911 call.

There were no mysterious sentences about Borges, no mirror so he could watch himself die etc etc, just one shot and he was gone.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2009-06-15 21:11 by His Majesty.

Re: Question about film 'Performance'/Borges
Posted by: john r ()
Date: June 15, 2009 19:31

Must see the 1998 documentary, "Donald Cammell: The Final Performance" (title may be slightly inaccurate), about the dircector, his influences and work and associations with Francis Bacon, The Stones, Kenneth Anger, Marlon Brando, etc...Mick and Anita are both interviewed as well as lots of other folks of note. The 'last' performance refers to DC's way of committing suicide...Also a real hoot & similar to Performance in many ways is Cammell's "The Wild Side" with Christopher Walken in a starring role

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