My Dinner with André the Giant

Date: 2007
Posted by: Alex Itin
Credits: Created by Alex Itin
Cast: none
Duration: 2.02

American painter and experimental filmmaker Alex Itin is a member of The Future of the Book, “a small think-and-do tank investigating the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens”. With his starting point the celebrated Wallace Shawn play (and Louis Malle film) My Dinner with André (1981), in which two men debate a wide range of cultural themes over a meal, Itin creates a sampled video by associations. He describes his film thus:

The video is my play on Wallace Shawn and Shakespeare along the way to Orson Welles doing Lear and Mobydick… The drawing of what seems to be Italy with Chinese is from Imagination in The Library. I think he hails from China. The kicked by Sexy Italian Boot Sicily is from my brush wiping page next to the moby ink pot. It’s random, but I thought sort of pretty. It is from the pages of an old book on chess strategy. The Chinese say, “Life is Chess (war); Living is strategy and tactics”.

Also buried within lies the witch from Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (based on Macbeth), alongside Brando in Apocalypse Now, The Third Man, The Kinks, and who knows what else besides (the background pages come from Moby Dick via an earlier Itin video – he recycles his own material as well as that of others). It’s an absurdist delight, with a magnificent title (André the Giant was a wrestler and actor popular in America) and a sublime closing dissolve from camera in the hand to skull in the hand. Sometimes movies should only be like this.

Another Green World (‘remix’ of some of the same footage)
IT IN place
Vimeo page

10 thoughts on “My Dinner with André the Giant

  1. alex itin says:

    What a nice post. I’m flattered really. This vid was made in response to an interview I did about Orson Whales for a now defunct video site. Also The Andre the Giant title refers to Shepard Fairey’s first street art sticker “Andre the Giant has a posse” which came out in Providence RI when I was a Brown and later became the the Obey concept which became the Obama poster.

  2. bardbox says:

    Happy to oblige, and thanks for the extra information. I really like your work, how you replay material, and how you turn thinking into images (or vice versa).

  3. alex itin says:

    Not sure what you mean by replay, but if you are talking about stealing the old films, most of that was shot off the television screen with a camcorder for an e-book called Asi Nisi Masa that you can see me doing a performance/reading of here:
    or here:

    Lately I also use a program that can grab whatever media you are playing off your desktop… this works great for snatching bits off of youtube. There are also a lot of copyright free archives out there and resources like UBUweb.

    As far as thinking in and of images: I have a very fast/very slow work method. Much of what I do online is like what I do in a sketchbook. I reminded of how chefs use broth as the kind of basis for a great dish. All sorts of things get thrown into the pot and then cook… sometimes for years until I can’t tell the difference between the idea and the image. They merge into a symbol and then it is time to cook the meat and make the sauce.. which would be the more finished pieces I have made, or am making. The thing is this broth never get’s thrown out it just keeps changing over time.

    Finally drawing and painting are the kind of building blocks of everything. They are the bones, the rest is salt and pepper.

  4. bardbox says:

    I prefer replay to steal – or call it repurpose, or reimagine. I don’t support stuff being ripped of DVDs or whatever so someone can just say have a look at this. But creative reimagining of works is essential.

  5. bardbox says:

    Curiously enough, I was talking to someone only the other day about the pre-history of the mashup, and I gave the example of The Waste Land. Quotation is what it is.

  6. Kathy says:

    Quotation is correct, as a concept (though we haven’t as a culture followed through on the implications in terms of fair use — too many owners and licensers resist that). What’s wrong with “remix” as a genre term here?

    For the prehistory of the mashup, we should also be looking at Shakespeare. For example, the exchanges before Desdemona’s murder come right out of the ars moriendi tradition of deathbed scenes widely published in pamphlets and manuals — down to the specific catechisms, identification of devils, etc.

  7. bardbox says:

    Fair use doesn’t exist as a legal term in the UK – here we have fair dealing, which isn’t quite the same (it’s more specifically defined, for a start).

    Maybe remix is better than mashup. I’ll consider it.

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