Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perspectives: Hale Tenger

Where: Sackler Gallery

When: through November 6, 2011

This very short film is on display in the main lobby of the Sackler, so if you're going on your lunch hour, you can see something else as well.  There are a couple of special exhibits going on now, and the permanent collection is wonderful too.

That's one thing about going to see all the special exhibits that are on - I don't often get to see the permanent collections.  I keep thinking that when I run out of limited time shows, I'll work on the rest of the Smithsonian's offerings, but of course, that never happens - there's just too much new stuff to see!  A wonderful problem to have, I know.

This short film is of the Saint Georges Hotel in Beirut.  The hotel was nearly destroyed in the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s and was further damaged by the explosion of a nearby car bomb in 2005.  Sadly, it has never been restored.  My father traveled extensively in the Middle East, and when the civil war raged in Beirut, he frequently commented on the destruction of some of his favorite hotels.  It is unfortunate that conditions in that country have not allowed it to regain its former reputation as the Paris of the Middle East.

Most of the film shows the hotel in daylight.  When you first look at it, you see the curtains floating in the breeze, and you might think you're looking at a beach resort, where the windows are open to catch the salt air.  Pleasant music plays in the background, as if you're looking at a carefree summer day.  Gradually, you notice the tattered condition of the curtains, and the scene turns abruptly to night, and the music is replaced by alarms and gunshots.  For a film lasting less than five minutes, it packs quite a punch.

Verdict:  Go see this film - it's easy to add on to a visit to the Sackler to see another show, or on its own, if you're short of time.

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