Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Holy shit - Mark Harris has died, at 62 years old - his obituary made the Straight today. Mark was the only professor I remained in touch with after my ill-advised, costly, and pretty much totally fruitless experiment with the UBC Film Studies department; I took his course in "Partisan cinema," screening films about irregular armies, from Roma to The Battle of Algiers to more recent fare like... was it Max Manus we watched or Flame and Citron? Both came up in class; I think it was Flame and Citron we watched. He also graded my essays for a distance ed class on Ireland in cinema. I haven't interacted with him much lately, but he came to a screening I did of Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch last year, and I gave him a copy of the rare European cut of Tavernier's In The Electric Mist shortly thereafter, and I had full intentions of staying in touch. I liked him a lot; he was filled with enthusiasm for cinema, and lectured in the rather blustery, improvisatory, passionate manner of a sincere but studied eccentric, drawing in anecdotes from his rather vast range of linguistic and historical knowledge, teaching more by example ("this is how it is to be a true enthusiast of cinema") rather than through the didactic laying out of information. He remains the only teacher I have ever encountered in any school of any sort to use the word "cocksucker" during a lecture - and I mean this as a point in his favour (for the record, he was illustrating a point by describing a scene from Deadwood, where the word appears frequently). If all professors were like him, I'd have a higher opinion of academia. My condolences to those who knew him - Vancouver's film community is suddenly that much poorer.