"!" [Hollywood Blues] July 2013 - Page 14

The effect is spectral: the resources of the choral – of the voice and the ear - brought to bear on the genre of disaster, its ‘frenzy of the visible’ (to borrow Jean-Louis Comolli’s phrase).3 What can emerge from the rubble? A warning, perhaps: ‘You know, we were lucky tonight ...’ Were we? And what is it that we have escaped from? The question takes us back into the archive of catastrophe on which “!” [Hollywood Blues] leans. For me, for example, Act 3 (the ?nal act) was like re-viewing a ?lm known from childhood, a staple of television during festive seasons: John Guillermin’s Towering Inferno. Released in 1974, Towering Inferno is one of the archetypes of the contemporary cinema of disaster, acclaimed for the impression of reality left by its images of ?re, wreckage, explosions – all in the name of looking at human beings in peril. What we hear, again, in “!” [Hollywood Blues] is a sample of the parting words of Michael O’Hallorhan, 5th Battalion Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, to Doug Roberts, the architect of the world’s new tallest building: ‘You know, we were pretty lucky tonight. Body counts less than two hundred. You know, one of these days, you’re gonna kill ten thousand in one of these ?retraps and I’m going to keep eating smoke and carrying out bodies until someone asks us ... how to build them.’ Towering Inferno movie trailer, 1974 Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral rescues Beckett’s Not I from The Towering Inferno. audience 3 14 Jean-Louis Comolli, Machines of the Visible, in The Cinematic Apparatus, eds. Teresa de Lauretis and Stephen Heath, New York: Macmillan 1980.