Anaïs Observed (1974)

67 or 70 mins | Documentary | 1974

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HISTORY

End credits contain the following acknowledgements: "Video-newsreel at UC Berkeley – Optic Never, San Francisco; Kenneth Anger’s INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (Film-Maker’s Cooperative); Maya Deren’s RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (Grove Press Films); Barbara Morgan’s Photographs from her book, 'Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs'; Nathan Kroll’s MARTHA GRAHAM: A DANCER’S WORLD (Rembrandt Films); KPBS-TV’s THE MUSIC OF HARRY PARTCH; Betty Freeman’s THE DREAMER THAT REMAINS: A Portrait of Harry Partch, directed by Stephen Pouliot; Robert Snyder’s THE HENRY MILLER ODYSSEY; and 'ALWAYS YES' CARESSE CROSBY, including Emlen Etting’s POEM 8 (Master & Masterworks Productions); Arnold Eagle’s NOGUCHI: A SCULPTOR’S WORLD; Quartet 3 violins - Dennis Townsend, Norma Milson, Viola - Rupert Pole; Cello - Harriet Berman; Swedenborgian Society’s Wayfarer’s Chapel by Lloyd Wright, Portugese Bend, Calif." The final title card contains the written statement, “Made possible in part by a grant from the Judith S. Thomas Foundation.”
       An 8 May 1974 Var news brief announced that Grove Press Films would distribute three biographical motion pictures by director-producer Robert Snyder, stating that the films, Anaïs Observed, The Henry Miller Odyssey, and The World of Buckminster Fuller, (1974, see entries), were set for theatrical release in New York City; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; Washington, DC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Vancouver, B.C.; Philadelphia, PA; and Kansas City, KS.
       Anaïs Observed was shot on 16mm film, as reported in the 13 Dec 1974 HR review. An unsourced article written by Jerry Oster on 24 Jun 1974 stated that some interview footage was taken at Nin’s Los Angeles home, designed for Nin ... More Less

End credits contain the following acknowledgements: "Video-newsreel at UC Berkeley – Optic Never, San Francisco; Kenneth Anger’s INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (Film-Maker’s Cooperative); Maya Deren’s RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (Grove Press Films); Barbara Morgan’s Photographs from her book, 'Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs'; Nathan Kroll’s MARTHA GRAHAM: A DANCER’S WORLD (Rembrandt Films); KPBS-TV’s THE MUSIC OF HARRY PARTCH; Betty Freeman’s THE DREAMER THAT REMAINS: A Portrait of Harry Partch, directed by Stephen Pouliot; Robert Snyder’s THE HENRY MILLER ODYSSEY; and 'ALWAYS YES' CARESSE CROSBY, including Emlen Etting’s POEM 8 (Master & Masterworks Productions); Arnold Eagle’s NOGUCHI: A SCULPTOR’S WORLD; Quartet 3 violins - Dennis Townsend, Norma Milson, Viola - Rupert Pole; Cello - Harriet Berman; Swedenborgian Society’s Wayfarer’s Chapel by Lloyd Wright, Portugese Bend, Calif." The final title card contains the written statement, “Made possible in part by a grant from the Judith S. Thomas Foundation.”
       An 8 May 1974 Var news brief announced that Grove Press Films would distribute three biographical motion pictures by director-producer Robert Snyder, stating that the films, Anaïs Observed, The Henry Miller Odyssey, and The World of Buckminster Fuller, (1974, see entries), were set for theatrical release in New York City; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; Washington, DC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Vancouver, B.C.; Philadelphia, PA; and Kansas City, KS.
       Anaïs Observed was shot on 16mm film, as reported in the 13 Dec 1974 HR review. An unsourced article written by Jerry Oster on 24 Jun 1974 stated that some interview footage was taken at Nin’s Los Angeles home, designed for Nin by her personal friend, architect Eric Lloyd Wright.
       According to the 28 Jun 1974 New York Post and 13 Dec 1974 LAT reviews, screenings took place on 28 and 29 Jun 1974 in New York City and for one day only in Los Angeles, on 15 Dec 1974, at the Royal Theater where Nin and Snyder were scheduled to appear.
       Critical reception was generally positive. In a 13 Dec 1974 LAT review, Linda Gross described the film as “exceedingly well made,” with the exception of the editing in sections that included footage from other films.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1974
p. 4, 18.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1974
Section IV, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jan 1975.
---
New York Post
28 Jun 1974
p. 30.
New York Times
28 Jun 1974
p. 20.
Variety
8 May 1974.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITORS
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Anaïs Observed: A Portrait of a Woman as Artist
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 June 1974
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1974
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by De Luxe
gauge
16mm
Duration(in mins):
67 or 70
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, writer Anaïs Nin watches rainfall in her backyard and discusses her childhood journey from Spain to America. At the time, she began documenting her observations in a letter to her father, whom she hoped would follow the family to America but never did. The letter, describing Anaïs’s observations in great detail, became the first of many diaries that Anaïs wrote continuously throughout her life. Having now undergone psychoanalysis, exploring in depth her basic problem, “the quest for the absent father,” Anaïs believes that artists create despite neuroses not because of them. Unlike a writer who does not delve into psychoanalysis and may write about only one thing over and over again, Anaïs cannot imagine running out of things to write about. She speaks about editing her diaries in preparation for their publishing, and says she focuses on keeping the “inner journey” continuous instead of worrying about facts that may have to be left out. At her typewriter, Anaïs reads a handwritten diary and transposes passages into an edited version, noting that she plays music any time the flow of her writing becomes blocked. In her home office, Anaïs answers a stack of letters, explaining that the first letter she wrote to a writer as a young girl went unanswered, and, in turn, she vowed never to leave a letter unanswered. Anaïs describes the friendships she created while living in different cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, and Paris, France. Recalling that her first “passionate love for a writer” was for D. H. Lawrence, Anaïs says she wrote “An Unprofessional Study” on the writer after dropping out of school. She muses that, in 1931, she ... +


In Los Angeles, California, writer Anaïs Nin watches rainfall in her backyard and discusses her childhood journey from Spain to America. At the time, she began documenting her observations in a letter to her father, whom she hoped would follow the family to America but never did. The letter, describing Anaïs’s observations in great detail, became the first of many diaries that Anaïs wrote continuously throughout her life. Having now undergone psychoanalysis, exploring in depth her basic problem, “the quest for the absent father,” Anaïs believes that artists create despite neuroses not because of them. Unlike a writer who does not delve into psychoanalysis and may write about only one thing over and over again, Anaïs cannot imagine running out of things to write about. She speaks about editing her diaries in preparation for their publishing, and says she focuses on keeping the “inner journey” continuous instead of worrying about facts that may have to be left out. At her typewriter, Anaïs reads a handwritten diary and transposes passages into an edited version, noting that she plays music any time the flow of her writing becomes blocked. In her home office, Anaïs answers a stack of letters, explaining that the first letter she wrote to a writer as a young girl went unanswered, and, in turn, she vowed never to leave a letter unanswered. Anaïs describes the friendships she created while living in different cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, and Paris, France. Recalling that her first “passionate love for a writer” was for D. H. Lawrence, Anaïs says she wrote “An Unprofessional Study” on the writer after dropping out of school. She muses that, in 1931, she was a lonely writer living in France when she began editing her diaries. The same year, Henry Miller, the American writer, and his wife came to visit. She characterizes Miller as incredibly joyful, and in an exchange between the two, Miller describes Anaïs’s listening as “eloquent,” saying the way she listened when they first met distinguished her. The pair discusses Anaïs’s belief that dreams can become a blueprint for the kind of life a person leads; if that person understands their dreams, they can unlock a “secret self” and live according to that self. Anaïs talks about her interest in writing from an emotional standpoint, and how her approach is unique to being a woman. In New York, Anaïs speaks to her old friend, Frances Steloff, owner of the bookstore, Gotham Book Mart. They reminisce about a time when Anaïs’s work was rejected by publishers, and she obtained her own printing press, creating bound copies of her books by hand. Steloff recalls when she bought $100 worth of Anaïs’s handmade books, knowing instinctively that they would sell. Around that time, Edmund Wilson positively reviewed Under a Glass Bell, and Anaïs got her first “break” as a writer. Anaïs comments that she had experienced such joy in assembling her books, Winter of Artifice and Under a Glass Bell, that when she finally got a publishing deal, she cried, lamenting that the books printed by the publisher would not be as beautiful as her own. Anaïs discusses another New York friend, filmmaker Maya Deren, who made an experimental film, Ritual in Transfigured Time, in which Anaïs appeared. Another artist and close friend, Isamu Noguchi, inspired Anaïs to pay attention to form and take inspiration from the physical shape of everything she saw. After living in New York, Anaïs traveled west in search of a city that was closer to nature and settled in Los Angeles. There, she made friends with architect Frank Lloyd Wright, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Renate Druks, amongst others. Anaïs describes her esteem for Frank Lloyd Wright’s work as she explores his Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes. She explains that Wright and his son, Eric, designed the house in which she now lives. Anaïs’s art collection includes several collages by Jean Varda, and one of the collages, Women Reconstructing the World, arrived one day along with a fan letter. Anaïs recalls that she was coincidentally writing about four women just like the women in the artwork when she received the package from Varda, years ago; she expresses her belief that a woman creating alone is “not a beautiful spectacle,” stating that women were designed to create communion as mothers, sisters, mistresses, and that they help men connect with their humanity. Speaking of Lou Andreas-Salomé, whom she praises as the first female psychoanalyst, Anaïs credits Salomé with creating the freedom that modern women now demand, as well as inspiring Friedrich Nietzsche to write Zarathustra. She mentions another feminist role model, Caresse Crosby, an American expatriate and patron of the arts who opposes war and nationalism. At present, Anaïs is working on the fifth volume of her diaries, including accounts of her experimentation with the psychedelic drug, LSD. Anaïs says the hallucinations she experienced under the influence of LSD closely matched dreams she described in her early book, House of Incest, and states her belief that artists would be able to tap into their subconscious thoughts and visions without drugs if they weren’t so demoralized by society. At her house, Anaïs meets with a group of young writers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and speaks about the toxicity of anger. One night, Anaïs goes to John Green’s Cumberland Mountain film studio to read aloud from her novel, Collages, while John performs a live light show. Back at home, she speaks to Tom Schiller, a young filmmaker, about his recent trip to Japan and the present need for Americans to create their own “western” sense of serenity. At another time, she cleans her pool wearing a party dress, explaining her idea that fashion fits into an overall aesthetic approach to life. Anaïs describes the symbol of her astrological sign, Pisces, with two fish heading in opposite directions. Anaïs says she never wanted to choose one direction or the other in life and has always tried to fuse her impulses, likening the struggle to the Eastern concept of yin-yang. Laying in a hammock, Anaïs says that she likes to feel she has transcended her destiny. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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