The Ornamentation of Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut) and Mita Vashisht (Kasba): a Sketch

This essay on Nicole Kidman and Mita Vashisht is rather beautiful, from   at Senses Of Cinema.

“The ornament is the élan vital

– Kumar Shahani (1)

The Australian actress, Nicole Kidman, as a pre-eminent Hollywood star has recently been mythified to the iconic status of the screen goddesses of the 1950s. It is however not this careful crafting of her star image (after Moulin Rouge [Baz Luhrmann, 2001] and The Others [Alejandro Amenábar, 2001]) that is a concern of this piece but rather her ornamental performance in Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999). I shall also discuss Mita Vashisht’s ornamentation in Kumar Shahani’s Kasba (1991).

Vashisht, if not a star, is one of Shahani’s favourite actresses. By thinking these two films (from two quite different cinematic traditions and cultures) together, I shall sketch an idea on ornamentation as a temporal event, detailing its singularity in each instance; singularities which are coloured through a visible and invisible deployment of painting. The exploration of the link between a pre-technological art form, such as painting, and film is part of a larger cross-cultural project on synaesthesia or the conditions for the recharging of the human sensorium within the technosphere which we now inhabit. Painting and the other art forms, evolved over millennia, activate the human senses differently. And their ornamental address is used as virtual capital by Kubrick and Shahani (2).

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