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Our Plague: A Film from New York.

If aids is the metaphor for our sexual and political times, then the movies make for a political arena in which we confront the danger of sex and witness the demise of our psychological well-being in the nineties. In James Chapman's new fiction Our Plague film is a vehicle of death and AIDS, unspoken by name in the text yet the ironic mover and shaker of this narrative, the substance of death's journey. In Chapman's (anti)novel, nothing is so certain as death and the movies - both being the way we are psychically taxed in this day and age. The poignant hero of the text lies dying, imagining at first that his body is moving in and out of the walls as his imagination attempts to make sense of the plague that has now swept him up into its vortex. His imagination, more specifically, sees red, sees the frightening and passionate hue that literally means blood and figuratively signals his will to survive his journey in blazing intensity. Yet ultimately this hero's life - that is to say, his understanding of death - is a movie for all times. The novel takes on the form of a film script and mythic names begin to appear on the scene. Bette Davis, the heroine of Dark Victory, exchanges identities with the hero for a brief time, because her eyes, too, are "glittering, exuberant," in her confrontation with death. In another scene, "Disease [nee "Death"] Takes a Holiday," it is mentioned that "Grief and guilt are just forms of film" because, for certain, film here is a fantasy of dying - dying heroically, dying mythically, dying where language makes a collective, public appearance. In this spirited novel James Chapman boldly splices words until their meaning figures as film language and is shared on the big (and often frightening, larger than life) movic screen. "Where there's life there cannot be cinema," says Chapman. Cinema is a political tool, a political project, and death in the age of AIDS is the substance of its urgent artfulness. [Marilyn Moss]
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Moss, Marilyn
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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