Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Misty's Disappearance

Misty's Disappearance, by Eve Andree Laramee
/seconds #8 Edited by Peter Lewis

Here's a link to a project I have in the online journal "slashseconds" #8. The issue, "Vanishing Point: The Vicious and Virtuous Circle" focuses on works inspired by the 1971 film Vanishing Point, directed by Richard Sarafian, a quintessential road film. To view the project online:
Misty's Disappearance, by Eve Andree Laramee
My project, Misty's Disappearance, is a photo-text piece that is in response the true story of a woman who stole the last running Dodge Challenger used in the film, and drove off into the Mojave Desert. My fictionalization retells the story from her perspective, giving it a different ending than in reality. Each page is clickable, so you can read the text in an enlarged format.

I wish to thank Richard C. Sarafian, director, and Dennis J. Parrish, art director and prop master, for kindly sharing their experiences and memories by telephone on June 30, 2008. They spoke candidly about the making of the film, and the incident when the last running Dodge Challenger was stolen by a woman who drove off with it into the desert. I learned of this event by way of Sarafian’s audio commentary on the 2003 UK DVD release where he states: “Finally we had only one car left, and what happened, there was a lady, or we’ll call her a hooker, that the crew thought they sort of saved from a local hook joint, and she was traveling with the crew, and the word came back that Misty took off with our only car. The state police tracked her down in a helicopter, we were late that morning to work, but we got the car back. And we often talk about Misty. I don’t know where she is now.” In the telephone conversation with Sarafian, he said that after Misty spent the evening with several men on the crew, possibly at the Mitzpah Hotel in Tonapah, she stole the keys from one of them, and was eventually tracked down by helicopter at the California Border. Parrish has a slightly different account of the event: he does not remember the woman’s name but is certain that Misty is incorrect. He did confirm that a woman by another name, who was well known to the crew, did in fact steal the last running Challenger, and was apprehended by the California Highway Patrol in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area two or three days later. Parish too said he did not know where Misty was now, or if she is still alive. He said, Sarafian “took it all in stride finding the event hilarious,” and that any other director would be furious and screaming, but he accepted it as part of the extended story. They both described the weeks during which the film was shot as a series of magical surreal, moments in time, and remarked on the metaphysical and spiritual subtext of the film and how this quality significantly sets it apart from other road films of the era.

My project is a fictionalization of Misty/DesirĂ©e’s point of view of the car theft. Rather than interpreting her story as a crime, or a reversal of loss, or worse a disaster, I seek to create a fictional terrain: geographic, psychological and cognitive, in which the reader/viewer imagines the days of her disappearance. The intention is to provide “Misty” with an escape into an alternative history and an alternative future, had her luck or circumstances been different. I delight in the fact that Sarafian saw her actions as a “perfectly surreal event” in relation to the film. My project opens up a space for Misty’s release: she makes her get away, was not apprehended, the crew cheers her on, there are no surveillance helicopters, no California Highway Patrolmen, only her own psychological complexities to deal with. She makes it to the waters of the Gulf of California, that slip of sea between Baja and mainland Mexico to begin her new life. Ever onward, Misty/DesirĂ©e. Plus ultra, more beyond.

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