The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Poetry film featuring T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The idea to revisit Eliot's "Prufrock" came after hearing Claudia Rankine mention a line from the poem in an interview she did for her latest book, Just Us: An American Conversation (September 2020). Rankine's book explores how contemporary America finds itself, at home and in government, riven by a culture war in which aggression and defensiveness are on the rise. Rankine urges all Americans to begin dialogue with one another to explore the issues of white supremacy, race, and white privilege.

Eliot's line, "Should I, after tea and cake and ices, / Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?" highlighted by Rankine, mirrors the situation many Americans find ourselves in currently: forcing the subject and practicing the delicate diplomacy of disabuse.

The line–hidden inside a memory mosaic of missed opportunities and mortifying rejections in the poem–is the moment of decision: to dare to upset the tranquility and pleasant balance of the room or not. For Prufrock, the daring inquires are often selfish, carnal ones. The conversations many intrepid Americans are attempting / engineering / coaxing / facilitating with family and friends during this shifting moment in the American zeitgeist, however, are earnest, essential, and necessary. The very endeavor is courageous. And while the efforts are at times Sisyphean, they are vital nonetheless.

The original visual structure of the film included ~44 layers (One for every week since lockdown in March 2020.) and nods to Christian Marclay's "48 War Movies." The film's footage was taken almost exclusively during the 2020 Pandemic lockdown in addition to archival, home movie footage.

After we passed the year marker, the film was recut to underscore the feelings of restriction and the practice of self-restraint we now have the obligation to continue.

  • Michèle Saint-Michel
    Vile Figs, Transmettre, Abyss Welcomes Us, PTSD Suite, Lost Sock Collection, School of Life, Don't Tell Me I'm Beautiful
  • T.S. Eliot
    Based on original work by
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Poetry Film, Art Film
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 59 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 12, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, Archival
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Michèle Saint-Michel

Michèle Saint-Michel is an experimental filmmaker, intermedia artist, and poet. Her work explores experiential time and cultural constructions of the feminine.

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Director Statement

Much of my work is underpinned by an on-going exploration of experiential time. Because of the pandemic, many have become interested in exploring notions (real or subjective) of temporal states, liminal phases, and junctures. In the poem, Prufrock looks back on his long life with colossal, if self-indulgent, regret. What's your relationship with moving through time, aging, regret? And more importantly, when the situation arises, will you have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?