Γεννήθηκε το 1931 [και πέθανε το 2012]
Ο Νέλσων έχει δημιουργήσει ήδη μια παράδοση προς ένα γελοιογραφικό χιούμορ κι είναι δημιουργός μιας από τς κλασσικές κωμωδίες του Αντεργκράουντ, που έχει τίτλο «Αχ αυτά τα πεπόνια».
Η ταινία αυτή είναι ένα ντοκιμαντέρ γύρω από το τι μπορεί να συμβεί σ’ ένα καρπούζι το κλωτσάνε σα μπάλα, το γδέρνουν σα κοτόπουλο, το σπάνε στα πεζοδρόμια, το σκίζουν στα δύο με παγοπέδιλα, το κάνουν κόσκινο από σφαίρες, το ανοίγουν και το τρίβουν στα σώματα όμορφων γυναικών. Η τερατώδης ασυναρτησία όλων αυτών είναι αφάνταστα αστεία, μέχρι που ξαφνικά ο θεατής αντιλαμβάνεται πώς το καρπούζι δε συμβολίζει στην πραγματικότητα παρά τον Αμερικανό νέγρο. Ο Νέλσων ήταν ζωγράφος από το Σαν Φραντζίσκο και διδάσκε ζωγραφική σε πολλά κολέγια.
Σύγχρονος Κινηματογράφος 2 1969
Ρόμπερτ Νέλσων Ωχ αυτά τα Πεπόνια (1965) Robert Nelson – Oh Dem Watermelons (1965)
«Watermelons was commissioned by the San Francisco Mime Troupe as a short entertainment to be screened during intermission for its rather infamous 1965 Minstrel Show (Civil Rights from the Cracker Barrel), which assaulted racial stereotypes by wildly exaggerating them — as performed by (mostly white) performers in blackface, yet. A relative latecomer to filmmaking, the 35-year-old Nelson had just begun fooling around with the medium, mostly in collaboration with then-wife Gunvor Nelson. To make Watermelons he drafted talent from the Mime Troupe and alma mater Mills College, where he’d also found a young composer named Steve Reich, later known (to his occasional annoyance) as the father of minimalism, and thus the person to be blessed or blamed for subsequent fellow travelers Philip Glass and John Adams.
Reich’s raucously repetitive choral arrangement of a Stephen Foster oldie (in which a slave mourns his deceased master) adds another satirical dimension to the color visuals, which direct the campus era’s mood of anarchy and impudence toward the watermelon. Aiming to explode stereotypes and their symbols, the film finds melons used as bombs, footballs, baseballs, shooting targets, even as sensuous love objects. Watermelons are cut-and-pasted onto existing images (from Superman to a NASA missle) and sometimes animated there, à la Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python ‘toons. Fruits are chased by white male hordes, then turn around (via the magic of reverse projection) to chase them in return.»
Robert Nelson (1931–2012)
Experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson, whose “films brought spontaneity, teasing, and wit to the often deadly serious arena of avant-garde moviemaking,” passed away at eighty-one years old, reports Bruce Weber of the New York Times. Nelson was originally trained as a painter, studying at the San Francisco Art Institute and Mills College. He was active in the San Francisco arts scene in the late 1950s and early ’60s, making films with artists including William T. Wiley and William Allan as well as groups like the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Notable works include Plastic Haircut, 1963, a “fifteen-minute film built around a mesmerizing, rapid-fire series of kooky visual images” and Oh Dem Watermelons, 1965, a “brazenly sardonic evisceration of racism that exploits its stereotypical symbol,” which shows watermelons being “gutted like a slain animal and being splattered or otherwise destroyed in various ways, set to a repetitive Steve Reich score that made vivid use of the antebellum songwriting of Stephen Foster.”
Weber writes that Nelson’s films were “confoundingly plotless but cleverly and energetically edited to render images in often poignant, often uproarious juxtaposition. Nelson’s movies are varied in tone and subject matter, but they all exhibit the subversive relish of a renegade, quirky wit.”
Of his artistic process, Nelson, who never received formal training as filmmaker, said: “The artists I knew at that time felt pretty genuinely that if the process got too heavy or ponderous or worried, if you weren’t having a good time at least part of the time, something was wrong. We were bent on having a good time.”