Director: James Herbert

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


James Herbert, an accomplished painter, photographer, and filmmaker, took his camera to Italy to shoot this visual metaphor. Filmed in black and white with beautiful attention to sound, staging, and light, Scars has a very classic feel to it. Two young lovers, Carter Davis and Alexandra Rosetti, give bold and uninhibited performances that can easily convince anyone they just stepped out of a Renaissance painting. The film begins in a room with just a camera and a man who disrobes to expose an old skateboarding scar. He then travels to the countryside, still undressed, and comes upon a beautiful nude woman under a tree.

Through a series of different setups, they tell each other their life’s experiences through poetry and touch. At first, you may feel slightly uncomfortable watching this couple, so completely naked and physically close to each other. However, as they innocently unveil their innermost thoughts, you stop regarding them erotically and instead see them as two pure souls. Their nakedness becomes strangely irrelevant. As the film progresses, their relationship becomes strained as so many passionate adolescent relationships do. At almost the same time, you and they suddenly become aware of their nakedness. Having externalized their pain to such a degree, they can never go back to the innocence they once shared. And like a good dream that must end, this once-classic love affair becomes real, human, and all too familiar.

James Herbert, Director
James Herbert was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1938 and studied with the painter Clyfford Still and the filmmaker Stan Brakhage. He has received Guggenheim grants in both filmmaking and painting. Herbert has made over forty-five short films shown worldwide, and his music videos for REM and the B52s crossed over from MTV to the international festival circuit. He has also acted as director of photography on two features. Scars is his feature directorial debut.

— Mary Kerr

Screening Details

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