Bartleby – Melville´s “Story of Wall Street”

So the lawyer’s phantasy fills this void with imaginations that try to solve the riddle of the other’s ominous presence and, by that unconsciously starts reflecting his own situation and petrified estrangement.

When one sunday he discovers that Bartleby is homeless and lives permanently in his lonely office, he feels pity for him. Nevertheless the next week Bartleby even gives up copying. In his despair the lawyer finally finds no other solution than to move to another office and leave Bartleby at the old one, from where the new tenant delivers him to the “Tombs” prison.
On a last visit the lawyer finds a Bartleby starved to death in the prison yard
and can only do no more than close the eyes of the corpse.

By writing down the story of this strange scrivener the lawyer not only becomes a writer but changes his standards through his gradual transformation as an eyewitness of Bartleby´s passion, which started in Washington´s Dead (unanswered) Letters Office. He thus can perceive the ethical act in Bartleby’s refusal so that his downfall is no defeat but a true victory.

As a contribution to the archeology of cinema and to stress the affinity between Melville’s sense of grotesques humour and the slapstick of the silent film we used a Deprie camera, old techniques, original footage of New York’s history, and casted James Spencer Thiérrée, the grandson of the legendary Charly Chaplin, for the part of Bartleby.




Matinée Film Team Presse