B. Traven was the mysterious best-selling author of the novel, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was made into a classic film by director John Huston in the 1940s. But who was B. Traven? The mystery surrounding his identity remains fascinating to this day. There have been many theories about who he was, whether he was several people, whether he was an expatriate German or perhaps even the President of Mexico. People in the film world apparently thought they would have meetings with him, but were then informed that a representative would show up. But was the representative actually B. Traven?
When an artist hides his or her identity many theories develop. Modern figures who have cribbed from Traven’s playbook are the novelist Thomas Pynchon and the painter Banksy who really have no reasons for remaining anonymous beyond the artistic jolt that a secret identity personally gives them. It’s not the crooks that interest Batman after all – it’s the secret identity. A secret identity makes you better in every way because it turns you immediately into a work of art. All artists should be mysteries. At the very least, they should tell lots of lies.
I present this post and its excellent documentary as part of my preparations for an upcoming film. Getting the right mood.
Parts 3 – 6 after the jump.