Experimental Film

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by btrachtenberg100 on 11-05-2010

The concept of the Avant Garde cinema is one that I feel conflicted with in terms of my feelings of authenticity. Whereas many films contain a very meticulous narrative, I feel too many of thee experimental films are put together haphazardly. Granted, there are so many areas of experimental cinema and the spectrum is so large that to generalize like this would not be right. Thomson and Bordwell describe this particular venue of films as those of personal expression. In the case of Kenneth Anger, or Maya Deren I can understand how their unique perspectives, despite lack of conventional narrative, produce a film that displays the idiosyncrasies and feelings of the filmmakers. When it comes to films that utilize the montage technique exclusively by cutting together completely unrelated footage and attempt to create meaning out of the juxtaposition of images, the meaning becomes to broad and subjective. I’m all for subjectivity, but these films can be read into in so many ways that I feel the filmmaker becomes merely a circumstantial term because of the medium. What I can say about these types of films that I find intriguing is that they seem to make the viewer implement the technique of free association to impose meaning on the images. In this case anyone who applies transitional cutting conventions into the montage can create a film that has infinite meaning.
I happen to be infatuated with Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon for its Freudian symbolism and intimate look into the psyche’s development of the suicidal impulse through the conflict between the different components of the feminine persona. Maya Deren says that there are two types of films; the horizontal, which emphasize plot and structure, and the vertical, which emphasizes what the film means in the moment rather than what it is actually happening. In this sense I can appreciate the compilation method of experimental filmmaking, although I am still a bit skeptical if the filmmaker hasn’t actually shot the footage himself. Although I think Ms Deren would agree with me regarding the antagonism I have for compiled film, for she seems to be of the opinion that surrealism relies to much on the unconscious (as free association does), rather than the “logical extension of a known reality” which are the fundamental components of creativity. Art, in her opinion is a deliberate extension of our creative impulses.
Another issue that bothers me is the idea of films, being considered films if the celluloid haven’t even been exposed to light. Films like Moth light seem to be the products of someone more familiar with the painting canvas. It’s almost as though Picasso made a flipbook. The definition of film seems to impede upon the projection factor rather than the actual filming. If I were to glue frames to a canvas to create a physical expression of film, it would be considered more in line with painting than film, because it would not be able to be run through a projector. With the age of digital weighing down on us, this idea of playing with the raw materials of old fashioned filmmaking seems obsolete and any product in this fashion today seems strictly nostalgic.

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