Correction Please is a formally adventurous and rigorously philosophical essay on the nature of early cinema, made under the auspices of the Arts Council of Great Britain in the late 1970s. It emerged in the era of works like Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s Riddles of the Sphinx (1977) and Anthony McCall and Andrew Tyndall’s Argument (1978), two other instances of filmmaking-as-film-theory to which Burch’s otherwise singular project might be compared. The topic of Correction Please is the development of narrative cinematic language from film’s inception to the period of sound—what Burch has dubbed “the gestation of the Institutional Mode”—investigated through a series of tautly structured segments, including ten archival examples of so-called “primitive” films made prior to 1906, animated diagrams explicating these early works, quotations from Maxim Gorky, Christian Metz, and Lillian Gish, and, most dramatically, a series of five staged sequences that recapitulate and analyze emblematic formal properties of five different chapters in cinema’s evolution.
Shot with actors on a stunning Art Deco set, these scenes construct a tale of international intrigue, as a young man delivers a secret message to a mysterious and mesmerizing Countess. “For the record,” Burch explains in a series of notes written to accompany the film’s first screenings, “I should indicate that while true pastiche is never intended, the periods alluded to in the five sequences staged by me are: the mature primitive years (ca. 1905), Griffith’s middle period at Biograph (ca. 1910), the more mature films which Reginald Barker made for Thomas Ince (ca. 1915), Fritz Lang’s Mabuse diptych (1922)—a crucial moment in the elaboration of the visual and symbolic structures of the Cinema Institution—and, finally, the era of ‘canned theatre,’ insofar as it is that of so many films made between 1929 and today.”
321MB | 49m 48s | 720×576 | mkv