Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

Michael Snow – Wavelength (1967) (HD)

“Wavelength” was shot in one week in December, 1966, preceded by a year of notes, thoughts, mutterings. It was edited and first print seen in May, 1967. (The Film-Makers’ Cooperative)

I wanted to make a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings, and aesthetic ideas. I was thinking of, planning for a time monument in which the beauty and sadness of equivalence would be celebrated, thinking of trying to make a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of “illusion” and “fact,” all about seeing. Read More »

Peter Fleischmann – Das Unheil AKA Havoc AKA The Bells of Silesia (1972) (HD)

A small town in Germany in the early 70s. Hille, the son of the local preacher, tries for the second time to graduate high school. Despite sophisticated efforts at memorization, he knows he won’t succeed this time either. At the same time other, more ominous problems occur: a choir girl thinks he impregnated her. His sister Dimuth, allegedly a successful model, returns from Rome followed by her pimp. The Silesian bell festival his father is planning threatens to become a political disaster. The impending doom spreads. Dimuth’s former classmate Uli, an apprentice at the local sewage plant, discovered tumorous swans and dead fish in the river, then drowns mysteriously in its polluted waters. Two students hiding in the bell tower of the church plan a terror attack. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Blue Moses (1962)

From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
One of the very few Brakhage films to have a plot and be acted, this bitter and wise polemic pits an actor who constantly confesses his role against an unseen audience. He sarcastically mocks our belief in filmic truth, disclaiming the omnipotence we ascribe to him and the director and insists on the falsehood and artificiality of the art work. This is a very modern film of ambiguity, mixed tenses, skepticism, and ultimately, anguish at the realization that the artist is both con-man and magician, impotently straining for unattainable perfection yet inevitably being taken seriously by an audience panting to be duped. Read More »

Richard Lester & Peter Sellers – The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960)

“Shot in two days, this wild early collaboration between Peter Sellers, Richard Lester (Hard Day’s Night), and Spike Milligan (of the Goon Show) is a perfect example of surrealist comedy. The various protagonists undergo ridiculous catastrophes, exaggerated non-sequiturs, and Keystonian mayhem in a sylvan setting. Produced at hardly any cost at all, it proves once again that talent is more important than money.”
– Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art Read More »

Robert Wise – The Andromeda Strain (1971)

An alien virus’s brief pit stop in the new American West, starkly documented by Michael Crichton and Robert Wise. A satellite crashes in a New Mexico burg, soon the place is filled with bodies whose circulatory systems have turned to powder — these are the best sequences, full of hushed dread and unnerving use of widescreen dead spaces (the camera focuses on the placid, dusty face of a fallen villager, then tilts up to frame a couple of researchers approaching in hazmat suits and a helicopter whirring against a cobalt sky). The scientific team is rounded up: Exposition-dispenser Arthur Hill, surgeon James Olson (who gets a crush on the computer’s female voice), splenetic researcher Kate Reid, and veteran doctor David Wayne (“A hippie! He’s going to a love-in,” his suspicious wife cries as he packs for the secret mission). Read More »

Herbert Vesely – Nicht mehr fliehen AKA No More Fleeing (1955)

In a desolate, destroyed landscape – bearing now irrelevant traces of technological society – a man and a boy try to find their way under a fierce sun. Read More »

Helena Lumbreras – Espana 68 (El hoy es malo pero el manana es mio) AKA Spain 68 (1968)

España 68 (El hoy es malo pero el mañana es mío) aka Spain 68
A documentary about the 1968 student demonstrations and university occupations in Spain.

Spagna ’68, entirely financed by Pier Paolo Pasolini;
the first film in history to be made under and in opposition to a totalitarian regime. Read More »