Christopher Maclaine – Beat (1958)

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Quote:
“Maclaine’s next film, Beat (1958), might be thought of as a continuation of The Man Who Invented Gold, since it often cuts back and forth between shots of golden lamps, lights in windows, and gold-colored objects, often situated in the direct center of the frame (in fact, golden lights show up prominently near the close of the fifth section of The End as well). Otherwise, Beat is something of a portrait of the bohemian characters of late-1950s San Francisco, made just as the scene was disintegrating into mass-marketed national media consciousness and North Beach became the tourist’s emblem of the Beat Generation. Once again, Maclaine’s editing technique positively sparkles. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – Scotch Hop (1959)

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The wonderful Scotch Hop (1959) [ imdb says 1953] is something of a letdown only after seeing his first two staggering, shattering masterpieces. In that film Maclaine intercuts a small band of bagpipers with other scenes, making some costumed young women appear to dance to the bagpipes’ rhythms. Scotch Hop is animated by a tension between synchronicity and asynchronicity — the rhythms of the images and the music converge, then diverge. Each image feels as if it were perched on a knife-edge between a world of smooth, lyrical dance and a world about to be torn apart. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The Man Who Invented Gold (1957)

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The Man Who Invented Gold, very different from The End, is fully as masterful. It focuses on a modern-day alchemist whose zombielike neighbors think of him as “madman” while he aspires to become “goldman.” Again Maclaine narrates, likening the quest to create gold to a quest for the “world of light”; the editing is as disjunctive as in The End but arguably has a much more optimistic meaning, bringing to the forefront the Gnostic longing to escape substance and recover light that underlies parts of The End. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The End (1953)

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Description from Beat Cinema
The End is in six numbered sections, each separated by long stretches of darkness during which Maclaine speaks directly to the audience. Each of the sections is a tale of a different person on the last day of his or her life. The characters in the first three sections meet their end either through random acts of violence or suicide (none depicted graphically), after which Maclaine (in dark humor mode) acknowledges that the audience may not yet be identifying with his characters (“These people are all violent!”). The characters in the second half seem to meet their end through a large-scale disaster, unspecified in Maclaine’s narration but undoubtedly the atomic explosion shown at the beginning and end of the film. The two halves of the film are bridged by Maclaine’s narrator, who equates the self-destruction of the first three characters with a complacent world awaiting “the grand suicide of the human race.” The finale of the film is the end of the world as Maclaine imagines it might look, set to the tune of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – presaging Stanley Kubrick, who would also juxtapose an atomic explosion with ironically uplifting music in Dr. Strangelove a decade later. The End is not just a stern warning, but a prophecy of absolute doom – Maclaine seems to have believed the world was ending before his very eyes, and the eyes of his audience. Continue reading