The great unknown masterpiece of mid-century Australian cinema, Clay is unlike anything made in the country before or since. The story of the film is really the sad story of Mangiamele’s career; shown to acclaim at Cannes, no local distributor would show the film, so the director was forced to hire a cinema in Melbourne to screen it himself. There are many influences here, but to me it evokes New Wave cinema from Eastern Europe as much as anything else. Don’t expect great dialogue, or great acting, and there are profound technical issues (the poor sound synch is typical of Mangiamele’s work, but he never had any money for post-production, to the extent that his earlier feature Il Contratto exists only in silent form with no soundtrack at all). But it is a deeply philosophical film, crammed with evocative imagery, and above all the extraordinary cinematography in high contrast (almost Tarr-esque) monochrome is miraculous. And it will be even more evocative for those who know the Montsalvat artist community near Melbourne, where much of the film was shot.
The plot of the film, for what it’s worth, involves a free-thinking artistic group in the country who pick up a fugitive on the run, and we follow the impact the fugitive has on the group and the tragic love triangle he shapes.
1.23GB | 1h 20m | 720×540 | mkv