Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

  • Vera Chytilová – Sedmikrásky AKA Daisies (1966)

    1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtArthouseCzech RepublicExperimentalVera Chytilová

    If the entire world is bad, why shouldn’t we be? Adopting this insolent attitude as their guiding philosophy, a pair of hedonistic young women (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová), both named Marie, embark on a gleefully debauched odyssey of gluttony, giddy destruction, and antipatriarchal resistance, in which nothing is safe from their nihilistic pursuit of pleasure. But what happens when the fun is over? Matching her anarchic message with an equally radical aesthetic, director Věra Chytilová, with the close collaboration of cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, unleashes an optical storm of fluctuating film stocks, kaleidoscopic montages, cartoonish stop-motion cutouts, and surreal costumes designed by Ester Krumbachová, who also cowrote the script. The result is Daisies, the most defiant provocation of the Czechoslovak New Wave, an exuberant call to rebellion aimed squarely at those who uphold authoritarian oppression in any form.Read More »

  • Jean Renoir – La règle du jeu aka The Rules of the Game (1939)

    1931-1940Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtDramaFranceJean Renoir

    Alain Resnais° wrote:
    It remains, I think, the single overwhelming experience I’ve ever had in a cinema. When I first came out of the theater, I remember I just had to sit on the edge of the pavement. I sat there for about five minutes and then I walked the streets of Paris for a couple of hours. For me, every thing had been turned upside down. All my ideas about the cinema had been changed. While I was actually watching the film, my impressions were so strong physically that I thought that if this or that sequence would to go for one more shot, I would either burst into tears or scream or something. Since then, of course, I’ve seen it at least fifteen times like most filmmakers of my generation. I even recorded the whole soundtrack on my tape recorder and it’s amazing how well it stands up well on its own.Read More »

  • Alex de Renzy – History of a Blue Movie (1970)

    1961-1970Alex de RenzyAmos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtDocumentaryEroticaUSA

    From the New York Times
    “This humorous and informative documentary traces the history of cinematic pornography back to the 1915 stag film “The Free Ride.” Sexual attitudes of society have been carefully researched and explained as films from World War up to and including the year 1970 are examined. Stripper Candy Barr is shown in the classic “Smart Alec”, and the mild peep shows of the 1940s and 1950s are examined. All events lead up to the late 1960s where censorship laws were successfully challenged in the courts. The last half hour is a shameless promotion of director Alex de Renzy’s current blue movies and adds nothing to the historical perspective of the feature. Color process is not credited, but few porn films before the 1960s were filmed in color. ~ Dan Pavlides”Read More »

  • Jerzy Skolimowski – Rysopis AKA Identification Marks: None (1965)

    1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtArthouseDramaJerzy SkolimowskiPoland

    A day in the life of student Andrzej who, between the morning and late afternoon, gives up on his studies, breaks up with his partner, and decides to join the army. Before his departure, Andrzej tries to straighten out his life, and encounters Barbara, who he sees as the woman he always waited for.Read More »

  • Igor Kolovsky – Khatyn, 5km (1968)

    Documentary1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtIgor KolovskyUSSR

    A documentary about the Khatyn massacre.

    Another example of Adamovich’s struggle against official war memory is a documentary film for which he co-authored the script: Khatyn’, 5km (dir. by 1. Ko-lovskii, Belarusfilm, 1968) was never publicly screened in the USSR because its treatment of the Khatyn theme was considered too negative by state censorship.Read More »

  • Marcel Mariën – L’Imitation du Cinéma AKA The Imitation Of Cinema (1960)

    1951-1960Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtBelgiumCultExperimentalMarcel Mariën

    This Belgian surrealist work consists of two films, one commenting on the other, concerning a young man with a crucifixion complex. Imagining crosses everywhere, he even cuts his fried potatoes in the shape of a cross. Unable to buy a large cross, he settles for sixty francs worth of small ones, which he carries of in a paper bag. When the cross he finds to crucify himself on proves too small, a kindly priest volunteers to nail his feed to the floor. – J.H. Matthews, Surrealism and Film, 1971Read More »

  • Sidney Peterson – The Lead Shoes (1949)

    1941-1950Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtExperimentalShort FilmSidney PetersonUSA

    The most accomplished work of America’s foremost surrealist filmmaker. This is a hypnotic, obsessive nightmare of parricide and compulsive attempts to undo the deed. The basic images – the blood, the knife, the bread voraciously attacked – shock by their atavistic simplicity. The hallucinatory effect is reinforced by the extraordinary soundtrack, an enigmatic exploration of two old English ballads, scrambled in jam session style and interwoven with experimental sound.Read More »

  • Peter Whitehead – Wholly Communion (1966)

    1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtDocumentaryExperimentalPeter WhiteheadUnited Kingdom

    On 11 June 1965, the Royal Albert Hall played host to a slew of American and European beat poets for an extraordinary impromptu event – the International Poetry Incarnation – that arguably marked the birth of London’s gestating counterculture. Cast in the role of historian, as a man-on-the-scene, and massively elevating his limited resources, Whitehead constructed the extraordinary Wholly Communion from the unfolding circus. As Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Harry Fainlight, Alexander Trocchi and others took to the stage, Whitehead confidently wandered with his borrowed camera, creating a participatory and anarchic film that is as much a landmark as the event itself, and launched his career.Read More »

  • Gregory J. Markopoulos – Twice a Man (1963)

    1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtExperimentalGregory J. MarkopoulosQueer Cinema(s)Short FilmUSA

    A modern recreation of the legend of Hyppolytus subtly reveals homosexual and incestual motives among its three protagonists as it mingles reality and memory. Particularly noteworthy is the attempt to portray thoughts and flashes of memory by inserting bursts of single-frame, almost subliminal shots into the main sequence which proceeds in different time and space.Read More »

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