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Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)

16 Mar
Director Maya Deren
Producer Maya Deren
Contributors Hella Heyman, Frank Westbrook, Rita Christiani
Length 16 min.
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description: “A choreography for camera in which film techniques–reprinting, varying camera speeds, and direction and movement of the camera–create a ritual dance from non-dance movements. Performed by Rita Christiani and Frank Westbrook.”
Call # FILM Mb28
Genre Experimental
Rare Yes
Online Yes
Copyright status Public Domain (C on the film (1946 by Maya Deren) but not renewed)
Physical condition FAIR
Oregon-related NO

Notes:

It goes without saying that Maya Deren made an impressionable impact on the filmmaking industry during her life. Made a year before her break-out hit, Meshes of the Afternoon (1946), this film explores the fear of rejection and the freedom of expression in abandoning ritual. Deren experiments with time-remapping (slowing and speeding up footage, freeze-frames), and “with slowed footage of two wind-swept women immersed in ritualized wool looming.” Source

The film won no awards.

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Fiddle-De-Dee (1947)

16 Mar
Director Norman McLaren
Producer The National Film Board of Canada, International Film Bureau Ltd
Contributors Eugène Desormeaux
Length 4 minutes
B&W/Color Color
UO Library Catalog description: A sparkling visual interpretation of “Listen to the Mockingbird” as played by an old-time fiddler [Eugène Desormeaux]. Painting directly on the film, Norman McLaren translated sound into sight, creating this humorous gambol
Call # Film Ma59
Genre Experimental
Rare No
Online Yes
Copyright status Protected
Physical condition  Poor
Oregon-related  No

Notes:

As the catalog notes, Nomran McLaren did not use a camera to make this film. McLaren was a pioneer in experimental film and used a variety of unconventional techniques when it came to his shorts and animations. Here he draws directly on the film, creating a very interesting menagerie of imagery. McLaren won an Academy Award in 1952 for his short Neighbours , an anti-war film, in which he used pixilation (live action stop motion) and created the soundtrack by scratching at the edge of the film. McLaren’s films have won many awards, all around the world. McLaren was born in Scotland, where he made numerous films while still in school. Later he moved to the Americas where he eventually would sign on as a director for The National Film Board of Canada. It is there that through his abstract techniques that he would become a revered man in the experimental film world.

Rose’s House (1977)

15 Mar
Director Clay Borris
Producer Unknown
Contributors Author & publisher National Film Board of Canada; writers Paulette Jiles, Clay Borris; starring Rose Maltais-Borris, Albert Borris, and Ronald Maltais
Length  58 minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description: Fictional film about working class life in a boarding house run by Rose in Toronto.
Call #  Mc281
Genre  Experimental
Rare  Yes
Online  No
Copyright status Protected
Physical condition  Good/fair
Oregon-related  No

Notes: 

Rose’s House follows the crazy tenants of Rose’s boarding house in Toronto. One tenant has a gambling problem, one has a drinking problem, and one sells illicit items; however, Rose has no problem cooking and cleaning for her tenants, as she is most concerned with her son.

Rose’s House was published under the National Film Board of Canada; however, it is not available on their website and there is little information on the making.

Bird Brain – The Mystery of Bird Navigation (1974)

15 Mar
Director  Unknown
Producer Tony Edwards
Contributors Time-Life Films & BBCWritten by: Tony EdwardsEditors: Christopher Wooley & Bruce NormanGraphics: Bob Cummins
Length  26 minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description: Follows complicated avian experiments that examine birds’ abilities to migrate and home. Focuses mainly on the homing pigeon.
Call # Mc254
Genre  Instructional, Documentary, Experimental
Rare  No
Online  No, but it is available on Hulu if you have an account.
Copyright status Protected
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  No

Notes:

This short educational film appeared on the first season of NOVA in 1974, but was originally shown on the BBC TV series “Horizon”.

The Bed (1968)

15 Mar
Director James Broughton
Producer  Unknown
Contributors  Publisher: San Francisco: Released by Multi-Media Resources Center; Starring Florence Allen, Gavin Arthur, and Imogen Cunningham
Length  20 minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description: Presents the saga of the bed as the center of life, from birth to death. Describes human sexuality in a humorous way
Call # Mc337
Genre  Experimental
Rare  No, very well known
Online  For sale on Best Buy and Amazon
Copyright status Protected
Physical condition  Good
Oregon-related  No

Notes: 

Made during the “summer of love”, The Bed projects the quintessential feel and attitude of San Francisco: free, experimental, humorous, loving, weird, and accepting of all things bizarre and unconventional. It is part of MoMA’s collection and continues to be revisited from time to time.

Broughton, a San Francisco artist, was known for his poetry and films, especially The Potted Psalm and Mother’s Day, which helped kick off the West Coast experimental film scene–he also played a big role in the San Francisco Renaissance. Broughton started making films around the age of 30 during a dark time of his life. They pulled him out of his black hole and essentially saved his life. Broughton also taught at the San Francisco Art Institute where, according to SF Weekly, “he developed a cult following amongst his students.” He was accepting, unconventional, and always encouraged people to “follow your own weird.”

Lumiere’s First Picture Show (1975)

14 Mar
Director Auguste Lumiere, Louis Lumiere
Producer Lumiere Bros.
Contributors Blackhawk Films, Eastin-Phelan Distributing Corp.
Length 15 minutes
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description:
Film presents a brief history of the technical developments in early motion pictures up to and including Auguste and Louis Lumière. This film is reproduced from a collection of Lumière films unearthed in November, 1972.
Call # Mb194
Genre Experimental, Short
Rare No
Online Yes
Copyright status ©1974 Blackhawk Films
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: Lumiere’s First Picture Show is an essential compilation of the Lumiere brothers’ seminal films during the late 1800’s. It highlights the various films in terms of the technical aspects of film making developed by the brothers in their movies. Many of these shorts are quintessential films that are often shown in the academic realm. I believe viewing them on film is a big part of being conscious of the medium the brothers were working with while creating these movies. The series was transferred to a single 16mm reel after they were found in 1972 and distributed by Blackhawk Films in 1975.

The reel includes the following Lumiere shorts:

La sortie des usines–
Déjeuner de bébé–
Partie d’écarté–
Demolitian d’un mur–
Bataille de neige [?]–
Mise en batterie–
Enfants aux jouets–
Arroseur et arrosé–
Joueurs de cartes arrosés–
Photographe–
Bataille de femmes–
Arrivée du train á la Ciotet–
Basse-cour [?]–
Querelle d’enfants–
Chaudière–
Enfants pêchant des cresvettes [?]–
Baignade en mer [?]

Although the film isn’t particularly rare, and many of these shorts can be easily found online, I think that it’s important for any institution of education with a cinema studies program to have at least one copy of Lumiere’s First Picture Show in some form. It is simply too important in terms of historical reference to destroy or get rid of. As I stated before, I believe that viewing it in filmic form provides a more pronounced consciousness of how it was shot and the technology used during the birth of cinema. I think that something is lost in translation when viewing footage such as this digitally.

Meditation On Violence (1948)

8 Mar
Director Maya Deren
Producer Maya Deren
Contributors Cherel Ito, Chao Li Chi
Length 15 minutes
B&W/Color B&W
UO Library Catalog description: Based on traditional training movements of the Wu-tang and Shaolin schools of Chinese boxing. Solo performance with theatrical lighting but without scenery ; solo performance outdoors in costume.
Call # Ma73
Genre Short Films, Dance
Rare Yes
Online Yes
Copyright status Public Domain
Physical condition Good
Oregon-related No

Notes: Meditation On Violence is a short film directed by avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren. It was originally produced for a theatrical release in 1948. “Theatrical” is a term that should be used loosely, especially with Deren’s films, as the locales that she screened them in were usually art galleries or her own living room, which she converted into a makeshift theater for private viewings.

The film features Chao Li Chi, a Shanxi-born actor and dancer who worked extensively in American television and film. Meditation On Violence was one of his firs appearances on film. In it, he attempts to display the ideals of the Wu-Tang philosophy, which centers around the idea of constant motion according to “-which the perfect form is that of no form in an excellent performance attempts to display the ideals of the Wu Tang philosophy which is a philosophy of constant motion, which is achieved when you’re in a state of constant motion” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040578/). Chao Li Chi had an extensive history with Deren, and was a regular member of the dance troupe she was involved in during the 1940’s. I find it particularly interesting that Li Chi had such a successful career in Television and Film after working with Deren on such artsy, underground projects. He has subsequently appeared in Big Trouble In Little China, M*A*S*H, The Joy Luck Club, The Nutty Professor, The Prestige, Wedding Crashers and Pushing Daisies.

While at first glance this film may seem just like a documentation of a dance sequence, the editing style elevates it above the status of performance piece. The avant-garde style of Maya Deren is certainly not as pronounced in Meditation On Violence as a film like Meshes Of The Afternoon, but their are a fair number of sequences shot in slow motion, and “-the camera itself becomes the boxer’s sparring partner, dodging and attempting to return the athlete’s blows. The adjustments, pans, and zooms of the camera simulate a human response” (worldcat.com). It should also be noted that the film loops, returning to the first sequence. This technique breaks the passage of time, which was very typical of Deren’s films.

Another interesting thing is to note the soundtrack. Deren recorded Haitian drums for the piece, which reflected her fascination with Voodoo during the time period it was made.

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