February 6, 2009

(Glory) At Sea

I embed this film with great reluctance. Please watch it in as high of definition and as many dimensions as your computer can muster.

Having discovered OFFscreen, the UVA film society, Katie and I booked it there on a Sunday night whim to find two alarming disarming films that, if nothing else, seem to be exactly what their filmmakers wanted them to be.

First, we saw the film embedded above, "Glory At Sea." Like in a preview I read for it, I won't describe its story at all. I will say its shot compositions, in their variation, are expressive. And listen to the film score too. Also, consider other artists (in other mediums) to see if anyone comes to mind having seen this.

The feature presentation we watched? "At Sea," by experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton.

I'd never heard of Hutton, but MoMA put together a retrospective on him; Netflix doesn't deal in his stuff; and IMDB had little to offer.
Whether seeking remembrance of a city's fading past or reflecting on nature's fugitive atmospheric effects, Hutton sculpts with time; each film unfolds in silent reverie, with a series of extended single shots taken from a fixed position, harking back to cinema's origins and to traditions of painting and still photography. -- MoMA
I found another nice piece on Hutton through the OFFscreen site.

As for my two cents: Hutton's silent film was completely captivating for 60 minutes. It made me think a lot about still photography, but the subtle movements of little people in big scenes and the undulating waving of the ocean, make motion important.

"At Sea" shows the life of a container ship, something I've had interest in ever since they (and their cranes) scared me in Charleston. The shot compositions can be extremely full of stuff, especially at the build-a-boat dock. Others are like moving swatches of texture (the ocean!). And some recall the poetic spaceship dances of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with those massive cranes.

The film reminded me a little of "Manufactured Landscapes", which similarly shows the Bangladeshi beach where container ships go to die. But "At Sea" is better. And we saw it on 16mm.

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Blogger Chase said...

Thanks for that Peter Hutton article. I really wish I could see "At Sea."

February 8, 2009 at 7:51 PM 

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