When does a Film Happen? A Screening of Two Speeds of Film

'Cinema is about time'. Or 'cinema is temporal', or 'film is essentially a moving-image'. The need to repeat these platitudes is itself an issue worthy of some reflection. If film is composed of
time, or times, how might this implicate our film-viewing experience? In this presentation, we will show two films rather than one, and they will be inter-cut rather than played sequentially. Most significantly they will be films that use time very differently - Paul Greengrass' Bourne Ultimatum and (extracts from) Béla Tarr's Sátántangó.

Alternating from one speed of film to another (fast action to slow observational drama) offers us a
psychological experiment into how the immediate past affects the future and vice versa, how rapid deceleration and acceleration (through intercutting two very different films) might affect our viewing
experience of what counts as an event on-screen.

Eventhood in cinema - whether a moment appears eventful or not - may not be an intrinsic feature, therefore, but a relational one. Action films like Bourne, for instance, may appear as uneventful to some ('high- brow') tastes, with nothing appearing to happen except for more explosions, more car-chases, and so on, while art-films like Sátántangó often seem wholly uneventful to the average adolescent male viewer (at least according to Hollywood's marketing strategies). Indeed, the screen-writer and chief theorist behind Italian neo-realism, Cesare Zavattini, once declared that 'the ideal film would be 90 minutes in the life of a man to whom nothing happens'.

But when does 'nothing' ever happen? Is it not the case that nothing never happens, for that is just in the nature of happening, or time? It is not that there is one ideal spectator for every film. Rather, there are different films that emerge with different types of spectatorship, and different types of spectator that emerge with different films. And this all happens in the event(s) of viewing. In this experiment, moreover, we hope to see if we can create the differential experience of being two kinds of spectator at once, of being at two different speeds at once (both too fast and too slow): just as we only notice the speed of our car when we brake suddenly (or crash), perhaps watching Bourne and Sátántangó together will help us notice, and feel, our past and future spectator-selves

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License