Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer

One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject, Thom Andersen’s remarkable and sadly neglected hour-long documentary (1974) adroitly combines biography, history, film theory, and philosophical reflection. Muybridge’s photographic studies of animal locomotion in the 1870s were a major forerunner of movies; even more interesting are his subsequent studies of diverse people, photographed against neutral backgrounds. Andersen’s perspectives on Muybridge are multifaceted and often surprising (characteristically, the film’s opening quotation is from Mao), and he presents Muybridge’s photographic sequences in various ways to spell out the many meanings of this fascinating precinematic work. Dean Stockwell narrates. On the same program, a 1927 Pathé documentary short in color, Hawaii. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films, 1212 E. 59th St., Monday, January 4, 7:00, 773-702-8575.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

Published on 25 Dec 1998 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer

One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject, Thom Andersen’s remarkable and sadly neglected hour-long documentary (1974) adroitly combines biography, history, film theory, and philosophical reflection. Muybridge’s photographic studies of animal locomotion in the 1870s were a major forerunner of movies; even more interesting are his subsequent studies of diverse people, photographed against neutral backgrounds. Andersen’s perspectives on Muybridge are multifaceted and often surprising (characteristically, the film’s opening quotation is from Mao), and he presents Muybridge’s photographic sequences in various ways to spell out the many meanings of this fascinating precinematic work. Dean Stockwell narrates. (JR)

Published on 01 Dec 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Central Station

An embittered middle-aged woman (Fernanda Montenegro) who lives alone in Rio de Janeiro and works in the central railway station writing letters for the illiterate poor (whom she generally despises) gets a new lease on life when she meets a nine-year-old boy whose mother has been run over by a bus. It’s difficult to write or even think about such a movie without falling into sentimental cliches, and that gives me pausethough this 1998 film held my interest for two hours, even taking on an epic feel when it turns into a road movie. It’s not bad by any means, but it also happens to resemble a lot of other movies. Walter Salles directed with a good sense of wide-screen open spaces. In Portuguese with subtitles. 113 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Dec 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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