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Phantoms Came to Meet: Guy Maddin's 'Seances' as Surrealist History of Cinema

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'It is your only chance to see this film': the opening phrase of Seances is one whose meaning is now all but forgotten. Seances, a video work by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson and the National Film Board of Canada, offers its audience an infinite number of unique film experiences – each of which can never be repeated. Ten to fifteen minute videos that viewers can access are generated on the go by a computer and erased after the only viewing: an army of ghost films under grotesque titles, also computer generated and unique: 'Madly the Feelers Walk,' 'Clocks and Boutiques,' 'Love Songs of the Scattered Cowards.' Those bizarre word combinations are worthy of the poet Pierre Reverdy whom André Breton quoted as a model surrealist poet: 'In the brook, there is a song that flows,' or 'Day unfolded like a white tablecloth.'

About Senses of Cinema:

Senses of Cinema is an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. We believe cinema is an art that can take many forms, from the industrially-produced blockbuster to the hand-crafted experimental work; we also aim to encourage awareness of the histories of such diverse forms. As an Australian-based journal, we have a special commitment to the regular, wide-ranging analysis and critique of Australian cinema, past and present. Senses of Cinema is primarily concerned with ideas about particular films or bodies of work, but also with the regimes (ideological, economic and so forth) under which films are produced and viewed, and with the more abstract theoretical and philosophical issues raised by film study.

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