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Andy Warhol's Empire (10 minute excerpt)

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Published on Dec 2, 2011

Due to popular demand a longer (around 10 minutes) excerpt from Andy Warhol's movie "Empire". No joke - some people even demanded the full 8 hour version. But since pretty much nothing happens (In the full movie you can see the sun set in the beginning, oh well...) and there is no sound i guess if you have seen these 10 minutes you have not missed out much on the rest of this movie...


About this "movie":

Empire was filmed on the night of September 11, 1964 from the 41st floor of the Time-Life Building in New York City, from the offices of the Rockefeller Foundation - simply filming a static view of the Empire State Building from that position. The film was shot at 24 frames per second but is projected at 16 frame/s, so that, even though only about 6 hours and 36 minutes of film was made, the film when screened is about 8 hours and 5 minutes long. Abridged showings of the film were never allowed, and supposedly the unwatchability of the film was an important part of the reason the film was created.

The film begins with a totally white screen and as the sun sets, the image of the Empire State Building emerges. The floodlights on its exterior come on, the building's lights flicker on and off for the next 6½ hours, then the floodlights go off again in the next to the last reel so that the remainder of the film takes place in nearly total darkness. The movie was filmed with Andy Warhol directing and filmmaker Jonas Mekas working as cinematographer. During three of the reel changes, filming recommenced before the lights in the filming room were switched off, making the faces of Warhol and Mekas momentarily visible in the reflection of the window each time.

There is no sound in the whole movie and since it was filmed from early evening to around 3 am you basically only see the empire state building at night. Andy Warhol never allowed any "shortened" screenings of this movie. Warhol employed Rob Trains to be the projectionist for a screening of the film. Trains miscalculated and mixed the order and speed of the reels for the eight-hour movie. After a positive review in The New York Times, Warhol actually liked the “mistake” and employed Trains for the entire summer.

Contrary to common belief this is neither the longest movie ever nor the longest one Warhol ever made. In 1967 he made "Four Stars" which was a 25 hour (!!!) long movie which used two reels to be screened simultaneously on top of each other on a single screen resulting in a weird psychadelic imagery. So compared to that "Empire" is rather "normal" and "short"...

Personally i believed it is one of these many things that Andy Warhol just did to "make fun of" the classic movie industry. It's a bit like the famous "Andy Warhol eats a hamburger" film - nothing happens and if it was made by normal people you would call them crazy, but Andy Warhol enjoyed how people would talk and argue about it and see loads of "deep" meanings in it just because he made it. In the end he produced many "simple" things and people would either buy them or discuss about them, i think Andy Warhol was fascinated how such stuff made people talk and argue about it even though he didn't put that much effort into it. So i take it as one of his many experiments. Kinda successful as still today many people discuss about it.

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