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Rameau's Nephew ... by Michael Snow - Excerpt from 'Dub'

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Uploaded on Feb 13, 2011

Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen by Michael Snow -


Described (rather cheekily) by director Michael Snow as a musical comedy, this deft probing of sound/image relationships is one of his wittiest, most entertaining and philosophically stimulating films. In his words, the film "derives its form and the nature of its possible effects from its being built from the inside, as it were, with the actual units of such a film, i.e. the frame and the recorded syllable. Thus its 'dramatic' element derives not only from a representation of what may involve us generally in life but from considerations of the nature of recorded speech in relation to moving light-images of people.'"

Snow's first "talking picture," the film is divided into approximately twenty sections tied together by thematic rather than narrative concerns. Aside from its most prominent theme -- the relationship of the film's sounds to its images -- its concern with memory and the different uses of the word/sound "for/four/fore" is explored. Indeed, the meanings of words and their sounds are played with at length; the film is awash with various puns, quotes and wordplay, which is hinted at in the title (Wilma Schoen is an anagram of Michael Snow) as well as in the cast credits (many of the several dozen names listed -- such as Nice Slow Ham, Seminal Chow, Show Me A Ling and Lemon Coca Wish -- are anagrams for Michael Snow).



"Until Rameau's Nephew... no one has exhibited a film that deals so thoroughly with the range of perceptual problems elicited by the sound cinema." (M. Keller, Chicago Film Centre)
"... an achievement of the originality and brilliance of Wavelength. Snow embraces the problems on intimacy of language and thought with such variety, clarity and invention and high humour that again he seems to have made a film out of which an entire future movement could be mined."
(P. Adams Sitney, Soho Weekly News)

I started scripting this film in February 1972 and writing, shooting, mixing, editing and continued till September '74.
Some ideas used in it date from 1966 when I recognized in myself the ambition to make an authentic Talking Picture i.e. true to its description, it moves for its content from the facts of the simultaneities of recorded speech and image; it is built from the true units of a 'talking picture' the syllable and the frame.
All the possible image/sound relationships centering around people and speech generate the movie-audience relationships: a wide range of emotional possibilities, the experience of seeing/hearing this film .'Speech', 'Language', 'Culture' - their source, their nature... recorded, imaged, prove (?) that in this case a word is worth 1000 pictures. (Michael Snow)

Scripted and Directed by Michael Snow.
Shot primarily inToronto and New York by himself, Keith Lock, Babette Mangolte, David York and others.

This excerpt is perhaps the most mysterious sequence of the film. Voices and sounds are jittered and vague. The scene was refilmed. The colors are interested by graininess, contrast, definition and intersecting focuses sweeping across the image.

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