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Published on Aug 14, 2012
"The Epiphany of Slocum Furlow" is Ted Nelson's student film (1959). It is also the first film score of famed composer Peter Shickele, another Swarthmore graduate. "Slocum Furlow" is believed to be the only theatrical film made at Swarthmore College.
The project was started at a time when movies with sound were expensive and complicated to make. It had to be shot in silent 16mm, with a plan to add a sound track of music and dialog later (the low-budget method, then called "wild sound").
There was no time to write a script because graduation was only a few weeks away. The actors were instructed to say "parp parp", since there was no way that any real words on their lips would fit the dialog yet to be written. Obviously this would look stupid; the hope was that it would be amusing, reminding people of low-budget cartoons. Opinions are divided. Early audiences found this technique too strange, but today's viewers seem to accept it more casually.
Nelson writes in his autobiography, POSSIPLEX, that the first day of shooting was one of the most powerful and transforming experiences of his life.
"It's very French!" -- Lee Edwards, Dean, University of Massachusetts (ret.)
"I didn't know what to make of it." -- Jeremy Stone, former president of the Federation of American Scientists
"You got atmosphere, you got a lovable hero, you got a story pulling you to a surprise ending. Like who needs production values?" -- Moe Juste, author and critic