The Elements

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Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

The elements! Endless variety, beauty and mystery, in the most commonplace, taken-for-granted material. There’s a Vertovian (Film-Eye/Film-Truth) component here; without the isolation that the frame provides, without close ups and the sensitivity of film stocks, we’d never be able to see all this. And/or, the camera is better than the eye, at least when the editor helps it along. Is this film that is all and only about water, at 13 minutes, a tad too long? That sentiment would be our problem, wouldn’t it, and our tough luck too. This assembly makes it look like the early avant garde film shared assumptions and aspirations with the impressionists. There’s a constant back and forth between the abstraction of the close up and the resolution (banality) of the long view. Maybe 18th century art and science both have a share in this.  When you get close the component parts (the cellular or the materiality of paint) are more than sufficient to arrest and reward your attention. But you can also step back to get some context. Very Joris Ivens (The Bridge, Rain). The score on my copy is modern, and a very good job too. To you, Donald Sosin!