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Vertical Features Remake (1978)

| 1978 (UK)
Tongue-in-cheek, early Greenaway short reflects the incredibly meticulous encyclopedic nature of his early films. An attempt is made to "reconstruct" a proposed, but never made, film ... See full summary »

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Tongue-in-cheek, early Greenaway short reflects the incredibly meticulous encyclopedic nature of his early films. An attempt is made to "reconstruct" a proposed, but never made, film according to some reasonably vague directions. The attempt is made over and over because of conflicting interpretations of the instructions. Written by Mark Toscano <fiddybop@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

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1978 (UK)  »

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Rekonstrukcja pionowych obiektów  »

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"The Institute of Restoration and Reclamation would like to acknowledge the assistance of Donald Lazenby, Cedric Pheasant and Ian MacMorrin in the making of this film". Continuing the film, an imaginary organization thanks imaginary people. See more »

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References Dear Phone (1976) See more »

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A wilfully experimental mockumentary from Peter Greenaway
16 April 2015 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

Vertical Features Remake takes the form of a mockumentary and is made up primarily by four films made by four academics from the raw footage of an incomplete film made by an elusive character called Tulse Luper. The material takes the form of static filmed images of a variety of vertical features, both natural and man-made, such as posts and trees etc. The images are organised into eleven sections of eleven shots, resulting in one hundred and twenty one images of vertical features per film. While each version shows the same number of images, they differ in specific rules for how long a shot is held and have differing minimalistic music accompanying them.

With this film, film-maker Peter Greenaway was poking fun at structuralist film theory, which seemingly was discussed frequently at the time by film academics. The basic idea behind this theory is that films convey meaning in a similar way that languages do. They achieve this by combining edited shots together to communicate ideas. While an individual shot would not express the full idea, a specific combination of images would. Greenaway had some disdain for this theory for some reason and in this film he has academics over-analysing things and coming up with different versions of films, the results of which are absurd but strangely fascinating. The differing editing rules and music used do make a difference to the effect, which is interesting in itself. The imagery is committedly mundane, yet decidedly odd when presented in this manner. Minimalist composers, Michael Nyman and Brian Eno provide the music which does seem somewhat apt for this experimental project. I guess it would all be a bit dry without the wraparound mockumentary about the genesis of the films themselves and their creators. The central character in all this, Tulse Luper, was to become a recurring character in Greenaway's future filmography and would feature extensively in his next, more ambitious and quite epic avant-garde outing, The Falls (1980). Vertical Features Remake is certainly a very left-field bit of cinema that's only going to appeal to more adventurous film-viewers but it's one that has a pleasing lightness of touch in its experiments and consequently makes for a very enjoyably eccentric detour.


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