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Step Across the Border (1990)

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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 226 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 3 critic

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Title: Step Across the Border (1990)

Step Across the Border (1990) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Complete credited cast:
Jonas Mekas ...
Butterfly Wing
Julia Judge ...
Koan vom Klang einer Hand
John Spaceley ...
Koan vom Klang einer Hand
Tom Walker ...
Koan vom Klang einer Hand
Ted Milton ...
Television Dancer
Robert Frank ...
Old Man in Train
Fred Frith


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Plot Keywords:

independent film


Documentary | Music







Release Date:

27 September 1990 (West Germany)  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

An exceptionally good film
31 March 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I frequently listen to jazz, but not in the way that I follow artists or study the sub-genres. I have never heard of the people in the movie and I don't remember the names, even though I just saw the film.

I even found it very unpleasant and difficult to get into in the beginning, but at some point it started to work for me. I am not sure if my reaction was what the filmmakers intended or if it is similar for other people.

Late in the film the musician talks about how he doesn't expect to become rich or famous. However he frequently hears from listeners how his music made them see things in a different light.

I think this is exactly what this film does.

It feels like a mixture of careful planning, (very) deliberate pacing and sheer serendipity. Its lightness might contrast with its heaviness because of careful planning and obsessive execution. Maybe they just got lucky.

Whatever it is, it is quickly summarized: The camera films scenes in interchanging locations, almost flickering between the US, Japan and Germany. It shows people going about their daily business and a couple of musicians performing their art on the street, at home, on stage whilst also experimenting freely with sound.

The magic must be in the interruptions. It doesn't seem to agree with how daily life works, but at the same time it appreciates it in a very intimate way. It doesn't allow the viewer to ignore even the most mundane detail, but urges him to question it.

This comes at a price and requires collaboration. Like a challenge that is accepted, but not accepted lightly. Energy is limited, but the sacrifice is rewarded.

However, I am not sure everyone will agree.

I felt it difficult to watch in the beginning because of that deal. Because I value time. I usually don't enjoy most movies because they take too much and give very little. (Of course there are exceptions, even in the mainstream.)

What about people with plenty of time? Those that feel that time is cheap? Will they like it? And what about the rest? Is it a good thing to look at things from new angles? What if they don't like the conclusion of their new ideas? Wouldn't this movie, being so utterly pleasurable as it is, be part of mainstream culture, if everyone did what it does? What about the music? Should we all start playing more? With instruments, other things? What if we all did?

Whatever the answer (or the question), this is an exceptionally good film and I'm rating it with an easy 10. For all the difficulty it may cause.

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