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Serene Velocity (1970)

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Shock Corridor
17 May 2010 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I've got to say, the human brain certainly didn't evolve to survive an Ernie Gehr-style work-out. The image captured by a movie-camera does not approximate reality, but instead exists in a world completely detached from our own everyday experiences. Gehr once described film as "a variable intensity of light, an internal balance of time, a movement within a given space." In 'Serene Velocity (1970),' space is the most important variable. The director planted his camera in the deserted basement corridor of a building at Binghamton University, and continually tinkered with the focal length on the lens. Maddeningly and unrelentingly, the camera's perspective of the hallway rapidly switches back and forth, and then the human eye starts to play tricks on the mind.

I leaned forward towards the screen, and suddenly felt as though I was hurtling down the hallway, its previously angular walls now bending inwards, and its path twisting and turning like a wayward mine-cart railway (yes, I did have an 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)' flashback). This surreal sensation of movement occupied me until around the five-minute mark, and then I lost most of my interest. Though determined to keep my attention fixated on the screen, the illusion of movement had soon left me, and I instead felt as though I was simply standing in a lonely corridor, the lights flickering on and off in an epilepsy-inducing fashion (it's curious how my brain began to entirely block-out every second image). While not without interest to experimental aficionados, 'Serene Velocity' nevertheless made my eyes hurt, and now I'm going to bed.


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