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George Dumpson's Place (1965)

Unrated  |   |  Short, Documentary
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 84 users  
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Employing experimental techniques, Emshwiller magically moved through a collection of objects and artifacts in order to capture the spirit of George Dumpson and his backyard museum, as he ... See full summary »


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Title: George Dumpson's Place (1965)

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Uncredited cast:
George Dumpson ...
Himself (uncredited)


Employing experimental techniques, Emshwiller magically moved through a collection of objects and artifacts in order to capture the spirit of George Dumpson and his backyard museum, as he noted: "George Dumpson was a scavenger. He created a small universe with what he found and could carry on his homemade wagon. To me he epitomized the soul of the artist. He put together what things he could in such a way as to satisfy some inner need, just as I had to make this picture of him and his place." Written by Bhob Stewart <>

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Short | Documentary






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One of the 50 films in the 4-disk boxed DVD set called "Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives. This film was preserved by the Anthology Film Archives. See more »


During one shot inside Dumpson's house, the camera operator is visible in a mirror. See more »

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George's place is a dump
15 October 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

George Dumpson was aptly named, for he lived on a property that can only be described as a rubbish tip, with junk strewn across the ground, a violent clash of forest and metal. This is probably what drew experimental artist Ed Emshwiller (1926-1990) to the site. That Dumpson, a poor African-American on Long Island, was an artist of sorts himself (a handyman, more precisely) meant that Emshwiller had a lot of sympathy for him, and his camera surveys the old man's pig-sty with curious affection. Unfortunately, whatever this filmmaker saw in George Dumpson's place is pretty much lost on the camera, and there's really little to justify spending eight minutes watching a guided tour of a home you'd rather not visit. This might have been different if Emshwiller had done something interesting with the camera, but his bag of technical tricks is limited to brisk, occasionally-dynamic panning shots – the camera is never static – and certainly contains nothing that, given a video camera, I couldn't have done myself.

Emshwiller considered Dumpson an artist because "my definition of an artist is a person reorganising the world, creating a world in his internal likeness." Maybe there are traces of its owner's personality in the haphazard scattering of rubbish at Dumpson's place, but, regardless, the film is at its strongest when focused directly on the owner himself, closely observing his withered hands and stark, sincere face (Dumpson would not live long enough to see the film released). Also, on the plus side, 'George Dumpson's Place (1965)' is furnished with a soothing, relaxed music score performed by Stuart Scharf, Jay Berliner and Bill Lee. For all those interested parties, this experimental short film is available on the National Film Preservation Foundation's "Treasures from American Film Archives" compilation DVD. I don't know if I'd recommend this film to the casual film-goer, but anybody with a passing interest in experimental cinema should at least consider a single viewing. Maybe you'll notice something that I didn't.

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