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The Black Tower (1987)

| Short
A man find A himself haunted by a mysterious black tower that appears to follow him wherever he goes.


John Smith


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Cast overview:
John Smith John Smith ... (voice)
Anna Hatt Anna Hatt ... (voice)


A man find A himself haunted by a mysterious black tower that appears to follow him wherever he goes.

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Hilarious Structuralism - not a common phrase...
6 April 2006 | by El_Farmerino_EsqSee all my reviews

In The Black Tower, as with many of his other shorts, Smith demonstrates that a Structuralist short can still engage without the need for close textual analysis, whether or not that was his intention...

The premise is a simple one - Smith edits together a set of still shots of a foreboding black water tower near his London home, taken from various angles, and weaves a narrative around them. Taking cues from the area in which the photograph was taken he concocts a story wherein the narrator is haunted by the tower wherever he turns - thus a shot from an area of grassland becomes his vacation in Shropshire, whereas a shot from a nearby hospital lends the hospital itself to the narrative. Smith has stated that he is surprised at how much his viewers have taken to the narrative, since he originally set out to satirise the narrative form - however, it is not difficult to see why this is the case. Smith has a beautifully observed sense of humour which shines throughout the film; a quality that is especially refreshing when the film is viewed alongside other rather more austere works in an Avant-Garde film class.

The Black Tower is a film where the narrator tells of how, after surviving on Strawberry Mivvies from the ice-cream van for a few weeks (chosen for the vitamin C) he is initially confused when an ambulance arrives - "At first I thought it was the ice-cream van and wondered why they were playing a different tune." Elsewhere he explains how he "took to wearing a cap with a large peak, so there was no danger of the tower entering (his) periphery vision." The absurdity of this humour combined with the foreboding gloom of the tower itself create a remarkable atmosphere of tension within the piece - one cannot help but be drawn into the dark and strange world of the hapless narrator. The beauty of Smith's work is that, despite it's structural investigation of the fabric of the filmic medium, it is always infused with the endearing personality of Smith itself. It is this quality that has made Smith a firm favourite of students of the Avant-Garde. Myself included, naturally.

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