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Lemon (1969)

A lemon is disclosed by lighting, then slowly disappears back into shadow.


Hollis Frampton




Lemon, ostensibly a one-shot film, representing a radical pairing down of materials and methods: It is silent, static and unedited. This arrestingly spare portrait of a seeming "Superstar Fruit" begins in darkness, as gradually, a Lemon comes into sight. This film shows how important lighting can be.

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Lighting and Contrasts
19 July 2019 | by Tornado_SamSee all my reviews

Hollis Frampton's "Lemon" of 1969 brings back a commonly used theme explored by the filmmaker in two previous works: the effectiveness of dramatic lighting. In "Manual of Arms" (1966), he utilized dramatic lighting to create a shadowy, sinister atmosphere; in "Snowblind" (1968), the tool was used as part of an abstraction to create interesting effects. This seven-minute piece is merely a demonstration of the concept, using the simplest premise possible: a lemon, shown against a black background, being revealed slowly by the light, then eclipsed by darkness into the shape of a crescent. As simple as that may sound, it is an engaging work displaying remarkable contrasts while at the same time effectively demonstrating the use of lighting to create said contrasts.

Furthermore, unlike what one of the other reviewers has stated, "Lemon" actually took a great deal of work on the part of the filmmaker. While appearing to be just one shot of a lemon, this film was actually a series of pictures spliced together, each one displaying the slightest change in lighting than the one before it. The black background against which the lemon is shown works brilliantly with the beauty of the fruit, and the slow progressiveness of the lighting is so intricate that one might not expect to notice it. But no, if you keep your attention off the lemon and direct it to the spot where the fruit itself meets the darkness, you can actually see the shadow gradually envelope it.

At the end, a different use of lighting is displayed showing a perfect silhouette of the fruit against a blue sky, and a statement in text dedicating the short to Robert Huot--an artist friend of the filmmaker's who appeared in "Manual of Arms". This is an interesting sight in itself, in how the fruit takes on the resemblance of a setting sun and appears to be positioned the exact same way as in the first part.

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Release Date:

10 April 2012 (USA) See more »

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1.33 : 1
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