The Contraption (1977)
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A man constructs a contraption while surrounded by pitch black darkness. A musical saw wavers out a tune on the soundtrack. Contrary to one description I've read, I did not see or hear his wife berating him while he was doing this. The end might come as a surprise, but probably not. The one line of dialog at the end suggests why the contraption might have been built, but for the most part we are left wondering who the characters were and what their lives were like and why it ended this way.
I wonder what Dearden's other short films are like?
Without spoiling it all I can say is it is well done. A gentleman retires to his basement workshop and continues on a project building an unknown object. His wife continually berates the man, unseen but heard from the top of the stairs all the while. In the end, he finds his escape in "The Contraption".
Richard O'Brien was a hot commodity then as the Rocky Horror Picture Show was at perhaps it's peak here in the Midwest. Tim Curry went on to do a few albums and several more mainstream films like Clue here in the US. I owned a copy of his album Read My Lips. Susan Sarandon became quite big and Barry Bostwick made a name again with Spin City years later.
If anyone out there knows where I can beg, borrow, buy or otherwise find a copy of this short, please e-mail me. McHenryProj@Yahoo.com should get to me.
I'd recommend it to anyone, not only O'Brien fans, but to them of course, it is indeed a MUST.
As for the presentation, the short is very well shot. In close angles, we see the man working with his tools. A saw rushed into our eyes, wires and steel rods assembled from odd angles. The construction is intentionally show so that we aren't entirely sure what we're looking at. This short's success rides a great deal on its excellent sound design. In the heavily shadow room, all we here is a distant leaky pipe and the clanking and grinding of the man at work. This is another fantastic short and it's great that the internet and streaming video sites make it so easy now to revisit this types of film, stuff we'd otherwise would never see again.
Written, produced & directed James Dearden this is an odd 7 minute 34 second short (or maybe it's not a short, I mean how short does a short have to be to be called a short?) time filler which is almost indescribable. With only one line of dialogue in the entire thing for the first 4 minutes & 30 seconds The Contraption is just a montage of woodworking imagery as O'Brien drills, planes, screws, nails, hammers & builds whatever it is he's building. If that sounds like fun to you or you like DIY then The Contraption could just be the short your looking for otherwise I'm not really sure what the appeal of Tha Contraption is other than to discover what O'Brien is making, there really is nothing else to it until the bizarre ending which I won't spoil. At least it's short, it's certainly memorable & there's nothing wrong with it but I can't really see much right with it either.
I don't know this is a strange one let me tell you, it'll pass 7 minutes & 34 seconds in a bizarre manner I suppose but I don't really know what to make of it. It's certainly watchable & something different, I'm not sure where on Earth you'd find a copy of it though.