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Thanatopsis (1962)

| Short
Introducing some innovative film techniques, Emshwiller won a Special Award at the Brussels Experimental Film Festival for this expression of internal anguish. He described the film as "The... See full summary »

Director:

Ed Emshwiller
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Cast

Credited cast:
Becky Arnold Becky Arnold
Mac Emshwiller Mac Emshwiller
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Storyline

Introducing some innovative film techniques, Emshwiller won a Special Award at the Brussels Experimental Film Festival for this expression of internal anguish. He described the film as "The confrontation of a man and his torment. Juxtaposed against his external composure are images of a woman and lights in distortion, with tension heightened by the sounds of power saws and a heartbeat." Written by Bhob Stewart <bhob2@earthlink.net>

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Plot Keywords:

heartbeat | experimental film | See All (2) »

Genres:

Short

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Country:

USA

Language:

English

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Sound Mix:

Mono
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User Reviews

 
Meditation on death
3 September 2009 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

Particularly after the dull 'George Dumpson's Place (1964),' Ed Emshwiller's 'Thanatopsis (1962)' took me completely by surprise. An intense soundtrack of industrial machinery and heartbeat – a chilling construction of sound editing that predates Lynch's 'Eraserhead (1977)' – highlights Emshwiller's exploration of a brooding man's psychosis. The director himself described the film as follows: "The confrontation of a man and his torment. Juxtaposed against his external composure are images of a woman and lights in distortion, with tension heightened by the sounds of power saws and a heartbeat." More specifically, I was left with the impression that Emshwiller was drawing the portrait of a serial killer's mind (the title itself, derived from Greek, literally means "meditation on death"). The man (Mac Emshwiller) sits alone in a dark room, rational reality fluctuating around him. A mysterious woman (Becky Arnold), gleaming in white, dances around the room, but so hideously distorted is her form that she more closely resembles a demon, twisting and writhing in apparent agony, her pain placing evil thoughts in the man's mind. Sex and violence merge into a singularly disturbing image of obsession and inner torment. The film ends with the indistinct silhouette of the man walking through a city, the distorted neon lights representing his warped and fractured view of reality – a chilling reminder that men like this are stalking our streets all the time.


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