The film features a series of unnerving visuals, each centering around death. Ancient human skulls, featured in closeup, are shot against a white background; color tones red and green are used as rotting human corpses are displayed. Between each shot, a pattern consisting of vibrant green and red hexagons is depicted. Hollis Frampton's film, using these images, paints an uncomfortable, sinister depiction of death.Written by
"Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate I, 0", as evidenced by the title, was a film intended to be edited into Hollis Frampton's colossal "Magellan" cycle, in the final section entitled "The Death of Magellan". Because very few segments from this portion of the cycle were actually made, this five-minute short is remembered as being part of a sort of movie trilogy, the other two films in the trilogy being "The Green Gate: Magellan at the Gates of Death Part II" and "The Red Gate: Magellan at the Gates of Death Part I". Interestingly enough, those other two films were both feature-length movies of fifty-two and fifty-three minutes, and due to Frampton's original plans for those other two works being to disassemble them into twenty-four different five-minute segments, this particular one is no doubt only an excerpt of the first part. It would have been interesting to view both parts in their entirety, but they as of this date remain unavailable online.
"Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate I, 0" was undoubtedly pulled from these larger works as a sample for Criterion's collection of Frampton films, entitled "A Hollis Frampton Odyssey". It consists of a series of images of human skulls, bones and rotting corpses, shown in black and white and sometimes digitally tinted to create a unique effect. For whatever reason, psychedelic imagery of a geometric pattern are also shown between the skull imagery, and as a whole the visual effects produced are strange and colorful. As for said tints, they consist of green and red making a wonderful contrast between the two and undoubtedly referencing the red and green gates of both parts. Because of being only a fraction of the original hour and forty-five minute footage, it is judgeable only as an example of a larger work and undoubtedly seeing the entire thing would be great. On its own, visually interesting in the patterns and color contrasts it uses, and realistic since Frampton visited a laboratory to film actual bones.
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