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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Exposition celebrates modes of film

Occasionally when one sits down to grapple with an oblique piece of art, the end result is a reward of enjoyment and enlightenment. This is the mind-set with which most walked into Spaulding Auditorium to watch "White Light/White Heat," a travelling collection of short avant-garde film clips that is currently touring the country.

While four of the ten clips were enjoyable, the overriding memories left from the show are the fact that an hour and 20 minutes of my life are gone and the impressive case of theater- butt incurred while enduring the presentation.

Put together by film curator Bill Posner, "White Light/White Heat" premiered in New York on March 13 of this year, and has been hop-scotching across the country until it stopped here at Dartmouth for a one-night, two-show extravaganza of avant-garde 35mm cinema of the past 50 years.

Subtitled "The Power of Cinema in 35mm, " Posner's selections are intended to emphasize a conscious examination of the experience of cinema. At a time when many people experience their cinema through TV/VCR viewing, this show stands as a beacon for those who yearn to see the film medium utilized not as a celluloid soapbox, but to be enjoyed for the phenomenal spectacle it once was.

At the 6:45 show, the audience could very well have passed for a local meeting of AARP members. Eventually students began to trickle in, and the attendance topped off at a scant 65 people. Bill Posner, the show's producer, gave a short introduction in which he connected his show to the Film Society's concentration on Postmodernism, dedicated the first screening to Dartmouth alum Orton Hicks '21 and apologized for his inability to display one of the gems in his collection, "Samuel Beckett's Film," starring Buster Keaton.

The show begins with Ken Jacob's "The Georgetown Loop," an 11-minute journey into the stomach-contorting wonders of kaleidoscopic imagery that Posner prefaced by saying, "If you can get through the first clip, you're set."

Next came a three clip series by filmmaker Mary Ellen Bute in which she visualized, through animation, what goes on the mind when one listens to music. These three clips, titled "Rhythm in Light," "Polkagraph: Fun With Music" and "Spooksport," were the best fusion of art and entertainment that "White Light/White Heat" had to offer.

The next four clips ranged from inanely boring to stridently annoying while the show progressed to the piece de resistance, Pat O'Neill's "Trouble in the Image." This clip, which closed the show due to the absence of "Samuel Beckett's Film," was a 38-minute barrage of flickering images, plot fragment and visual effects that somehow form a cohesive unit to comment on the banality of Hollywood's "feel-good frontier myths."

"White Light/White Heat" will be showing in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts on May 15, in Waterville, Maine on May 16, and will continue its tour of the U.S. until June 1997.