Visual Essays Origins of Film, a film by A Razutis

VISUAL ESSAYS: ORIGINS OF FILM

A Six-Part Film by Al Razutis 1973 - 1984

52 min. color sound

 'VISUAL ESSAYS' TITLES

These six essays on film/image history reconstruct cinema history by 're-imagining' its origins, and its poetries, and use historical films themselves (as 'text') to provide the meanings of their creations. Together, these film essays comprise a critical/structural investigation of silent cinema ending with Segei Eisenstein's works (for Stalin) - from Lumiere and Melies through surrealism and horros, to montage and propaganda, we 're-invent' epochs in cinema that became its language and form. (A.R.)

"Both the visual artist and the educator make their appearances throughout Origins of Film,  but it looks to be the poet who has the final say. Informing the overall shape of the project is an argument that is presented at a number of levels. Each film is structured around a distinct set of optical printing and collage techniques [and] ... embodies a `look' which becomes the film's central strategy and metaphor." (Peter Chapman, Independent Eye)

In the collections of
National Gallery of Canada (Permanent Collection film)
Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain (DVD)

Visual Essays Screenings & In Print

Visual Essays: Origins of Film will be screened at the Pesaro Film Festival (early July) as part of Critofilm - Cinema che vede il cinema (Cinema looking at Cinema). "

Visual Essays was featured in a 2015 critical analysis publication the Remix age - Exhibition as Archive by Viva Paci, Film Forum, 2016.

The original and intermediate elements for 'Visual Essays: Origins of Film' are archived at
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archive, 1313 N. Vine Street, Hollywood, California, USA

LINKS TO MANY SUBJECTS:



Individual Films as Essays

LUMIÈRE'S TRAIN (ARRIVING AT THE STATION

9 min. sound b/w 1979

SELECTED SHORT VIDEO CLIPS ON YOU TUBE:

1 min. 40 sec. video from film
on YouTube:

LUMIERE'S TRAIN (ARRIVING AT THE STATION by Al Razutis excerpt on YouTube

1 min. 30 sec. video from film
on YouTube:

	LUMIERE'S TRAIN (ARRIVING AT THE STATION by Al Razutis excerpt on YouTube

CLICK FOR 'LUMIERE'S TRAIN'

The subject of the first essay is cinema itself: an apparatus of representation wherein fact and fiction are recreated. As such, the pro-filmic facts are necessarily drawn from two of cinema's "pioneers":   Louis and Auguste Lumière   and Abel Gance ( La Roue, ),   with additional material provided from a Warner Brothers featurette, Spills for Thrills.

The film breaks down into four distinct sections and is loosely centred around Lumière's classic one-shot film of a train pulling into a station   Arrivée d'un train à la Ciotat, L' (1895).

The exposition and form of the film is closely tied to the tradition of cine-structural poems which foreground the materials of the medium (light, dark, form as shadow-projection of the cinematic apparatus). Using alternations between positive and negative, the film chronicles the "coming to life" (of the apparatus) and the resulting action/movement and documentation of events - encompassing incidents (the near mishaps), human expectations (the arrival at the station), and human spectacle(the destruction of the trains, the station in chaos). Towards this purpose, I have used an expanding narrative, a play on the title itself, and the shifting conditions of synchronous and asynchronous sound/image (and image-to-image). (A.R.)

Awards: Ann Arbor; Kent State; Baltimore film festivals.

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives.
In the collection of the National Gallery of Canada

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives and screened 2012

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Lumiere's Train (Arriving at the Station) - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'

Illustrated pages on the Lumière Brothers


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MÉLIÈS CATALOGUE

8 min. color silent 1973

2 min. excerpt from film on YouTube:

	MELIES CATALOGUE  by Al Razutis excerpt on YouTube

Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'

The first essay created in 1973 and inspired by the origins of cinema and the works (1896-1912) of magician-illusionist Georges Méliès. This burning celluloid montage film presents the mythic iconography of the films of Georges Méliès -- a dreamlike terrain, a grab-bag of magician's surprises, a cornucopia of players that proceed from the imagination of that "magician" of cinema - announced by the opening motif, "the magic box".

These incidents are presented/framed within the graphic form of burning frames, each image-shot erupting and being displaced by the following shot. This is an essay featuring discontinuity and surprise. Images in this piece were compiled from approximately 30 films by Georges Méliès, most notably   'A Trip to the Moon (1902)' -- (A.R.)

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives.

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974
Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Melies Catalogue (Visual Essays)  - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'

Short history - Georges Méliès

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SEQUELS IN TRANSFIGURED TIME

14 min. SEPIA-color sound 1974

Spoken (V.O.) text of 'Elegy for Melies' written and performed by Al Razutis

2 min. excerpt video of film on YouTube:

SEQUELS IN TRANSFIGURED TIME  by Al Razutis excerpt on YouTube

Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'

Sequels in Transfigured Time   returns to Georges Méliès and notably portions of A Trip to the Moon (1902) and other early Méliès films (including a hand-colored early film, and uses techniques of 'frozen stills becoming movement', still which are initially 'abstractions' through the absence of movement and denial of depth (via graphic solarization). The stills are meditations on the "becoming of motion-picture reality" through movement and seamless editing (the "invisible"cut), mechanisms in the 'creation of narrative' (which Méliès thought to be secondary to a 'dreamland' for the eye).

This essay is also an elegy for Georges Méliès, his "Eden lost and found," his cine-world becoming obsolete and "ghostlike." This is a 'sound film' with the 'Elegy for Méliès' occuring at the end (as voice-over ). -- (A.R.)

Text of 'Elegy for Melies' written and performed by Al Razutis

Awards: Ann Arbor; Kent State; Northwest Film &Video Festival

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives.

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'
Sequels in Transfigured Time - film frame - film by Al Razuts 1974'

Short history - Georges Méliès

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GHOST: IMAGE

12 min. B&W sound 1976-79

Written/spoken (VO) text of 'Ghost Image' written by Al Razutis and performed by Marek Cziewsewski

Ghost: Image
1 min. excerpt video on YouTube:

Ghost: Image -  by Al Razutis - 1 min.excerpt on YouTube

the Bride incorporated in 
GHOST: IMAGEThematically proceeding from the previous (Méliès) fantasy films, GHOST: IMAGE  encompasses that tradition of "fantastic" films that includes Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism, Poetic Realism, Symbolism, and eventually the horror genre (and of course Fritz Lang's Metropolis ).

Its formal design, the mirror image, creates a denial of axis and screen direction,with the result that the viewer must read "through the images." At times, the mirror images are reduced to their Rorschach component, and complemented by the presence of fragmented poetry (after T.S. Eliot and automatic writing), a metonymic realm suggesting "automatic disclosures" and unconscious correspondences in the developing discourse.

Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS incorporated in 'GHOST: IMAGE'

The familiar myths of woman as 'madonna' / 'victim' / 'temptress', and 'redemption through knowledge and science,' 'fear of the undead," and 'fear of the irrational,' form the signposts of this historical and cultural terrain.

Contains excerpts from aproximately 20 surrealist, dada, horror, films. (A.R.)

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives amd screemed 2012.

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film
Ghost:Image - 1979- film by Al Razutis - section of Visual Essays: Origins of Film

Written/spoken (VO) text of 'Ghost Image' written by Al Razutis and performed by Marek Cziewsewski

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FOR ARTAUD

10 min. color sound 1982

Spoken voice-over text of 'For Artaud' written Al Razutis and performed by Trevor Brazil, Susan Berganzi, Maria Insell, Amarjeet Ratan.

1 min. excerpt video on YouTube:

For Artaud -  by Al Razutis - 1 min.excerpt on YouTube

Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series

Re-imagining Antonin Artaud's Theater of Cruelty within a context of Dryer's (Passion of Joan of Arc) and spectacle, we reach into a 'terror' as evoked in this films of sparkling fragmented images and cacophonies of chant. The film tears and re-combines, as the film expressionism of Dryer meets the tradition of Gothic horror and beyond that, Artaud. It brings to mind a humanity caught between absolutes, the good and the evils of monstrous proportions, of classicism, and of questions of individuation. Artaud, though a figure indirectly associated with film history, is suggested in this essay as prime provocateur in the collision between classicism (the "Greek chorus") and romantic expressionism. Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc   - in which Artaud himself appears (as the monk) - serves to set the stage for this "inquisition." (A.R.)

Voice: Trevor Brazil, Chorus: Susan Berganzi, Tony Giacinti, Maria Insell, Amarjeet Rattan

Individually featured in international exhibitions, retrospectives and screened 2012.

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series
Frame from 'For Artaud' 1982 film by Al Razutis in Visual Essays| Origins of Film series

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STORMING THE WINTER PALACE

16 min. sepia color sound 1984

Voice-over text of 'Storming the Winter Palace' written and performed by Al Razutis

Storming the Winter Palace
1 min. excerpt video on YouTube:

Storming the Winter Palace -  by Al Razutis - 1 min.excerpt on YouTube

Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis

This last visual essay focuses on montage and the dialectics of Sergei Eisenstein's films, indicating their influence as cornerstones of silent cinema and as major contributions to the evolution of later cinema. Eisenstein's work in the areas of 'methods of montage', non-verbal signification and allegorical subjects constructed by juxtaposition (the collision, the dialectics) of meanings, is subjected in this film by Razutis to three "framing" processes: inversion of chronological narrative, fragmentation and repetition of selected montage passages, and the interrogation of selected Oktober sequences by the application of 'saccadic eye movement' (animated) techniques.

The end of the visual essays cycle brings on the 'textual' (to be read) cinema, the cinema of constructed meanings, and persuasions, where a new 'winter palace' (center of power) is sure to arise. The film contains sequences from 'Battleship Potempkin' and 'Oktober' by Sergei Eisenstein, now in the service of the Party.

Spoken and written text from writings of Sergei Eisenstein (Film Form & The Film Sense), Benjamin Buchloh, and Russian Formalist sources (freely adapted).

Film frame captures (click/enlarge in separate window):

Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis
Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis Storming the Winter Palace (Visual Essays: Origins of Film) - film by Al Razutis

'VISUAL ESSAYS: ORIGINS OF FILM'' available on DVD

DVD and CD sales price list
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Quick links to visual essays above:

'Méliès Catalogue',       'Lumière's Train (arriving at the station',       'Sequels in Transfigured Time',       'Ghost:Image',       'For Artaud',       'Storming the Winter Palace'

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