Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Running Time

(Mort Ransen, 1974)
Throwing up their hands, the NFB describes this film (when it dares to mention it at all) as 'about' the sixties. In fact it is clearly and defiantly OF the sixties - begun in 1969, it took Ransen and his ramshackle team years to assemble this unheralded epic of patchouli pastiche. Admittedly, it isn't about what it says it's about either, not quite - its plea for cross-generational empathy in the war against the Establishment is firmly rooted in the trappings of youth culture. Replete with psychedelic tapestries and pot brownies, unapologetically scorning cops and capitalists and upstanding good citizens, climaxing in a painfully white, bongo-fueled 'rain dance', it certainly won't disappoint anyone looking for a time capsule. But the craft and invention that go into the presentation is notable in itself; the use of rear projection and animated sequences (by Co Hoedeman as well as a still-functional Ryan Larkin, who also appears onscreen) is innovative and gorgeous, the glimpses of the sound stage crew suit the film's concern with how things work, and Jackie Burroughs' old lady makeup job eerily predicts her visage of twenty years hence. Eventually the film bogs down in musical numbers, which restate the basic themes too insistently while hobbling the film's manic drive. But within its limited world view it scores some enduring ideological points and has fun doing so.

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