Wavelength (1967)

“Nothing is real…and nothing to get hung about…”

Wavelength

Synopsis:
A camera slowly zooms in on empty room while people come and go, ultimately ending on a photograph of waves.

Genres:

Review:
In this notorious minimalist film, director Michael Snow utilizes jump cuts, flashbacks, repeated shots, different film stock, filters, and other cinematic devices to create a technically innovative yet ultimately tedious piece of underground cinema. While watching what appears to be (but isn’t) a 45-minute single zoom shot, we are subjected to the sound of a single sine-wave, ranging from its lowest note (50 cycles per second) to its annoyingly shrill highest note (12,000 cycles per second). The film ends with a cloying play on words, as the camera focuses on a photograph of ocean waves.

In honor of Peary’s no-holds-barred, highly personal approach to film criticism — and at the true risk of appearing gauche — I’ll admit I wish that Snow had bothered to incorporate a bit more interest into the narrative of this ground-breaking yet “difficult” film. Given the extreme amount of cinematic manipulation he uses, Snow can’t (or shouldn’t) legitimately argue that he was aiming for any kind of narrative purity. I dare you to watch this film — best seen as an experiment in form rather than a cohesive narrative — at home without touching the fast forward button on your remote control; but I won’t blame you if you do.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An original, if boring, piece of avant-garde film making.

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its historical importance.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “Wavelength (1967)”

  1. First (and last) viewing.

    Not a must – unless, of course, you’ve been yearning for the cinematic equivalent of the Chinese water torture. ~’cause here it is!

    I’m always curious as to who is the target audience for this kind of experimental hogwash. I don’t know that I’d want to be personally acquainted with those who get off on it or see deep meaning in it. (Andy Warhol or David Lynch might call it “brilliant”.)

    ~and I can’t believe I watched the whole frickin’ thing! I must be a rather patient person after all. That said, 43 minutes of this is 40 too many.

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