David Ehrlich July 1, 2013
Welcome to Your Daily Short, a new feature on Film.com that will highlight and stream a short film at high noon. Every weekday. Every week.
THE FILM: “(nostalgia)” (directed by Hollis Frampton) 1971
RUNNING TIME: 38:00
“These are recollections of a dozen still photographs I made several years ago.”
The question isn’t if my thoughts will return to Hollis Frampton’s “(nostalgia)”, but when, why and how often. One of the most beautiful and emotionally affecting experimental short films ever made, I was most recently reminded of Frampton’s most famous work by the final moments of Jem Cohen’s wonderful new feature “Museum Hours” (now playing at the IFC Center), which resolves with a wistful narration that hinges upon a certain friction with the images we’re shown.
I wrote about “(nostalgia)” for Movies.com when The Criterion Collection released an anthology of Frampton’s work on DVD and blu-ray. An excerpt: Like most artists who are most readily defined by their labels, Frampton despised categorization. When P. Adams Sitney coined the term “Structuralist Film” to describe self-reflexive filmmaking in which the mechanics of the cinema itself become a diagetic focus so that their “shape is the primal impression of the film,” he had Frampton in mind. Frampton found the term to be reductive, he had as much use for artistic movements as he did for hair gel (read: not very much), but it’s impossible to deny that from the very beginning his images were obsessed with images — their past and future, their effect on us and our effect on them.
Frampton’s most transparent and baldly emotional work, the films that characterize Hapax Legomena evoke Chris Marker’s La Jetee, especially the deservedly famous (nostalgia), a tricksy 36-minute work in which photos are ignited on top of a hot plate as voiceover narration provides asynchronous context. Resolving with one of the cinema’s most exhilaratingly maddening cliffhangers, (nostalgia) is a moving portrait of how present interpretation always reforms the past, and how preservation (photos, for example) allows the past to be destroyed. It’s the kind of experience that every cinephile should have, at least once.
“(nostalgia)” is presented below full (over the span of four parts).
Watch the previous Daily Short: “The S From Hell’”. Do you have a favorite short film that you would like us to feature as Your Daily Short? Whether it’s something you love, something you made, or both, send it along to Filmdotcomshorts@Gmail.com and you might see it on the site!
Categories: ColumnsTags: Criterion collection, David Ehrlich, Experimental film, Hollis frampton, Nostalgia, Short Film, Your Daily Short