Decasia (Morrison, 2002) & The Fall of the House of Usher (Epstein, 1928):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm
This is a BFI Passport to Cinema screening with talk from Dominic Power. This is the BFI inroduction to the night: Decasia is a unique visual experience that explores the raw material of film itself. It consists of nitrate archive footage collected by Morrison that has been naturally damaged and decayed by the process of time. With a powerful score by Michael Gordon, the film is a hypnotic and absorbing experience. Teamed with Epstein's haunted and haunting The Fall of the House of Usher, this is a double bill about the decay and renewal of cinema. The Fall of the House of Usher will feature live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
Chicago Reader review of Decasia:
'Filmmaker Bill Morrison spent two years foraging through the film archives of the University of South Carolina, the Library of Congress, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York to assemble this 70-minute collage of hallucinatory images produced by the decomposition of nitrate film stocks. At times it threatens to contract into an artifact of academic obsession, but ultimately it connotes an epic struggle between the human need to create history and the power of time and entropy to erase it. Because Morrison selected partially decayed footage, each shot crackles with tension between representational content and the bubbles, scratches, and blotches eating everything away: a pair of lovers are hounded by swarming black dots, miners swing picks at a wall of bubbling gray, a boxer punches at a column of roiling nitrate. Accompanied by a pulsing, rather cacophonous symphonic score by minimalist composer Michael Gordon, the film asks us to embrace not only the death of beauty but the beauty of death.' J R Jones
Here is an extract. Looks amazing.
Chicago Reader review of The Fall of the House of Usher:
'Jean Epstein's 1928 experimental effort combined Poe's story with another Poe classic, "The Oval Portrait." Henri Langlois called the film the "cinematic equivalent of Debussy. An absolute mastery of editing and rhythm in which slow motion, superimpositions . . . and the mobile camera combine to play a totally ungratuitous role." Luis Buñuel worked on this as a second assistant to Epstein shortly before making his own first film.' Dan Druker
Here is an extract.