La region centrale | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

La region centrale 

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Michael Snow's 1971 film La region centrale is surely one of the most unusual in the history of the medium. For three hours we see a single northern Quebec landscape from a single position, with no signs of human presence save a rare glimpse of the camera shadow. The camera is mounted on a complex custom-designed machine that takes it through a series of increasingly elaborate, carefully choreographed movements, many of which combine several different kinds of rotation. The sound track consists entirely of a series of beeps that come from the tape used to control the machine. Clearly, this is not a film for everyone, but what emerges for the patient viewer is a sense that this rocky, mostly treeless landscape possesses a vast, timeless, almost visionary continuity that ultimately transcends the human-designed camera movements. I have hiked similar Canadian terrain and can testify that this land has a feeling of being very old, as if barely evolved through the aeons, a sense well captured by Snow's film. Few works of art have so eloquently articulated the difference between the world we were given and the consciousness we have evolved. Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont, Saturday, March 27, 8:00, 281-8788.


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