La Région Centrale


I would have posted this yesterday if it hadn’t been for the news about Ray Bradbury, Michael Snow’s La Région Centrale (1971) and Tony Hill’s Downside Up being related in my head if nowhere else. For anyone interested in experimental cinema Michael Snow occupies a key position with a pair of films that aspire to a kind of epic formality: Wavelength (1967), his 45-minute zoom into a photograph at the opposite end of a room, and La Région Centrale which is shots of the Canadian landscape (and the sky above it) filmed by a continuously moving camera attached to a robotic arm. Since the the latter runs for three whole hours it’s not the kind of thing you’ll find on TV or even at at most arts cinemas. Consequently all I’ve ever seen are extracts like this but it fascinates all the same. The electronic noises are the sound of the camera arm in operation. Snow apparently said that he wanted the effect to be that of an alien probe exploring a new planet; given this you could probably class La Région Centrale as a piece of science fiction formalism along with Chris Marker’s La Jetée.

YouTube is the worst venue for films intended to absorb the viewer’s intention but for the curious there’s a rough copy of Wavelength here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Downside Up
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood