Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Proposed Double Features #1

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One (1968) and The Blair Witch Project (1999)

William Greaves' Symbiopyschotaxiplasm stands as a landmark of 1960s experimental cinema. It deftly blends fact and fiction as it explores the collaborative nature of filmmaking. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's The Blair Witch Project needs no introduction. It set the world on fire as an is-it-true-or-not mystery, then as a stunning example of mostly improvised cinematic horror. In other words, it deftly blends fact and fiction as it explores the collaborative nature of filmmaking.

In each film, a group of young filmmakers disappear into the woods of the Northeast United States to make a trite, stuffy film which they hope will capture "the truth." Each team is led by a minority director - a black man or a woman - who has limited control and whose decision-making abilities become poorer and poorer. The crew insist that "they only agreed to a scouted out project" (Blair) and "Greaves has no vision" (Symbio).

They each encounter a crazy person who lives in the woods, who offers vague proclamations of doom, and they walk deeper into the woods. At film's end, as far as the viewer is concerned, they never leave.

In the end, this intellectualized counter-culture relic from the heated '60s and this mega-hit/much-dismissed horror movie from the dreary '90s reach many of the same conclusions about the state of cinema, the perils of groupthink, and the trials of leadership. Compare the two scenes where Heather and William's authorities are most ferociously questioned. From such disparate origins, a a common concern - despite all their problems and all their frustrations, blindly and crazily "she's still making movies."

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