Tuesday, January 24, 2012

469. Wavelength (1967)

Running Time: 43 minutes
Directed By: Michael Snow
Written By: Michael Snow
Main Cast: Hollis Frampton, Joyce Wieland, Amy Yadrin, Lyne Grossman, Maoto Nakagawa

Note: More than likely, this will be the last non "Bergman Week" review that I present, until "Bergman Week" is concluded. Once "Bergman Week" is finished up, I'll more than likely be going on hiatus. As always, if I do make the final decision to take a hiatus, I'll put a post up announcing it.


With some time to kill last night, I took to YouTube to check on the availability of some of the movies that I've been unable to find from THE BOOK. I actually managed to find a few dozen of them and this one looked so intriguing to me that I decided to watch it right away.

"Wavelength" is a short, experimental film, that only runs about forty-five minutes. In it, a camera is affixed in a permanent location and as the film progresses it slowly zooms into a photo on a wall. When the film starts the photo is on the other side of the room, but by the end we're so close that the photo takes up the entire frame. Throughout the forty-five minutes, a few people wander in and out of the frame, including two ladies who turn on the radio, listen to The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" and then leave. At another point, a man stumbles in and falls on the floor. Approximately ten minutes later, a woman enters, sees the man and calls the police, declaring that the man seems to be dead. Also throughout the film, Michael Snow experiments with the picture and audio, giving us a plethora of different colors and effects on the picture and piercing our ears with the sine wave of the soundtrack, taking it from it's lowest to highest note.

Having my expectations for experimental films at the lowest that they could possibly be and going in not really expecting much out of another one, I really enjoyed this. It's kind of hard to target what it was I actually enjoyed about it, but the entire film gave off a high intrigue factor. Watching "Wavelength" was like looking at a Jackson Pollock painting and seeing a world of possibility. While there really wasn't much substance to it, there was something almost haunting about being in this big room, with no one else around, only the silence and the decibel levels of the soundtrack to keep us company. That piercing whine as the film progressed only served to heighten the intensity, as I slowly started to realize that we were getting closer and closer to this one photograph on the wall.

There's apparently a theory that the photo (which is a picture of waves) is supposed to represent an alternate reality. I don't know about all that and really, whether that's a fact or a theory, wouldn't serve to raise or lower my opinion of this picture. This is an experimental film that I certainly condone and one that, I think, really served it's purpose. There's so much to see and so much to take away from this movie, when you dig deep, however, on the surface it doesn't seem like much. Beware that MANY people complain about the film being boring, as it is really just a camera slowly zooming in on one spot for the majority of the time. However, if you're a "glass half full" kind of person, I think you'll be able to take away a lot from this film. Kudos to Michael Snow for cracking my hesitancy on experimental cinema.

RATING: 7.5/10 On an experimental scale, this would probably be a '10/10', but on an overall scale, considering everything, I think a '7.5' is suitable.


January 24, 2012 5:23pm


  1. Good review but from what I heard last night while you were watching this movie, I don't think I could sit through that annoying high pitched sound! Glad you enjoyed it, your doing a great job keep it up!

  2. When I reflect on Wavelength I wonder if it is not more of an exercise in narrative than an experiment in film. Either way it is a personal favorite of mine and I am glad you had a better experience with this experimental piece than some of your previous experimental viewings.

  3. Glad you made it through without the noise driving you insane. Didn't know Hollis Frampton was in the movie. Frampton made Zorn's Lemma which was better than Wavelength in my opinion. Both are supposed to be something called "structural filmmaking".

  4. Thanks to all who have left me comments. I always appreciate that VERY MUCH! I was pleased with myself for making it through too and making it through with a positive opinion to boot.

  5. Now that is a surprise. When I logged in and saw what this mornings entry was, I expected a rather different reaction.
    There was something about this that intrigued me.. no idea what..
    I'm delighted to see more people making comments, welcome.

  6. Thanks Ray. Yes there was definitely an element of unknown intrigue for me too.


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