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Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen

Screening on Film
Directed by Michael Snow.
Canada, 1974, 16mm, color, 270 min.

Scripted and shot during a highly productive period in the early 1970s (when Snow made his monumental La Région Centrale), Rameau’s Nephew presents multiple attempts by "Wilma Schoen" (screen alter-ego of the filmmaker himself) to make an authentic "talking picture." The result resembles by turns a crazy comedy and a philosophical treatise as performers, including video artist Nam June Paik and critic and theorist Annette Michelson, struggle with their line readings, as piano keys emit passionate erotic moans, and as the existence of physical objects are placed into doubt. Snow sets into motion a vigorous dialogue between sound and image that feels at moments like the remake of a Jacques Tati film scripted by Ludwig Wittgenstein—or a restaging of Diderot by Wilma Schoen.

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