Fourth Watch, The
16mm, color, 9 min
Keywords: Films about Film, Media, Psychology & Mental Health
The ancient Greeks divided the night into four sections; the last section before morning was called the fourth watch. In these hours before dawn, an endless succession of rooms is inhabited by silent film figures occupying flickering space in a mid-century house made of printed tin. Their presence is at once inevitable and uncanny. A boy turns his head in dread, a woman's eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet which dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind disappearing windows. The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light. It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls. Mark McElhatten, co-curator of the 2000 New York Film Festival's Views From the Avant-Garde, where The Fourth Watch premiered, writes: "A small masterpiece of the uncanny brought about through beautifully controlled use of superimposition and scale and a cross breeding of "incompatible" species of texture and (cathode-solar) light. Glacial blue poltergeist -- somnabulists, melodramatic stars and damaged children from silent films -- emerge at night into a tin dollhouse opening up invisible envelopes of space, comingling with hypnoticic chiaroscuro cast by trembling sunlight." Kristin M. Jones, in her review "NYFF: Views from the Avant-Garde" in the November-December 2000 issue of Film Comment, writes: "Of the three Janie Geiser works screened, perhaps most haunting was The Fourth Watch, in which images of people in black-and-white movies rephotographed from a video monitor are superimposed on shots of a dollhouse interior. Bluish, spectral figures float by as sunlight mingles with flickering shadows on brightly colored tin. A beautiful somnambulist vanishing into TV bar rolls suggests a poetic metaphor for the current state of avant-garde cinema, when the medium's past, future, and even its own death are being transformed into material for provocative new films."
16mm Rental: $30.00
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