J.J. Murphy

Highway Landscape (1972) 16mm, color, 6.5 min

Genre: Experimental

"The filmmaker describes his work as 'a single take, fixed camera meditation on a dead rabbit on Highway No. 1, outside Iowa City.' As the viewer stares at the almost still-life, the elements of composition come together in sad juxtaposition; the silence of death is set off against the impersonal whizz of passing cars, their momentary appearance in the frame creating almost subliminal flashes of bright metallic color. Otherwise the only movement in the film is provided by the dead rabbit's fur, ruffling in the wind. In the background, blue sky and brown trees, blurred and leafless. In the foreground, hard white gravel. The rabbit's body, caught in the right center of the frame, lies on the side of the highway, which is reduced by the camera angle to an almost imperceptible gray line dividing the composition in horizontal halves. "I think Murphy's description of HIGHWAY LANDSCAPE as a 'meditation' is quite accurate, since minimal cinema allows the viewer to examine in such radically increased attention the elements of the film he is watching. Although the reality on the screen may be static, the reality in the viewer's mind is not: under the right circumstances (seldom possible in film-viewing situations), the viewer can 'contemplate' what he sees, examines, let his eyes (and mind) wander, taste the possibilities of response." -- Ron Epple

Rental: $20.00
16mm Rental: $20.00

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