With the passing of Michael Snow at the beginning of this year, one of the leading figures of avant-garde cinema disappeared. Shortly before his death, the mischievous 94-year-old voted in the infamous Sight and Sound poll of the best films of all time for three of his own classics: Wavelength (1967), La Région Centrale (1971) and the rarely screened Rameau’s Nephew.
In 25 episodes, Rameau’s Nephew depicts a series of failed attempts by the fictional director Wilma Schoen (an anagram of Michael Snow) to make an authentic “talking picture”. As the film progresses, the absurdities redouble upon themselves: performers lose their lines, the soundtrack goes out of control and the very nature of word and image synchronicity is brought into question by Snow’s delightfully naive and playful gaze. Meanwhile, the crème de la crème of the contemporary avant-garde makes an appearance: Chantal Akerman, Babette Mangolte, Jonas Mekas, Nam June Paik, Annette Michelson, P. Adams Sitney, Amy Taubin, Joyce Wieland and others. Rameau’s Nephew is exhausting both in length and in wit, leaving the viewer in a state of giddy delight and awe. Snow described his film version of Denis Diderot’s satirical novel of the same name as a “musical comedy” and the Harvard Film Archive likens it to “a kind of remake of a Jacques Tati film scripted by Ludwig Wittgenstein.”
“An achievement of the originality and brilliance of Wavelength. Snow embraces the problems on intimacy of language and thought with such variety, clarity and invention and high humour that again he seems to have made a film out of which an entire future movement could be mined.” — P. Adams Sitney
“Michael Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew Etc. makes me crazy, makes the top of my head go flying off. I have a need of its particular regenerative insanity at least once a month.” — Amy Taubin
Film print: Cinédoc Paris Films Coop
This commemoration will include a befitting introduction and a coffee table / bar.
This screening takes places in the Zwarte Zaal at KASK School of Arts Gent in collaboration with KASKcinema and X‑Ray (KASK Media Art).