Underground Film Journal

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Thanatopsis — Ed Emshwiller

By Mike Everleth ⋅ June 11, 2017

Thanatopsis by Ed Emshwiller. Made 1960-62, according to Sheldon Renan’s An Introduction to the American Underground Film.

The film’s opening title card is followed by a text card that reads: “Becky Arnold & Mac Emshwiller in a film by Ed Emshwiller”.

The original source of this bootleg is unknown, but there are several uploads to be found online that appear to be from the same source.

The film screened at EXPRMNTL 3, aka the Third International Experimental Film Competition, in 1963 and won the Prize Commission SuperiƩure Technique du Cinema Belge.

In the third Canyon Cinema Cooperative Catalog published in 1972, Emshwiller describes the film:

An expression of internal anguish. The confrontation of a man and his torment. Juxtaposed against his external composure are images of a woman and lights in distortion, with tension heightened by the sounds of powers saws and a heartbeat.

The film was rentable from Canyon for $6.00. The film — on 16mm — is still available for rent from Canyon Cinema with the same description and a price of $25.00.

Close-up of a man's face looking at a blurry dancer

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