Melissa Gronlund

Editor, Afterall

US/UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Ballet mécanique

1924

Fernand Léger/Dudley Murphy

Blow Job

1964

Andy Warhol

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

1975

Chantal Akerman

Jetée, La

1962

Chris Marker

M

1931

Fritz Lang

Ritual in Transfigured Time

1946

Maya Deren

Scenes from a Marriage

1995

Ingmar Bergman

Taxi Driver

1976

Martin Scorsese

Videograms of a Revolution

1993

Harun Farocki/Andrei Ujica

Wavelength

1967

Michael Snow

Comments

In its exploration of dance and movement, stillness and photography, ritual and film, Maya Deren’s 1946 film Ritual in Transfigured Time questions what an artist’s film could be and – particularly in its emphasis on ritual – provides a could-have-been as a direction for artist’s film. I’ve chosen Blow Job Not just for a title that leaves nothing to the imagination, but for its enquiry into narrative, suspense and fulfilment in outrageously literal terms. As a native New Yorker, Taxi Driver speaks to me of a city that is long gone: one could take away the narrative and have just the streets, the coffee shops and the stoops, and the whole film would remain intact. Wavelength is so tightly focused that it becomes about everything – its final moments are like leaving your house for the first time, or thinking you were in a valley and finding yourself on a mountain. Akerman filmed Jeanne Dielmann, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at a lower camera height than one is used to – her own height (she is quite short) – and a feeling of claustrophobia seems to follow from that, pervading the film and, despite its dramatic ending, never fully abating.

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