The Extravagant Shadows

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The Extravagant Shadows
David Gatten, 2012
USA | Format: DCP | color | sound | 175 minutes

Rocky Mountain Sky, Nimbus Gray, Seaside Sand, Saddle Soap.
Books For Sale. The Missions Code. The Useless Resistance.
Chamois, Cornflower, Crimson.
James & Zweig.
Reflex Blue, Hamilton Blue, Lapis Lazuli.
Gard, Blanchot & Lau Yee-cheung.
Lichen Green, Newt Green, Salmon Skin.
Rush & Stevens & McVey
Mauve Blush, Lavender-Mauve, Lily Lavender, Lavender Spirit.
Moonlight.

Fourteen years in the making, David Gatten's first digital feature premiered at Views from the Avant-Garde during the 50th New York Film Festival in October and was ranked ninth in the Film Comment's critics poll of the "20 Best Undistributed Films of 2012." Join us for a special reprise screening with director David Gatten in person! Curated by Mark McElhatten.

"A love story in shifting colors, illusive light and sentimental songs from the year 1968. A movie about the movement of desire across the distances of geography and time.  A meditation on the manner in which books, letters and other written or printed communications might both produce and mediate that distance.  A shelf of books, an inventory of pigments.  A question of language and a statement about time. Condensations upon several occasions."  —David Gatten

"The films of David Gatten brand the brain and the retina with equal force. They consist partly of cerebral puzzles and partly of lyrical reveries, and their central drama lies in the space between, where facts transform into poetry and transient experiences are assimilated into systems of knowledge." —Tom McCormack, Moving Image Source

"David Gatten’s The Extravagant Shadows takes up the process of vanishing as its aesthetic conceit and poetic core. Like many of Gatten’s works on celluloid, The Extravagant Shadows is concerned with time of reading, of messages sent and not always, or not fully, received—the work could be considered as much an expanded book as it is a moving image work. To merely watch this film is not enough; it must also be read and indeed inhabited, feeling through the sometimes long intervals between panes of applied paint, the momentary appearance of text, the times of the film’s many vanishings. The film provides ample space to settle in (or to sometimes resist) its subtle rhythms, to observe the striations of color and texture as the paint accumulates, and to absorb the tale of a love affair conducted in letters over the span many years, along with many digressions on the physics of sound transmission, instructions for cablegram communication, and philosophical ruminations on the nature of speech and description. The Extravagant Shadows may be a perceptually demanding work, though it is by no means an unforgiving one. Rather it is an occasion to see and sense the events of disappeared pasts in the richness of the present." —Genevieve Yue, Reverse Shot

"The Extravagant Shadows layers a deep awareness of what’s happening off screen with what we’re seeing on screen, and of what we imagine to be the digital manipulation of the image with the addition of the text. In this way, it represents the concatenation of spaces and times that comprise a digital culture. But rather than inviting the distraction and browsing that often characterize the digital interface, the film provokes a profound experience of presence. We are called forth as subjects, and as beings uniquely able to make connections, understand relations, and produce meaning. We are no longer spectators, witnesses, viewers, readers, or users. We become entirely present: upright, astute, yearning, human. We become present. We become as we should be." —Holly Willis, Film Comment

"It is less the digital precision that impresses than the inexplicably moving way in which the pulsating organism of this video ritualizes the generation and evaporation of texts and colors as equal partners in the prolonged colloquy that determines its singular rhythm. To suggest loss, elusiveness, and ghostly presences in a product of advanced technology is as paradoxical as it is willful." —Tony Pipolo, Artforum

"David Gatten’s new film is a beautiful discourse on language, color, time and mise-en-scène . . . Perhaps the avant-garde cannot stage interventions in the local multiplex, but the revolution can be screened. What’s more, it can still shock, mystify, and finally open up a world that is in operation behind the way people interact with the images that dominate their lives—but you have got to see it to believe it: a work like The Extravagant Shadows is a revolution unto itself."  – Blaire McClendon, FilmLinc Daily

"A finger of pigment brushing a lip of language, exchanging carriage supports, liquidities, fire. Moire of meanings. Micro settings in the heart. The time it takes. The very least one can say is to say The Extravagant Shadows is a major work. Humanly essential, adventurous and necessary." —Mark McElhatten, Curator of Views from the Avant Garde

Read Tony Pipolo's article on The Extravagant Shadows, "Adapted for the Screen," in the April issue of Artforum, now on newstands.

Read Holly Willis's article on Gatten's work, "The Pleasure of the Text," in the March/April issue of Film Comment

Read Daniel Kasman's full review of The Extravagant Shadows, "Love In The Painted Image," on MUBI.

Series: Views from the Avant-Garde: David Gatten’s “The Extravagant Shadows”

Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

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