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The Windmill Movie

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alexander Olch
  • Directors: Alexander Olch
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KimStim
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004GZ549M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,791 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What if someone wrote your autobiography? Would it be true? What if someone took the images of your life and made a film? Culling from a 200-hour trove of footage, filmmaker Alexander Olch has cleverly invented an autobiography-by-proxy of his mentor, legendary documentary and experimental filmmaker Richard P. Rogers. The result is a deeply imaginative essay film constructed of sun-dappled Hamptons lawn parties, plane rides to exotic locales, stunningly raw moments with Rogers' domineering mink-coated mother, and new footage with Rogers' childhood friend, actor Wallace Shawn.

Harvard-educated, born to privilege in NYC, Rogers was a tortured soul torn between the narrow patrician loyalties of his upbringing and a desire for artistic achievement on his own, unmitigated terms. Though Rogers did complete many remarkable works in his career, his untimely death at age 57 put an end to his magnum opus: an autobiographical project he had worked on for 25 years. The tragic and profound story of a gifted artist, The Windmill Movie is ultimately a mind-bending cinematic amalgam that beautifully explores the chasm between documentary and fiction.

- Two previously unreleased Richard Rogers shorts: Elephants: Fragments of an Argument and 226-1690 (aka The Answering Machine Movie)
- Original essay by Film Comment Contributing Editor Scott Foundas
- Spanish subtitles and English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired (SDH)


A haunting, poignant documentary --Newsday

Critics Pick! Four Stars! Mind bending. --TimeOut NY

A stirring autobiography-by-proxy. --Filmmaker Magazine

Critics Pick! Four Stars! Mind bending. --TimeOut NY

A stirring autobiography-by-proxy. --Filmmaker Magazine

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fred Zappa on May 16, 2011
At first I thought this movie was going to be too clever for its own good--a biographical movie about someone trying to make a movie about someone who spent decades trying to make his own movie, an autobiographical movie about his own life.

Alexander Olch's finished movie about an unfinished movie by Dick Rogers is all of that, but then it stops drawing attention to that clever conceit and instead becomes much more profound. In the process of showing that Dick Rogers had trouble making a movie out of his own life primarily because he had trouble making any coherent sense out of his own life, this movie says a lot about life in general. Or at least, about life, as well as death, as experienced by very privileged people. What does life mean, what is life's purpose, and what is there to strive for, when you already have what most people still wish they had?

This movie is also about acting, both in movies and in real life. Raw footage and narrated journal entries reveal that Rogers wasn't comfortable in the life that his family provided for him, and then tacitly expected him to lead as an adult. Roger merely acted the way he was supposed to, all the while knowing that he's acting, and hating himself for obeying the social milieu that tells him how he's supposed to act. Knowing full well that all such revelations about himself and other WASP elitists are totally clichéd didn't seem to help in his quest to create something more meaningfully original.

A murky undertow of guilt comes also through in this movie's patched-together portrait of Rogers. I think it's a guilty conscience--a gnawing awareness of the sort felt by some members of the American old-money elite, an awareness of the sort that's explored much more fully in Wallace Shawn's work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on March 26, 2011
Richard "Dickie" Rogers (1944-2001) was born to a life of privilege--most of the footage presented here is of the Hamptons & Harvard-- but he always felt guilty that he did not do more to earn that privilege. So although he shot more than 200 hours of footage of the Hamptons in the years between 1944-2001 & some very choice footage of Harvard in the 70's, his feelings about these locales were always complicated. These locales certainly had much to tell him about himself, and the kind of self that he assembled had much to say about these locales, but he never assembled all of this ripe footage & commentary into a cohesive documentary that would also have been a cohesive autobiography.

In some ways Dickie's narrative, or at least the collection of narrative strands assembled here by Alexander Ochs, is not an uncommon one: privileged son feels oppressed by his own family history, feels pressured to accomplish something & do the family name proud, but feels woefully inadequate to live up to the precedent that's been set & so rebels by retreating into the world of art, but ultimately finds he cannot escape the past (especially not the family money) & must come to terms with it.

There are two possible outcomes to this familiar story: prodigal son finally breaks free by defining himself by his own actions/accomplishments or prodigal son finally become comfortable/complacent with the life that was readymade for him. Both endings are equally cliched and Dickie knew this. One of Dickie's biggest assets/liabilities was his ivy league education that made him painfully aware that whatever direction his life took would be equally cliched. The only way to avoid cliche was to avoid living/telling any story at all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amaranth on January 26, 2012
"The Windmill Movie" is a compelling documentary about Richard Rogers, a Harvard professor of film, who tried to make his own autobiographical movie. It remained in pieces... and in this movie, Rogers' former student, as well as his friends Wallace Shawn (My Dinner with Andre (The Criterion Collection)) and Bob Balaban (A Mighty Wind) try to portray Rogers as the man in full. Rogers complains of his privileged WASP background, as if growing up in the Hamptons rendered him incapable of being a true art film director. We see very little of his documentaries-but we do see his incomplete "Windmill Movie",with Rogers explaining his upbringing.

Rogers' complicated relationships with women comes to be crucial to understanding him. His father expected him to keep his affair with his secretary a secret. In turn, Rogers was having a longtime relationship with photographer Susan Meiselas, but also carrying on with a performance artist, Noni. He lists the women in his life- Janet, Ann-Marie, Tina, but he sees himself as the center of attention and incapable of true emotional intimacy with a woman. Susan let him be with other women when she was off on assignment. Ironically, in the end, Noni and Susan became friends, and Susan married Rogers shortly before he died from cancer.

Mortality makes Rogers reflective. He ponders his severed toes, watches himself wither away. Death brings closure to his project that he couldn't. "Windmill Movie" is an elegaic portrait of an artist as an old man.
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