The Formative Years (I): Schenec-Tady (I-III), Arrowplane, Tide
The Formative Years I presents the earliest work of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Heinz Emigholz (Schindler's House). His films from the 1970s reveal his ties to legendary experimental filmmakers Michael Snow and Ken Jacobs of the New American Cinema, who were major influences on his work. Emigholz's thought-provoking documentaries represent a link between fine art and filmmaking. In Schenec-Tady I (1972), Schenec-Tady II (1973), Arrowplane (1974), Tide (1974) and Schenec-Tady III (1975), he explores the interplay between the temporal nature of film and still compositions of landscapes. The films consist of thousands of photos, taken frame by frame, cut together to suggest the illusion of time and speed. This release also includes short films made during Emigholz's first years in America, an interview with the filmmaker that details the meaning behind these works, and a booklet that provides a context.
A single camera pans over a nearly empty wooded landscape. Empty, that is, but for a tiny wooden structure, an outhouse, it seems, standing forlornly in a meadow, out of place in the stark natural surroundings. The image is black and white, and no sounds can be heard. Soon, the same camera will hop disjointedly up and down, blurring all we can see. This opens Heinz Emigholz early- 70s avant-garde short, Schenectady I no relation to the eponymous New York State community and he would shoot two sequels to this project, as well as Arrowplane and Tide, between 1972 and 1975, establishing himself as a master of what the intellectual cognoscenti have termed post-structuralist cinema.
Heinz Emigholz has worn many hats: filmmaker, actor, artist, writer, producer, not to mention academic, having taught in his native Germany and Switzerland since the early- 90s. In arguably, his greatest renown is as an auteur of highly experimental cinematic works.The five aforementioned films, which actually consist of thousands of 16mm photographs, plus some enlightening extras, are compiled in a new DVD release, The Formative Years, presumably a reference to Emigholz establishing his street cred during this time period, as the German director had completed only one previous movie.
Schenectady I and its grandchild , part III, are, for all intents and purposes, the same film, but with some minor differences which are doubtless significant to eggheads who eschew narrative cinema for this sort of visual experimentation. In the first film, Emigholz indulges in numerous flourishes that didn t necessarily migrate to the latter. The images flicker on and off, the camera dances to and fro with abandon, there are many zooms, and the chaos all unfolds within an environment devoid of humans or animals in the Taunus Mountains of Germany s Hasenkopf province. --Terrence Butcher, popmatters.com