Ernie Gehr - Shift (72/74)


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"For Gehr, SHIFT broke new ground, hence perhaps a pun in its title. The film is his first to employ extensive montage. The actors are all mechanical - a series of cars and trucks filmed from a height of several stories as they perform on a three-lane city street. Gehr isolates one or two vehicles at a time, inverting some shots, so that a car hangs from the asphalt like a bat from a rafter, using angles so severe the traffic often seems to be sliding off the earth, and employing a reverse motion so abrupt that the players frequently exit the scene as though yanked from a stage by the proverbial hook. A sparse score of traffic noises accompanies the spastic ballet mecanique. Not only the action but Gehr's deliberate camera movements are synced to the music of honking horns, screeching brakes, and grinding gears. The eight-minute film is structured as a series of obliquely comic blackout sketches: trucks run over their shadows; cars unexpectedly reverse direction or start up and go nowhere." - J. Hoberman, American Film, 1982





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