Critical Writing Index

1970s British experimental film

by Patti Gaal-Holmes

Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), 2016, v. 5, no. 1&2, pp. 70-86

This article on 1970s British experimental film-making challenges the problematic ‘return to image’ thesis evident in diverse historical accounts of the decade, arguing that image-rich, expressive, personal and representational films were in evidence throughout the decade and not just at its close. The article reviews examples of the ‘return to image’ thesis, demonstrating how it has perpetuated a flawed account of the decade. It also outlines some of the countercultural, psychoanalytic and mystical influences on film-making and discusses American critic P. Adams Sitney’s taxonomical distinctions – ‘psychodramatic trance’, ‘lyrical’, ‘mythopoeia’ and ‘diary’ – which provide illuminating characteristics useful for examining some of the personal, expressive forms of 1970s British film-making. It gives an understanding of how experimental film-making grew from a small handful of films and film-makers at the start of the 1970s to a veritable explosion of film-making by the end of the decade.

ITEM 2016.024 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Long Film for Ambient LightAnthony McCall

The Art of MirrorsDerek Jarman

Tonite Let's All Make Love in LondonPeter Whitehead

FireworksMaya Deren

FireworksKenneth Anger

Invocation of My Demon BrotherKenneth Anger

Rayday FilmJeff Keen

Lucifer RisingKenneth Anger

VibrationJane Arden

VibrationJack Bond

Fire in the WaterPeter Whitehead

Still LifeJenny Okun

FootstepsMarilyn Halford

Nine JokesIan Breakwell