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The Pharoah’s Belt

Lewis Klahr

USA, 1997
43 minutes, Colour, Optical
Available formats: 16mm / DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

“Klahr’s lost American Eden is an imaginary suburban childhood. ‘The Pharaoh’s Belt’ opens with the image of a Japanese monk battling several ninjas in a forest that soon turns into the woven fabric of wall-to-wall carpeting. A boy asleep in a biliously green frosted cake dreams of cosmic wrestling matches. A living room sofa becomes first a pool of water, then a flying carpet. A kitchen merges with the bottom of the sea or, more often, outer space. The split-level universe is populated by elegant parental silhouettes and costumed comic book heroes, as well as a variety of advertising imps like the Jolly Green Giant who appear from appliances like the genies summoned by Aladdin’s lamp.” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)”In his most masterful film to date, Lewis Klahr provides a lesson in modern hieroglyphics, assembling collages of contemporary demons and divinities in the guise of advertising images culled from a consumer culture’s larger-than-life presentation of its products and the ecstasies they offer. These hyperbolic presences with their radiant colors and alternate promises and pitfalls provide the landscape for a childhood quest that teeters between nightmare and promised land, as Klahr’s characters negotiate a labor of extrication from the morass of Betty Crocker chocolate icing, formica kitchens and parental phantoms toward a mastery of the imagination and the attaining of true love.” (Tom Gunning)