Tom Tom the Piper’s Son

Country: USA
Duration: 115 mins
B&W / Colour,
Sound: Silent
Available Format/s: 16mm


Original 1905 film shot and probably directed by G.W. “Billy” Bitzer, rescued via a paper print filed for copyright purposes with the Library of Congress. It is most reverently examined here, absolutely loved, with a new movie, almost as a side effect, coming into being. “Ghosts!” Cine recordings of the vivacious doings of persons long dead. The preservation of their memory ceases at the edges of the frame (a 1905) hand happened to stick into the frame…it’s preserved, recorded in a spray of emulsion grains). One face passes “behind” another on the two dimensional screen.
The staging and cutting is pre-Griffith. Seven infinitely complex cine tapestries comprise the original film, and the style is not primitive, not uncinematic but the cleanest, inspired indication of a path of cinematic development whose value has only recently been discovered. My camera closes in, only to better ascertain the infinite richness (playing with fate, taking advantage of the loop character of all movies, recalling with variations some visual complexes again and again for particular savouring), searching out incongruities in the story-telling (a person, confused suddenly looks out of an actors face), delighting in the whole bizarre human phenomena of story-telling itself and this within the fantasy of reading any bygone time out of the visual crudities of film: dream within a dream!
And then I wanted to shoe the actual present of film, just begin to indicate its energy. I wanted to “bring to the surface” that multi-rhythmic collision-contesting of dark and light two-dimensional force-areas struggling edge to edge for identity of shape…to get into the amoebic grain pattern itself- a chemical dispersion pattern unique to each frame,..stirred to life by a successive 16-24 pattering on our retinas, the teaming energies elicited (the grains! the grains!) then collaborating, unknowingly and ironically to form the always-poignant-because-always-past illusion.
” IMPORTANT: This film MUST be projected BIG and BRIGHT and IN FOCUS.” – K.J.

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