A negative image of a man's eyes in a car's rearview mirror. The countershot shows a smiling woman, and her wholly unambiguous facial expressions call our attention to the image's left-hand side, where film clips take shape in a flickering split screen. They show models, cups and various types of vehicles, which are then worked over thoroughly in the next 25 minutes: Coming Attractions. The title refers to both the nature of advertising films and early cinema, the 'cinema of attractions.' The initial visual contact juxtaposes the two genres through editing, and together with avant-garde film they represent the basic troika for 11 chapters in which Peter Tscherkassky examines the varying relationships between these three worlds of moving images. His film, a look at cinematic history through the rearview mirror, has been enriched with references in the carefully worded headings, to painting, music and film theory, in the form of wordplay. At the same time, what is being shown is fairly obvious. Using screen tests for commercials that were not meant to be preserved, Tscherkassky, the master of found footage, composed Coming Attractions in minute darkroom work. He adopted a variety of approaches in the individual chapters and, understandably, reveled in the absurd character of his raw material. Associations and cross connections are created, some of them mischievous and others with a deeper meaning: from the 'Ballet monotonique' of the daily grind at work, inspired by Léger, and actresses in advertising films who are doomed to mechanically repeat the same actions again and again, to the downright surreal scene of a model with an inflatable hood drier and a saxophone, not to forget a farewell scene in which two seemingly bewildered Pasolini actors encounter a sheepishly grinning tractor driver from a dumpling-mix commercial. This amusing cinematic cross-section presented as a cryptic visual poem, or poem of visuals, showing (un)conscious missteps is amusing, lighthearted and playful.
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