Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.
A Review by David Finkelstein.
In The Visiting Lament, Sam Klickner’s breathtaking five minute short, he uses a simple composition of figures in a blank, grey room to create a powerfully mysterious and compelling sense of drama, all the more compelling because it resists any attempt to definitively interpret its meaning.
We see four people: a man in coveralls with two orange batons (like a “marshall” who guides planes on a runway), a woman in bed who appears to be ill, a man in a nun’s habit who is lamenting over the bed, and a man in a blue sweater, who mists a series of plants in the room. The sound, a low rumbling and rush of air, creates an ominous mood, one that seems external to the room.
Several discrete actions occur: the plant man makes hand gestures which are imitated by the marshall. The nun whispers a prayer to her “flying mother.” The camera lingers on odd textural details: a vase of dried flowers blowing in the draft, the nun’s painted fingernails as she caresses the bed.
At the end of the film, the idea of air travel, the “flying mother” and the runway are all brought together, in a startling sequence of images that consolidates all the themes of the film without in any way explaining what they mean. In this extremely tight, minimalist composition, Klickner creates a mysterious yet unforgettable scenario, the kind of scene which critic Stefan Brecht once called an “uninterpretable spectacle.” By presenting us with a dramatic situation which feels entirely authentic, even dire, yet resists all attempts at narrative interpretation, Klickner creates an outsized sense of wonder and awe, bound to linger long after the five minute film is over.