Seeing this adjacent in a program with The Wonder Ring is instructive: many (but not all) of the pans in that 1955 film cover an urban space, the pans brought about by the train on which the filmmaker is riding. Here there are but a few “conveyance-made” shots, and they seem to have been taken from moving watercraft (leading to pan-along-riverbank shots), but almost every camera movement in The Dead (handheld, tripod, or otherwise) is inextricable from the superimpositions and color negative inserts – and some striking tinted shots. The cutting and superimpositions merge the spaces of the graveyard, the riverbank, and the (Parisian) urban space, with an early focus on a little cafe occupied by Kenneth Anger. Vertical divisions of the frame (trees, columns, doorways, mausoleums) cross the horizontal axis of the screen at an urgent but not frenzied clip. The Wonder Ring‘s visual scheme seemed to be dominated by municipal brown-red and polished silver, the natural light of the sun governing the color temperature of each space. The Dead is, concomitant with the title, grey, grey, and grey, with the iron blue sunlight you get from cold, overcast skies. Each interaction between and within frames is, taken in isolation, smooth and with-the-grain, but in sum creates a disorienting effect, similar what you get when you spin around in one direction for a length of time, and then stop suddenly.
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