Friday, May 25, 2018

Blacktop: A Story of the Washing of a School Play Yard (1952)

When you hear of an experimental film, you tend to think of subject matter.  Charles and Ray Eames directed a few short films that could be considered experimental.  In their case, however, it was usually to test equipment or a new type of medium.  I’m ot sure if Blacktop falls under this category, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  If you’ve seen more than three of their short films, you may know that they’ve done some very simple shorts.  This one is probably the simplest that I’ve seen so far.

It’s nothing more than soapy water flowing over what appears to be a playground, hence the name.  There are very few distinguishing features.  Most of the surface is, as the name implies, black.  Occasionally, there’s a patch of grass or some markings in the form of paint.  (You can make out a few lines and an occasional number.)

We don’t even get to see where the water is coming from.  I’d assume a pressure cleaner, but I’m not sure what the standard method was back in 1952.  I’m not even sure if pressure cleaning is the correct method today.  It’s jut that it seems somewhat wasteful to simply pour water over such a presumably large surface.

There is an esoteric quality to the short.  I’m not really sure who this was intended for.  I really only watched it because I was able to get the DVD from Netflix.  I don’t recall there being any sort of commentary on the DVD that I got, although it would be interesting to find out more about these films.

It’s not the kind of thing most people would even think to rent.  I could see this playing in an art museum.  I could even see someone mimicking it to learn technique.  It’s not the kind of film I’d recommend to a wider audience.  At 11 minutes, it may seem a little long.  I kept waiting for something to happen.  I can’t say I was necessarily disappointed, but I never got my wish.  It was all water flowing over a surface.

If you can find it as part of a collection or come across it online, it’s worth a few minutes, at least.  I don’t know that you should expect to watch the whole thing.

IMDb page

No comments :