Michael Snow Presents
WYSIWYG: The Films of Michael Snow Program 7: Presents
Presents, like many of its predecessors in Snow's filmography, is essentially an investigation of camera movement, but from a more humorous and lyrical perspective. The first section is an extended sight gag: shot from a fixed camera, the scene focuses on a one-bedroom apartment where a woman is entertaining a visitor. As the pair move around the space, their wobbly movements and seemingly inexplicable attempts to maintain balance gradually reveal that the set itself is moving, being pulled back and forth by an off-screen truck. When the camera finally does move, it dollies onto the set and begins to smash into everything in front of it, in a hilarious extension of the visual violence previously explored in Breakfast (Table Top Dolly) .
As the set falls away, the film suddenly transforms into an extended compendium of moving shots, all of them filmed with a handheld Bolex camera by Snow over the course of his international travels. For Snow to abandon the support of a tripod was a revelation, after a decade where his work had come to define the heady structuralist school of experimental film, with Brakhage's tactile poesis at the opposite pole. But just as the eighties saw Brakhage experimenting with uncharacteristic techniques (e.g., occasionally adding soundtracks to his films), the diary of lush, gestural imagery in the second half of Presents undercuts the rigour and order we have come to expect of a "typical" Snow film; as Phillip Monk notes, "Snow pushes us into acceptance of present moments of vision, but the single drumbeat that coincides with each edit in this elegiac section announces each moment of life's disappearance."
Commissioned for the Toronto International Film Festival's twenty-fifth anniversary, Prelude shows six people are in a rush to get to a film screening, but Snow's editing ensures that "everything in this film is either early or on time or late