The Maltese Cross Movement, 7 min, 1967
The film reflects Dewdney’s conviction that the projector, not the camera, is the filmmaker’s true medium. The form and content of the film are shown to derive directly from the mechanical operation of the projector—specifically the maltese cross movement’s animation of the disk and the cross illustrates graphically (pun intended) the projector’s essential parts and movements. It also alludes to a dialectic of continuous-discontinuous movements that pervades the apparatus, from its central mechanical operation to the spectator’s perception of the film’s images ... (His) soundtrack demonstrates that what we hear is also built out of continuous-discontinuous “sub-sets.” The film is organized around the principle that it can only complete itself when enough separate and discontinuous sounds have been stored up to provide the male voice on the soundtrack with the sounds needed to repeat a little girl’s poem: The cross revolves at sunset / The moon returns at dawn / If you die tonight, / Tomorrow you are gone. – William Wees
The Maltese Cross Movement is a work in two parts – it is a book and a film. The book is a densely codified work of collage and poetry – or collage-poetry, as the poems themselves are codified into symbols, logograms, hieroglyphics. In a letter to Clara Meyer, office manager of the CFMDC, Dewdney described the genesis of the Maltese Cross Movement: “three years ago I began to take hallucinogenic drugs and within a year’s time was so disoriented I conceived the idea of doing a book and film simultaneously. The MCM is the result. The film is so perfectly private and takes up so many themes from my personal/intellectual life (these appear as ‘stills’ in the book) that it is almost public. I believe in the theory of brief visual presentations as the basis for a whole new direction within film. We see a trend this way in TV commercials already. These presentations were not as brief as I would have wished in the MCM because I am quite lazy. I made the whole film (at the synchronizer) while listening to the Cream’s first album. All this strikes me as relevant.”1 Dewdney’s playful modesty betrays the diligent, demanding construction of the film — that it was made on a synchronizer clarifies its metric character, its images carefully measured out and reassembled by frames. The film’s soundtrack is made up of fragments, of voices reading poetry, of prolonged vocalizing, and of the Beach Boys’ “Gettin’ Hungry”. – Stephen Broomer
Read the article in Lumière Magazine here.
Screening co-presented with the Canadian Filmmaker’s Distribution Centre.