Sidney Peterson at the Harvard Film Archive

From: Brooke Holgerson (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jul 31 2006 - 14:26:14 PDT

Hi Frameworkers,
Wanted to let you know about the Sidney Peterson films we'll be
screening next week:

The Films of Sidney Peterson at the Harvard Film Archive
Tuesday, August 8 at 7 pm
Wednesday, August 9 at 8:30 pm

Along with Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage and Bruce Baillie, Sidney Peterson
was one of the most significant American experimental filmmakers in the
Cold War era. Playing off of devices embraced by the Surrealists in the
1930s, he created psychodramas which reflect the uncertain psyche of
postwar society.
_The Potted Psalm_
/Directed by James Broughton and Sidney Peterson/
/US 1946, 16mm, b/w, 24 min./
For his first film Peterson collaborated with fellow experimental
filmmaker James Broughton. Inspired by the exhuming of a San Francisco
cemetery the two men set out to "try every trick the camera knew."
Chronicling a man's exploration of a decrepit house populated by aging
women, /The Potted Psalm/ divides the protagonist into both a young man
and a headless figure,/ /revealing Peterson's interest in the
depersonalization of character, which would continue throughout his
career. Using intense close-ups and a disjointed narrative, Peterson
combines the erotic with the decaying in this depiction of Freudian
desires. __
_The Cage_
/Directed by Sidney Peterson/
/US 1947, 16mm, b/w, 25 min./
Shot in collaboration with a class at the California School of Fine
Arts, /The Cage/ strikes a delicate balance between comedic absurdity
and horrific tactility. An examination of the artistic condition and
disjointed perspectives, the film depicts a tortured artist removing his
own eye. This artistic act quickly transforms into an urban adventure as
the eye escapes and travels through San Francisco in the tradition of
the City Symphony. Cutting between the perspectives of both the artist
and the disembodied eye, /The Cage /asks provocative questions about
artistic agency and identity.
_The Lead Shoes_
/Directed by Sidney Peterson/
/US 1949, 16mm, b/w, 18 min.__/
For his most famous and compelling film Sidney Peterson drew upon
folklore and mythology. In this adaptation of both the Oedipus myth and
the ballads "Edward" and "The Three Ravens," Peterson replaced the
blinded Oedipus of lore with a drowned deep-sea diver. As renditions of
the ballads wail on the soundtrack, a modern-day version of the mythical
Jocasta attempts to drag the diver's weighted body through the city.
Peterson combined these textual references with images of ritual and
game playing in an exploration of over-arching cultural concepts and
themes unbound by narrative specificity.
_Mr. Frenhofer and the Minotaur_
/Directed by Sidney Peterson__/
/US 1949, 16mm, b/w, 21 min./
Peterson based this romantic piece on Balzac's /Le Chef d'oeuvre
Inconnu/ and Picasso's /Minotauromachie/. The film combines a story of
the competition for the love of a woman with images of a young girl with
a candle wandering through a corridor, a modern adaptation of the
mythological Minoan labyrinths. Peterson's experimentation with visual
distortion and anamorphic lenses reaches its pinnacle in this seductive
and romanticized film.

24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-4700 <>
Admission is $8 General Public, $6 Students and Senior Citizens

Brooke Holgerson
Harvard Film Archive
email suppressed
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.