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Lost for Words

Anna Thew
1980
27 mins colour 16mm

Lost for Words

my first 16mm film.

a parody on the urban wasteland film, where a little girl recites Karl Marx, and the last man on earth to read and write is interviewed.

"sometimes there were 22, 24, marks, and it was enough to know these marks to invent an infinite variety of possibilities" - Alfa (Yehuda Safran)

Splintered narrative/framework narrative/anti-thematic non-sequential presentation of disparate notions/ part parody/part absurd picture without a storyline - yes, well it rains and five people eat in a wasteland - between two cardboard cut out trees a child product of tape-learning recites Marx - a short car journey seems longer on film - a car accident is related in a letter - headlights approach the screen - a man's eyes are seen reading from left to right - a man eats and reads on all fours by a busy road - a mouth moves without speech - a conversation takes place between two people who don't speak the same language - a rectangular text issues from a computer - the text is spoken by a voice of dubious Slav descent and is later ingested - a child learns of Dante's Ulysses by tape - Alfa, the last man on earth to read and write is interviewed on video - five people are out in the wasteland and it rains. (A.T.)

"Apparently disconnected ideas and images are juxtaposed in reflection of the illogical progression in unconscious thought, touching on ritual and literary conditioning, projecting into a future where reading and writing "are no longer exercised". Irony and the absurd notion of "rectangular thinking", deride the rigid imposition of logic and facile digestion of literary patterns, disclosing an underlying disillusionment with language and the intransigence of grammatically derived forms. These would include conversation, film, anything." (M.H.) London Film Co-op Distribution cata. 1981.

"including poignant documentary material about industrial decline, Lost for Words looks at a future world where reading and writing are extinct and communication disintegrates." 'A Search for Identity', Modern Movies, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. 1981.

with Martin Angel, Sheila Christofides, Dave Sutton and Lindsay Brufton eating in the wasteland. Rachel Thew, little girl reciting Marx's Communist Manifesto. Alexei Sayle reading and eating a Chelsea bun. David Medalla speaking Telago. Oriel de Quadras speaking Spanish. Giles Leaman eating a computer print out, Yehuda Safran, Alfa. Jock McFadyen, TV presenter.

Thanks to Brian Reffin-Smith who spent 3 days programming the computer to produce rectangular text at the RCA, Anne Rees-Mogg who forgot to turn the sound synch on, Ian Owles for the Arri BL and the film stock, Willi Keddell for assisting with the wasteland sequence, Nick Wadley at Chelsea, for the cash gift to start the film, the Arts Council of Great Britain for my first print grant.

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