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Silent Partner

Peter Gidal
1977
35mins Colour 16mm

Silent Partner

To put it (melo)dramatically, Silent Partner is a narrative. But it is a narrative without plot, identifiable characters or space/time co-ordinates.

"In effect, it turns the spectator loose in a problematic textual system which includes both narrative and non-narrative clues; the puzzle cannot be resolved because its terms are systematically ambiguous. The actual filmic material related closely to that used by Gidal in previous films: hand-held shooting in domestic interiors, with tight framing, frequent zooms and re-focusing, aspires to a kind of 'pre-predicative' flux, in which full representation is held in abeyance. However, this material is now fragmented by the regular interruption of black leader, so that it appears as a series of discrete segments which are not, in any syntactic sense, shots - single takes clearly extend across more than one segment. Thus even the implication of spatial coherence present in Gidal's Condition of Illusionand Room Film 1973is here frustrated. But against this fragmentation, he introduces for the first time a 'diegetic' soundtrack. In fact, the track is void for much of the film, but twice near the beginning it erupts into animated conversation which, nevertheless, remains just outside the limit of resolution. Then throughout the final ten minutes there is a continuous passage of desultory whistling and further indistinguishable speech. The result is an ambiguous non-specific fiction, towards which the spectator is drawn but with which he is simultaneously prevented from identifying."

Ian Christie, Monthly Film Bulletin, May 1978.

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