Panorama Ephemera (2004)

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Directed by: Rick Prelinger
Collage of sequences drawn from a wide variety of ephemeral (industrial, advertising, educational and amateur) films, touring the conflicted landscapes of twentieth-century America. The films’ often-skewed visions construct an American history filled with horror and hope, unreeling in familiar and unexpected ways. Panorama Ephemera focuses on familiar and mythical activities and images in America (1626-1978). Many creatures and substances that we hardly notice because we feel so used to them take center stage, including pigs, corn, water, telephones, fire, and rice. At first resembling a compilation, it soon reveals itself as a journey through the American landscape over time, and the story begins to emerge between the sequences. The film consists of 64 self-contained film sequences ranging from 5 seconds to 4 minutes in length arranged into a narrative. Unlike many films made using archival footage, it’s primarily a combination of sequences rather than a collage of individual shots. The film is populated by American children, animals, farmers, industrial workers, superheroes, pioneers heading West, crash test dummies, and many others.
Runtime: 90 min

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