The Trick of Disaster

Friday, July 25, 2008
at Eyedrum
8:00 PM

Curated by Andy Ditzler

Buster Keaton in One Week (1920)

"Things fall apart," as Yeats once wrote - but not fast enough for the cinematic genius Buster Keaton, or for the subversive Swiss artist duo Fischli and Weiss. Their films "One Week" and "The Way Things Go" are diabolically clever presentations of a classic paradox of comedy: how to create a successful destruction.

One Week was Keaton's first release as both star and director, and set the template for his career's greatest period. For their wedding, Buster and his bride are given a build-it-yourself house kit and a plot of land. A jealous rival sabotages the kit, causing Keaton to construct a house that looks more like a surrealist sculpture. And that's before the big storm hits. With a typically spectacular ending and the usual stunts risking life and limb, One Week shows Keaton as a gifted virtuoso of disaster.

Dancing similarly on the edge of creation and destruction is The Way Things Go, one of the most popular and written-about avant-garde films ever made. Working for months in a warehouse space, artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss constructed an insanely elaborate series of physical and chemical chain reactions, then turned on the camera and let it rip. A series of everyday objects are made to collide, spill, crash, burn, all in ingenious ways. Tires roll up planks; a teapot moving under its own steam careens into a table, causing another event to happen down the line. The entire structure slowly destroys itself before our eyes, and never once do we see a human onscreen. With its hilarious (and oddly suspenseful) encounters between objects, The Way Things Go has amazed and delighted audiences for twenty years, and has been compared to everyone from Rube Goldberg to Alfred Hitchcock.

Most commonly seen in museums as a DVD projection, The Way Things Go will be screened here in its original format of 16mm film.

Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline, One Week (1920), 19 minutes, screened in 16mm, black & white/silent with music accompaniment
Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go) (1987), 30 minutes, 16mm, color/sound
other selections TBA

A teapot on the move, in Fischli and Weiss's The Way Things Go (1987) (image courtesy Icarus Films)

The Trick of Disaster is a Film Love event. The Film Love series provides access to rare but important films, and seeks to increase awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde film. The series is curated and hosted by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals. Film Love was voted Best Film Series in Atlanta by the critics of Creative Loafing in 2006. 

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