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53 Ratings

Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper

Directed by David Rimmer
Canada, 1970
Avant-Garde, Short


Newly restored by the Academy Film Archive, David Rimmer’s 1970 avant-garde classic takes a single film fragment of a factory worker unraveling a sheet of cellophane, and alters it through a mesmerizing series of spectral apparitions and alchemical and sonic permutations.

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Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper Directed by David Rimmer
[It’s a short] in which a female factory worker, facing the camera, unwinds and flips a sheet of cellophane in fast undulating movements while an assaultive soundtrack magnifies the gesture to thunderous effect. As Rimmer subjects the footage to aural and chemical treatment, the woman is transformed into negative and ghostlike silhouettes, until the film is finally reduced to fleeting splotches of white floating against a black screen. It’s a perfect marriage of filmic clout and social comment.
October 03, 2016
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The reflection of the factory’s lights off of the thin plastic sheet at first disrupts the clarity of our focus on the young woman handling it, and eventually obscures the female subject beyond recognition as Rimmer’s photochemical processes take over. This material, at once translucent and reflective, ultimately becomes a fragmented beacon that persists as the only constant in a realm of variation.
September 12, 2013
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…An ingenious warbling and warping of a still frame through the dynamic movement of found footage flotsam featuring a young woman waving cellophane at the camera. Rimmer gradually complicates if not desecrates his first-stage cellophane-as-celluloid playfulness by pushing color and printing experiments with the source until its representations are nearly obliterated and what’s left is the tremulous abstract movement of the wrapper’s waves.
September 12, 2013
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