Movies

An Experimental Edit Plays with the Concept of Time Via Popular Movies

By  · Published on January 9th, 2017

Short of the Day

A different kind of short film.

art by Mike Mitchell @sirmitchell

Time: we bide it, spend it, waste it, fear it, await it, trade it, stretch it, speed it up, lament it, and worship it. It is a wholly manmade concept, an arbitrary ordering of lunar and solar cycles that means nothing and everything simultaneously. Time doesn’t really exist but there’s never enough of it. It is always on our minds, controlling us with invisible strings we tied to ourselves. The clock is forever running against us, and as such it is one of the central human preoccupations, an umbrella over everything we do.

While technically the following is not an original film, it boasts a concept and technique too intriguing to pass up, but it also technically isn’t the kind of video analysis I typically cover for the site, so I decided to post it here, as the Short of the Day, because there’s as much conception, narration, and artistry at work in this as there is in any original film.

It’s called “Escaping Through Cinema,” it comes from editor Dylan Nanayakkara, and it consists of dozens of films from various eras of the medium’s history that have been linked together by the only thing they have in common: the concept of time. No matter how they deal with it, what aspect of it they are dealing with, or the degree of its relevance to plot, all the films you’re about to see are in some way dependent upon time for their narrative or characters. You get 12 Monkeys (a film about a man out of time, literally) meeting 12 Angry Men (a film about men with more time than they want), Dazed and Confused (in which time is in transition, rotating between youth and adulthood) grazing shoulders with A Beautiful Mind (in which time is an equation, a thing to be solved over experienced), Goodfellas (which spans decades in the life of an atypical family unit) linked with The Place Beyond the Pines (ditto) and other connections that on the surface might seem incongruous until you consider the themes that run through them all like a common thread Nanayakkara has used to stitch his supercut.

Like the idea of God, the idea of time is eternal, uncontrollable, and a thing to which people willingly submit. Everything we do is defined by how long it takes: work, sleep, eat, play, be with loved ones, be alone. Everything is scheduled, ordered by time, even our own lives, which will eventually all run out of time. It’s no wonder then that time as a concept seeps into works of art and popular culture, but what is amazing are all the many ways it manifests there. No time like now to see them.

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