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directed by Chris Welsby
UK 1972

 

The BFI's British Artists' Films series produced in partnership with arts documentary producers Illuminations and Arts Council England features a wide selection of important film and video work by British artists from the last thirty years.

The second release focuses on the work of Chris Welsby, landscape artist and pioneer of the moving-image installation in Britain, whose subtle meditations are exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.

Featured on the DVD are works from different stages in his career, uniquely tracing his development as an artist, from his early critical responses to British structural filmmaking and Minimalism of the 1970s to his mature, contemplative landscape works of the 1980s and 1990s.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• The Frame - Chris Welsby (2005) a half-hour interview including clips from many of his films and documentation of his installations (29:30)
• Sleeve notes by Laura Mulvey, Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of
• 20-page illustrated booklet containing a full annotated filmography

DVD Release Date: April 24th, 2006
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Comments

The second in their Artists Film series, the BFI's "Chris Welsby" disc explores the short films of the titular instillation artist. Welsby's primary focus in these shorts is nature, with rivers, wind, and the sky often the stars of his films. Indeed, when there are people, as in "Park Film", they are the incidental background images in a natural world that is the main character. Because his films lack all plot characters, dialogue, etc., watching his films can be a rather demanding task, but for those that are able to make it through you'll find some tremendously intricate work, with shots often recorded over days if not weeks. Of course, the complexity and uniqueness of these works can only go so far. While the concept of fixing a camera to a weather vane and allowing the wind to dictate your shots (for instance) is utterly novel, unless you have a fascinating subject the film won't work. Fortunately, Welsby wisely keeps the films relatively short and doesn't overstay his welcome too often with repetitive shots.

Most of the shorts in this set were filmed in the 1970’s and their image reflects their age. There are some instances of damage or dirt in the older prints and the generally soft image betrays the fact that the films were likely shot on 16 mm stock. Of course none of this reflects badly on the BFI. Indeed, as another reviewer noted, given Welsby’s involvement, they probably used the best available prints of each film, and even anamorphically enhanced two of the shorts. So, we have what we have and it’s good enough.

Since there is no dialogue, music, subtitles, or discernable noise in any of the films, it may seem moot to discuss the disc’s audio. Yet, there is always the possibility of unwanted background noise (which if it is there, is minimal and not detectable) and there is also the issue of the interview with Welsby. Here the dialogue is clear and without interference.

This release also comes with a pair of impressive extras. Chief amongst them is the 20 page illustrated booklet that begins with an essay on Welsby and then has individual essays on ALL of his films, rather than just the ones that appear in this set. Some of the essays are written by Welsby and others not, but each adds to the understanding of his work. Also included is a 29 and a half minute interview with Welsby where he and the interviewer not only discuss his films, but also his instillations.

While I’m not sure that I’ll feel like watching any of the films in this set again anytime soon, I appreciate the work that the BFI has put into this release and am glad that such unique films are available on home video. I’ll recommend it to anyone interested in nature films or the work of Welsby, and given that its at the BFI’s lower price point, it should be an easy purchase for anyone that falls into one of those two categories.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

 




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