Sidney Peterson  

A notable name in the avant-garde genre that directed some landmark short films studied frequently by film schools. What makes Peterson unusual is his use of surrealism and free associative sight gags and strange imagery in addition to the dull technical staples of experimental cinematography. Died in 2000.


Cage, The  
A painter, a painted face, painting a piece of bread, an eyeball, various distorted perspectives on painted subject matter, reality becoming cutouts or paper burning away to reveal words, some animated inanimate objects, art attacking the artist, some comedy in the studio, etc. A lot of inventive and playful sight-gags to explore the subject vs. artist fill the first half, then it turns to free-form associative imagery including snails on an eyeball, repetitive shots of a running nude model, running people in the street, distorted cinematography, scenery and human perspective, a head in a cage, etc. Peterson's most cohesive and enjoyable short film covers themes of the artist, his unique approach to the world as symbolized by the animated surreal eyeball, and his troubled relationship with his own art and with society, depicting his head literally inside a cage.

Of Some Interest

Petrified Dog, The  
More surreal gags and experiments with cinematography, feeling almost like a Dada work. A man paints scenery inside an empty frame, people keep disappearing and appearing in different locations and different perspectives, sometimes changing or shrinking as well, a session at a physical therapist becomes a wrestling match with a skeleton, distorted closeups and changing perspectives on people moving, etc.

Potted Psalm, The  
A playful, chaotic experiment co-directed by James Broughton. Visual recurring themes include cemeteries, tombstones and sculptures, a headless man, plastic and puppet heads, facial expressions and masks, moving limbs, a collection of various body movements, close-ups of legs and activities involving legs, all filmed with rapid editing and some distorted cinematography. The film is so random it can be interpreted in any way you want including themes of desires or the exploration of the body, but I think it's just a visual experiment depicting a free-form sequence of images and surreal allegories in Peterson's head. Some striking images, but very incohesive.


Lead Shoes  
Lots of bodies in motion and in ritual play through distorted lenses and different time speeds, playing with perspective, time and vision. Taking some elements from mythology, we also get bizarre imagery of a woman dragging a man in a diving suit and lead shoes out of the ocean, through the streets and into a house, taking off his headless helmet and pulling rodents out of it while old ballads wail in the background.

Mr. Frenhofer And The Minotaur  
More distorted cinematography, experimenting with perspective and time while the film depicts obscure literary allusions with a man in a minotaur costume, competitive suitors leading to dancers and fencers, and a girl with a candle walking in a corridor. Imagery more chaotic than Dada due to its randomness while an annoying woman rambles on in the soundtrack. Boring, and for film-school students only.

1999- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents