Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Artistic vision likely to try viewers' patience

  • Print
The images of faces and fingers in Visitors are intriguing, but the lack of narrative eventually begins to pall.

Enlarge Image

The images of faces and fingers in Visitors are intriguing, but the lack of narrative eventually begins to pall.

It's playing in theatres and charging admission, but Visitors is not what it seems. It's an art piece masquerading as a movie, and whether you think that's a good thing will determine your reaction to what's on the screen.

Visitors is also the latest collaboration between director Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass, who've previously combined to produce celebrated trance-inducing documentaries like Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.

This time, part of the focus is somewhat different. Instead of concentrating on landscape, Visitors concerns itself with the human face. Presented to the public in black-and-white digital 4K projection, the film lets us look directly into the huge faces of 80 people, some appearing by themselves, some in groups.

Though the film itself reveals nothing about anyone, extensive press notes disclose that the older members of the group were shot in a New Orleans retirement home; the younger folks were photographed watching television or video games. Seen as well, for no discernible motive, are sequences of disembodied hands.

We also get to spend time, for reasons we're left to surmise, at various odd corners of the physical world. There are shots of the moon, footage of abandoned amusement parks, time-lapse images of clouds scuttling past huge buildings, even infrared pictures of rather startling trees in Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin near where Reggio grew up. Not to mention pictures taken in a massive New Jersey garbage dump and images of the Unisphere, the symbol of the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Reggio insists with great conviction in those extensive press notes that his films "are not aimed at the head or the cerebellum. They're not aimed at making sense. They're aimed at your solar plexus. They are a visceral form of cinema."

It all sounds quite convincing in theory, but in practice, this melange of imagery is aimed more at the inside of Reggio's head than anywhere else.

Unless you are able to get on his quasi-experimental wavelength, a dicey proposition at best, Visitors will miss your solar plexus entirely and instead put you right to sleep. With one exception.

The most memorable shot in Visitors, so unnerving that Reggio starts and ends the film with it, has a female lowland gorilla named Triska staring at the camera from the comfort and safety of "her controlled environment in The Bronx Zoo, New York."

More disturbing and involving than everything else in the film put together, Triska's unwavering gaze haunts us still. We don't know what it means or where it comes from, but we can't get it out of our minds. Too bad it's the exception in Visitors, not the rule.

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 14, 2014 D6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

On the job with sea lion researchers

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google