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Empire of boring: The unbearable duration of Andy Warhol’s films

Haladyn, Julian Jason (2011) Empire of boring: The unbearable duration of Andy Warhol’s films. Kinema: A Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media, 35. pp. 105-113.


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In his 1965 film Poor Little Rich Girl, Andy Warhol presents a motionless shot of Edie Sedgwick engaged in a series of everyday activities – talking on the telephone, modeling a new coat, and the like – the first 33-minutes of which is presented out of focus. Having watched a number of Warhol’s films, this opening sequence of formless shapes and disembodied voices stands out as the most difficult time I have spent attempting to “watch” a film. The difficulty with viewing Warhol’s films in general stems from his employment of structuralist tactics, specifically filming with a static camera, using long-takes and not editing the film. In the case of Poor Little Rich Girl, Warhol switched on the camera and walked away, leaving the image out of focus until he changed reels, at which point the focus was reinstated before he again walked away. Viewers may wish to read meaning into this absence of focus – interpreting this visible blur or blank as a representation of the unattainable dream of cinema – but Warhol actively undermines the possibility of believing that this meaning is intentional or part of the “purpose” of the scene. Given his working process, there is little doubt that this 33-minute blur of unfocused imagery is the result of a careless accident, which Warhol chose to leave as part of the final film. Through his working process, Warhol problematizes the experience of filmic temporality by exaggerating viewers’ experiences of duration.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2016 15:33
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 16:32
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/459

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