1976/2013. USA. Directed by Bruce Conner. 5.1 3K digital reconstruction of Conner’s 2003 remastered version. Courtesy the UCLA Film & Television Archive. 36 min.
Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was a West Coast sculptor, painter, photographer, and collagist who began creating film assemblages in the late 1950s, transforming the detritus of Pop culture, newsreel and television footage, B-movie clips, and raw film stock into deeply personal and influential art. He is generally recognized as one of the leaders of New American Cinema of the 1960s, and his early films, with their fast-paced editing, paved the way for the music video. This special co-presentation of Modern Mondays and To Save and Project features the New York premiere of UCLA Film & Television Archive’s new preservation/reconstruction of Crossroads (1976), a landmark of American cinema. Conner found a cataclysmic beauty in National Archives footage of the first underwater atomic bomb test, conducted on Bikini Atoll on July 25, 1946. He combined 23 shots of the same explosion—at differing speeds and distances, from air, sea, and land—with a complex, mesmerizing dual score by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley to make of the destruction a kind of Cubist cosmic sublime.
On October 28, Ross Lipman, Senior Film Restorationist, UCLA Film & Television Archive, presents a lecture about the making of Crossroads and its restoration, followed by a conversation with composer Patrick Gleeson; Michelle Silva, director of the Conner Family Trust; and scholar Bruce Jenkins. The film has been preserved in 35mm, digitally remastered, and reconstructed in a multitiered strategy coordinated by the Conner Family Trust, the Michael Kohn Gallery, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The restoration of Crossroads both on celluloid and in digital formats perfectly encapsulates, and provokes, the sort of philosophical, technological, and aesthetic questions about photochemical and digital restoration that MoMA’s preservation festival hopes to address this year. On October 28 at 5:15 p.m., we present a new 35mm photochemical print of Conner’s original 1976 cut. We compare this at 7:00 p.m. with a 5.1 3K digital reconstruction of Bruce Conner's 2003 remastered version, followed by Lipman’s lecture and the conversation.