One of the first institutional presentations of post-punk film was the 1981 New Romantic Cinema or a Certain Sensibility, staged at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. John Maybury, whose Super8 work was surveyed along with that of Cerith Wyn Evans, has observed that, while the title aligned with music trends, the homonym “Neuro-Mantincs” would have been equally fitting. This bit of wordplay taps into the dual playful and cerebral qualities of the period—as seen in Maybury’s Technology of Souls through the joining of primary color blocks, text, layered images, and an ethereal score. This program highlights the evolution of this metaphysical cinema—which was as indebted to Kenneth Anger’s erotic surrealism as to Derek Jarman’s transgressive classicism—into the mid-1980s, as filmmakers harnessed 16mm, Super8, and video to realize accomplished, sensual works. The Miracle of the Rose is Wyn Evans’s homage to the Jean Genet prison chronicle that details confinement and sublimation as bodily experience. Maybury’s The Union Jacking Up is a rhapsodic, fractured portrait of partner Trojan and close friend Leigh Bowery that resonates in light of the AIDS crisis. In Excelsis Deo, a Royal College of Art project by prolific music director Sophie Muller, achieves a collision of sacred and subversive themes through atmospheric cinematography and edgy editing; in a feminist gesture, devotional hymns give way to Aretha Franklin in the film’s finale.
Program 80 min.
The Technology of Souls. 1981. Great Britain. Directed by John Maybury. Digital video from Super8mm. 11 min.
In Excelsis Deo. 1983. Great Britain. Directed by Sophie Muller. Digital video from 16mm. 26 min.
The Miracle of the Rose. 1984. Great Britain. Directed by Cerith Wyn Evans. With Michael Clark, Alex Binnie, John Maybury. Digital video from 16mm. 25 min.
The Union Jacking Up. 1985. Great Britain. Directed by John Maybury. With Leigh Bowery, Trojan. Digital video from 16mm and video. 18 min.