Chromo sud


Chromo sud

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One of the very few films made by Etienne O’Leary, all of which emerged from the French underground circa 1968 and can be very loosely designated ‘diary films’. Like the contemporaneous films by O’Leary’s more famous friend Pierre Clementi, they trippily document the drug-drenched hedonism of that era’s dandies. In contrast to the back-to-origins minimalism of the Zanzibar Group (Garrel, Deval, Reynal, Bard, etc), O’Leary worked with an intoxicating style that foregrounded rapid and even subliminal cutting, dense layering of superimposed images and a spontaneous notebook type shooting style. The touchstone would seem to be Mekas and the New York underground rather than Godard. Yet even if much of O’Leary’s material was initially ‘diaristic’, depicting the friends, lovers, and places that he encountered in his private life, the metamorphoses it underwent during editing transformed it into a series of ambiguously fictionalized, sometimes darkly sexual fantasias. Chromo sud, his most sinister work by far, owes as much to Kenneth Anger as to Mekas, presenting the libertarian impulses of the time in as orgiastically morbid and sadistic a vein as Anger’s Scorpio Rising biker culture. In common with O’Leary’s other films, Chromo sud is a testament to the transformative powers of editing and the control it gives the filmmaker in shaping his own reality from the world around him.

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