Close Up

12 June 2016: Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine


Peter Tscherkassky’s first foray into Cinemascope – leading to his stunning Cinemascope trilogy – takes on the final instalment of Sergio Leone’s epic Dollars trilogy. Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine sees Tscherkassky gleaning footage from Leone’s genre classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, bending and augmenting it into his own revisionist Western – a Greek tragedy in which the hero meets the conditions of his own possibility.

Get Ready
Peter Tscherkassky
1999 | 1 min | B/W | 35mm

"This little film of revised found feature film shots doesn’t even need 60 seconds to prove that cinema is a first class medium for both the idle and the busy. An artfully composed idyll by the sea, uneventful, just like an image from a dream, is sped up and transformed into a nightly ghost ride, driving against the traffic down a busy street, through flickering black and white oscillations, towards the glaring headlights of a car (or that of a film projector)." – Stefan Grissemann

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine
Peter Tscherkassky
2005 | 17 min | B/W | 35mm

"The hero of Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is easy to identify. Walking down the street unknowingly, he suddenly realizes that he is not only subject to the gruesome moods of several spectators but also at the mercy of the filmmaker. He defends himself heroically, but is condemned to the gallows, where he dies a filmic death through a tearing of the film itself. […] Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is an attempt to transform a Roman Western into a Greek tragedy." – Peter Tscherkassky

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Sergio Leone
1966 | 161 min | Colour | DCP

"Among the best-known Westerns of all time, the final film of Leone’s Dollars trilogy is a thrilling epic that dramatically expands the historical sweep and ambition of his earlier films, once again casting Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name, who this time sports a strange halo of sorts as a crypto-religious figure, an angel of redemptive death. In its very title The Good, the Bad and the Ugly openly declares Leone’s interest in creatively using recognizable film archetypes to fashion a new critical iconography that playfully confuses visual tropes of cinema, religion, history and popular culture with a wit and sophistication similar to emergent Pop Art. Set during the Civil War, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly uses its improbable story of hidden gold to again pit Eastwood against Lee Van Cleef, now a sinister mercenary, with Eli Wallach completing the unholy trilogy as the lusty, oafish stumbling bandit – a striking, twitching emblem of human weakness and greed. A massively influential film, Leone’s epic is a bravura example of both his baroque visual style, revealed as much in the incredible sets as Tonino Delli Colli’s extraordinary widescreen cinematography, as well as his savage gallows humour – with both intertwining in an astonishing cemetery shootout that remains one of the iconic moments of post-war Italian cinema." – Harvard Film Archive

running time ca. 200 min

Part of our Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller season