Samuel Coleridge once noted that very short works of art ease the cognitive burden on poet and reader alike. Limiting the number of lines in a poem, he contends, allows the work 'to acquire, as it were, a Totality' which allows the reader's mind to 'rest satisfied'. Anyone who has strained to grasp the overall pattern of some massive novel, film, or musical work can readily appreciate Coleridge's point. And yet insofar as a film or poem is a temporal work of art, the parts of which are manifested only consecutively, its Totality - be it an ever so small one - is never directly presented to us all at once, and its acquisition, as well as the satisfaction such an acquisition can provide, requires a feat of memory. A film, like a life, may have a brilliant, simple order and a deep and powerful unity, but the presentation and realization of such a totality is something that takes place in time, something that requires an experience of temporal unfolding - something that requires the work of a mind capable of thinking through and recollecting the temporal relations between the parts of the whole. So that while Marianne Olsen Ulrichsen's Come (1995) is a perfectly unified gem, a satisfying totality that presents itself to us in just four and a half minutes, we must nonetheless live through its unfolding to discover the coherence of its parts. One of this film's central themes is precisely this kind of process, namely, the constitution of personal identity and togetherness, in and through time and memory. What follows is just one story that may be told about an elusive process that no doubt takes very different forms for different viewers.
Articles and interviews © 1998 the author
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