SECURE THE SHADOW… ERE THE SUBSTANCE FADE

This collage film combines antique stereoscopic images of patients with various disfiguring illnesses with creepy imagery such as owl’s heads, old Victorian houses, and rows of dusty jars. The soundtrack combines pensive modernist orchestral music (uncredited) with bird screams, maniacal laughter, tea kettles, and other unnerving sounds.

Laitiala’s skillful collage technique evokes a Gothic atmosphere, as well as a general awareness of physical decay and impermanence. The doubleness of the stereo images reminded me of the subjective/objective doubleness imposed by consciousness, so well expressed by these medical slides, which attempt to distance us from disease and death by categorizing it. Death itself becomes then the final resolving of the doubleness. The title of the film refers to an ad for a nineteenth century funeral photographer. (The original is from Aesop.) Laitala has constructed an effective collage which reminds us of how film is used both to defy death, and to help us cope with loss.

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