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By David Finkelstein | January 8, 2004

A comic/tragic montage of images from airplane emergency instruction cards. The cards show two flight attendants, their faces blandly reassuring as they cope with horrifying disasters. Stark intercuts between the images with an urgent, unpredictable rhythm reminiscent of air turbulence or explosions. The first half of the film is silent, the second accompanied by Mario Lanza’s impassioned, hymn-like rendition of a love song. One of the attendants appears to miraculously survive a crash, and, using her seat cushion as a flotation device, floats off into the moonlight.

In case anyone still suffers from the delusion that it is impossible to make a work of cinematic art entirely by panning and cutting between still images, this small gem of a film will set them straight. The cheaply printed cards are, expressively, shot in close-up so that they appear to be breaking up into screentone dots of color. Stark achieves remarkable sensations of physical movement, character, and narrative, through his intelligent cutting. Who among us is so atheistic that he has not felt, as a plane takes off, the need for a tremendous act of faith, if not in God, at least faith that the damn thing will carry you where you are going without falling out of the sky? “I’ll Walk with God” captures that human aspiration and drama in a way that is simultaneously silly, sophisticated, ironic, touching, and beautiful.

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