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By Mark Bell | November 17, 2013

Collier Goode’s short film The Patent Clerk takes a look at one strange evening of activities for one of history’s most famous patent clerks. Exhausted after a tedious day’s work, our patent clerk (Jesse Schoem) wanders out into the night, where a sequence of events leads him to look at life, and some of his own scientific theories, in an entirely new light.

If you haven’t guessed who this patent clerk is, I’d frankly be surprised. Just reading the title, I wondered if this was a film about a certain world famous genius physicist and, surprise surprise, it was. Which leads me to wonder about how the film would work if you didn’t know who it’s about from the very start?

Because that knowledge goes a great distance towards making any sense of the importance of the events you’re seeing in this short as they happen. Even though the film does bring it all together at the end to explain EXACTLY what it meant, I wonder if the journey along the way is interesting or intriguing enough if it’s a mystery from start to finish. Would it just be confusing until those final explanations if you don’t know why certain elements are to be considered notable?

Visually, the film is shot in black and white, which fits both its historical leanings and works within the offbeat evening of encounters it sets up. In that way, it plays like an old newsreel or historical document while, at the same time, the edit works to be somewhat disorienting when the occasion calls for it, heightening the more creative and artistic aesthetic as it complements the intellectual on the verge of his “eureka!” moment.

The end result is an eccentric tale of how one of the greatest minds in history was able to come up with one of his greatest scientific, and philosophical, contributions. I do wish somewhat that I could’ve gone into this without knowing what I know, but I’ll credit school for doing its job in that regard.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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  1. TC says:

    2013 minutes. Long running time for such an old movie.

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