The 1960’s was a fecund period for the production of independent narrative films, including works by John Cassavetes, Shirley Clark, and Jonas Mekas. Peter Emanuel Goldman is one of the unheralded pioneers of this movement. GME is proud to present two of Goldman's seminal works, ECHOES OF SILENCE (1964) and WHEEL OF ASHES (1968), now released for the first time in DVD editions by Re:Voir. Both films express the alienation of youth during this era, as seen through the eyes of each of the film’s respective protagonists.
“Echoes of Silence came out of my experience living in Greenwich Village, a place that crystallizes the avid desires, expectations, and disenchantment of free young people.”
– Peter Emanuel Goldman
ECHOES OF SILENCE follows the aimless wandering of a young man (played by Miguel Chacou, an Argentinian sculptor) in and around New York’s Greenwich Village. The tension and drama is created by the actors’ gestures, coupled with the filmmaker’s use of low-wattage lighting, higher contrast reversal film, and camera movement. Goldman’s own still photographs introduce each scene to add continuity to the story, and create a counterpoint to the ensuing live-action scenes. Shot with a 16mm hand-wound Bolex camera, and mostly comprised of in-camera edits, Goldman cut the sequences of the film together in his friends’ editing room and sound studio at night (incorporating an audio track comprised of Charles Mingus’s music).
ECHOES OF SILENCE was first shown in New York at the Filmmakers Cinematheque and then at the Museum of Modern Art. This film was also invited to the Pesaro Film Festival, where the jury, that included Jean-Luc Godard, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Joris Ivens, awarded it a prize. After subsequently screening at the New York Film Festival, the film was blown up to 35mm and released commercially. Rarely shown since that time, this DVD release of ECHOES OF SILENCE should serve to integrate this key expressive work within the canonical history of American independent filmmaking.
“Wheel of Ashes is akin to the darkly romantic incandescent free-falls of the Zanzibar films, first and foremost those of Garrel, from whom Goldman borrowed Pierre Clementi.”
– Emeric de Lastens
WHEEL OF ASHES was made with more professional resources, but still retains a strongly underground look. Funded in the amount of $40,000, the production had a 7-week shooting schedule, in marked contrast to the 2 years it took for Goldman to shoot and complete ECHOES OF SILENCE. This film was shot on 16mm negative stock with a motorized Arriflex. Nestor Almendrois contributed to the cinematography; Judith Malina from the Living Theater plays a small role in the film, and Juliet Berto plays a cameo in a cafe. Significantly, WHEEL OF ASHES features Pierre Clementi (the star of numerous Zanzibar films, also released by GME) in the title role as Pierre. Goldman clashed with Clementi during the filming – whereas Goldman wanted Clementi “to be” and let the camera do the work, Clementi wanted to act. Clementi’s character wanders aimlessly around the Latin Quarter and other parts of Paris, until his inner conflicts bring him to the verge of insanity; a voiceover sound track expresses the protagonist’s interior voice. In the film, Clementi functions as an alter-ego to Goldman, who himself acutely felt deep ambivalences (about religion, sex, and family) raging within himself.
Interrupted by the student riots in Paris in 1968, Goldman rushed the film to completion for showing at the Venice Film Festival. It was subsequently cut to its current length for the London Film Festival, and subsequently released commercially.
As bonus features, the DVD of ECHOES OF SILENCE includes Goldman’s short PESTILENT CITY, a City Symphony street portrait contrasting images of the dispossessed denizens of New York with the bourgeois business world, and the DVD of WHEEL OF ASHES includes 8MM REELS comprising candid avant-garde montage portraits of the filmmaker’s friends.
Taken together, these two DVD editions represent the heretofore unseen cinematic oeuvre of Peter Emanuel Goldman. Historically, these DVD editions clearly provide a missing link between the New York Underground and the Parisian New Wave.
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