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Last week, I bought a DVD of a movie I'd never seen before.

I chose it based on this image as reproduced in a New York Times review of a recently released collection of movies called Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986.

There is something about this frame that I find spellbinding. The black and white contrast on the face – hair, glasses, lips – coupled with the shade and light on the steps behind. I could look at this for a long time.

The irony of this image is that it is on frame for at most only half a second. Part of series of rapid edits that form the first part, following the introduction, of Christopher Maclaine's The End .

The End is a short apocalypse movie complete with a deadpan narrative – a kind of Rod Serling on downers – but is weirder and more disturbing than any Twilight Zone episode. Nor can it say it was influenced by that show, The End was made in 1953 at the absolute height of cold war nuclear fears. The film begins and ends with footage of an atomic explosion. That is the only concept that is easy to grasp. In between, a series of disjointed, rapid-cut and dreamlike sequences are interspersed by a completely blank, black, screen over which Maclaine continues his voice-over which grows increasingly frightening and almost deranged, yet continues in the same flat monotone.

Not a film to forget. I am very glad I have seen it.

There are many other fascinating films in this collection, but they I have yet to assimilate. Even so, I've seen enough to say this is the best movie DVD I have bought in a very long time.

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