Beat Films

The darkness of postwar America pervades two apocalyptic films, Christopher Maclaine's The End and Bruce Conner's A Movie. The End, shot in San Francisco, overlays personal despair and nuclear annihilation in the episodic telling of a day in the life of six people. Conner, already known for his assemblages, edited A Movie from found footage, indicting society with bits and pieces of its own discarded culture. His frenetic Breakaway features artist Toni Basil. While this series focuses on West Coast Beat culture, we also include Pull My Daisy, perhaps the ultimate Beat film, narrated by Jack Kerouac and featuring poets Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky. Acclaimed in its time as the start of a bold new American film movement that prized spontaneity, freedom, and lived experience, it is loosely based on the third act of Kerouac's 1957 play Beat Generation, which was published in 2005. Wallace Berman's Aleph, depicting family and friends, and with Hebrew symbols painted directly on the film, will be presented in a rare 8mm print.

Aleph (Wallace Berman, 1956-66, 8 mins, Silent, Color, 8mm, From Steve Anker). Breakaway (Bruce Conner, 1966, 5 mins, B&W, 16mm, PFA Collection). The End (Christopher Maclaine, 1953, 35 mins, B&W/Color, 16mm, From Filmmakers' Coop). A Movie (Bruce Conner, 1958, 12 mins, B&W, 16mm, PFA Collection). Pull My Daisy (Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, 1959, 35 mins, B&W, 16mm, PFA Collection, permission Museum of Fine Arts, Houston).

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