Films by Andy Warhol | Chicago Reader

Films by Andy Warhol

These early films by Andy Warhol display most of his characteristic themes, but they're more experimental than most of his mid-60s films. In the 33-minute Outer and Inner Space (1965), Warhol's fascination with looking and being looked at leads to a terrible sense of spiritual emptiness. It makes early and remarkable use of both split-screen projection and video: in each of its paired images, “superstar” Edie Sedgwick faces the camera, beside her a video monitor showing her in profile. Often several of her four faces speak at once, and though the poor sound quality obscures much of her speech, her monologues seem trivial. Because we can't follow her sight lines, she seems to gaze off into space, Warhol's arguably cruel camera reducing her to multiple images of herself. The 45-minute Soap Opera (1964), which seems by turns amateurish and wonderfully deadpan, is a great send-up of daytime television that mixes silent footage of Warhol's players with actual TV commercials. The players dance and embrace; a woman alternately slaps and kisses the same man. With their slickly produced images and aggressive sound tracks, the commercials threaten to overwhelm Warhol's compositions, laying bare the dynamic of daytime TV: character-centered, visually inarticulate images create a kind of void that serves only to frame the advertisements.

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