Like Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Stan Brakhage's Song 7, Ernie Gehr's Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991) uses the hilly topography of San Francisco to create a deeply subjective cinematic space. Gehr moved to that city shortly before the 1989 earthquake, and his meditative study in perspective presents downtown San Francisco as a shifting, twisting forest of disorienting towers and watery landscapes. Filming from a glass elevator that rises up the exterior of a hotel, he subtly tilts the camera to preserve our sense of stability, training the lens on a single rooftop, then disrupts that stability with shots that are upside-down. But Gehr also turns the window of the elevator (and, by implication, the windows of neighboring skyscrapers and the moving windows of cars and buses) into a grand metaphor for cinema itself: the elevator becomes an image-making machine, and the subtle variations in its many views become more and more powerful. On the same program, Rear Window (1996) and This Side of Paradise (1991); Gehr will attend the screening, as well as a Friday, December 4, screening of Side/Walk/Shuttle at the University of Chicago. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Thursday, December 3, 6:00, 312-443-3737. --Fred Camper
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.