Films by Robert Nelson | Chicago Reader

Films by Robert Nelson

This trio of films displays the veteran experimental filmmaker's love of collage-like structures and absurdist humor. The strongest, Bleu Shut (1970), engages the viewer in a peculiar brand of “participatory” cinema: clock hands on the screen supposedly tell us when the film will end, while we hear two voices on the sound track trying to guess the names of the small pleasure boats whose pictures we see, in a parody of multiple-choice quiz shows. In The Great Blondino (1967), Nelson's homage to “Tight-Rope Walkers Everywhere,” the protagonist's failed attempt to cross Niagara Falls becomes a metaphor for quixotic quests—including Nelson's own attempts to reinvent the world by editing together disparate footage. O Dem Watermelons (1965) indirectly spoofs racist violence with images of watermelons being cut and smashed. Unfortunately all three prints are badly faded to muddy reddish-brown; the deterioration deflates the humor of O Dem Watermelons, which derives in part from clashing reds and greens.

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