Michael Snow

(Toronto, 1928)

‘Rameau´s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanks to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen, 1974

16 mm, color, sound, 4,5 hrs


Scripted and shot during a highly productive period in the early 1970s  Rameau’s Nephew presents multiple attempts to make an authentic "talking picture." The result resembles by turns a crazy comedy and a philosophical treatise as performers, including video artist Nam June Paik and critic and theorist Annette Michelson, struggle with their line readings, as piano keys emit erotic moans, and as the existence of physical objects are placed into doubt.

 “I started scripting this film in February 1972 and writing, shooting, mixing, editing and continued till September '74. Some ideas used in it date from 1966 when I recognized in myself the ambition to make an authentic Talking Picture i.e. true to its description, it moves for its content from the facts of the simultaneities of recorded speech and image; it is built from the true units of a 'talking picture' the syllable and the frame. All the possible image/sound relationships centering around people and speech generate the movie-audience relationships: a wide range of emotional possibilities, the experience of seeing/hearing this film. 'Speech', 'Language', 'Culture' - their source, their nature...recorded, imaged, prove (?) that in this case a word is worth 1000 pictures.

Michael Snow


Escrita y rodada de forma fragmentaria y a partir de diversas ideas y apuntes que había ido conservando Snow,  la película es una colección de intentos de hacer una auténtica “imagen parlante”.

El resultado alterna momentos parecidos a una desordenada comedia con teatralizaciones filosóficas de actores como el artista Nam June Paik o la crítica de arte Annette Michelson. Todos ellos enfrentados a frases y monólogos de difícil formulación. Tampoco falta la música como otro lenguaje sometido  a este particular examen o experimento.


Still from ‘Rameau´s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanks to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen

Still from ‘Rameau´s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanks to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen

Script fragment from ‘Rameau´s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanks to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen