Michael Snow

(Toronto, 1928)

Prelude, 2000

16 mm, color, sound, 3.30 min.


"I am interested in exploring sound-image relations that are structural and have little or nothing to do with reinforcing narrative (this is sad, this is funny, this is exciting, etc...).

My "Prelude" filmically depicts a scene which in itself is a prelude to a film. However, the sync sound of the acted scene has been rearranged so that it "preludes" (and post-ludes) the visual actions which produced it.
The image and sound are the result of a single tripod panning shot showing Torontonians eating, talking and in a hell of a hurry to get to a Festival screening."

Michael Snow

A carefully prepared “rush job” and come-on… Every second counts in Prelude, an unblinking wild three-way where most every action (teaser ingredients of sex, violence, music and food) occurs thrice as sound, verbal description and visual element.

Though the constituent parts of any event are out of joint and rarely meet in the same incremental “time zone” – perfect synch seems to only occur dead center within the room. The action occurs within the same camera pan and single take. Like some of Snow’s greatest work the seemingly offhand Prelude is conceptually meticulous. The film constructs a momentary physical world subject to specific behavioral and cinematic laws that parody the idea of “Coming Attractions.” Taking off on the apparent paradoxes and backhanded clairvoyance of all trailers – how can something prepare a path and trail behind, acting as an appetizer but also spoiling all narrative surprise? Time and tempi are torqured to match the exaggerated metabolism and delivery such advertisement cum films.

Mark McElhatten


Prelude surgió de un encargo del Festival de Cine de Toronto cuando, en ocasión de su vigésimoquinto aniversario, se propuso a diversos cineastas canadienses (entre los cuales también Cronenberg, Egoyan o Lefebvre) la realización de sendos cortometrajes, con la duración propia de un trailer, a fin de encabezar las sesiones de la sección oficial. La aportación de Snow tomó la forma de un plano-secuencia de poco más de tres minutos que, mediante un movimiento panorámico, sigue el trajín de un grupo de personas que se afana para no llegar tarde al cine. Con la particularidad de que el sonido se halla desplazado con respecto a la imagen, en cierto modo invertido respecto al orden natural de la acción representada. Así, tal como señala Snow, el film es como un preludio sobre sí mismo pues, cuando se da con el intríngulis de su sagaz charada, la secuencia termina abruptamente.

Eugeni Bonet


Still from Prelude