Strain Andromeda The:
An Interview with Anne McGuire
Strain Andromeda The An Interview with Anne McGuire By Mike White. More than placing scenes in reverse order like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, in going shot by shot McGuire deconstructs the narrative structure completely, making the viewer highly conscious of traditional story design...
More than placing scenes in reverse order like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, in going shot by shot McGuire deconstructs the narrative structure completely, making the viewer highly conscious of traditional story design. McGuire starts the film at the end credits and works forward, going back to the opening. In Strain Andromeda The, video artist Anne McGuire reversed the order of every shot of Robert Wise’s 1971 film The Andromeda Strain. The premise may sound deceptively simple but its execution is remarkable.
Cashiers du Cinemart: What was your inspiration for this?
Anne McGuire: It came out of a conversation regarding the structure of screenplays. When it was explained to me that Hollywood films were made from an exact ‘list’ of shots, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to start at the end.
To be exact, I thought that if the last shot in a screenplay was of a woman jumping from a window and the previous shot was of her running across a room towards the window, preceded by a shot of the woman hearing a knock on the door, answering the door and fleeing across the room in horror, etc, that, well, it might be interesting to start at the end of a screenplay and see it shot by shot from end to beginning and in doing so that I might undo the narrative flow, and creating a never-ending flashback, and thusly cause a new story. I realized I should use a pre-existing film to test my idea.
CdC:Was The Andromeda Strain the initial movie you thought of to do this with?
AM: Yes. I conceived the reversal idea in 1990, and then waited. Within a year, I saw The Andromeda Strain on TV and found it to be just about perfect for the reverse edit. It’s edited “cuts only” for the most part-one dissolve. And, the story moves methodically forward step by step, leading up to a major climax with a countdown to destruction. That countdown is important in that it occurs at the end of The Andromeda Strain, and once reversed it reveals my editing process and therefore one can more easily get into the new effect-and-cause narrative. It isn’t altogether clear in Strain Andromeda The what is happening, until you hear numbers of the countdown get higher and higher, and you see the main character move further and further away from his goal of deactivating self-destruct.
CdC:How did you do the editing?
AM: I rented the tape from a video store, made a dub onto 3/4” tapes, and then just edited it on a basic cuts only, offline system. It took about 80 hours, after which I was thrilled to be finished, as it was a little tiresome, if not hypnotic.
CdC:What was the reaction to Strain?
AM: I got a warm response. I was in school and screened it there to a small rapt audience, then it played at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, The Portland Film Center, and at The American Museum of the Moving Image, and kept going from there. I made it a decade ago, and now it has a couple screenings a year.
CdC: Tell me more about some of the other projects you’ve done.
AM: About the same time as I was thinking about Strain, Joe DiMaggio walked by me while I was videotaping strangers in the Marina Green in San Francisco. So, I made a “stalker” video in which I sing to him. I’ve also made some other singing type videos, with me in it somewhere.
CdC:Where can interested folks see/purchase a copy of Strain Andromeda The?
AM: From my distributor, Video Data Bank in Chicago (http://www.vdb.org), or me.
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