#79 – 1983

(1987, US, 183 min) Dir Ted Malcolm.

Radical, mad and mostly unseen documentary. By the mid-eighties Ted Malcolm hadn’t directed in the guts of a decade when he was hired by the progressive Washington-based Grapes Institute to produce an hour-long documentary about inequality. Two years later he handed in this – a three-hour plus meditation on how then governments were dismantling the apparatus of the state and concocting imaginary wars in order to bring about a world order more alike Orwell’s 1984 than he thought anyone realised. The Grape Institute – which was partly public funded – panicked and stuck the cans in their vault. Six months later Malcolm was at Cannes showing the film out of competition – according to interviews he himself broke into the Institute’s vaults to liberate his film and yes, when they went to check up on this, they found that the cans were actually missing. Cue lawsuits. If you’re lucky you might get the chance to see this as I did, surreptitiously, at the Cork Film Festival a six years ago but while it’s well worth three hours of your time for it’s brazen provocations and the sheer skill of it’s making, weaving as it does a half-dozen narrative without short-changing any, it has to be said that it has less to say about the politics of it’s era than it does about Malcolm’s then deteriorating state of mind with leaps of logic that don’t hold up to scrutiny and suspicions that seem only to exist in his paranoia.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

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