1989 / 35mm / 60min. (USA)
WATER AND POWER is a surprising feature-length experimental film that uses time-lapse photography (single-frame and flashbulb photography) to record light and human movements in various places across America. Pat O’Neill is known as a special effects expert and optical printer (a film-copying device used for special effects) technician. At the same time he has also had a long career as a filmmaker, and this work is a tour de force that brings together his technique and imagination. It presents on screen the land called “America”, a vision of life in a big city, and the time that people live as compressed visual “scenery”.
This chain of complex images rejects simple description and operates directly on the visual sense and the brain. From noon to night, from desert to city, change is constant like the mental state of someone on a journey. Accompanied by a unique sense of humor and irony…. “This film does an excellent job of highlighting the city of Los Angeles. While it is not the biggest movie made about L.A., it is surely the most poetic and profound”. (Paul ARTHUR)
Its creator discusses the filmmaking process. “It was shot over several years without a script, relying on chance places, people, and conditions. Afterwards water appeared often as a subject, and cyclical movements (the motion of the camera, space and tides; the trajectory-like repetitive motion of people) became apparent. Various elements were added at the editing stage, a story or development arose, and written text was added. And the ending became the first scene.”
Location and test shooting for this film began in 1980, and filming was conducted in earnest between 1987 and 1988. After its completion it was released at an experimental film conference in Toronto, and became much talked-about after being screened at the New York International Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival.
Born in Los Angeles in 1939. After graduating from UCLA became a CG pioneer and made short films with Robert Abel. Studied graphic design and photography at graduate school. With an interest in light, moved from sculptural assemblage to moving images. Has made many experimental films since 1963. His SAUGUS SERIES (14) has been screened many times in Japan as an “optical work” masterpiece.