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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Classic Film Festival 2021 to Screen Bill Morrison's "let me come in"

Produced and directed by filmmaker Bill Morrison, the short film, let me come in (sic) incorporates rediscovered (and heavily damaged) footage from the lost 1928 silent film Pawns of Passion to astonishing effect. The result is truly mesmerizing.

Morrison makes films that reframe long-forgotten moving images despite the low quality or extreme deterioration the print has endured due to the ravages of time. The melted celluloid swirls the sepia like hues on a painter's pallet. The effect is an etherial netherworld with a meaning of its own, new and alive, completely separate from the intention of the original filmmaker.

Morrison's creations have premiered at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals. In 2014 he had a retrospective of his "repurposed" work at the MoMA in New York. His found footage opus Decasia (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013), was recognized with the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. And Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) was included on over 100 critics’ lists of the best films of the year, and on numerous lists ranking the best films of the decade, including those of the Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair.

The reimagined let me come in features a new song by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang performed by soprano Angel Blue, one of opera's brightest stars. Morrison describes Lang's song as "a rumination on love and the borderline separating two souls, seemingly from the precipice of consciousness. When I heard Angel Blue’s incredible interpretation, my mind immediately recalled the ambiguous tension in this scene from Pawns of Passion. Left to rot in a barn, and then scanned and archived again for another eight years on my own personal hard drive, it has found a new life through David’s words and music, and Angel Blue’s voice. It was very exciting to see how quickly it came together and how perfectly the image, words and sound meshed."

Unlike anything ever seen in a a theatre, let me come in, will challenge an audience's expectations of what a film should be. But the kaleidoscope of chiaroscuro light and shadows will win any viewer over. More than likely, the experience will leave one longing for more. The good news is, that desire can be fulfilled.


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