A lot can be said, and has been said, about Wavelength, a little 45 minute film that shook the underground world upon its release. I’ve read many of my fellow bloggers’ reviews about this one, and they are all almost universally confused and disengaged, exclaiming a giant “WTF?” to be heard throughout the internet. I like reading other reviews about the films I see and review, and I’ll often do this after, or even while, watching one of the films on the list, and after reading all the stuff that’s been said about this one, I was nervous about taking the plunge myself. But, I couldn’t find myself interested enough to dive into one of the other films I’ve got in my current queue, and I felt like killing a small amount of time on one of the shorter entries in the book, and then suddenly, I could feel this one calling to me. Now, having seen it myself, I can only say something that will seem completely contradictory at first glance: I agree with almost everything that’s been said about this, but I still found this to be a peculiarly interesting and amazing work of art.
The entire film is a single shot, one that begins at the edge of a room looking into the empty space within, and slowly zooming in to end on a picture on the wall. All the while, a few things happen, and by few I mean very, very few. What does happen is never expounded upon; a woman and two men shift a large object to one side of the room, two women listen to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ on the radio, a man enters and suddenly collapses to the ground. None of this is explained, leaving us with just the slow, imperceptible zoom (which really isn’t all that unnoticeable; if your eyes are paying attention to the whole frame, or the edge of it, you can see the camera take the tiniest of incongruous zoom-in motions; sped up, I’d imagine it to look rather staccato). What this does do is leave us to meditate, on the film, on the shot, on our thoughts, on what-have-you. Many times, the film stock changes, giving us a different feel and look of the same image, and the audio changes several times as well, giving us an occasional bursting snap-to-attention change in audio aesthetic to keep us involved and on our toes, but most of the time, it’s a single almost ear-piercing squeal held throughout a large majority of the film, always hovering in the background.
As weird as this was, and trust me, this got weird at points, I oddly liked it. Sure, staring at essentially the same image got boring pretty soon, but the film was oxymoronically kinetic enough to not stagnate too much. It became an exploration of many things, and an exercise in attention, in immersion, and in time itself; the linearity of it all struck me, engraving a compressed, boxed period of chronology with a synth wavetrack embossing the experience in its own avant-garde way. God, it feels so weird to be saying all these things about this insignificant, 45-minute film that really has absolutely nothing going for it, but this engaged me like I wouldn’t think a film of this kind ever would. Now, I’m not going to say this is entertaining, and thus I can’t give the film a higher rating that what I have for fear of diluting those ratings; I need to keep this to how I grade every film, and to be honest, there isn’t much to this to make this entertaining to any but a fringe audience. Still, I must be in that audience, as this is a work of art that I found surprisingly and almost delightfully egregious, and I could analyze its meaning and intentions all day if I really wanted to, and some part of me really wants to. But for now, I’ll leave it be. Make of it what you will; that’s really the main reason why it’s there – for you to experience it, and divine whatever you need to from it.
Who would’ve thought a tiny little nothing of an art film less than 45 minutes long would turn out my longest review to date? Not I.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10