Thursday, February 6, 2014


One book I finished reading a few weeks ago, and needed time to digest, was Parker Tyler's 1969 work Underground Film - A Critical History. As the respected critic writes in the book's preface (my copy is actually a 1995 reprint from Da Capo Press containing a 'new' introduction by J. Hoberman and afterward by Charles Boultenhouse) this is not an encyclopedia or index of underground cinema, but, as the title hints, a very critical look at the often neglected and misunderstood subject. (The author also notes off the top that he concentrates on the American side, even though Europe has its schools.)

What amused me more than a few times throughout the text is how Mr. Tyler is ever alight with what could be best described as "controversial" assertions. The ninth chapter in, "can the technical escape the pad?", opens up with a morsel, and one which convinced me to do this blog posting. Take it for what it's worth...

"It would be valuable to do more than try to explain the infantile psychology that motivates and dominates so much Underground Filmmaking."

Now you know the book's temperament. Parker Tyler drops the little mini-bombs, no question, but his supporting analyses are first-rate -- even if I needed time to decide whether or not I agree with him, point to point. Underground Film - A Critical History is clearly an outstanding book, but one which demands some concentration on the part of the reader; which probably explained my slower than usual pace.

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