Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) dir. William Greaves
Venue: Harrie Massey LT (25 Gordon Street)
In his one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, the pioneering William Greaves presides over a beleaguered film crew in New York’s Central Park, leaving them to try to figure out what kind of movie they’re making. A couple enacts a breakup scenario over and over, a documentary crew films a crew filming the crew, locals wander casually into the frame: the project defies easy description. Yet this wildly innovative sixties counterculture landmark remains one of the most tightly focused and insightful movies ever made about making movies, expanded thirty-five years later by its unconventional follow-up, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2½.
The Symbiopsychotaxiplasm project married Greaves’ adeptness at exploratory nonfiction filmmaking with his lingering fascination with performance, as well as his growing interest in interrogating power structures. Greaves knew that a film set functioned according to a certain hierarchy, and he wanted to call these unwritten rules into question. In doing so, he also happened on a powerful image: himself, an African-American, calling the shots in a medium controlled by whites.
In 2015 the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, deeming it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
‘Instead of commenting on the goodness or badness of Bill's direction, maybe it would be more useful to talk about how interesting the non-direction is. Because, you see, it doesn't make any difference at this point whether Bill's direction is good or bad. Bill's direction has enabled us to sit here and talk like this, has compelled us, even, to be interested this way. And so, it’s really his non-direction that interests us.’