Empire (1964)

May 1st, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Andy Warhol | US Doc

The frequently reproduced shot illustrating Warhol’s Empire misrepresents what the film is actually like to experience since the archetypal view of the Empire State Building at dusk is soon over, and for the remainder of the film’s duration all you see is just the illuminated windows surrounded by darkness.

I must be one of the very few people pedantic enough to have actually sat down and watched the whole thing through (although I have to confess that even I didn’t watch the film in it’s entirety, since Tarzan and Jane Regained, Sort Of… was showing on the screen next door and I snuck out to catch it and when I returned the only thing that had changed was that one of the office lights had been switched off), and I have certainly have had far, far worse experience – Lonesome Cowboys’ for example- than when I settled down to see it at London’s South Bank in 2007.

Since so few people have been rash enough to have submitted to the entire experience they’ve missed out on the irony that the film’s dramatic highlights are in fact the reel changes; since each time Warhol himself is seen reflected in the window, as predictably he couldn’t be bothered to turn off the lights when he set the camera running again. @RichardChatten

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