Visual essay

Alberto Fischerman’s The Players vs. Ángeles Caídos and
Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino's The Hour of the Furnaces

8a-c. In Alberto Fischerman’s 1968 avant-garde film, The Players vs. Ángeles Caídos, a band of outcasts (the “Fallen Angels”) haunt the bridges and galleries above the sound stages of Lumiton Studios, futilely plotting their reconquest of the territory below, lost to The Players in a prior battle. A crowded, disordered mise-en-scène predominates, intensifed by a generalized chiaroscuro lighting scheme. In the voice-off words of Clao, the de facto spokesman for the Fallen Angels, “They’re the good guys, and we’re the bad guys… and the good guys always win.” As a work of political modernist cinema, Fischerman’s film seems at first glance to differ in every possible way from Solanas and Getino’s contemporaneous militant documentary, The Hour of the Furnaces.
9 a-c. The Players’ communal existence unfolds in disjointed episodes of absurdist improvisation, which they execute amidst the props and faux-domestic soundstages of Lumiton Studios.
10 a-b. Later in Fischerman’s film, The Players cavort in the studio gardens, read lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and dress-rehearse for an eventual staging of the play, which never ultimately transpires. These are among the numerous strategies of mise-en-abyme by which The Players obscures the boundaries between actor and interpretation, performance and daily life.

11 a-c. Just before the Fallen Angels descend from the galleries to conduct a last, violent ambush of The Players, they are seen alongside their enemies taking part in “The Festival of the Spirits,” framed as a scene from The Players’ own makeshift adaptation of The Tempest. Fischerman and his “Group of Five,” who are purportedly filming the celebration, are also shown filming themselves filming. 

12 a-d. In their esteemed 1968 agit-prop documentary, The Hour of the Furnaces, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino combine interpellated, prophetic warnings about the neo-colonial infiltration of the mass media by clandestine imperialist entities with strident juxtapositions of appropriated images from various sources of popular media. The intertitles often expand in rapid zooms to create a deliberate sense of aggression: ideological truth meant literally to assault the spectators and rouse their political consciousness.
12 e-l. In this particular sequence of The Hour of the Furnaces, the intertitles shown above (Fig. 12b and 12d) also precede scavenged fragments of commercial print advertising that alternate in precipitous dialectical montage with images of third-world suffering from the pages of mainstream news sources. The overall strategy is less akin to the aesthetics of advertising per se than to the Situationist détournement of advertising images. Notably, a recording of Ray Charles singing “I Don’t Need No Doctor” forms the soundtrack for the sequence; it was likely an unwitting choice, inasmuch as the voice of a figure so emblematic of the American Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s seems to undermine Solanas and Getino’s indictment of American imperialism in The Hour.

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