Detailed Results

Illusive Crime
Woolley, Richard

1976,  33 mins, film: 16mm, colour, sound

A plot is constructed around a sequence of ten shots taken from inside and outside a house. The shots varied by length and by different camera movements repeat themselves ten times. The plot moves forward mainly on the soundtrack as, apart from 'the husband', no other character actually appears on screen. Sometimes the plot is narrated on the soundtrack in the manner of an excerpt from a novel, sometimes noises/effects carry the story forward. The viewer is continually 'tantalised' with what is happening off screen as well as in the visual manner wondering what is going to happen next. The predictability of the shots gradually concentrates the viewer's attention on the soundtrack. The dialogue is increasingly interspersed with remarks from the woman which have nothing to do with the 'standard' plot, but which criticise the ideological oppression of the mass media. The manipulated tension in the film is part of the oppression. By using a repetitive sequence of ten shots the viewer is left free to consider how the sounds and dialogue create atmosphere and can also observe the detailed changes of framing and the different effects of making the same shot a different length. The immediacy or 'power' of the shots is clearly greatly affected by the nature of the sounds that go with them. sound and picture converge and diverge. When the plot narration on the soundtrack describes precisely the action on the screen the digestibility and sensory force of the image becomes total requiring very little thinking 'intellectual' energy. When pictures and sound become divergent from each other the viewer has to become reaware of the two elements and direct his/her concentration consciously. In between these two extremes are various degrees of sound/image divergence and convergence and because of the repetitiveness of the shots even those points, where sound and picture match each other, gradually become readable as sound imposed on picture. Where each of the shots is matched to a single word their importance as a vehicle for visual action is completely removed and they become openly merely rhythmic support for the soundtrack. There is throughout the film a continual counterpoint between sound and image and a set of variations on the ten root images. The aim of the film however is not just to be an aesthetic structure but to relate back in a critical manner to the dominant commercial cinema. - R.W. ...A serious and thorough artist, his films collectively encompass all those issues which are at the centre of current critical debate: from the Straub-like impact of the deliberate camerawork and distanced acting and direct address in Inside and Outside to the ironic deconstructive narrative of Illusive Crime to the Structural rigor of Kniephofstrasse. Despite stylistic variety, these films are not pastiche, nor is Wolley a dilettante, rather his consistent concern has been to articulate image and sound through shifting relationships which challenge the very production of meaning through the conjunction of image/sound. - Deke Dusinberre, Time Out.


  • Lux
    Film Collection (public)