The Houses that Are Left

Shelly Silver

1991 | 00:51:00 | United States | English | B&W and Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Death and Dying

With an amusing sense of drama, The Houses That Are Left illustrates Silver’s technique of building an obscure narrative into a complex net of miscellaneous texts and images. Unfolding throughout the tape is the story of two friends who come together to try to figure out how to live in the modern world while being besieged by militant messages from the dead. Juxtaposing black and white film with color video and fusing narrative elements of drama, comedy, and documentary, Silver provides a structure that allows a plurality of voices to speak: two women who were childhood friends, people on the street interviewed for “market research,” and the observations of dead people who watch the living on television monitors.

The Houses That Are Left combines sitcom, documentary, and melodrama in a complex story of the living and the dead. While the living are rendered passive by their fear that something bad could happen to them, the dead, who no longer can have anything happen to them at all, strive to regain their ability to act through the only tool available to them: their televisions.

"Silver is one of the foremost figures in a younger generation of American video-makers coming to prominence with a series of works which combine visual and formal experimentation with a provocative narrative punch. The recently completed full-length version of The Houses That Are Left rates as her most ambitious project to date, and also presents one of the most intriguing independent tapes to come out of the United States in the last few years. Structured as a sort of post-modern mystery story (that encompasses everything from murder to market research, from sexuality to the supernatural), it constructs a shifting narrative framework in which not only its characters but also the viewer is constantly having to sift out what is fiction from what is finally arrive at its powerful and perceptive dissection of modern America: anxious, narcissistic, consumed by media images." —Steven Bode, London Film Festival

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