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1:42.08 (1966)

A Tone but no Poem — Written by Ban on 26.03.2014

1:42.08 is a short film made in 1966 by George Lucas when he was still at the USC. It tells the story of a race car driver trying to qualify, succeeding by ending a lap in 1:42.08. As you can see, the storyline is not particularly thrilling.

The only real character of this short is the yellow racing car: neither the technicians nor the pilot really are important, and all that really matter is that the car does the lap -- not really the driver. This could seem like a good idea, but unfortunately I didn't develop any feeling for that racing car, and thus didn't really care about it. The spectator don't even know what the goal is beyond reaching the lap -- nor are we updated on the progress -- so there is no real tension at all, since at no point we really can feel like it's almost it or something. So for 7 minutes, I am rather watching moving images than following a story. And I understand it was mostly the point, as Lucas was inspired by pure cinema and doing a tone poem.

And there are some good shots, but the image isn't really good enough for the beauty of the shots to be a valid reason to watch it; and it also would have benefited from having a more dramatic image format than 1.33. There also are a few good editing ideas, like short and strong cuts when the driver loses control of the car. It is nothing revolutionary, but it works well and is correctly applied by having longer and pacer cuts most of the time, thus creating a contrast. Similarly, once the driver became comfortable, the shots and cuts become longer and more fluent. However, at no point it seemed to reach its poetic or emotional goals.

Maybe I didn't enjoy the short to its complete extent because I don't care nearly as much about racing cars as Lucas did, and maybe a racing car enthusiast would better appreciate it. Yet I believe it still unfortunately fails in many aspect, like poetic, emotional or storytelling. The only aspect I believe it succeeded on depicting was the ambiance -- which is actually not bad for a tone poem I guess.

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