VIFF 2015: The Thoughts That Once We Had (Thom Andersen, 2015)


Part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Thom Andersen’s new essay film, The Thoughts That Once We Had is a proudly idiosyncratic interpretation of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s thoughts on cinema. Deleuze’s two volume set, The Movement Image and The Time Image, are the springboard for Andersen’s patented excursions into cinema’s past, built on a foundation of film clips both obscure and ingrained. Andersen’s film flits around Deleuze’s dense concepts, often teasing the first portion of a line with a resulting set-up clip, before transcribing the larger idea and presenting a montage representing it. I wouldn’t claim to understand what the hell Deleuze (and by extension, Andersen) is going on about half the time–it’s all very abstract and anyway, the quotations are onscreen for the briefest of seconds–but by gum, the thing works wonders despite the less learned background of the viewer. (In fact, the film’s biggest drawback will be the inevitable embrace by the high-falutin’ intellectual cognoscenti.)

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