Andy Warhol's "The Chelsea Girls" | HOW TO SEE Double-Screen Films
“This may be a historic document.
” There are famous quotes of Warhol saying “I’ve stopped painting.
I'm now making movies” My name is Greg Pierce.
I'm the Associate Curator of Film and Video at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Today we're going to take a look at Andy Warhol's 1966 double-screen film “The Chelsea Girls.
” “The children never come up to their expectations.
” “I don't believe in that” Even if you watch the film two or three times, your focus is going to change, so it’s always going to have a different narrative for yourself.
So every viewer ends up makingtheir own narrative for this.
It’s dealing with a scene thatno one in the mainstream basically ever gets to look into.
So, it was a window.
For some it was, like, a vision of hell… This window into this freak scene.
And to others, it’s like the Iliad of the underground.
Or, you know, there are other comparisonsto, like, Joyce and Dante.
When “The Chelsea Girls” first premiered, itwas made up of twelve individual reels that weren’t locked into place yet.
So, early on the projectionists were allowedto, you know, with input from Warhol and company, reorder the reels for different screenings.
It’s kind of Warhol’s first foray intothis idea where the filmmaker makes something, but then it’s not finished until the projectionistactually creates it in the theater itself.
Eventually, when the film became popular andit moved to the uptown cinemas, there was need for a script for the projectionists tofollow so that they knew what to do with the twelve reels they were given to project.
Which is the standard version thatwe know of as “The Chelsea Girls.
” There's a set 12 reels, and there's a setorder for the way you show them and how you manipulate the sound on them.
The films are dirty.
And I mean that sometimes in subject matter, but also just in, like… it's the physicality of it.
Like, the way they look.
There’s no beginning, middle, and end tothis film.
It's not a narrative that way.
There is a loose narrative that all thesethings take place at a place called… at least what we're assuming is the Chelsea Hotel.
And these are the denizens of this hotel, and this is what they do in their different rooms.
“Your girlfriend was beautiful.
” “Your mother was beautiful.
” “Your father was beautiful.
” “All the friends you ever knew…” It’s a pretty powerful blend of the scriptedand the non-scripted.
And it really kind of showcases what Warhol'scinema was capable of producing in the sense of personalities trying to follow a script, losingthe script, not stopping the camera, and allowing a new reality to come out of that.
“What else should I speak about?” “I can't think.
I'm just annoyed at this scene and my participation in it, although my participation was perfect” “Oh hello dear.
” For about the past three years I have beenpreparing the actual original film material for digitization.
We are following the script that goes withthe film, like any other projectionist, and we are creating, in essence, one version ofthe film.
It's not a definitive version.
They’re just doing a 2K scan of the material.
The films, I hope, look like the 16-millimeterfilms that they are.
That you can see the grains swimming, thatyou can see some scratches once in a while, you will see dirt go by, there's splices becausethere was.
you know, the film was damaged at some point, we lost some frames.
All that's going to be in there, there's no.
you know, we're not tweaking anything so thatit looks pretty.
We were the projectionists for this version.
And that's what we'll be showing for at leastfor the time being, until we think about the philosophical issues involved and, like, how to bring it back to a non-standard standard version.
So those are my thoughts on “The Chelsea Girls” and Andy Warhol as a filmmaker.
What are your thoughts? If you have any comments, please leave them below in the comments section.
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My name is Greg Pierce, I'm the Associate Curator of Film and Video at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Thanks for watching.