Name of film: CUT
Director/Writer: Tomasz Laczny
Country: UK (?)
Year of production: N/A
Length: 1 minute
“Cut” is a montage of shots cut and spliced into half-second segments and set to a sparse diegetic soundtrack that, as the shots, hardly coalesces into anything intelligible. The title, “Cut,” of course plays with itself, touching at once on its subject matter and on its method of composition, a montage of split-second scenes all spliced together. Each cut shows some element of a haircutting, from shots of the subject to shots of the hairdresser’s hands and implements, all in extreme close-up and all strung together to create a cacophonous abstraction of an otherwise quotidian experience.
The fact of the haircut is made explicit through split-second glimpses of scissors and clippers—split-second sound bites, too, of the clipping and the shaving—and of hair, ear, nose, neck in no discernable order. But little else is clear, including the sex of the pepper-colored hair or the sex of the be-scissored hands or the supposition that the pepper-colored hair and the be-scissored hands belong to two individuals instead of one (or three, fifteen, etc.). In one minute this film throws its viewer into an intimate whirlwind view of this common, often interminable experience, almost as if it were hours of footage condensed into sixty seconds via fastforward to show the subtle intricacies of the process as any nature channel might show the cell-upon-cell growth and bloom of a tulip in the frenetic, wobbly speed of time-elapse cinematography.
This one-minute experimental film is part of a website dedicated to the one-minute short. The format of the short-short seems to lend itself to the creation of experimental films by default because the time constraint makes standard narrative more difficult to achieve. What makes this film experimental, however, is not its time constraints (haven’t we all cried or laughed at the dramatic or humorous conclusion of a thirty-second commercial) but instead its achronological setup, its exclusive usage of extreme close-ups, and its fast-paced cutting rhythm, which belie conclusive statements about genre or narrative, including even the director’s claim that his film is a “self-portrait.”
If indeed a self-portrait, this film suggests not the facial features of the subject but rather the subject’s profession, as some of Rembrandt’s self-portraits show a man at various stages of life holding a palette of colored dabs and a paintbrush. Beyond this interpretation the film avoids succinct definition, and even its expected chronological progression from long to short(er) hair is barely suggested in the fleeting fact that scissors precede clippers.
But despite its frenetic cutting rhythm and its lack of narrative detail (achieved through the compiling of extreme detail), this short film maintains a sense of harmony and order, which it culls from a consistent rhythm and a paucity of peripheral elements such as nondigetic music or subtitles or, as it were, any overt message. It’s almost an etude in filmmaking: in cutting rhythm, in extreme close-up, and in economy of construction. And the harmony it achieves in the process is, especially with its paratactic sound bites, almost musical.