Meanwhile, interactive online film


Godard once said that a film must have a beginning, middle and an end, but not necessarily in this order. This is the source of inspiration of Meanwhile, by David Clark, Jeff Howard, Chris Mendis and Shelley Simmons, an online film that even if it has been made with all the standard movie rules, appropriate the peculiarities of the net (and of the videogame paradigm also). Actually it gives up straightforwardness and embraces a selective enjoyment that allows the user to make a free plot composition, using the nine clips the movie is divided in. The project is not claiming any originality: amongst the predecessor there are ‘Sanctuary’, perhaps the first interactive film in history that allowed not only to modify the plot but also to make sort of remixes, and an Italian project funded by the tv on demand ‘E’ developed by Ebismeda, a film whose plot can be disassembled and re-assembled through the remote control. But ‘Meanwhile’ has some food for thought on the evolution of the filmic text. As a matter of fact the scene fragmentation and interchangeability seem to invalidate the intrinsic nature of the movie language causing a significant overlap in the videogame territories. In other words the film becomes a trait d’union between the narration linearity and the text produced in fieri, or between the affective adhesion of the spectator and the claim of an almost absolute player’s desire to be the centre of attention. Therefore, if on one hand the new media action and interaction possibilities allow the user to pretend to be an author (here we deal with the net, but the dvd possibilities must not be left out), on the other hand they risk to cause an intellectual levelling off, exchanging an interpretative effort with an exclusive self-referentiality.
Francesca Tomassini