Probably the most widely seen of Hollis Frampton's films, Nostalgia documents Frampton's move from photography to film through an elaborately witty joke on autobiography, identity, and memory. The film presents a succession of his photographs from the '60s, one after another. The photographs have been placed on a hotplate, and as each one burns to a crisp, a narrator describes the image that came before it. The viewer has to rely on his or her memory of the image that was just burned while listening to the description of it and simultaneously watching the next one burn. While the text is autobiographical, it is written in a variety of styles parodying different kinds of scientific, technical, and artistic discourse, and is read not by Frampton himself, but by his fellow filmmaker Michael Snow. These devices distance Frampton from the personal nature of the material (he even issues an apology to Snow, using Snow's own voice, about a bad photograph he once took of him). Nostalgia perfectly illustrates Frampton's sly wit and dazzling intelligence. Its deceptively simple structure, which becomes clear very early on, both disguises and emphasizes the complex relationship between language, image, and memory.
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