Twelve Tales Told
After a sojourn in a more contemplative series of films observing the looming ominousness of large scale architecture, Johann Lurf returns to the frenetic structural analysis of found footage with Twelve Tales Told. A dozen logos for Hollywood production companies play before you as they would precede a normal Hollywood production; appropriately in 3D if watching digitally, in 2D on 35mm—and self-aggrandizing in any format. Only, each logo sequence, some animated with glossy grandeur (Disney, Paramount), some more restrained (Regency, Warner Bros.), is stutteringly interwoven image by image into the others, beginning with the longest and ending with the shortest. The resulting visual effect is of a sustained anti-climax of bombast: the fanfare for the main attraction is drawn out and aggravated to become the main attraction. Since new production logos are progressively feathered into the mix, the manufactured desired climax of full logo revelation—say, of Disney´s beloved castle and fireworks—is continually delayed by other interfering companies. This suggestion of nefarious corporate perpetuity and competition is echoed in the film´s playful title: count the logos and you´ll find an unlucky thirteen told tales. But look closer still: Disney owns Touchstone (and once owned Miramax), which itself is partnered with Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox owns part of Regency, and both Columbia and TriStar are owned by the unseen Sony Pictures Entertainment. So here´s a fourteenth tale, or perhaps the only real one: a tale of overlapping corporate dominion of culture. Lurf repurposes the iconography and production values of Hollywood literally as a digital brand rather than, as in traditional found footage films, Hollywood as a producer of photographic images. The visual omnipotence of these companies—the insistent onslaught of their recurring brand imagery—and the accompanying aggressive musicality of their chopped up soundtracks are integrated and combined into a singular, homogenized mega-brand thundering HOLLYWOOD. Who needs stories when the brands create their own?
Johann Lurf’s maximalist, 35mm barrage of Hollywood studio logos, transforms the iconic corporate prelude to the big production-to-come into a sustained, stuttering spectacle in which fractured and fantastical worlds collide into a bombastic anti-climax. Like a riff on Jack Goldstein’s looping Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1975, Twelve Tales Told has an aggressive musicality that resonates with our sonic memory, and rather ingeniously creates desire for the dominion that is Hollywood.
(Andréa Picard, Toronto International Film Festival 2014, Wavelengths)
Disney’s charming signature tune is played, we descend through delicate clouds into the night-time panorama of a fairy-tale world. But the illusion is abruptly ruined when the logos and tunes of other Hollywood studios break into the picture in staccato mode. Lurf condenses the symbolisms of self-aggrandisement and big gestures to a new anthem of gigantism and composes a song, which exposes the ostentatious exaggeration through repetition. The intro becomes the principal part and is newly arranged, while that, which wishes to stand out, is debunked as always being the same.
(Vienna Independent Shorts, May 2015)
Twelve Tales Told