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Feature Friday: “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” (1968)

Don’t let the odd title put you off! It’s just some funny word meaning how things can become interconnected. Cinematically, it contains both “Psycho” and “Taxi” so how can the film be bad? And imagine how smart you’ll sound when it rolls off your tongue in front of your friends.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm is an experimental meta-documentary by William Greaves, a documentary filmmaker and actor. The premise is very simple: Greaves auditions couples in Central Park, repeatedly running them through the same inane dialogue. Meanwhile, his crew films him filming, increasingly turning the camera on themselves to express their growing unease with Greaves’s (deliberate) lack of direction. From this cascades a loosely controlled experiment in dissolution, which quickly becomes intensely dramatic and absorbing… It’s proto-reality TV!

Greaves later revisited the project, aided by Steven Soderbergh and Steve Buscemi, in the mid-2000s, to make another version, Take 2 1/2. That you can get on the wonderful Criterion release, which the video below is taken from.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)

Written by, directed by, and starring William Greaves.

Further reading: Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Reader review.

Enjoy!

A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

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