Final Cut rolls out a century of storytelling

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Starring Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbo, and Marcello Mastroianni. Rating unavailable

Want to watch the history of world cinema in less than 80 minutes? There’s no easier or more enjoyable way than in the mash-up assembled from more than 450 movies by Hungarian director György Pálfi, best known for the mysterious Hukkle.

When the Hungarian economy tanked, Pálfi took a chunk of leftover development money and spent the better part of three years locked up with four credited editors, whacking away at instantly identifiable classics from every era to come up with what’s remarkably like a complete story. If its narrative is a bit on the obvious side, that would be because the same elements show up in the majority of films, whether Charlie Chaplin comedies (City Lights and Modern Times), foreign art films (Wings of Desire, Rashômon, and Closely Watched Trains make repeated appearances, along with less familiar Hungarian titles), or recent CGI fests (both Avatar and The Incredibles show up).

Final Cut’s formal-sounding subtitle refers to the notion of a standard love saga—meeting, parting, fighting rivals and each other, loss and recovery—as told by hundreds of male and female actors, famous and forgotten, in iconic clips that rarely last more than 20 seconds, have little dialogue, and yet move together in surprisingly smooth transitions. When John Travolta’s feet start strutting to “Staying Alive”, we cut to Joe Buck’s cowboy boots in Midnight Cowboy, and so forth. And in a nifty rain sequence, Gene Kelly is ready for singin’, of course, but we also get Bruce Willis hunkering down in Sin City.

The music is likewise taken from movies, with particularly deft attention paid to Gilda’s Rita Hayworth singing “Put the Blame on Mame”; her voice keeps going while Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minnelli, and Ewan McGregor, among many others, join in from their own musicals. In this context, Greta Garbo, Marcello Mastroianni, Cary Grant, Julia Roberts, Maggie Cheung, and Jean-Paul Belmondo become indestructible time travellers, magically corresponding with each other, and us, as if an entire century of storytelling was simply a dream shared by almost everyone.

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