Tuesday, January 3, 2023 at 7:30pm
Seth Price's Romance + Robert Bresson's Lancelot du Lac

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Romance, Seth Price, 2003, digital projection, 30 mins (on view in our theater prior to the 7:30 showtime for Lancelot du Lac)
Lancelot du Lac, Robert Bresson, 1974, digital projection, 85 mins

Robert Bresson sets his adaptation of Arthurian legend after the quest for the Grail has failed, and the desultory Knights of the Round Table return to become mired in intrigues surrounding the forbidden affair between Lancelot and Guinivere; here we spend time not with a semi-divine set of epic heroes, but a weary handful of fallible men and women driven by impulsive passions. In what Bresson calls “a film of feelings and of action,” the knights and queen encounter one another in the fire-lit corners of stony chateaux, amidst the shadows of forest trees, or between the glowing tents of a tournament camp, their brooding silence and soft dialog occasionally interrupted by the thunder of horses and the violent crash of weapons and armor.

“This film isn't set in a particular time or place,” Bresson said of Lancelot du Lac. “When I was working on it, I didn't think of the armor as being from any other era than our own. It's simply a garment made of iron, sound, rhythm. We habitually try to muffle sound, make it disappear; but sound is life, its concrete proof. The more we work with detachment, the more we have to balance it with the concrete…And the image? Fragmentation, making things visible through their isolated fragments, which is how we see them in reality. A chest, a muscular haunch, a neck: these translate the sense of power that I get from watching a horse gallop. When it stops, the fall of hoofs on ground. Otherwise, you risk falling into representation (the entire horse with its knight, in a landscape, etc). I have often said that cinematography is the art of using images to not represent anything."

If Bresson’s version of the quest myth is one elaborated through rich audio-visual sensoria, Seth Price’s Romance brings the form back to its bare linguistic roots. Composed of nothing more than green text against a black screen, Romance records in real-time a player keyboarding their way through Adventure, the originary instance of the text-adventure game and a staple diversion for early home computer enthusiasts. As with Bresson’s film, pacing becomes all-important, but here it is the silent rhythms of human-computer interaction, the hesitations of the user entering their commands, and the aggressive scroll of algorithmic response. Romance remains, some two decades after it was made, a strangely compelling artifact, linking our oldest traditions of recombinant storytelling to our contemporary engagement with AI chatbots and other virtual systems. What better prompt to begin the new year than its closing query: Restart, Restore, or Quit?

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.