Watch George Brecht’s Entrance to Exit: Cinema’s Structure as Cinema’s Theme

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George Brecht Fluxus Entrance to Exit experimental film

Spoiler alert: the humorous climax of George Brecht’s Entrance to Exit

George Brecht was one of the leading artists in the experimental Fluxus movement, which sought to overturn the limits of art.  In his short experimental film Entrance to Exit (1965), the elements of film become the main topic of the film. It is a clever self-reference somewhat similar to Disney’s Get a Horse! where the theater screen is one of the main narrative points.

Just like Lars von Trier uses non-diegetic text and graphics in Nymphomaniac to call attention to the artifice and unrealism of the story, George Brecht uses the concept of film’s beginning and end as the main focus of the short.

Entrance to Exit has some of the underlying characteristics of Fluxus film: it is non-narrative, cameraless, self-referential, and tongue-in-cheek. For its running time just under 7 minutes, it shows a single shot of “Entrance” and a single shot of “Exit.” Inbetween the two shots is a much longer sequence of white nothingness and meaningless mechanical sound.

George Brecht Fluxus film Entrance to Exit avant-garde

Act 2 in Entrance to Exit

“Entrance” and “exit” refer to the beginning and ending of film. But in a humorous mockery of conventional cinema, here the beginning and the end of the film are the only content in an otherwise non-narrative film. The beginning and the ending of Entrance to Exit do not represent a real setup and resolution/climax. Rather, they call attention to the filmness of film and its physical presence. The elements of film thus are the main theme and content of Entrance to Exit. It is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the conventions of three-act film structure.

But if structural experimental cinema such as Michael Snow’s Wavelength or Hollis Frampton’s Nostalgia and Lemon meant to provoke intellectual response from the audience, Fluxus cinema aimed to oppose high-brow culture and its pretense for significance, as the founder of Fluxus George Maciunas argued. Therefore Fluxmen (as Maciunas called them because he did not like the pretense of “Flux artists”) would probably be against over-analysis of their work.

Here is George Brecht’s Fluxus film Entrance to Exit: