» » Back and Forth (1969)

Short summary

A camera in a classroom continuously sways back and forth at various speeds as people occasionally move around the setting.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: ARE
    It's hard to say what Michael Snow's exact intentions were with this movie. Snow is a director/artist though who has done several film-projects involving camera movements. The movements being used in this movie are back and forth, as is also the more pronounceable and commonly used name of the movie. What's the point? I don't know but I would still love to hear it though.

    Perhaps there was no point and all the movie wanted to show was the movement of a camera, going from left to right and back again. But that raises the question why we should sit through it. The movie is available to watch, so it was the creator's intention to show it to the world and in order to do that he should had had a good reason to do so, or better said a point to make.

    The entire movie isn't shot in some very high quality. Guess being an artist doesn't make you very rich. The movie is being very grainy and the picture quality is just quite poor. The camera is also put on some sort of device that more and more rapidly lets the camera go back and forth. This machined device is however incredibly noisy, which causes the entire movie to contain its constant noises.

    The movie is not just all movement but also occasionally people are in the frame. They pop up out of nowhere and are also suddenly gone again after a while. Some interact, while others are just sitting there and watching. It got all staged, so this doesn't have a natural feel over it. For most of the movie though the shots are empty. The camera got placed in a classroom during day time and that's basically the movie its entire premise.

    Even though there seemed to be no point in it all, I couldn't hate watching this movie, as it's not really a movie any way but just a visual experience. A real art house movie, obviously not made for the main stream public. The movie got sort of hypnotic though when you got used to the movements and the sound and images worked quite calming and captivating. The speed of the going back and forth is often changing and at times even really gets out of control. It doesn't make the movie just the same and the same over and over to watch, even though it consists out of the same pans at the same location over and over again.

    Of course no must-see but still it was an interesting experience to go through for its running time.

  • comment
    • Author: Uanabimo

    This is the worst kind of art film. BACK AND FORTH takes place almost entirely in an empty classroom. Various people show up now and then. The gimmick here is that the camera continuously moves back and forth, at an ever-increasing rate of speed, and by the end of the picture everything's just a blur. And then, just when you can't take it any more, the camera begins moving UP AND DOWN! You see, the patterns of nature are not merely horizontal--they're VERTICAL! Whatever...
  • comment
    • Author: Mojind
    While most people will probably absolutely hate it, I, personally, found a lot in the experimental film "Back and Forth". It is from filmmaker Michael Snow, whose films have been both highly praise and highly hated. Just look at the user ratings of his films on IMDb! "Wavelength" has a 5.9 and this film has a 5.8 rating.

    So, obviously, audiences are very split on the films of Michael Snow, and that makes a lot of sense, considering hardly anything really happens in a Michael Snow film, but that makes me appreciate his films even more! Because when stuff actually does happen, you pay more attention to what is happening in the film, and spot almost every detail.

    Does nothing REALLY happen in this movie? No! Not at all! Well, what does?

    First of all, the film takes place in a classroom ("Wavelength" also takes place in only one room), and it is absolutely plot less. However, things do happen. At times people are seen wondering around, sitting, etc., sometimes there are even multiple people in the room at the same time, at others a person can be seen from a window.

    And, I must mention, there is a reason to the film being called "Back and Forth", and this is because a majority of the film is filmed with the camera moving from left to right, back and forth. The camera movements become more and more intense, until the film becomes almost surreal and dreamlike, and these rapid camera movements begin to change the look of the film entirely.

    The images become more and more intense and more and more violent in their rapidly moving fury. As I already said, most will hate it, but I saw a lot in "Back and Forth", and it makes me want to see more films from director Michael Snow.
  • comment
    • Author: Milleynti
    This 52-minute amateur film (shot in 16mm but looking more like standard 8, I mean substandard 8) has a title that is sometimes given as 'Back and Forth' and sometimes rendered with emoticons, as on this IMDb webpage. The film's actual title is a glyph: a double-headed arrow, placed horizontally so that the arrow points left and right. Don't ask me how to pronounce it. That title is by far the most imaginative and noteworthy aspect of this wretched little home movie that never should have left home. Entirely because of its unusual title, this film has been mentioned in several major film books, including Patrick Robertson's 'The Guinness Book of Movie Facts and Feats'.

    I'd been warned that this movie was rubbish, but I wanted to see it for myself; I finally caught up with it at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Oh, blimey! I should have listened to those warnings! This movie is utter dreich: a Scots word I shan't translate here. We see some youngsters (silhouetted in shadow) in a prefabricated classroom in New Jersey, talking about nothing interesting. The rear wall has windows, giving us a glimpse of some attractive outdoors, but only taunting us with this view as evidence that much more interesting things are going on outside this classroom.

    Throughout this horrible adventure in cinema mal-de-mer, the camera steadily pans back and forth, left to right and back again. Each time the camera reaches the end of its swing, there's a click and a shudder as the camera bungs into a wooden stop arm. We spend 52 minutes knocking back and forth like this. I never much fancied tennis, far less ping-pong, but this movie has the same excitement and drama as a very dull ping-pong match.

    Some amateur film-makers can't resist making the camera do something merely because it CAN, rather than using the camera to tell a story. Film schools teach students that the three basic camera movements are not equally dynamic: the most interesting movement is forward/backward, with the camera tracking into (or out of) the visual plane. The next most interesting movement is tilting upward or downward. The LEAST interesting camera movement is the horizontal pan, moving sideways ... and this vertiginous film consists of constant sideways movement back and forth, to no discernible purpose. The film-maker is effectively wanking himself, and expecting the rest of us to be as impressed with his wankery as he is.

    I'm not a fan of Francis Ford Coppola, but the only impressive example I've ever encountered of the camera movement seen here -- a constant pan back and forth -- was in the final sequence of Coppola's 'The Conversation'. In that film, Gene Hackman plays a surveillance expert who (as the biter bit) suspects that he too is being spied upon. The film ends with a prolonged shot of Hackman, but the camera moves in a steady back-and-forth pan ... as if we are witnessing the P.O.V. of a surveillance camera. We never learn whether this means that Hackman is genuinely being watched (by a real spycam) or if we are merely experiencing Hackman's paranoia. Brilliant! Unfortunately, there isn't one tenth of one percent of that shot's brilliance in this ridiculously self-indulgent 'Back and Forth' film.

    I'd like to rate this rubbish zero points. But, solely because of its unusual title (the only reason I ever found out about this film in the first place), I'll give it one point.
  • comment
    • Author: Purebinder
    This film is simply too complicated for the average, low-IQ, simple mind. The was Snow expertly films the empty room is one of the mostt suspenseful films of the hollywood idustrue. Please, if your IQ is below 200, do not watch this film. You wont understand. Go back to Marvel and DC. Dum dum. your mind is like an empty.
  • Credited cast:
    Allan Kaprow Allan Kaprow
    Emmett Williams Emmett Williams
    Max Neuhaus Max Neuhaus
    Joyce Wieland Joyce Wieland
    Luis Camnitzer Luis Camnitzer
    Susan Susan
    Ay-o Ay-o
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Anne Anne
    Mary Mary
    Scotty Scotty
    All rights reserved © 2017-2019