Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967) is one of the most written about avant-garde films. It has served as “a blue screen in front of which a range of ideological and intellectual dramas have been played out,” as Elizabeth Legge put it in a book-length study of the film, whose recent publication testifies to the continuing relevance of the film (Legge 2009). This paper takes Annette Michelson’s article, Toward Snow, one of the first and most often cited encounters with Snow’s cinema, as its point of departure (Michelson 1978). Michelson sees the film as a reflection which reveals the cinema as a temporal narrative medium. Drawing on Husserl’s phenomenology of time-consciousness, she argues that this reflection on the medium is at the same time a reflection on the structures of consciousness. However, the paper also draws on the work of Gilles Deleuze, whose two-volume study of the cinema has opened up new possibilities for thinking about time and the cinema (Deleuze 1983, 1985). The paper is not an interpretation of Deleuze. It appropriates and puts to work his idea that the cinema is not essentially a narrative medium; but a medium that disrupts linear time, making visible a non-chronological dimension of time, which fragments the subject and exposes it to liminal situations. Wavelength, I argue, reverses the flow of time, to make visible an abyss at the heart of time, which shatters the unity of the subject
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