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Meatdaze (1968)


Main image of Meatdaze (1968)
16mm, colour, 10 mins
DirectorJeff Keen
SponsorBFI Production Board

Cast: Jacqui Keen, Tony Sinden, Jim Duke

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A frenzied attempt at cramming an entire film programme into ten minutes.

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With Meatdaze, Jeff Keen tried to create a full cinema programme all in one film. He divided it into six sections, of which three main parts can be discerned: rapid animations (the cartoons of the programme), naked people at play (the supporting feature) and finally a collage of action and superimposition (the main feature).

The whole film is married to a sequence of library film music, evoking classic cinema themes which in turn lead us to attempt to transform the variety of fractured sequences into some kind of overarching narrative. The fighter plane gunfire also on the soundtrack conjures up Keen's wartime experiences and makes a dynamic link to the rush of 'culture' that Meatdaze thrusts at us. The sound/image combination asks what actually lies behind the plastic dolls, newspaper stories, Mickey Mouse toys and other ephemera that pervade our culture, and even dares to suggest that they represent a form of latent violence. These hints of darkness set Meatdaze apart from the many other films and graphics that drew on images of popular culture for collage around this time. The exploration of these issues is more intuitive - and even mythic - than, say, the work of pop artist Richard Hamilton, who asked similar but perhaps more direct questions with his static collage piece, 'Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?', in 1956.

The final section of the film bombards the viewer with mounting juxtaposition as the number of exposures increases. The ambiguity of meaning and scope for different readings multiply as the diverse symbolic actions presented - melting dolls, bubbles pouring over dolls houses, a man wearing burnt clothes pulling a bag of film from a cupboard - unfold without reference to any kind of broader motivation. Meatdaze throws up countless references but doesn't tie them down. Instead they and the film itself remain free, loose and wild.

William Fowler

*This film is included in the BFI DVD and Blu-ray compilations GAZWRX: The Films of Jeff Keen.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (7:54)
Keen, Jeff (1923-2012)
Psychedelia and the BFI