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Vertical Features Remake (1978)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The voice of a member of the Institute of Reclamation and Restoration describes the background to a project for the shadowy and politically sinister entity "Session Three" undertaken by one Tulse Luper: Vertical Lists, or Vertical Features, was an exercise in "structure and organisation", the ordering of a number of images of "vertical features", which Luper had found of interest, in the environs of Buryglaze, formerly Glasbury-on-Wye.

The project, it was believed, became a short film. It disappeared, but related papers and photographs were subsequently found in a farmhouse at Bridzor; a section of duped film turned up at a house in Hammersmith; another fragment in a water-tower film-vault at Goole, North Humberside. The film's structure, it transpired, was based on the square of the number eleven.

The IRR, which was reappraising Luper's work, set about remaking Vertical Features. Later, more papers were discovered; new evidence of Luper's intentions was advanced, based partly on a film fragment in the Vienna Secession Building. Controversy raged over the content and structuring of the remake: musical punctuation was called for.

A second remake materialised. This, however, caused even greater confusion. The IRR was accused of fraud: the very existence of Tulse Luper was questioned; the most 'useful' criticisms came from those who had "closely researched Session Three's pernicious effects on the European landscape". Gang Lion, Luper's associate, was accused of subverting Luper's film in the interest of Session Three, of having, in fact, destroyed Luper's original material and made a new, bogus film himself.

The IRR undertook a third remake. Evidence appeared, however, of Luper's incontrovertible opposition to Session Three's "Plans for the Future": his purpose had been to demonstrate that landscape changed without assistance from "synthetic sources". His film was a record of "domestic landscape", his structure a warning (the eleventh hour of the eleventh month). A fourth remake was undertaken.

Monthly Film Bulletin, Volume 48, No.564, January 1981, page 12