The Thoughts That Once We Had

A film by Thom Andersen | 2015 | 108 minutes

Described in an opening text as a “personal history of cinema, partially inspired by Gilles Deleuze,” THE THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD from master cinematic essayist Thom Andersen (LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF) is a richly digressive journey through cinema.  A found-footage film composed entirely of unidentified, yet often recognizable, film clips and concise intertitles written by Andersen, Thoughts leaps associatively, like Deleuze, across a vast territory spanning from Griffith to Godard, using dynamically cinematic images and sequences not to explain, but to embody Deleuzian ideas in all their rich ambiguity and nuance. Andersen strikingly avoids his now signature voiceover, instead assembling synoptic flash frames and lengthy sequences into a rhythmic and meditative experience designed to engage a thinking and emotional viewer, one not necessarily versed in Deleuzian theory. Andersen’s infectious cinephilia is a love for cinema—a life in cinema—and is grounded in an ethical and philosophical understanding of film that describes a clear trajectory across all of his major films.


REVIEWS

“One of the most important cinematic essayists of our time.”
– Artforum

Critic’s Pick! “A deeply personal, cheekily digressive dance through most of movie history. Even if you don’t recognize the majority of the unidentified clips assembled here, or the quotations that divide and guide them, the fascination they exert is all their own… The film’s emphasis on movement and emotion, music and humor, reminds us repeatedly that when the lights go down, the heart lifts.”
– The New York Times

“A don’t-miss-t cine-essay beguilement. An elliptical, non-chronological, sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, and always puzzling montage of scenes spanning a hundred years. Andersen’s restless yet scholarly methods are contagious: He makes you want to become more well-rounded.”
– Village Voice


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