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Friday, April 25, 2008

Mr. Edison's Ear

Got to see a couple of films at the Hot Docs festival today. All of them left an impression. I think documentaries tend to do that. One of the short films was particularly poignant for me. Mr. Edison's Ear was a collage of largely archival footage which somehow managed to convey Edison as a complex being and underscore the impact of emerging technologies at the same time. Technologies that have shaped our lives and world, that seek to capture such essential ephemera as sound and motion. And it did so poetically. The filmmaker, Francisca Duran, chose a really unsettling sequence to close the film, the execution by electrocution of Topsy a 'dangerous' elephant in 1903. In the Q&A after the screening she explained that Edison chose that event to document because he was trying to prove the superiority of DC current and elephants are big animals. It was dramatic. She chose it because she felt it carried a lot of layers of meaning and one of the main ones was "at what cost all this technology?".

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