Of Time and Shadows

On Film / Short Takes — Nov 11, 2009

“If American independent cinema could be said to have a birthday, November 11 is as good a date to celebrate as any,” writes Elbert Ventura in a terrific new article in Slate. The occasion is the fortieth anniversary of the release of John Cassavetes’s Shadows, that most unassuming and unpolished of trailblazers, which, writes Ventura, “isn’t just a historical curio or an academic footnote. The surprise is that it still surprises.” Ventura digs into this low-budget, highly inventive classic, describing Cassavetes’s workshop process, detailing the controversy surrounding the film’s cuts and reedits, and making the case that Shadows “not only anticipated Mean Streets, Stranger Than Paradise, She’s Gotta Have It, and Slacker, among countless others—it helped will them into being.” As a bonus, Ventura’s insightful piece is supplemented by three eye-catching clips from the film.