The Clock by Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay’s movie/art piece/clock/amazingness is a little bit of gloriousness just about anyone can appreciate it.  Titled “The Clock”, it is just that – a 24-hour montage of thousands of film and television clips with glimpses of clocks, watches, and snatches of people saying what time it is, that actually keeps accurate time.  The installation is set up in each city so that whatever time is shown is, in fact, the correct time as of that instant. In this way while the piece serves as food for thought about the nature of time in the cinema, and indeed in life itself, the whole thing also functions as a gigantic and perfectly impractical clock!

12:04  – 12:07

Research for the film began with the help of six young assistants, charged with the task of watching countless hours of movies of their choice and identifying any moment in any one of them that showed or alluded to a clock or time.  And so the “data” was compiled; each scene was logged into a Google spreadsheet until there were thousands upon thousands of moments, each identified to the minute.  Then, it was Marclay’s time to work his editing magic.

4:30 – 4:33

Over the course of nearly three years, the artist created what is truly a masterpiece.  Theoretically, “The Clock” could have been ridiculously boring – a 24-hour movie that forces you to literally watch the minutes pass in thousands of unrelated moments; but it is just the opposite.  Marclay turns time into a compelling character in-and-of-itself.  “The viewer can see how it ages actors such Jack Nicholson in real life – at 1:51 A.M. he is a frantic juvenile delinquent in “The Cry Baby Killer,” but at 4:59 P.M., he is the paunchy and bald hero of “About Schmidt,” gazing at his office clock as he torpidly awaits retirement (from the New Yorker article). There is also a heightened sense of urgency as time ticks towards those “ten-to” and “five-to” moments, especially at noon when we watch Lola frantically running the streets of Berlin, and Leonardo DiCaprio making a mad dash to get on the Titanic before it ships out to sea.  Then Marclay switches to those times of boredom that fill at least a few moments of most days – waiting in line, yearning for the school bell to ring, killing time, etc.  The realism and emotion of the whole thing is just so spot on.

“The Clock” is beyond excellent.  Go see it if you get a chance.


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