The Suicide (1996)


The tension arising between the demands of AIDS activism and Gregg Bordowitz’s increasing desire to explore aspects of his own life outside the framework of AIDS resulted in the appropriation of a work from the Soviet avant-garde: Nikolai Erdman’s play The Suicide. The protagonist, Semyon, as he tries to unyoke himself from the enforced optimism of a bureaucratic order that prohibits any discussion of disappointment and despair following the revolution.

The film was shot during a residency at the Wexner Center for the Arts, with ambitious sets and period costumes, from a screenplay adaptation based on several Erdman translations. Bordowitz notably modeled the work’s visual style on 1950s live televised dramas in the mold of CBS’s Playhouse 90 or NBC’s Philco Television Playhouse. This experimentation with genre-mixing harkened, for the artist, to a utopian moment for the nascent medium of television (embedded in its own Cold War and McCarthyite cultural moment). In retrospect, The Suicide is also evidence of the broad-ranging, inventive uses of video in the 1980s and 1990s, across broadcast, performance, and politics, by Bordowitz and his peers.

Director: Gregg Bordowitz.
Writers: Gregg Bordowitz (screenplay), Nikolay Erdman (play).
Stars: Lothaire Bluteau, Ken Elston, Brad Fryman, Elina Löwensohn, Mark Van Fossen, Francine Wolf.
Cinematographer: Benjamin P. Speth.


MP4 | 1.00GB | 928×696 | 29.970fps | 1500kb/s | AAC 93kb/s
Language: English | Subtitles: None

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