“The Way Things Go” by Fischli & Weiss (Video Art)
The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge) is a 1987 art film by Swiss art duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss.
It documents a long causal chain assembled of everyday objects, resembling a slow, plodding, but endlessly fascinating Rube Goldberg machine.
I mentioned that, if I were charged with writing a screenwriting class, I’d put watching “Curve” near the top of the syllabus to show the bare essentials of storytelling without all that Three-Act/Hero’s Journey bushwah.
“The Way Things Go” is great storytelling in even more minimal form, using only two tools: Setup/Payoff and Tension/Release. The camerawork is as unfussy as can be, and I guess these would all qualify as, what David Mamet calls, “uninflected shots.”
There’s not even a single object. like a tire or something, for the audience to identify with all the way through. But I bet you wouldn’t have a hard time watching this in one mesmerized sitting. It’s absolutely entertaining, and for very “basic” reasons. I put “basic” in quotes because using these tools to their fullest across an entire narrative work — and this /is/ a narrative work, goddammit — is no easy task.