The Unity of All Things Screen 8 articles

The Unity of All Things

2013

The Unity of All Things Poster
  • Competing against Costa da Morte and Distant in the festival's Cineasti del presente strand was Alexander Carver and Daniel Schmidt's The Unity of All Things, a bizarre, gentle, and lyrical meld of sci-fi, incest, and pantheism whose press screenings caused more walkouts in its first 10 minutes than any other. Almost parodic in its voiceover's polysyllabic mumbo jumbo, the film also demonstrates how irrationally beautiful something can be when shot and scored well...

  • ...It remains wonderfully difficult to categorize, making it avant-garde to a T... Carver and Schmidt’s rich images have a vaporous quality, a mistiness hanging over the abundant grain of their Super-16 and Super-8 photography. The color palette morphs subtly from acid-wash to colors that are thicker, darker, then back again to something downier before progressing in slight variations and combinations of the downy and the dark.

  • The postsync sound rarely lines up exactly with the images, which were shot on 16-millimeter and Super-8, giving the impression that this was constructed from found footage and making the oblique narrative seem especially alien.

  • Schmidt and Carver never explicitly tie all these pieces together, opting instead to gently lead the viewer through the plot with tantalizing sensory stimuli. This storytelling through implication makes The Unity of All Things a disorienting experience, occasionally frustrating but still never less than beguiling.

  • The brazen portrayal of sexually involved siblings that marked Olympia I & II and Visionary Iraq is reconfigured as a tender, almost innocent attempt by the lead scientist’s sons to reconcile their internal contradictions (suggested in part by their being played by women) and figure out what exactly their bodies want, in order to decide whether to own the taboo or renounce it.

  • ...An ambitious experimental narrative involving particle physics that was shot in sites as far-flung as Jiuzhai Valley in China and the Sonoran desert, near the US-Mexico border. The film takes on nothing less than the instability of everything, from gender to the nuclear family to the cinematic image itself.

  • I suspect Carver’s intellectual quiverings, combined with Schmidt’s laidback and increasingly confident filmmaking and sound design, is what gives The Unity of All Things such an unusual, contrapuntal energy. It is a folding and discursive tale—least of all about the construction of a particle accelerator—that flails to make sense of the world (and itself).

  • Schmidt and Carver’s The Unity of All Things (2013), the group’s only feature prior to Fort Buchanan, stands as perhaps the most ambitious work to emerge from the group... The film reorients genre conventions through queer coordinates and emerges with something less strange than startlingly prescient.