While Christopher Nolan recently directly explored the creation of the atomic bomb, a long-lost 1961 film explores the landscape directly after the dropping of the bomb in uniquely expressionistic fashion, set against the racial politics of the decade. Helmed by theater director Peter Kass and shot by radical visualist Ed Emshwiller, it’s now been restored in 4K by UCLA Film & Television Archive and Lightbox Film Center, University of the Arts at Illuminate Hollywood laboratory, in collaboration with Corpus Fluxus and Audio Mechanics from the 35mm picture, the soundtrack negative and the original 1⁄4” stereo master recording of Lejaren Hiller’s score. Ahead of a May 10 release at NYC’s Film at Lincoln Center and May 12 at LA’s American Cinematheque from Arbelos, the new trailer has now arrived.

Here’s the synopsis: “Emerging from the void, mysterious drifter Gaunt (The Sting’s John Heffernan) wanders the upstate countryside in a daze with only his bible for company. But after happening upon the murder of a local female housekeeper at the hands of a rural deviant, Gaunt soon finds himself framed for the attack. Forced to flee deeper into the woods with the only witness to the crime — the woman’s young deaf mute son Jesse — the pair forge a complex bond that culminates in one of cinema’s most memorable, psychedelic, and unclassifiable endings.”

Blake Williams said of the restoration last year, “More crucial, rather, were the film’s apparent theme, which likens the impulses that resulted in the US dropping bombs on Japan to lingering hatred against Black people (a thesis dubious enough to have me digging for deeper meanings long after the screening ended), and, the star of the show, the photography and editing of artist & experimental filmmaker Ed Emshwiller (known more for his work lensing Adolfas Mekas’ Hallelujah the Hills [1963], not to mention his own body of ravishing poetic shorts). Shot mostly in black and white, the film slides in and out of full-color dream sequences that do the expressionistic heavy lifting to make Gaunt into some kind of martyr, forced to live and relive the ongoing nightmare of American imperialism.”

See the trailer and poster below.

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