I rarely watch movies.  I maybe go to a movie theatre once a year.  I see maybe a half dozen ‘documentaries’ a year.  With TV, however, I watch it around-the-clock - primarily news channels.  Indeed, I have never even watched a single episode of Friends, Lost, 24, American Idol.  Fictional stories carry little interest for me, and special effects even less.  Plus, I will turn off, close my eyes to, walk out on, or turn away from any form of media violence, guns, horror.  Always.  I refuse those images unescorted entry into my head.

And so, it was in Film Studies 200.  I was watching the 1995 Hong Kong film Fallen Angels, sitting in the dark with 120 undergraduate students I would soon teach, when the film’s protagonist reached into his jacket, pulled out two handguns, and proceeded to execute an entire roomful of restaurant go-ers in expressionless, cold-blooded, Hieronymus Bosch-like horror.  I was caught once again in a visual ambush. 

I stood up and I walked out of the darkened lecture hall only four minutes into this class’ movie-of-the-week assignment.  I couldn’t tell if anyone even noticed.  All student eyes appeared glued to the on-screen carnage.  No one seemed able to look away.  Oh great, I was in an academic pickle.  How would I teach my two upcoming tutorials on Fallen Angels without seeing it?  I had two days to figure it out.

The next morning it dawned on me.  Maybe by showing my video remixes -to them- might I elicit -in them- a deeper, more responsible reflexive perspective.  I immediately sat down to make a movie about a movie.  It would be just a simple, quick and easy remix to illustrate how I was reconciling my own bodily-response to this kind of media violence. 

I would start it all by using Laurie Anderson to help me perform a ‘protective remix’ to this movie’s violence.  And why not?  She is, if not the preeminent, certainly the most popular performance artist in the United States.  She’s been remixing media her entire career.  She was at the height of her popularity in 1995 when Fallen Angels was shot; AND one of her songs was in this movies’ soundtrack.  It is a terribly haunting, poetic, musical arrangement – about language.  Why was it included in Fallen Angels?  What part did it play in the narrative of this movie?  Who knows, but I certainly knew what I wanted to do with it.

I ripped Anderson’s music file onto my desktop.  Then I ripped the offensive execution-scene from my rented DVD, and dumped those files into iMovie, slowing the video down, and layering the Anderson music over the slow-motion imagery.  Now I could closely, intellectually, study each horrific frame… because these images were now coming to me on my terms, when I was in the proper frame of mind… in a critical, analytical frame of mind. 

The whole remix took me maybe 7 minutes to make; which is why I have hundreds of videos like these.  It is an incredibly easy and logical process – one that can (should) be endlessly repeated daily throughout our social media.  All I used was my Macintosh and free iMovie software… kind of like paper-and-pencil.  

The next day, I showed my numbingly-simple 3 minute video to both tutorials … and invoked in each a rich, thick, descriptive, animated discussion about how images and words provide meanings equally - yet very differently.  My little moving-image-tool was a huge success.  Or was it?  You decide.  Here it is…

Fallen Angels Redux   2007  (3:40)