One of my favorite outings this semester was a trip a few of the Collective members took to Anthology Film Archive in New York, which happens to allow free entry to Princeton students because a fund was set up by one of its co-founders (and Princeton professor) P. Sitney Adams. This is a rather nondescript place and you would hardly notice it from the outside. In fact the main door seems like a kind of side entrance, and even the interior is unlike other theaters I’ve been to: it’s not flashy, it’s certainly not glamorous, but the reason for our coming was the great films that were in store. Part of the Essential Cinema collection, we watched, one after the other, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, Roberto Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis, and Yaujiro Ozu’s I was Born, But... After each film we would step outside, take ten minutes or so to discuss our impressions–what felt intriguing, surprising, revelatory–and then plunge back into the theater for the next showing.
It was marvelous, to be able to step in and out of great work that spanned decades (it was my first time seeing a silent film, actually), and then to make connections between different techniques, developments, something like creating synapses in my understanding of film, aided by the commentary and knowledge of the people with whom I watched the films, was really thrilling. I had never had a filmic experience like this one, where the entire day was devoted to what felt like a self-education in the possibility of film and narrative. As we left for dinner, the theater itself, a seemingly demure entity, seemed to me to reflect how I think of the Collective itself: unassuming but substantive, rich in questions and explorations, a repository of thought, images, and a place for an audience in the pursuit of some intangible, burnishing meaning.
-Ben Goldman, ’15