Marc Karlin: Look Again Film Comment Review

When Marc Karlin died in 1999, he was deemed Britain’s greatest unknown filmmaker; 25 years after his death, that reputation still holds. One of the reasons why Karlin’s oeuvre has not been canonised or even seen yet outside a small circle of dedicated followers can be attributed to the fact that he worked in television for most of his career. Long before the small screen became a site for quality serial content and the video essay became a fashionable trend, Karlin shot for British Tv some of the most daring docu-essays the public at large has yet to appreciate.

This gorgeous illustrated and meticulously researched treasure of a book serves as a contextualising introduction to the career of a veritable maverick of world cinema. Through critical (re)evaluations of his work and invaluable materials from his personal archives, Look Again, conveys the artistic militancy of a filmmaker who felt a moral need to experiment with form yet never lost sight of his audience.

Charting his early days in the Berwick Street Film Collective (where, in 1975, he made Nightcleaners, one of the absolute peaks of experimental political filmmaking), up through his confounding of the movie magazine Vertigo in the early Nineties, the book brings to life a passionate and industrious career who shared with Karlin a rebellious love for cinema make this volume not only to read but also to experience with almost tactile pleasure. In recent years some of his work have occasionally been shown, and with any luck, this book will continue bring to larger audiences the life and art of a truly talented filmmaker.

Review by Giovanni Vimercati, Film Comment, Septermber-October 2015

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