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Time Code split screen sequence

by Steve Anderson

Originally titled Time Code 2000 at a moment of history when "Y2K" seemed like the defining temporal event of the 20th century, Mike Figgis' experiment with real-time, split screen cinema marked a courageous moment in dotcom era digital filmmaking. Enabled by the possibility of capturing 90 minute continuous takes on DV tape, Figgis elaborately choreographed a realtime narrative that was shot 15 times in late 1999 with intentional variations during each shoot to ensure that the final version would be authentically constructed from a single day's continuous take with no possibility of editing. The novelty of this film's structure has understandably overshadowed attention to its narrative content, which is unquestionably compromised by the rigorous constraints of filming. At a few moments in the film, the split-screens actually serve to support what is happening narratively, including the clip presented here. In addition to allowing us to simultaneously experience several spatially disparate narrative threads, this particular sequence makes good use of the spatial contiguity of two of the quadrants, as well as the further multiplication of screens with individual quadrants, by means of reflections, rear-projections and a car window that bisects one of the screens. As a formal experiment, Time Code reveals the limitations inherent in intrusive structuring devices such as real-time and fragmented screens, but also the potential of innovation with the conventions of cinematic time and space within even the traditional format of a theatrical feature film.

Time Code split screens and simultaneous actions

An effective use of split screens from Mike Figgis' Time Code

from Time Code (2000)
Creator: Mike Figgis
Distributor: Screen Gems
Posted by Steve Anderson