Past Event Tate Modern Film

Mike Kuchar 2: Pure escapement

Mike Kuchar, Green Desire, 1966 02

Mike Kuchar, Green Desire, 1966 01

Fantasy and poetry collide in these mesmerising evocations of innocence, joy and pure abandon. Much like the lush and vivid drawings he has produced since the 1970s, these films entertain and excite in equal measure, as Mike Kuchar has stated his ‘aim is to amuse the eye and "spark" imagination. To soothe with sensual lines and excite with colour. To create titillating scenes that refresh the soul and put a bit more "fun" to viewing pictures.’

This selection of rare films shows Mike Kuchar’s penchant for the fantastic as well as his delight in the natural world. The programme ranges from his newly restored Green Desire 1966, a lush and beautiful film that traces the coming of age of an adolescent wanderer to later works best described in Mike Kuchar’s own words as ‘pure escapement’. This term finds it best expression in two films here that show the influence of B-movies, from Sword and Sandal romps to Z-grade sci-fi and horror movies. Born of the Wind 1962 is an early 8 mm horror film, employing a host of improvised special effects to tell the story a desperate doctor who revives an Egyptian princess with disastrous consequences, to Death Quest of Ju Ju Cults 1976 a pre-historic fantasy full of wonder, volcanoes and spaceships conjured from nothing on the riverbank in upstate New York. Two rare 1980s film works from the ‘Picture Poem’ series, Tone Poem 1984 and Seascape 1984, display a fascination with landscape and mastery texture and colour, tone, equally mysterious and evocative.

Presented by Mike Kuchar in person.

Born of the Wind

Mike Kuchar, USA 1962, 8 mm transferred to 16 mm, colour, 24 min

Douglas Sirk meets James Whale in this over the top horror story of a lovesick doctor’s attempt to find love by reviving a mummified Egyptian princess. Featuring a range of low-fi special effects and rampant blood lust, as George Kuchar states ‘2,000 years as a mummy couldn’t quench her thirst for love!’

Green Desire

Mike Kuchar, USA 1966, 16 mm, colour, 20 min

A youth wanders the landscape of grass and sky in search of puzzling impulses on his journey to manhood. Green Desire is an exquisite and rarely seen example of Kuchar’s masterful use of color, texture, and tone.


Mike Kuchar, USA 1984, 16 mm, 10 min

A landscape film as part of Mike Kuchar’s ‘Picture Poem’ series.

Tone Poem

Mike Kuchar, USA 1984, 16 mm, 6 min

An elegant woman, wandering about a misty grove of trees, is lightly kissed by a faun.

Death Quest of Ju Ju Cults

Mike Kuchar, USA 1976, 16 mm, colour, 20 min

Enter a shimmering forest and encounter the Pot Boiling turbulence of pre-history tribes in conflict. See sacrificial virgins, volcanoes, knife fights, spaceships. 'It's all in this black and white saga of pure escapement photographed amid upper New York's muddy river region one fine summer day back when the world was young in 1976', Mike Kuchar

Programme duration: 80 min

Green Desire and Born of the Wind have been preserved by Anthology Film Archives through the Avant-Garde Masters program funded by The Film Foundation and administered by the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

30 November 2013 at 15.00–17.00