Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue
Leslie Thornton, USA, 1985, 19m
While developing his ideas around typage and non-actors, Eisenstein often looked back to earlier theatrical traditions, and in particular to the use of masks, performances based “not on the revelation of character but on the treatment of it, because a person comes on with a defined character passport.” Sadie Benning’s Flat Is Beautiful centers on a melancholy tween tomboy grappling with their gender identity in working-class Milwaukee. Rendered in Super-8 and Pixelvision, Benning’s oneirically lo-fi featurette plays like the strangest after-school special ever made, a brilliant exploration of the ways inner life can—or cannot—be read across a frozen face, in which every member of the cast sports a different paper, hand-drawn visage. It is here paired with the prologue to Leslie Thornton’s Peggy and Fred in Hell, a deeply idiosyncratic chronicle of the eponymous Peggy and Fred, two children charting a course through a post-apocalyptic landscape littered with the detritus of the 20th century.