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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > The Way Things Go (science)

The Way Things Go

 

Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: D     Film: C

 

 

Have you ever heard of Rube Goldberg?  This is the guy who invented the gag of taking the idea of cause-and-effect down the long road.  His sketches and those ideas put into action involve hundreds of ordinary items setting each other off in a series of chain reactions that lead to simple and often amusing result.  Current generations best know this formula from Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts when Tweety Bird uses this on Sylvester, The Road Runner makes sure this backfires on Wyle E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny pulls it on the likes of Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam, or Egghead uses this on Foghorn Leghorn when Leghorn and that “Dog” are not using it on each other.

 

The Way Things Go (1987) is a half-hour-long art-film version of this rigged by directors Peter Fischli and David Weiss.  This version runs somewhere between the comedy of the above noted and those massive domino competitions that use tens of thousands of the little rectangular pieces.  One big difference is the use of chemicals that would never apply in a cartoon, offering great in-jokes for those who know science.  This is much fun to watch on many levels.

 

The full-screen image is in color, but that color is somewhat dull, owing to the nature of the older analog transfer of the 16mm materials.  The sound is simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that is never a problem for a piece that has suspense from its silences.  There is a biography/bibliography section, but not much else in the way of extras.  For all the room here on the DVD, its too bad First Run could not have done a small piece on the history of such work or included some more short films.

 

As it stands, The Way Things Go still offers many surprises in its limited length, much like the content of the program itself.  This is a fun little special interest title everyone should make the time for.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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