Rites of Passage (Rel. 1983)
As a primordial man (Richard Stanley) wanders in the plains and forests of the Dark Continent, seemingly at the dawn of the human race, a narrator reminisces on past lives, all of which he remembers. These outspoken thoughts seem to be with the primordial man as he travels towards an unknown destination; the two co-exist simultaneously despite the gap of thousands of years. Their lives are intervowen - as they've always been...
Rites of Passage is a 10-minute Super8-film, which Stanley made while studying at Cape Town Film and Video School in South Africa. Stanley utilizes the fertile exteriors of his native Africa as set-pieces for a story echoing both the opening and closing sequences of Kubrick's 2001, following homo sapiens a bit further from mastering the use of tools. In Stanley's story, man begins to grasp the cycle of life, death and reincarnation. As his various incarnations become aware of their past and future selves, each will recognize the rite of passage they are undergoing - and will do their best to release themselves from its grasp.
Originally planned to have a 15-minute running time, the end result didn't please Stanley's tutor John Knoll. Knoll took what he called "a cinematic wank" and chopped it down to five minutes. It took another year for Stanley to discover and reinstate some of the excised footage. The resulting version runs at 10 minutes, whilst Stanley claims atleast another three vital minutes are still missing - and most likely lost forever.
Knoll actually used Stanley's climbing episode as an excuse to confiscate the film.
|Included on Europe - 99 Euro Films 2|
|Where to buy?||Amazon
"I studied filmmaking at Cape Town Film and Video school for two years before being booted out during my final term for endangering the lives of actors on a shoot," he says nonchalantly. "We were filming a stunt sequence on a cliff face, using professional climbers as doubles for the actors, and they doubled so well the faculty heads didn't believe we didn't use the actors." [Richard Stanley in Fangoria #97.]
The restored version of the 'cinematic wank' went on to win the IAC Challenge Trophy in 1984. Receiving the award were writer-director Stanley, cinematographer Greg Copeland and editor Justin Fox.
Rites of Passage has been released commercially, if only in Germany. It is included in the bonus features of Europe - 99 Euro Films 2 DVD. Judging from the transfer, the film is still in reasonably good shape, barring some technical mishaps made during the original shoot (such as losing the image focus), and some dirt the print has gathered during the years. Some scene changes create a rolling effect, as if there'd be frames missing. The release also includes Stanley's more recent (and surprisingly similar) short film Children of the Kingdom.