Exercise 2.2: Explore a road

  1. Whether you live in an isolated village or a city centre, roads are something we all have in common. Make a short series of photographs about a road near where you live. You may choose to photograph the street you live or work on or another nearby. How you choose to approach this task is your decision, but use this exercise to develop the observational skills that will be challenged in Assignment Two. The objective is to try to think about something that is familiar to you in a different way. You don’t need to make any preparations for this exercise. Work intuitively, and try not to labour the exercise. Compile a digital contact sheet from your shoot and evaluate your work, identifying images of particular interest – to you or, potentially, to a wider audience.
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  2. Watch one of the films mentioned in this section or any other ‘road movie’ of your choice. Write a short review (around 500 words), focusing on how the road features within the film’s narrative.
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Make a short series of photographs:

I chose to photograph my own road, I was born here moved away when I bought my own house and moved back when I inherited my parent’s house so there are around 53 years of memories in this place.

I took the images on a walk without much setup or fuss, I wanted to be true to the brief and shoot freely. When I got them home I chose nine of them and in an hommage, to the work I have been studying of the photographers of the mid 19th century I created an analogue effect on them:

This is the entire contact sheet:

Watch a Road Movie and write a 500 Word Critique

The movie I chose to watch is called Two Lane Blacktop and here is my critique:

Two Lane Blacktop

Two lane blacktop is one of the most iconic cult road films ever made, the film focuses on the road more than the characters who do not even have names. The story is loosely based on a race across America for “pink slips”. The film’s opening is just over 6 minutes long before anyone even speaks.  Our two “heroes” are two small-town car freaks who ride around Route 66 in a souped-up, ‘55 Chevy, painted in Grey Primer, looking for like-minded petrol heads to race.

The film is centred around the race between the Chevy and a GTO, however, it focuses more on the road which is depicted in two ways, firstly the drag strip or raceway which is the destination of each trip along the road and the source of income for our “heroes” and secondly as a home and a means of connecting all of the destinations. Their world is something that is familiar because of the influence of  American films like “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Easy Rider” and “American Grafitti” it is populated by the typical Americana style establishments that have slowely been creeping into our culture over the years. The road is like one of those Hollywood film sets where all the buildings are just flat boards, in that all we see are the diners, motels, gas stations and hamburger stands that live along the road and we are not taken in further to see what lays behind. The road takes on an identity of its own in this film making us beleive that it is in itself a place to live and not just a method of moving from A to B. As far as our “heros” are concerned the road is home.

The focus of the film as mentioned before is on the surface of it a race to Washington, however, this is not really true as no one competing in the race seems at all interested in winning, or indeed focused on getting to Washington at all. The real focus is on the road and the nomadic lifestyle that everyone in the movie seems to lead. In fact we never learn who won the race as we never seem to get to Washington by the end of the film which closes as the Chevy takes off on the drag strip one last time and the film closes with an image of the celluloid burning away from the middle.

We are led to hope that there will be a love interest as the two heroes pick up “the girl” somewhere near the beginning of the film but no one seems to succeed in forming a relationship with her, though her part is probably one of the things that makes the film.

Two Lane Blacktop has become a cult road film, that did not perform as well as it should at the box office probably due to its proximity to some other films like Easy Rider stealing its thunder, it is however still the go to move for every petrol head and car freak and remains a cult classic.