Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), 1987

Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), Peter Fischli and David Weiss. 1987. Since you’re my “friend” I know that you’re as enthralled by Rube Goldberg contraptions as I am, and this short film presents the mother of them all. It goes on for a full 30 minutes, and not only involves mechanical but chemically generated movements. Things burn, dissolve, inflate, flow, and fly. We’re treated to flame, acid, smoke, water, steam, foam, and myriad combinations thereof, not to mention plenty of rolling, plunking, falling, sliding, expanding, exploding, swinging, and popping tires, bottles, planks, candles, balloons and balls. Usually the delight in Rube Goldberg contraptions stems from a slack-jawed wonder at the slapstick interactions of the stuff of everyday life—hence their prominence in Bugs Bunny cartoons. But to expand this to half an hour on film is to increase from wonder to science demonstration, to laugh-out-loud absurdity, and finally to a sort of industrial sublime that renders one part of the process if not part of the action.


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