Empire, 1964

Warhol purchased his first movie camera in 1963 and in the next fourteen years produced hundreds of silent shorts and thirty-five feature length films. The most controversial films were made between 1963 and 1968, and though much discussed, only a few have actually seen them.

The criticism of Warhol's films, as with his art, runs the gamut, from vehement (and often hilarious) condemnation to hyperbolic praise. Detractors argue that Warhol's movies are deadening, an abuse of the camera too stupid to even be called cinema; supporters celebrate them as revolutionary, films that reshaped the medium's syntax and represent the artist's most creative accomplishment.

Empire, essentially an eight-hour static shot of the Empire State Building, is the last and most frequently referenced "purified" film of the artist's first phase, and discussions about it can be applied to virtually all the early films.  Because the intellectual premise carries nearly all of the meaning, Empire appears to have been designed to be discussed rather than seen. By fixing the camera on a single object for an extended period, filming at 24 frames-per-second, and then projecting the results at 16 frames-per-second an unusual transformation occurs, some critics have argued.   Focus is shifted from movement, event, and entertainment, to the experience of time.

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