Saul Bass on DVD

If you didn’t see Saul Bass’ Phase IV (his lone feature-length film) when it was released by Paramount in 1974, you probably caught the film on TV, and remember one very stark and very weird image: some guy in some weird underground bunker watching a hand rise out from sand, and lots and lots of ants. The ants actually preceded that shot, but the two are firmly tied together in the minds of affected (and now grown-up) kids, and they're the main images kids (like me) recall from a strangely hypnotic film that pretty much disappeared from home video after a short VHS release.

Like The Possession of Joel Delaney, Mandingo (and the upcoming Hurricane), Phase IV is finally available on DVD via Legend Films, and in addition to a review of this DVD, we’ve added reviews of Bass’ other films that place this iconic title and graphic designer/director Bass in context: Bass on Film (1977), where the designer talks shop with clips from some of his most famous main title designs; and Why Man Creates (1968), for which he won as Oscar.

If the name Saul Bass draws a great big blank, please check out the Wikipedia entry, as well as the British Design Museum entry for samples of logos and film clips you’ll certainly recognize.

Coming next: reviews of Zak Penn’s The Grand (2007) and Incident at Loch Ness, and more soundtrack reviews.

And imminent: Paul Jones on film – The Committee (from MVD Visual) and Peter Watkins’ Privilege (from Project X / New Yorker Video) - as well as rare Michael Powell, courtesy of MPI.


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Ed Howard said...

This is a fascinating film, and I just reviewed it too. Bass seems almost entirely uninterested in the rather perfunctory human story, instead focusing on the ants and the wonderful design he can work around them.

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