Time will run away with you. It will skip, jump, come to a standstill, and even explode in front of your very eyes in Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’. Marclay has made a twenty-four hour film using snippets from movies that involve clocks and references to time. Every single minute of the day is mapped out using scenes from famous old and new movies. James Bond will surreptitiously tell you what time it is as he tracks some unknown person’s movements; at four o’clock bands of excited children run out of classrooms screaming as their teacher tells them to slow down; and I am almost sure I saw Kevin Spacey walk across the screen with a watch on his hand in a scene from The Usual Suspects.
The logistics of the project are unimaginable. A moment in movie history was found for every minute of the day. Most minutes even have multiple clocks and ways of telling the time from various different films. Moreover, each scene is faultlessly edited so that it runs into the next with no interruptions. Somehow, Marclay has even managed to make music spill from its original scene into the next, flowing constantly in one direction.
There is no plot. How could there be? Realistically speaking it would be impossible for a plot to materialize. Nevertheless, you believe in a plot. Or in many interweaving plots that twist and turn as the minute passes. Everything seems to build up to the hour, where in a sudden blast of clocks and actors shouting out the time as they run to their next engagements, time appears to end. Then the clock starts ticking again.
‘The Clock’ functions as just that; a clock. If you were to play it on your kitchen television, you would only have to look or perhaps listen for a few seconds to tell the time. But ‘The Clock’ is much more than just a movie that tells the time. It is a visual representation of the infiniteness of time, a compilation of recognizable moments from the 20th and 21st centuries and a commentary on the randomness of instants in life.
That is what it meant to me. I left the viewing room in a slightly dazed fashion but wanting to capture every minute of the day as ‘The Clock’ does.
Go and see it for just fifteen minutes after a hard day of shopping or visiting the more serious museums near Piccadilly. One more thing: after the 13th of November the only way to see this amazing ‘thing’ will be to pay a quarter of a million pounds to obtain one of only four available copies.