My friend and colleague Professor Mather from Campion College passed on this historical review of the above film which, especially due to its publication date, is amazingly profound and insightful. It reads:
The Saul & Saul production of Spelling Lesson is a spell-binding combination of linguisticks and magick. The introduction leads us helplessly, via a first-person, hand-held forward motion camera movement, into the mysterious realm of an ominous-looking backyard shed. Once "the door of perception" has been opened, an eccentric medium or magus desperately calls upon the spirits to invite us into the Beyond. As soon as contact is confirmed, the magus quickly regains his composure. The adventure down the rabbit hole begins in earnest at the 90-second mark, a reassuring number linked to humanitarianism, compassion, and idealism according to numerology, which helps to offset fears associated with magic spells. The Spelling Lesson then features a centripetal seance of densely-layered images mediated by the magus in top hat. The equally dense and layered soundtrack simultaneously spoofs contemporary European philosophy and critical theory, along with surrealist literature and mysticism, and dispels any hope that one will actually learn how to spell. Instead, one is encouraged to follow the magus' lead, by learning how to "spell," i.e. how to cast a spell (or how to be spellbound?), leaving the logocentric markers of mainstream culture in the margins of the image, as a rapidly changing and seemingly random series of letters and characters. The film ends with the magus bowing to the audience, as a Cubist Charlie Chaplin once did in Fernand Léger's Ballet Mécanique a century ago. Spelling Lesson recalls the sensory overload of Bruce Elder's best work, combined with a specific critique of alphabetism as expressed by David Lynch's The Alphabet and Hollis Frampton's Zorns Lemma. I give Spelling Lesson two thumbs up.
Dr. Phil M., PhD, XyZ, LmnoP, University of Uppsala (1783).