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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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Year: 1970
Language: English
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 45 min
Director: Arthur Lipsett
Producer: Tom Daly
Writer: Henry Zemel, Arthur Lipsett
Cinematographer: Wolf Koenig, Paul Leach, Henry Zemel, Arthur Lipsett
Editor: Arthur Lipsett
Sound: George Croll
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada
Arthur Lipsett’s most ambitious and personal film (and his last at the National Film Board) is perhaps the most telling reflection of the chronic depression that plagued him and informed his work. N-Zone is somewhat diffuse in comparison to Lipsett’s other films: he uses found footage and sounds in combination with images and dialogue recorded by him (primarily groups of people in social situations).

Heachieves a meditative tone by creating spaces of time and patches of silence in which to contemplate the images. The editing is less chaotic than in his earlier films, though more methodical – it becomes highly repetitious, creating a circular loop of imagery that accentuates the banality of modern existence and challenges the sanctity of the group dynamic as a safe haven (hinted at sardonically earlier in the film).

N-Zone’s dense structure and impenetrable meaning have led some to describe it as a labyrinth, a perplexing, fugue-like structure in which contrapuntal sounds and imagery abound. A contemplation of the emptiness and lack of fulfillment found in human communication and interpersonal relations, N-Zone might be best considered Lipsett’s attempt at personal exorcism from the evils of Western society.