Quick-Thoughts: William Greaves’ Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One (1968)

“We’re not virgins, baby. We’re virgins in the brain if you want to be that way.”

This movie brought back fond memories to when I was 18 years old, in between the state of graduating high school and beginning college, and shot on 8mm in the County of San Diego what was supposed to be my first “official” short film. I had general ideas regarding the flow of my narrative, interconnected segments and themes and whatnot, but not a script, nor even storyboards for that matter; I was simply gauging where the production experimentation could take my abstraction. After dropping about three quarters of a k to make it, I directed the short film like the dictator I can sometimes be, and was overly trusted like one by my enthusiastic peers.

What I would’ve given though to have some record of all the thoughts that roamed through my crew’s mind during the making of it looking back now. Sure, I can’t literally account for all the rationales on why several folk – admittedly most were long-time friends – didn’t verbally question my experimentation, which had mostly zero reason behind existing besides me wanting to see if I could craft something special out of my own yearn for disclosure. But, it got me wondering if our era has more so arrived at such a culturally overexposed place of hodgepodge cinematic art that it makes experimentation easier for people to accept and digest amidst the independent scene compared to the 50-some-year-old state which Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One presents us. 

Maybe one day I’ll release all that expensive (to me) footage I had shot in complete chronology of when they were filmed with no added post-production, or maybe I’ll edit it into something of a “movie” I could be content with. There’s just so much worthwhile material that can come from the other side of our window when a camera is on, where an individual’s evolving wavelength in improvisation can tell us something about the social world and its cultural entertainment counterpart for whichever time period it bides in. William Greave’s work here: peak meta, peak ultramodern.

Verdict: A-

My Favorite Documentaries

“Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

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