The Gerry Artifact

In Gus Van Sant’s 2002 film Gerry several compression artifacts haunt the screen, including one during the “conquering of Thebes” scene around the campfire. Actually, the artifact is off-screen, but pointed to several times by one of the Gerrys (Casey Affleck) off-handedly during his retelling of his failed v. game conquest. In the theatrical screening of the film the artifact is visible screen bottom, near the toe of Gerry’s right boot. In cropped DVD and online versions this horizontal sliver of the film across the bottom of the screen is cut off (as in the image below) so that it appears that Gerry (Affleck) is staring/casually gesturing with his cigaretted hand to nothing, to the sort of blank space we sometimes construct when telling a long anecdote. The artifact in question is a tiny, pixellated point of light, and it anchors Gerry’s telling of the Thebes narrative. Although it has been suggested that the artifact is nothing more than a jumped-out ember from the fire, there is visual evidence suggesting otherwise, evidence which is being readied for publication. –D. Milbrook


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