Exuberant and witty, Hail the New Puritan (85 min) is a simulated day-in-the-life “docufantasy” starring the British dance celebrity Michael Clark. Atlas’s fictive portrait of the charismatic choreographer serves as a vivid invocation of the studied decadence of the 1980s post-punk London subculture. Contriving a faux cinéma vérité format in which to stage his stylized fiction, Atlas seamlessly integrates Clark’s extraordinary dance performances into the docu-narrative flow. Focusing on Clark’s flamboyantly postured eroticism and the artifice of his provocative balletic performances, Atlas posits the dance as a physical manifestation of Clark’s psychology. From the surreal opening dream sequence to the final solo dance, Clark’s milieu of fashion, clubs, and music signifies for Atlas “a time capsule of a certain period and context in London that’s now gone.”
Text reprinted with permission by Electronic Arts Intermix. From EAI Online Catalogue
Documentary artist Matt Wolf joins Charles Atlas following the screening in a conversation that explores new possibilities of narrative expression in documentary filmmaking.