Get Lamp is part history documentary, part modern examination, part something else. It changes throughout, which is only natural… director Sadofsky gives the viewer control of the documentary’s structure (but also offers a cruise controlled version).
Lamp is an affectionate look at early computer games, specifically the text-based ones–so Zork, not King’s Quest. There’s a brief portion talking about the history, then Sadofsky examines different aspects of the games. Then he covers the modern era–at least the way I watched it. Like I said above, it can vary.
This structure seems the most natural; as Lamp reaches its conclusion, one realizes how this particular entertainment medium differs from almost any other.
Fans of the medium didn’t let it die. In terms of film history, it would be like silent film fans trying to keep the medium alive. It’s not a precise analogy–the Lamp game makers Sadofsky interviews have easily accessible distribution. There wasn’t YouTube in the fifties for silent film afficandos to utilize.
As an interviewer, Sadofsky has almost no presence. His questions are rarely audible. When he does include them, the questions themselves offer insight, even before the responses.
The lack of personality–except an omnipresent gold lamp–is why I hesitate to call Lamp a loving look at the medium. I assume Sadofsky does love it, but his film is professional, not personal.
He captures a relatively forgotten piece of pop culture history and makes it exciting and expansive.
Get Lamp is a win.
Written, directed, produced and edited by Jason Scott Sadofsky; music by Zoë Blade, Tony Longworth and Nicholas Markos; released by Bovine Ignition Systems.