The titular lamp of GET LAMP, directed by Jason Scott Sadofsky for Bovine Ignition Systems.

Get Lamp (2010, Jason Scott Sadofsky)

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.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written, directed, produced and edited by Jason Scott Sadofsky; music by Zoë Blade, Tony Longworth and Nicholas Markos; released by Bovine Ignition Systems.

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2 thoughts on “Get Lamp (2010, Jason Scott Sadofsky)”

  1. That’s an interesting conclusion about my lack of personal appearance in the film.

    I believe rather strongly that narration is a crutch, an attempt by the filmmaker to shortcut exposition or push the audience in a preferred direction by demanding they conclude a certain way, or that what they’re about to see is relevant to this specific point and nothing else. In all my films, (BBS: The Documentary and the upcoming DEFCON), there’s no narrator either, and I (properly, I think) butt out to let the audience experience the movie on their own terms.

    1. I had to go back and reread to figure out what my conclusion was… I meant it more as a compliment, except maybe about the lack of communicated passion.

      The film could have easily been about your love of the games and it wasn’t, which is good. However, it’s such a passionate subject–for the interviewees, for the fans–I guess I just expected something else.

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