Revisiting Zbigniew Rybczynski’s Oh, I Can’t Stop!


When I am waiting for the short loading, I can still remember classmates comments on this film. Most of them suggested that what the camera represented could be a machine, smashing and swallowing everything on its way. They also appreciated the technique usage such as the sound and the deceptive long take and applied Gaze theory to this film. While they felt scared or haunted, I still got a sense of loneliness the second time watching it, not because I had a little bit different feelings than others, but because I got the same loneliness as the object which was represented by the camera. Compared to a machine is destroying other things, it is more likely to be a monster who is being chased, is going to be killed. If it is not a POV shot, the scene may be that a man without the face, or gruesome like Quasimodo, is escaping from the capture of a crowd of villains, but when he is close to or wants to turn to the people in front of him, they yell and run off. That’s why we get a lot of screams in the soundtrack; it belongs to a person in flight. Especially when I see that the “Quasimodo,” encountered with blockings, is heading any path without heeding which one is right, it is hard to keep myself out of resonance: the fear of the sophisticated environment, the fear of the future, and the inward fear of the fear itself. His behavior of destroying or hurting is from the instant to seek survival. It reminds me of a hot mobile gaming several years ago – Temple Run. (Fig.1.) If we cut out the bottom part of the cell phone screen, we will find that the scene is extremely familiar with Rybczynski’s short. (Fig.2.)

temple run
Fig.1. The teaching model in Temple Run
Fig.2. The tunnel scene after cropping 

There involves the same relativity in these two cases. The running action can be understood as struggling forward as well as evading the attack backward; you may think that you are getting closer to everything but in turn, you are further and further to them; you hug yourself to assume that you have escaped from the danger, while from others’ perspective, you are the biggest threat. It also reminds me one of the flaws in the Baudry’s aura theory. Regardless the individual’s differences, Baudry and some of other theorists always set the audiences as a whole in their argument, over-emphasize the exhibition and the unidirectivity of the emotion flowing from the cinema to the audience. But like the distinct images in our mind to the same short, whether the viewer has the experience of playing the specific escaping game, and whether they can find the intertextuality between this game and the film, seemingly become the key point of the audience reception.

Russian Ark: 

Here is another POV film constituted by a single 90-minute long take, Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002). In my point of view, it is Sokurov’s experiment with the time and space, because the actual production time is equal to the exhibition time. Although it is the same with Rybczynski’s film, we will feel profound respect for Sokurov’s work, for there are over 2,000 actors and three orchestras spreading the whole palace. However, I don’t have such a deep resonance as in Oh, I Can’t Stop!. The relatively low speed of the camera movements delivers it as a graceful scenic film to me while some critics focus on the possibility of class mobility. So what do you think of this film? Maybe the different feelings can support the importance of individual’s experience again.


Rybczynski, Zbigniew. Oh, I Can’t Stop. 1976.

Sokurov, Alexander. Russian Ark. 2002



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