Conor Bateman
March 25, 2018 — By Conor Bateman

Get Out of the Car

An annotation on Thom Andersen’s 2010 landscape short Get Out of the Car for Senses of Cinema.

Get Out of the Car (Thom Andersen, 2010)

Thom Anderson describes his short film Get Out of the Car (2010) as a work of “militant nostalgia”. Distinct from the “useless and reactionary feeling of nostalgia”, this contentious strain carries an imperative to critique and reclaim history, not from misinformation but collective cultural ignorance (or “amnesia,” as Andersen told fellow filmmaker William E. Jones in 2013). Across 30-odd minutes, Andersen shows us blank or abandoned billboards (“it’s a documentary about signs,” he says off screen), handpainted murals and some wonderfully eccentric roof sculptures, but this notion of interrogating the past is most clearly enunciated through an act that disrupts landscape-film convention. Rather than just document the environment, Andersen intervenes, holding up photos of demolished buildings against an empty blue sky and attaching four notices to a series of fences guarding the resting place of vanished cultural markers (Joni Mitchell was right: they paved paradise and put up a post-office parking lot).