Image from Descent
Pynchon Shorts

Byron the Bulb (1994)
Spermatikos Logos was contacted by film-maker Karl Bjornsson, who informed us that he had made a short film based on a surreal incident in Gravity's Rainbow. Here is the information he sent us.

Some years ago, I made a no-budget film about Byron the Bulb.

Title: Byron
Section: Dramatic
Film makers: Bjornsson, Karl
Specification: 18 min. COL 1994, $50
Description: An eternal light bulb, endowed with human consciousness and considerable wisdom, becomes the source of political and religious uproar. The authorities want it destroyed, but they have to compete with other parties, which, for a variety of reasons, are also eager to get their hands on Byron, the immortal light bulb. Inspired by a story by Thomas Pynchon.

VHS copies can also be ordered directly from the director by emailing Karl Bjornsson.

Where's Thomas Pynchon? (CNN, 1996)

Airing 5 June 1997, "Where's Thomas Pynchon" is a four-minute piece by Charles Feldman, produced in anticipation of Mason & Dixon. The segment focuses on Pynchon as a recluse, and Feldman actually tracks the writer down to his New York home, capturing some footage of him in a "street scene." After a few negotiations with Pynchon's wife and agent Melanie Jackson, CNN agreed not to specifically point Pynchon out. Contributing brief interviews to the piece are Steven Moore, Nancy Jo Sales, John Larroquette and Bruce Anderson. (Spermatikos Logos also makes a brief appearance!)
CNN has an accompanying article up at their Web site, where you may also view a VXtreme clip of the entire segment.

Descent (1997)

A short film inspired by the last chapter of Gravity's Rainbow, Descent premiered on the Science Fiction Channel's "Exposure," a showcase for short, indie films of an experimental nature. Created by Kevin Souls, the film is a rush of images set to dramatic music with narration taken from Pynchon's novel. Intended as a stream-of-consciousness meditation on Pynchon's themes using Cold War imagery, the two-minute film is quite colorful and exciting, touching upon science fiction tropes from Fritz Lang to Stanley Kubrick: rockets blast off, projectors flare with apocalyptic fire, statistical formulae drift across the screen, a nude couple reach languidly for eachother under a waning moon, German guns punctuate William Slothrop's hymn, and the final mushroom clouds come orgasmically in red, white and blue.
The following information is excerpted from the Sci-Fi Channel Web site:

Kevin describes Descent as a stream of consciousness, as if you were to plug into his head after reading the novel Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Descent is essentially the final chapter of the novel, translated it into visuals, while maintatining its in your face and sometimes confusing nature.

Kevin Souls describes his youth growing up in New York City as a period of acting out. He learned to channel his mildly destructive behavior by expressing his feelings in stories and later by making films. Kevin did his graduate school work at The University of Southern California, and has since moved on to work on such projects as Godzilla, Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, and... Battlefield Earth.

Director/Producer: Kevin Souls
Camera: Michael Kreuzriegler
Sound: Ian Melchinger; Tim Nielson
Music: Robert J. Ramirez
Text: Narration taken from the sequence DESCENT in the novel Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Sampled Music: "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" by The Inkspots

Narrator: James L. Campbell
Radio Space Kids: Anthony Armbruster; Andrew Armbuster; Vanessa Shih; Chris Warren
Nudes In Recline: Walter Malony; Jennifer Fabor
Angel Of Death: Jamya Price
Soldier: Tim Provost

You may read about Descent, watch an interview with Kevin Souls, or view the entire short film at Exposure's Descent page.

Got To:

Main Page -- Back to the "Pynchon in Film" main page.

Buckaroo Banzai (1984) -- This sci-fi cult classic has numerous Pynchonian connections.

Thomas Pynchon -- A Journey into the Mind of [P.] (2001) -- A German documentary about Pynchon, his life, and his following.

Pynchon References in Film -- Allusions to Pynchon and his works in films such as The Miracle Mile, Mr. Jealousy, and Storytelling.

Pynchon References on TV -- Allusions to Pynchon and his works on television, from "The John Larroquette Show" to "The Simpsons."

--Allen B. Ruch
19 December 2002

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