Foot by foot, 28-year-old Ludovic Zuilli walks slowly and deliberately through Tokyo, but as he walks, the city around him unwinds. Salarymen hurry backward past him. Daredevils ride their bicycles in reverse around him. Cars back up through traffic as he waits in traffic. A man vacuums up water, trickle by trickle, into a bottle. In fact, the only time Zuilli’s actions ever sync up in time with the people around him is when a group of Japanese school girls approach him, and he takes a series of selfies with them as they walk down the street.
In Tokyo Reverse, it is Zulli who appears to be going forward, the sole exception to a citywide time inversion. In reality, though, the nine-hour French movie was made by filming Zulli as he slowly walked backward through Tokyo, then played backward to achieve its dreamy, otherworldly effect. In fact, the 28-year-old ended up taking dance class just to make sure that his movements looked natural when the film was rewound.
Nine hours? Yep, you read that right. Although the video embedded here is a mere nine minutes, the full film was shown in its entirety on French television March 31. It’s an exercise in a new genre of European reality television called Slow TV, in which an ordinary event is filmed and then broadcast in its entirety.
Long movies are nothing new, of course. Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Sleep was nothing but a 321-minute long film of his friend sleeping. And even that’s pretty restrained, considering what some other directors have done. Consider Modern Times Forever, a 2011 Danish film that takes 10 full days to watch.
What’s intriguing about Slow TV, though, is that it’s turning out to be popular with mainstream audiences (albeit European ones). More than half of Norway tuned in to watch a ferry on its six-day journey throughout the fjords. Tokyo Reverse, although long, is obviously a more whimsical and memorable attempt at the same essential concept: make reality TV real. At the very least, it looks like a pretty cheap way to fill some dead air. And really, how far away we really from just keeping a camera rolling on the Kardashians 24/7 anyway?
You can read more about Tokyo Reverse here.