Hollis Frampton's films have often been characterized as the afterimages of literary modernism. While the material and linguistic concerns of his early films as well as his time spent visiting Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths Hospital attest to the impact that modernist poetics had on him, the grand finale of his career—the cycle of films that comprise Magellan—marked his most significant departure from these original influences. Considering Magellan in relation to Pound's Cantos illuminates the competing modernisms, both literary and cinematic, in Frampton's late work. In his depiction of two simultaneous voyages—one through the world and one through the history of film—Frampton counterintuitively suggests that a modernism uniquely conceived for film can only be realized after establishing a tradition to renovate: film can finally make it new only through becoming old.

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