Loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s character Werther, T.S.O.Y.W. is an experimental film by artists Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler. The film depicts a modern disillusioned Werther who steals his friend’s Harley Sportster to enact the great American road trip through the desert.
Shown on dual screen projections, the film simultaneously features each artist’s vision of the journey shot on 16mm film stock. At 200 minutes, T.S.O.Y.W. is a long meditation, with the cameras flowing back and forth from rider to landscape. Scenes move rhythmically between empty roads, filling stations and spectacular stops at Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and Joshua Tree National Park. Eventually the rider fades into the distance, epitomizing Goethe’s romanticized notions of death and freedom.
Films that capture the nature of motorcycling without relying on clichés are rare. Fictional works that portray the deeper emotions and physical endurance of the journey without being laughable could be counted on two fingers before the Whitney Biennial 2008. Most viewers lasted no more than 10 minutes. We’ll be going back for seconds and thirds.