Water and Power, Pat O'Neill, 1989, 57min, color, sound

Its title comes from the Los Angeles water district. Much of the film was shot in the Owens Valley and in an old office building in downtown LA and is metaphorically about the exchange of energy between two places. It is also about water, in all of its states, and about cyclical motion: the planets, the tides, the implied rotation of the camera on its axis, and the repetitive actions of the performers. There are also quotations from older movies and their soundtracks: at times their landscapes become continuous with those of the present. Human habitation in this wilderness is tenuous and risky.

"... reveals a modern city as layer over layer of experience, and makes no pretense of reducing Los Angeles to anything like a single, coherent understanding. In Water and Power, LA is not merely an elaborate reality; it is a nearly overwhelming surreality." - Scott McDonald, Wide Angle

"The 'reality' animated by the film is LA; its topography and social ambiance, its myths of creation and embedding of a dream. It is surely the greatest of contemporary 'city symphonies.'" - Paul Arthur, Moving Picture.

"The continuous shifts and surprises that lie at the heart of the film's form make a kind of grand metaphor for the never-ending change that underlies nature, civilization and the multiply symbiotic interchanges between them." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader.
Canyon Cinema Catalogue

2009 Library of Congress National Film Registry inductee and 1990 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Documentary.