Street scenes repeat themselves by variations in Peter Greenaway's early experiment with rhythm and editing. In a triptych of identical footage, flashes of strangers set in black and white surroundings gain distinction and lose their places when the music changes.
The pairings of a triplicate Venice with three separate soundtracks affect the fundamentals of the film, the spatiality and sense of what's on-screen. As the sounds evolve from the metronome's click to the Italian alphabet recitation and Vivaldi finale, the tone of the innocuous action differs from each of its prior incarnations. Without a conventional narrative, Intervals creates its own structure from the tension between its images and audio.
Greenaway's treatment of this interplay inherent to all motion pictures with synchronized sound would inform themes throughout his later work. The compositional-constructive elements of his editing and directorial technique combine with the visual and audial obsessions of his oeuvre: architecture, opposites, animals, alphabets, repetition, recitation, symbols, sonatas, marches, dirges, lists, advertising, classical painting, etc. The results represent the clash of influences; messy yet ordered, hypnotic yet dull, fascinating yet funny, the films are chronicles of categorization where every detail, bland or beautiful, is made brilliant in its instant.
The short is a simple study, comparatively amateurish to the director's recent extensive multimedia projects, yet expert in its realization. Intervals concerns separation—the same ideas of distance Greenaway explores in subsequent features wherein plot is lost in pieces and jumbled with infatuations, while subjects and signifiers somehow seem to connect without ever solving their mysteries. It shares the mark of its director's greatest talent: the creation of a feeling on film, one powerful enough to unite the disparity of its portions in a wonderfully strange reality.