Zoetrope: All-Story


Vol. 20 No. 1

Guest Designer John Vanderslice

A Note on the Design

John Vanderslice

For many years playing music on the road was great cover for me to shoot photos. I loved touring, but it was an endless grind, a great life destabilizer, and a preventer of healthy relationships. Still, realizing I could steal those endless hurry-up-and-wait hours and convert them into exposed 35mm film—that was a major draw, and the only reason I could have possibly ended up in Perth or Osaka or Ljubljana with plenty of downtime was because of the wonderfully inefficient superstructure of a rock tour.
      I started out with a loaner Pentax K1000 with a 28mm lens. That almost-wide-angle . . .

The Movie People

Fiona McFarlane

When the movie people left, the town grew sad. An air of disaster lingered in the stunned streets—of cuckoldry, or grief. There was something shameful to it, like defeated virtue, and also something confidential, because the townspeople were so in need of consolation they turned to one another with all their private burdens of ecstasy and despair. There had been in that season a run of extraordinary weather—as if the blank blue sky, the unshaded sun, and the minor, pleasurable breeze had all been arranged by the movie people. The weather lasted for the duration of filming and then began to turn, so that within a few weeks of the close of production a stiff, mineral . . .


Jim Shepard

To commemorate Easter Sunday, the captain has spread word of a ship-wide contest for the best news of 1942, the winner to receive a double tot of rum each evening for a week. The contestants have their work cut out for them. Singapore has fallen. The Prince of Wales and the Repulse have been sunk. The Dutch East Indies have fallen. Burma is in a state of collapse. Darwin has been so severely bombed it had to be abandoned as a naval base. The only combatants in the entire Indian Ocean standing between the Japanese Navy and a linkup with the Germans, who are currently having their way in Russia and North Africa, seem to be us. And on . . .

On the Origins of My Own Private Idaho

Gus Van Sant

My Own Private Idaho has a long history. First there was a screenplay—a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV set in Portland, called Minions of the Moon. There was later another screenplay, called In a Blue Funk, which was about a street kid who meets a German auto-parts salesman, and who live together in a kind of domestic situation. Then there was the following piece, called “My Own Private Idaho.” It still mentions the German auto-parts salesman but is more an outline about two Latino kids in the American West.

My Own Private Idaho

Gus Van Sant

Released twenty-five years ago, in 1991, and starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, My Own Private Idaho remains a landmark of American independent cinema. The source story appears publicly for the first time.


A boy enters the frame wearing an oversize Texaco gas station attendant’s shirt with the name Mike sewn on it. His name is George. He is a twelve-year-old Chicano. He has a six-year-old dog with him that looks like an Australian dingo. The clouds are puffy against a deep blue sky. The road is red, with a solid white line dividing the two lanes . . .

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