Prologue to a Cyclops

And Now,


Francis viewfinder

Francis and Lina Rae attempted to make a film to show the world through Francis' own Cycloptical lens, made specially for him by experimental scientist Bill Vernon. But once they began production, Francis became obsessed with using the format to explore what he thought his vision might look like if he had two eyes.

Doubling the barrel-to-film ratio through a series of devices filtered down into two-eyed stereoscopic projection, the result neither represented his vision, nor his idea of what it should look like. They abandoned the film before completion.

We have since resurrected the footage to present the film its original yet unconventional "stereoscope" format.

This is "Prologue to a Cyclops."



Prologue to a Cyclops was shot as a silent film, but Francis and Lina Rae intended it to be screened with musical accompaniment. Francis composed an experimental score while shooting, but destroyed the tapes by baking them in a convection oven as part of the experiment.

When Lina Rae oversaw the reassembly and completion of the film, multiple scores were commissioned. Over the years, additional musicians and composers created new interpretations to play alongside the film. The above version, most commonly found for years on bootleg VHS copies, features the score composed by Clay Franklin.

In addition to original scores, viewers have found that certain songs sync up in an ideal way with the film. An underground screening collective in New York City, called The Visionaries, once held weekly midnight screenings of "Prologue" and other silent shorts, each paired with a song that they felt matched it well. It was at these screenings that many audiences became accustomed to watching the film backed by an edit of The Fiery Furnaces' song, "Benton Harbor Blues." Some have noted that this song even mimics the "stereo" nature of the film, with sounds panning from left to right throughout. Bootlegs of the film with this musical pairing began to circulate on homemade DVDs. The band has never commented on the connection, and the producers and distributors have never condoned nor shunned any alternate soundtrack to the film. Thus, the film remains an open call for musicians and composers alike.

An incomplete list of currently known scores:

Clay Franklin Version

Phil Weinrobe Version

Michael Bass Version

Aaron M. Olson Version

James Leggero Version

Alex Loew Version

Benton Harbor (The Fiery Furnaces) Version



Somewhere between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-six, the infamous cyclops named Francis went through his early artistic phase (after his religious phase, but before his later anti-art artistic phase.) During this brief but fruitful period, Francis diligently worked on a film that would show the world his vision, unlike that which any human eye had seen.

Francis was inspired by several trips to the cinema. Unable to discern what was happening on the screen with his single eye, abstract flashing visions would appear to him as he sat in the dark room, and slowly, a story would begin to play out in his imagination. Urgently, he felt the need to find a way for other people to see his kind of movie, the one that flickered in his mind.

Convinced that no human could possibly understand his vision, he directed the film himself, despite his inability to look through the viewfinder without suffering from bouts of vertigo and narcolepsy. He found two actors, and had them dressed and made up to look exactly like himself and Lina Rae. He was never satisfied with their resemblance, though others were mystified by how they looked exactly like their real-life counterparts. The fake Francis and Lina Rae would frequently be confused with the real Francis and Lina Rae throughout shooting, to the point where Francis became confused as to whether he was acting, directing, or merely having another nightmare vision.

Francis pursued the project with a skeleton crew. He spent a year in preparation and production, dictating and re-dictating his script ideas to Lina Rae, shooting and re-shooting scenes, splicing and re-splicing his precious footage using the cutting-edge scissors and tape technology of the time. However, as Francis became more and more preoccupied with other pursuits, he abandoned the film. Even when he returned to his art later in life, he deemed the project an inevitable failure, an impossible dream. The film reels were left to deteriorate in a basement.

Years later, the film was discovered by a newlywed couple who moved into the house. The couple sold the film reels to an interested hack writer and filmmaker who was in the midst of working on a s

screenplay about the supposed events of Francis' life. The filmmaker eagerly cobbled the footage together to suit his own vision of what Francis probably would have wanted if he had been able to see properly or had been a better director. He also took director and writing credit, removing Francis' name from the film entirely, other than in keeping the protagonist's name. He also removed my name from the credits, which is understandable, because while on a bender one night I told him to. Text was added to the footage and a two-eyed stereoscopic version of the film was redesigned so that human viewers would not be so confused by the rarely-used Cyclops-o-Scope that Francis originally used to shoot the 8mm black-and-white film on a specially-made camera. That, along with the fact that the adapters needed for projectors to screen the Cyclops-o-Scope format are nearly impossible to come by these days, necessitated that the film be updated for modern viewing.

Francis had destroyed several scenes worth of film in his years of rebellion (see: anti-art late artistic period), so we covered up the missing scenes by mashing everything together in a quick-cut style that would also be more easily consumed by the short attention spans we had developed ourselves ever since we discovered YouTube ten months after everyone else in the world did. To add further confusion, the score to the originally-silent film was left blank so that any composer could score the film. There is no official score to the film, leaving the door open to infinite sonic interpretations of a film that is already a reinterpretation of a discarded interpretation of a story, the details of which were highly dubious and suspect to begin with.

In conclusion, the film resembles approximately none of Francis' original vision, which he would probably admit is fitting, since nobody ever really understood his visions anyway.

At least the damn thing still exists.


Dictated, but not read.

Roland Bonaventure