Wrist watch after microwave timer after grandfather clock brings us back, again and again, to the eternal present moment – but the feeling is one of companionable trooping rather than a lonely hurtling towards oblivion. The moment is now, and then. It’s now! And then! And past! And present! Check your watch – you’re in a film!
It is 10:45am for me, and for you, and for Elizabeth Bennet greeting Mr Darcy, for an old-timey couple waking bleary and now it’s 10:46 for a woman, somewhere, drying the condensation on her mirror with a hairdryer and 10:47 for someone leaning out of a car window and arranging to wait for her lover an hour, then another hour and then another. It’s 10:48 for me, and for you, and for a man trapped in a car sinking to the bottom of a river as a bomb ticks towards detonating. But! It never will go off, because now it’s 10:49 for you and for me and the pretty French school teacher, who is late. For what? As the audience of the film from which her scene is lifted, we would come to know; the Clock, though, is one film and thousands at once, and its viewers will never learn where she hurries off to. It’s much the same experience as seeing someone push through a crowd to catch a bus, and momentarily allowing yourself to wonder where they need to be, and why. Although it could stand in for a pretty comprehensive history of film, The Clock is much more akin to real life than Hollywood drama. Again and again, we’re treated to all the build-up and none of the resolution: an hypnotic stasis, precipice and base camp at once.