Still from Crystal Gazing (1982). Courtesy of the British Film Institute

Ever Present: Crystal Gazing


Harold M. Williams Auditorium

This is a past event

Join us for a rare 16mm screening of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s 1982 film Crystal Gazing (UK, 16mm). Featuring original music and starring Lora Logic of the legendary punk band X-Ray Spex, this film traces the intersecting lives of four cultural workers trying to make their way in London during a time of economic precarity.

Following the screening, watch a conversation between Laura Mulvey and critic Amy Taubin (Film Comment), recorded for this event. Attendees receive a limited edition zine featuring an original essay by music writer Jenn Pelly (Pitchfork, New York Times).

Perhaps best known for their work as groundbreaking film theorists, Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen also made a series of essay-like independent films that engaged with developing feminist and avant-garde cinematic techniques, while collaborating with some of the leading artists of the 1970s and 80s.

Crystal Gazing is their most wistful and narrative-driven film—a Godard-esque dry comedy that also serves as a time capsule of London’s intelligentsia amid the harsh backdrop of the Thatcherite recession. Littered with imagery of electronic media, puzzling artworks, and countercultural sites, the film follows a saxophonist who goes from street busking to a televised pop star, while the other characters—a PhD student writing his thesis on the fairytales of Charles Perrault, an unemployed science-fiction illustrator, and an analyst of space photography—are all linked in their search for utopia, while unable to help peering into a dim future.

Doors at 6:30 p.m.; Screening at 7:00 p.m. Run time is 90 min.

Cash bar and concessions on the auditorium terrace starting at 5:30 p.m.


“It's about the contrast between the 1960s and the 1980s. But that was one aspect of the original script which diminished tremendously—the project was very much taken over by events here and now. As we actually made the film, the moment of making it became more and more important—we wanted to inscribe the present, Thatcherism, cuts, unemployment into it.” - Laura Mulvey in an interview with Frameworks, Issue 19, 1982.

“One of the most lucid and poignant allegories of the utopian sensibility.” - Adrian Martin

“[An] effervescent and largely successful black's great to see the Left dancing so wittily on the graveyards of past and present.” - City Limits (UK)

This event is co-presented by the Getty’s Ever Present series and Mezzanine.

Need help?

Contact us!

9 am–5 pm,
7 days a week

(310) 440-7300