June 18, 2023
Which Way Is Up? s01e08 — Speed Racer ft. Dan Hassler-Forest

Arguably the best-looking digital film ever made, Speed Racer is somewhat of an outlier in the cinematic universe of the Wachowski’s. Initially shunned by critics following its 2008 release, the film has recently garnered critical reappraisal for its incredible visual style, its discombobulating editing and its affectionate treatment of the source material, the eponymous Japanese animation series. One could label Speed Racer as the perfect example of hopepunk: an inspiring tale of kindness and transcendence in a dystopian world, where the purest of selves can overcome the death grip of corporate conglomerates. 

As the first HD digital feature film of the Wachowski’s, the film is shot entirely on green screen, and yet, when you compare it with contemporary blockbusters, it signifies a radical departure of mainstream digital filmmaking. Opening up totally different visual and creative avenues for popular cinema, Speed Racer hints at what could have been if only filmmakers embraced digital filmmaking tools with curiosity, creativity and care. 

Media scholar Dan Hassler-Forest, author of Transmedia and Capitalist Superheroes, gives an introduction before the screening of this unsung masterpiece of digital filmmaking. 

Title: Speed Racer | Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski Year: 2008 Runtime: 135 min (+ 20 min introduction)

About the programme: Which Way Is Up? is a recurring film series curated by film critic Hugo Emmerzael, offering critiques and reflections on our postmodern, late capitalist hellworld through the lens of digital film — from mainstream blockbusters to experimental cinema.