STUDIO: Next Step Studios
MSRP: $14.99
RUNNING TIME: 83 Minutes
• Soundtrack CD
• Two bonus scenes
• Production notes

The Pitch

"It’s the Biography channel as narrated by the Crappon!"

The Humans

Writer and director Richard Green narrates and dominates the film.

The Nutshell

Richard Green presents a brief history of his life in rhymed verse, from his starving, artiste, hippie days through the realization of some dreams and the abandonment of others, set against a backdrop of dramatizations, vivid storyboards, and documentary footage. Run-on sentences included. We think fetishes are funny.

The Lowdown

7 Year Zigzag is an unusual beast. It’s a personal history, a cinematic memoir with all the filtered truth of traditional written autobiography. Its mode of communication — through heavily rhythmic couplets and slant-rhymes — differs from the norm. Where writers of autobiography often tries to ladle importance onto their own lives, the rhyme scheme of Zigzag lends the film a naivete that perfectly extends the desperate, dream-clinging narrative.

That’s not to say the poetry is any good, by modern standards. It’s not poetry as most define it, as an incisive economy of words. Instead, it functions as a chugging engine to Green’s life, a swinging beat that propels the nostalgia at a steady clip. For as capably as Green proclaims his life’s lyrics, they are a built-in audience limiter. Individuality in presentation has the potential to alienate a wide base of potential viewers, much more so than traditional genre lines tend to.

Can’t you just hear the spit-valves dumping?

Fortunately, though the film is aggressively personal, its message is not. The point of entry for an audience is in the near-universal appeal of witnessing a triumph of a regular Joe. Richard Green’s seven-year course from initial dream of cinematic greatness to eventual success as a swing-fusion club owner is heartening not because it ends in triumph, but because it ends in satisfaction. The reconciling of aspirations and reality is an often painful process, and Green comes out on top in a charming end to his disenchanted tale.

Slapdash editing notwithstanding, 7 Year Zigzag is deceptively entertaining. It tastes faintly of pretension, but carries enough emotional weight to make it both stylish and substantive, in just about equal measures.

Next do Deformed Rabbit. It is my favorite.

The Package

The quality of the video is only as good as its source material. The cinematic collage that Green assembled hails from numerous different resources, and though there aren’t any jarring changes, there are subtle differences in the various origins that itch at the brain. A persistent scan line hovers at the top of a bit of footage; a change in resolution makes the frame muddy, that sort of thing. The audio, which is an integral part of many of the film’s sequences, is unspectacular, but serviceable.

The main bonus of note is the soundtrack included in this package. The swing-styled tunes integrate perfectly into the film, and are a blast to listen to separately. If modern swing is your thing, take a listen.

You also get two additional sequences that feel like padding the movie didn’t need, and a raft of production notes, which are detailed enough to handily replace your average commentary track.

7 out of 10