Erased Video: A Comparative Analysis of The Forgotten and Rabbit Hole

Curator's Note

Rabbit Hole, David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2006 Broadway play, examines a couple’s response to a child’s death when a husband discovers his wife’s accidental erasure of their late son’s only videotaped images. In this clip, from Joseph Ruben’s The Forgotten (2004), Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) discovers that videotape of her son, purportedly dead from a plane crash, has been similarly erased. Rabbit Hole is a realist drama about traumatic loss; The Forgotten offers science-fiction about aliens who erase memories of motherhood. Lindsay-Abaire interrogates gender expectations (the father obsesses about his lost son), while The Forgotten relies on more conventional wisdom about the unique mother-child bond. Yet these two dissimilar works, in their coincident use of the erased videotape, identify contemporary audio-visual media as a memory machine, whose impermanence serves as the marker of loss. Both pieces interrogate the frailty of both human and machine recollection, and raise important questions about the relationship between time, memory, and machine.

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