12:21 - The Palindrome Explained

Shot in 2004, this is the first short film to come from Glenn Bartlett, Shaun Collins and Dave Uhler, collectively known as 12:22 Productions. Our purpose was to create a film that you could watch forwards and backwards, inspired by the fact that, at the time, you could add a parameter (loop="palindrome") to the QuickTime embed code that made the player show the video forwards, then start playing it backwards once it reached the end.

The ending montage represents a backward viewing, and ultimately makes for a much better viewing experience.

Other palindromes, in case you didn't notice, are hidden in the short.

• The time... 12:21 is obviously a palindrome.

• All of the characters names are palindromes... Bob, Otto, Eve. Even the unnamed purse snatcher was named JJ in the script.

• The 181 address on the side of the building when the purse snatcher gets caught.

• The car that hits Otto has a bumper sticker on it that says "Race Fast Safe Car."

• We tried to include some audio palindromes... for example, the moment that the sandwich board guy says "Somebody Call 911!" Bob is saying "NO NO NOT (you honey)!" Backwards they sound almost the same... Since the word NO sounds like ONE backwards. We were reaching, sure... but it is there.

• The man that bumps into Otto says the same thing that Otto says, "Why don't you watch where you're going?!" ...that segment could be played forwards and backwards, and would seem the same.

• The ring itself is a snake eating the head on the other end.

• The ring also coincides with the They Might Be Giants song "I Palindrome I" (And I am a snake head eating the head on the opposite side... I palindrome I) - which is the song that is playing in the car that drives by.

• Otto starts to give out my phone number backwards, but is bumped before he can finish it. ( For those who know my phone number... he flubs the line since the last numbers in my phone number are 228... and he says 882.)

• Otto's backward-playing voice recorder opens and closes the short with the line "This is only the beginning."

• At the end (or the middle, if you wish) you see the sandwich board guy holding a sign that says "The End Is Near!" - To which we find out it's not really near at all, and if it were, it would be a good thing.

• About half way thru, (or a 1/4 of the way if you count the backwards viewing) we see the sandwich board from the other side and it says part of a quote from Robert Frost... "There are only middles." The full quote is "You're searching, Joe, for things that don't exist; I mean beginnings. Ends and beginnings -- there are no such things. There are only middles."

There may even be more that we have long since forgot. I know we wanted to have sale signs in the windows that sold kayaks for $59.95 and such... but we never got around to making that happen.

At the time, we had not known that Michel Gondry had already created a video achieving this same idea some 8 years prior. Many people have also tried to create such a film, but most of them are single shots without much movement. We were not going to restrict ourselves just to make it easier on ourselves.

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