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Sarah Barrow’s chapter explores several examples from contemporary Latin American cinema as case studies to address some of the terms and issues that are raised by the notion of transnational cinematographic (dis)connections, and to capitalize on the productive intersection of ideas and debates that have begun to emerge in this area. Analyses of important films from Chile, Mexico and Peru that have crossed borders from many logistical and conceptual perspectives, are deployed to highlight some of the many ways that we might better understand the way that film culture explores, highlights, disrupts and interrogates notions of intercultural communication.
Joanne Leal’s chapter investigates how far and how exactly cinema is able to offer a representational counterbalance to conservative notions of national belonging and exclusionary constructions of what social cohesion should mean. It considers these issues mainly within a Western European framework, asking what film can do to promote intercultural sensitivities within contemporary European contexts in which attitudes to the impact of globalization and particularly the transnational movement of people are often ambivalent and sometimes actively hostile. In particular it examines critical assessments of the positive intercultural impact of watching foreign cinema, the possible political effects of films which encourage empathetic responses to transnational tales contained in generically familiar forms and the critical potential of two kinds of film which uses less conventional cinematic means to represent a globalized social world.
This chapter uses a chronological framework to explore a number of transitions in the development of cinema in Ireland, giving particular attention to the period from the mid-1990s to the present. By connecting the idea of ‘transition’ to the term ‘borrowing’, the chapter uses the latter to explore how the evolution of indigenous film-making was often suspended between established historical precedents and moments of definitive transition. In this, it proposes an affirmative reading of how Irish film-makers carved out an important niche in the interstices between more traditional and contemporary cultural, political, industrial, and aesthetic practices: on the one hand by acknowledging existing templates, and on the other by creatively exploring certain elasticity within the same structures. This ingenuity is evident across a formal play with genres, the creative use of literary sources, an address to earlier representations of Ireland on screen, and (more recently) through technological developments in distribution.
This chapter argues that the use of speed manipulation in digital cinema constitutes special affects of exhilaration and the stun. This emphasis on temporal manipulation supplements the spatial emphasis contained in much work on digital cinema. Digital tools enable a common manipulation of speed and time that potentially innervates the affections of exhilaration and the stun or jolt. In particular, two blockbuster movies – 300 and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – illustrate the common construction of suspension-images and aftermath-images whose combinations result in the special affects outlined here. The chapter concludes by connecting these images to the consumer culture today, arguing that they express the turn towards an affective consumerism concerned primarily with the production of affective experiences over visual spectacle. In short, cinematic features today, like many consumer commodities, have become something to viscerally feel rather than visually behold, with time manipulation becoming central to this goal.
The description of Daedalus’ labyrinth, built as prison without possibility of escape for the Minotaur, is one of Ovid’s most famous passages. Modern, and especially postmodern, theory has often regarded the labyrinth as an analogy to complex literary compositions, with Ariadne’s thread as a kind of reader’s guide through such textual mazes. (Scholars regard Daedalus as a creative analogy to Ovid himself.) Chapter 4 accordingly centers on literal and figurative screen labyrinths. Since around 1960, elusive nonlinear plots became prominent in cinematic narratives, especially in French New Wave cinema. One film is of primary importance in this regard. Last Year at Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais from a script by novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet, is set in and around an intricate maze-like building, in which time and place seem to exert a hallucinatory effect on the film’s characters and, in equal measure, on its viewers. Fascinating labyrinths appear in various film genres as well. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining features one literal and one figurative maze; the latter, a large and complex building that exerts a demonic will, is the more deadly one. The titular house of Harry Kümel’s cult favorite Malpertuis is even more hellish – literally so because of its connection with classical Underworld mythology. Briefer discussions of two stylish mysteries, Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Name of the Rose, lead to a final section with appreciations of other screen labyrinths and Minotaurs.
Chapter 6 continues the subject of screen metamorphosis from a different perspective. It takes the first metamorphosis in Ovid’s epic, that of the evil Lycaon into a wolf, as its cue to discuss different approaches by filmmakers to putting abnormal psychic phenomena on the screen. Transformations of a human into an animal or into a human monster and someone’s possession of another’s mind are staples of horror stories in word and image. This chapter also examines technical aspects of screen metamorphoses from man to beast. Ovid’s Lycaon sets the scene. The name Lycaon derives from the Greek word for wolf. The Wolf Man, a classic series of horror films, can be shown to derive directly from Ovid. Other films are revealing examples of background Ovidianism. The screen metamorphoses of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde are instructive for the processes by which such transformations were achieved before CGI. The chapter closes with analyses of two films by Ingmar Bergman (Hour of the Wolf, Persona), in which psychological horror replaces the surface thrills of standard shockers.
The next two chapters deal with key aspects of direct and indirect Ovidianism in film history. Chapter 3 details a particular moment, both Ovidian and cinematic, in the artistic development of Gabriele D’Annunzio, once Italy’s pre-eminent writer, and its far-ranging repercussions for D’Annunzio and all of film history. D’Annunzio saw himself as an artistic and spiritual descendent of Ovid. His poems, especially Alcyone, provide ample evidence. Daphne’s metamorphosis into a laurel tree in the Metamorphoses prompted D’Annunzio to abandon his earlier disdain for the new medium of cinema and to make film history himself: in his practical involvement with several productions and in regard to the origins of film stardom. D’Annunzio became one of the first formulators of film theory, perhaps the first ever. This chapter also addresses the Ovidian nature of a pre-cinematic apparatus such as the thaumatrope and the impulse that American educators received from early cinema and D’Annunzio. None of this would have occurred the way it did without Ovid in the background.
The Introduction presents the reader with the methodology and theoretical structure of the book, a general historical overview of sigheh marriage in Iran, literary productions of the Pahlavi era, and the cinematic productions of the Islamic Republic; and discusses the importance of each work briefly in its historical context with a chapter breakdown at the end.
Against a certain perception of him as a cerebral writer with sophisticated philosophical tastes, the focus of much of Borges’s life and work is the popular or even the vulgar: the gaucho code; the hoodlums/compadritos of Buenos Aires; pirates and gangsters; tangos; classical Hollywood movies, and so forth. Following his biography of dissolute poet, Evaristo Carriego, ’Man on Pink Corner’ features criminal low-lifes and is Borges’s first real story published in a book. The figure of the gaucho appears in certain canonical stories of the 1940s - ’The South’, for example. A poem from the early 1960s, ’The Tango’, indulges an urban nostalgia and is elegiac. Detective stories had an abiding appeal for Borges. And the cinema inspired him to collaborate on a number of screenplays, author reviews, and translate aspects of cinematic style into his fictions. Borges’s influence on filmmakers was profound and extensive.
The chapter’s first part describes the interrelated but also contrary development of literature and film in the early twentieth century. It places modernist experiments with literary form in relation to the new representational and narrative strategies of early film. The second part explains in depth which new forms of immediacy the movies offered and how important these immediacy effects were for the cultural impact and popularity of early film, especially the “cinema of attractions.” The chapter also discusses the popular perception of film as a particularly modern medium. It argues that the oscillation between self-reflexivity and immediacy was central to the cultural work performed by early cinema because it allowed early film to train viewers in new forms of attention required by the accelerated pace, fragmentation, and informational density of modern life, while also providing compensatory relief and entertainment. Provoking media awareness as well as experiences of immersion, the early cinema reminded its viewers that their perception of the world was mediated, while the thrill of its immediacy effects offered them moments of respite from such self-reflexive considerations.
Stein used film as a model to explain the avant-garde poetics of her literary portraits to her perplexed readers. The chapter examines two early portraits, “Picasso” and “Orta,” in the context of chronophotography and early film. It also considers Stein’s theoretical reflections on her insistent style, particularly “Portraits and Repetition” and “How Writing Is Written.” Stein’s early portraits are in orientation temporal and performative (like film) rather than visual and static (like photography). They advance through sequences of similar, serially varied sentences that create the impression of an ongoing present. Stein’s cinematic form of serial variation locates meaning in the movement of its sentence permutations rather than in its mimetic capacities. Her serial sentences keep readers focused on the workings of language and the text’s temporal unfolding and thus manage to turn an awareness of representational processes into a tool to center our attention on the always elusive present moment. Stein’s use of self-reflexivity to create a sense of temporal and perceptual immediacy radicalizes the cinematic strategy of embedding immediacy effects in overtly self-referential texts.
Set in contemporary Palermo, Emma Dante's Via Castellana Bandiera (2013) offers a powerful exploration of the South as a site of cultural contact, interaction and confrontation by focusing on a western-like showdown between two women whose lives are differently marked by mobility and migration. In Dante's film, the simultaneous articulation of queerness and southernness is a way to queer the traditional image of the frontier and to offer an evocative elaboration on how identities are constructed, mobilised and played off against each other in the neoliberal context.
Even though Cormac McCarthy’s position in relation to the Western genre is subversive, working against a genre still requires thorough familiarity with the conventions of that genre. Two of McCarthy’s Western novels, namely Cities of the Plain (1998) and No Country for Old Men (2005), were originally written as screenplays, placing his writing within the context of the cinematic Western. Given McCarthy’s interest in both the genre and medium of Western films, an investigation into his cinematic influences is apposite. The publication dates of McCarthy’s Western novels follow the emergence of a revisionist shift in the Western film genre. The first wave of revisionist appeared in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. Largely influenced by social and ideological disillusionment following the Vietnam War, the films were characterized by their cynical, amoral, and above all violent portrayals of the so-called Wild West. There are numerous nuances of similarity between McCarthy’s Western novels and the most influential Western films of the pre-revisionist and revisionist eras, namely, those directed by John Ford, Sergio Leone, and especially Sam Peckinpah.
It was exciting, no doubt, to watch silent films to the accompaniment of musical excerpts played by cinema orchestras, but the 1930s gave audiences the chance to see stars sing and act. That decade consequently offers valuable historical insight into vocal practice and performance technique. This chapter begins with an overview of freshly created screen operettas and of films adapting stage operettas. It briefly examines Die Drei von der Tankstelle (1930) and other German films, before moving to British and American films. The demands of film are contrasted with techniques required in the theatre. The chapter then looks at the practice of adaptation in Hollywood, and it ends with a discussion of the operetta Heimat film in Germany.
Aging, Duration, and the English Novel concludes by comparing the affordances of cinema and the novel as they relate to the representation of aging. Emerging near the end of this study’s historical focus, cinema offered new formal possibilities for capturing the process of growing old. Returning to the question of duration through a discussion of Woolf’s, Bergson’s, and Deleuze’s writing on cinema, this section teases out the formal arguments about narrative explored in the previous chapters. In fact, the comparison between cinematic and textual narrative underlines this book’s thesis: that the affordances of form structure historically specific possibilities—affective, social, and political—for older people. The afterword also affirms an expanded version of this thesis by arguing that age—as a biocultural process—serves as a form with its own ability to organize human life and read texts.
On the Italian internet, the dominant, Italian-centred – and arguably often nationalistic – discourse on Global China, and, by extension, Global Italy, emphasises economic growth and opportunities. The celebratory and homogenising rhetoric of this discourse has been challenged by a counter-discourse on subaltern China, which focuses on the many, localised social inequities and discriminations suffered by the Chinese – or, more accurately, sinophone – workers. In this counter- discourse, an important role is played by small-screen documentaries on displaced migrants both in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and in Italy. I propose that they provide meaningful evidence of an Italian-accented ‘sinologia di sinistra’ or activist sinology, which views research as a transnational practice and advocates a stronger link between academic discourse and civil society.
Chapter V traces the fortunes of Faust as he thrived in European, British, and American films. In its analysis of cinematic treatments of the Faust legend, this chapter distinguishes between adaptations and appropriations, defining adaptations as films that make explicit reference to the Faust legend, featuring a character named Faust and a Mephistophelian figure, and appropriations as films that are not explicitly based on the Faust legend, but nevertheless contain most of the characteristics of the traditional Faustian format. This chapter analyzes the following cinematic adaptations of the Faust legend: Murnau’s silent film Faust (German, 1926), René Clair’s The Beauty of the Devil (French, 1952), Nevill Coghill and Richard Burton’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (English, 1967), Jan Svankmajer’s Faust (Czechoslovakian, 1994), and Sokurov’s Faust (Russian, 2011). The chapter also discusses the following British and American cinematic appropriations of the Faust narrative: The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Damn Yankees (1958), Bedazzled (1967), Oh, God! You Devil (1984), Crossroads (1986), Angel Heart (1987), and a remake of Bedazzled (2000).
From its emergence in the mid-nineteenth century, decadence has been, fundamentally, a socio-cultural response to urban modernity. Indeed, decadence is all but unthinkable outside the borders of the modern metropolis. Hence this chapter treats literature less as a literary critic would and more as an urbanist thinker might. An urbanist reading of a decadent text must perforce pay attention not only to urban geography, including the plan of the city in which the work is set, its dominant architectural styles, socio-economic differences in neighborhoods, and so on, but also to the cultural, social, and psychological meanings that the urban setting produces in a particular decadent text. In this essay, the urbanist approach is brought to bear on three novels whose urban geography is especially significant to their respective narratives: Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Il Piacere [Pleasure] (1889), Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig [Death in Venice] (1912). These three works illustrate, respectively, the special relationship of the urban scene to cultural, social, and psychological issues germane to the decadent narrative of each novel.
Lynda Bundtzen contextualizes Plath’s poetry with auteur cinema, the influx of principally European films into the American art house theatres in the 1950s and early 1960s. Drawing on Plath’s known viewings of films by Bunuel, Cocteau, Fellini, Bergman and Resnai, Bundtzen shows how Plath uses her writing to respond critically and emotionally to a cinema that is designed to showcase experimentation. Bundtzen focuses on the often surreal elements of Plath’s imagery and the theatrical confrontations in poems share the same experimental bravery of the directors whose work Plath so admired.
Decadent works, decadent themes, and decadent personalities figure prominently in the history of film, not only because of screen adaptations of novels and plays (there are at least three versions of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and many more adaptations of Wilde’s plays), but also because of the proliferation of decadent themes and types, especially in the silent era. Examples include Theda Bara’s vamp persona and the frequent use of decadent settings for the silent mise-en-scène, such as pre-WWI Vienna in Erich von Stroheim’s The Wedding March (1928). Two key periods of decadence ? the Roman Empire and libertine France ? form the bases of the two modern films most identified with decadence: Federico Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom (1975). Some critics refer to Salò as the ‘last art film’ in cinema history, an assessment that reflects a sense that cinema itself has since entered a period of decadence. But time and again, some filmic form of ‘decadence’ has actually helped to enliven cinema and ensure its continuing artistic value.