in Film modernism
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Ford is a film-maker of dawn, dusk and night. Even in his brightly lit scenes, shadows intervene. His images are muted, on a shadow-line, depicting subjects from the past in the tones and atmosphere of the past, like old photographs, repetitions of earlier images, of what has been, memory not actuality, and like memory, immobilised in time. If, in the stories told by Ford, events succeed each other and are consequent upon each other, the whole of the story issues from a frozen, eternal past. It is not only his characters who commune with the dead at a graveside, but the audience watching his films.

Like the classical films of Hollywood, Ford’s films transform realities of place, setting and persons into fictions, with the difference that his fictions are memorials, detached from the present and from history. Like the dead, Ford’s images are eternal, caught in a time of perpetuity, his Young Mr Lincoln for example.


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