Among the musical Hitler Émigrés from Vienna to London, pride of place has often been accorded to Hans Keller, a psychologically-minded critic (or, as he described himself, ‘anti-critic’) who dominated the British musical scene for the 40 years that followed 1945. In the period 1946-1959 he devoted himself assiduously to film music, on the one hand laying out the topics that a ‘competent film music critic’ would need to address, and on the other paying scrupulous attention to everything he saw and heard. He shared with Theodor Adorno a loathing of Hollywood, and championed British composers above most others. This selection comes in advance of the publication of his collected writings on film, Film Music and Beyond (London, Plumbago, 2005), and shows on the one hand his topical writings, dealing with the importance of actually listening to film-music, ‘noise as leitmotif’, the contribution of psychology to understanding the function of film music, and classical quotations in film, and on the other hand his writing on composers, including Arthur Benjamin, Georges Auric, William Alwyn, Leonard,Bernstein (On the Waterfront) and Anton Karas (The Third Man).
Beginning from a consideration of some ideas on aesthetics deriving from R. G. Collingwood, this essay sets Dreyer‘s Vampyr beside Fulcis The Beyond. The article then goes on to suggest something of the nature of the horror film, at least as exemplified by these two works, by placing them against the background of certain poetic procedures associated with the post-symbolist poetry of T. S. Eliot.
Although Europa 51 (1952) was the most commercially successful of the films Roberto Rossellini made with the Hollywood star, Ingrid Bergman, the reception by the Italian press was largely negative. Many critics focussed on what they saw to be the ‘unreal’ or abstract quality of the films portrayal of the postwar urban milieu and on the Bergman character‘s isolation from the social world. This article looks at how certain structures of seeing that are associated in the classical style with the woman as star or spectacle - e.g., the repetitious return to her fixed image, the resistance to pulling back from the figure of the woman in order to situate her within a determinate location and set of relationships between characters and objects - are no longer restricted to her image but in fact bleed into or “contaminate” the depiction of the world she inhabits. In other words, whereas the compulsive return to the fixed image of the woman tends to be contained or neutralised by the narrative economy and editing patterns (ordered by sexual difference) of the classical style, in Rossellini‘s work this ‘insistent’ even aberrant framing in relation to the woman becomes a part of the (female) characters and the cameras vision of the ‘pathology’ of the urban landscape in the aftermath of the war.
This essay examines some of the literary and biographical models Truman Capote drew on in the creation of Holly Golightly, the heroine of his 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany‘s. Making use of Paramount studio records, the essay also explores the complex process of adapting the story to the big screen. Numerous changes were made so as to transform Capotes story into a romantic comedy, and thus to contain Holly‘s liberated sexuality while also erasing any doubts about the male protagonists heterosexuality. Casting Hepburn as the female lead helped to neutralize Holly‘s sexual transgressiveness, and it sexualized the stars ethereal persona.
In Sean Penn‘s crime thriller The Pledge (2000), a crucial stage of story action is determined by a purely chance event. Neither prefigured by narrative signposting nor sutured into the films system of causation, the chance event both mystifies the fictive agents and distresses audience expectation. This essay explores the issues at stake in the films reliance on chance action, arguing that its usage represents a significant risk on the part of the dramaturgist. Moreover, the essay examines the alterations that the film makes in Friedrich Dürrenmatts source novel, and considers the ways in which these alterations radically transform the effects created by the story‘s chance event.
This paper is organised around an analysis of a short sequence from Godard‘s Pierrot le fou (1965). Although the sequence appears to be a series of repetitions, close analysis reveals it to be a single event presented in a carefully fragmented order. This unexpected fact generates questions about how to account for the relation between our initial beliefs about the organisation of the sequence and our knowledge of its actual structure. We come to see, in an intimate way, that reflection on the way we watch and understand film is one of the central themes of Godard‘s filmmaking.
An analysis of 21 Grams (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2003) that uses the film to illustrate a number of trends in the contemporary American independent sector, including both its situation in the industrial landscape and its most distinctive formal qualities. Industrially, the film, distributed by Focus Features, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, is identified as a product of the zone of overlap that exists between all-out independence and attachment to the major Hollywood studio-distributors. A hybrid identity is also suggested,at the level of form, in a mixture of fragmented narrative and hyper-realistic visual textures with more conventionally melodramatic content.
Dismissed by most critics, including even those sympathetic to alternative cinema, Harmony Korine‘s Gummo (1997) presents a tabloid look at the dark underside of adolescence. It aims to provoke its audience by pushing the boundaries of acceptable good taste. In Gummo, Korine employs a more experimental collage technique in which scenes are linked, not by the cause and effect of conventional plot, but by the elusive logic of free association. This essay contextualizes Korines work within skateboard culture and the recent Modern Gothic trend toward creepy, angst ridden, and death-obsessed work by younger contemporary American artists. It argues that Gummo‘s real achievement rests on its unusual narrative syntax – the way Korine is able to weave together the films disparate scenes and events to create a viscerally assaulting, Modern Gothic portrait of the notion of “difference” in its various manifestations.