Claude Chabrol's films break down the dubious critical barrier between art
cinema and popular cinema. Rejecting the avant-garde and the experimental,
Chabrol chooses to work within the confines of established genres. He has in
fact filmed farce, melodrama, fantasy, war films, spy films and glossy literary
adaptations. Chabrol has excellent new-wave credentials and is in some ways a
representative figure for this innovative film movement in French cinema. For
the small budget of 32 million old francs, he was able to shoot Le Beau
Serge over nine weeks in the winter of 1957/8 and film it in what was
essentially his home village. Chabrol has known periods of great success (the
launching of the new wave in 1958, the superb Hélène cycle of the late 1960s,
including his most famous film Le Boucher for his return to form in the
1990s). He also has had periods of inactivity and failure. His depiction of the
middle classes usually concentrates on the family. Le Cri du hibou begins
as Masques ends, with a framed image from which the camera slowly tracks
back to reveal the presence of a spectator. Given that in Chabrol's cinema
women are often lacking in financial or social power, there are limits to the
ways in which they can either define themselves or escape their situation. This
is spelled out most clearly in Les Bonnes Femmes, where the potential
escape routes are sex, marriage into the bourgeoisie, a career, romance or
François Ozon was born in Paris to René and Anne-Marie Ozon on November 15, 1967. This book takes as one of its points of departure the idea that Ozon has consciously styled his œuvre thus far around a number of recurring tropes and themes, one of the most striking of which has been the emergence of adult sexualities and relations from out of the spectral carcasses of real or fantasised family members. Kinship, desire and violence thus structure the narratives of all the films under discussion, and can be seen to stamp Ozon's repertoire of images firmly with the mark of a self-styled auteur. The book discusses considers the majority of Ozon's short films together with his first feature Sitcom through the lens of desire, and demonstrates the extent to which Ozon's vision of human sexuality can be described as a fundamentally 'queer' and 'post-modern' one. It focuses on four of Ozon's simultaneously most accomplished and misunderstood films and approaches them via the perspective of the power relations they depict. They are Regarde la mer, Les Amants criminels, and 8 femmes. The book surveys a number of Ozon's films from the 2000s: Sous le sable, Swimming Pool, 5x2, and Le Temps qui reste. Sexual desire as represented by Ozon is almost always multidimensional and consistently astonishing in its capacity for boundless reinvention. His films frequently employ household servants among their cast of characters. Ozon uses tools borrowed from the toolbox of three genres: namely, horror, melodrama and musical.
Within the visual arts, speculation concerning the paranormal, haunting, spiritualism, and spirit photography expanded enormously in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Focusing on people's complex relationship with technology, this book explores our culture's continued fascination with the spectral, the ghostly and the paranormal. Informed by history and the visual tradition of spiritualism and psychical research, it cites that tradition within our contemporary concerns, such as landscape and environment, and recent technological developments. The book discusses the role of vitalism in contemporary theory, reflecting on what Bergson's interest in spiritualism suggests about the historical and theoretical complexities that lie behind the current uses of vitalism. It examines the twitching gestural engagements with a variety of devices, instruments, and technologies, including the typewriter, the pianola, the slate, and the phonograph. The book highlights that spiritualist phenomena are the result of mendacity on the one side and credulous belief on the other; Dada photomontage the result of painfully keen-eyed despair and a powerful drive to experiment. Resiting spirit photography and the production of 'ectoplasm' within the theatrical tradition of melodrama, the book considers spiritualist manifestations in terms of 'performances for camera'. It pays attention to exhibitions, staged in galleries in the UK and the United States between 2003 and 2007, which paired spirit photographs with examples of contemporary art photography. Finally, the book considers various spectral emanations moving across space and time, and across different discourses the work of John Ruskin, to discuss the relations between haunting and ecological catastrophe.
This book explores the diverse literary, film and visionary creations of the polymathic and influential British artist Clive Barker. It presents groundbreaking essays that critically reevaluate Barker's oeuvre. These include in-depth analyses of his celebrated and lesser known novels, short stories, theme park designs, screen and comic book adaptations, film direction and production, sketches and book illustrations, as well as responses to his material from critics and fan communities. The book examines Barker's earlier fiction and its place within British horror fiction and socio-cultural contexts. Selected tales from the Books of Blood are exemplary in their response to the frustrations and political radicalism of the 1980s British cultural anxieties. Aiming to rally those who stand defiant of Thatcher's polarising vision of neoliberal British conservatism, Weaveworld is revealed to be a savage indictment of 1980s British politics. The book explores Barker's transition from author to filmmaker, and how his vision was translated, captured, and occasionally compromised in its adaptation from page to the screen. Barker's work contains features which can be potentially read as feminine and queer, positioning them within traditions of the Gothic, the melodrama and the fantastic. The book examines Barker's works, especially Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Lord of Illusions, through the critical lenses of queer culture, desire, and brand recognition. It considers Barker's complex and multi-layered marks in the field, exploring and re-evaluating his works, focusing on Tortured Souls and Mister B. Gone's new myths of the flesh'.
Jean Cocteau, the first French writer to take cinema seriously, was as old and young as cinema itself; he made his first film in 1925 and completed his last film when he was 70. This book first deals with the issue of the type of film maker that Cocteau was: as a auteur, as a collaborator, as an experimenter, and as a theorist. It takes the pulse of Cocteau's cinema by examining in detail his ground-breaking first film Le Sang d'un poète', and argues that the film offers a vision of the potential of film for Cocteau. The book traces the evolution of realism and fantasy in Cocteau's work by introducing a main element, theatre, and assesses the full gamut of Cocteau's formal inclinations: from the legend and fantasy of L'Eternel retour to the spectacular fairytale of La Belle et la bête; from the 'film théâtral' of L'Aigle à deux têtes to the domestic melodrama Les Parents terribles which 'detheatricalises' his original play. In Le Testament d'Orphée, all the various formal tendencies of Cocteau's cinema come together but with the additional element of time conceived of as history, and the book re-evaluates the general claim of Cocteau's apparently missed encounter with history. The book considers whether the real homosexual element of Cocteau's cinema surfaces more at the most immediate level of sound and image by concentrating on the specifics of Cocteau's filmic style, in particular camera angle, framing and reverse-motion photography.
Jean Epstein, born in Warsaw, was raised in Switzerland, but it was Brittany where he made some of his best films. He was famous yet misunderstood, original yet held to be idiosyncratic and poetic to a fault, consistently referred to by most critics as a key theoretician. Using familiar genres, melodramas and documentaries, he hoped to heal viewers of all classes and hasten social utopia. This book offers the first comprehensive introduction to and preliminary study of Epstein's movies, film theory, and literary and philosophical criticism in the age of cinema. Diluted into a single word, photogénie, his aesthetic project is equated with a naïve faith in the magic power of moving images, whereas Epstein insistently articulated photogénie in detailed corporeal, ethical and political terms. While Epstein scarcely refers to World War One in his writings or film work, it is clearly from this set of urgent questions that he began reflecting on art and literature. The New Wave movement in France in the late 1950s, put melodrama and avant-garde together feels oxymoronic if not sacrilegious. Epstein's filmography contains roughly an equal number of films that can be labelled fiction and documentary, a little over twenty, in each category. Epstein has opened the way for a corporeal cinema predicated on cinematography and montage rather than narration and mise-en-scène. Epstein's work in cinema, film 'theory', and philosophy, offers today a surprisingly contemporary set of movies, cinematographic idioms, and reflections on all the phenomena of cinema.
In his review of The King’s
Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010), Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw
remarks that the Oscar-winning film shows ‘some cheek at presenting an
English monarch as the underdog’. 1 However, although melodrama
traditionally ‘sides with the powerless’, 2 it has become a
common mode through which the British monarchy is represented in
The ‘Blood-Stained Stage’ revisited
em m y Cat nach and the Staffordshire potters were not the
only businessmen to make a substantial profit from the murder
of William Weare by John Thurtell near Watford in October 1823.
Even before the outcome of Thurtell’s trial, the Surrey Theatre on
London’s south bank advertised the production of a new melodrama
based on the tragedy, ‘The Gamblers’, to be performed nightly from 17
November. Playbills drew in enthusiastic audiences with the promise of
‘Fac-similes of those Scenes, now so much the object of general
Laurent Cantet is of one France’s leading contemporary directors. He probes the evolution and fault-lines of contemporary society from the home to the workplace and from the Republican school to globalized consumption more acutely than perhaps any other French film-maker. His films always challenge his characters’ assumptions about their world. But they also make their spectators rethink their position in relation to what they see. This is what makes Cantet such an important film-maker, the book argues. It explores Cantet’s unique working ‘method,’ his use of amateur actors and attempt to develop an egalitarian authorship that allows other voices to be heard rather than subsumed. It discusses his way of constructing films at the uneasy interface of the individual, the group and the broader social context and his recourse to melodramatic strategies and moments of shame to force social tensions into view. It shows how the roots of the well-known later films can be found in his early works. It explores the major fictions from Ressources humaines to the recent Foxfire, Confessions of a Girl Gang. It combines careful close analysis with attention to broader cinematic, social and political contexts while drawing on a range of important theorists from Pierre Bourdieu to Jacques Rancière, Michael Bakhtin and Mary Ann Doane. It concludes by examining how, resolutely contemporary of the current moment, Cantet helps us rethink the possibilities and limits of political cinema in a context in which old resistances have fallen silent and new forms of protest are only emergent.
Bubbles of the day:
the melodramatic and the pantomimic
s the two previous chapters have argued, melodrama was a vital frame
of reference, or in Raymond Williams’s term, a ‘structure of feeling’, for
nineteenth-century oppositional and radical politics. Poole and Sanders chart
the fluidity of form and action between public politics, performance and the
aesthetics and practices of the early nineteenth-century stage. In this chapter,
I will explore the ways in which pantomime, the other dominant popular
theatrical genre of the period, offers