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An introduction

This book provides an introduction to French film studies. It concentrates on films which have had either a theatrical or video release in Britain, or which are available on video or DVD from France. Most avant-garde film-makers, including Germaine Dulac, were unable to continue in the 1930s, faced with the technical demands and high production costs of the sound film. Exacerbated by the Depression, and above all by the financial collapse of both Gaumont and Pathé, film production fell from 158 features the previous year to only 126 in 1934, and 115 in 1935. While poetic realism was at its height, a talismanic figure in post-war film was faced with a generally lukewarm reception from critics and audiences. Thanks largely to German finance and also to an influx of filmmakers replacing those who had departed, after 1940 French film. If 1968 marked a watershed in French cinema's engagement with politics and history 1974 did the same for representations of sexuality. In that year, pornography entered mainstream French cinema. Although film-making remains male-dominated in France as elsewhere, 'more women have taken an active part in French cinema than in any other national film industry'. A quarter of all French films made in 1981 were polars, and many of those were box-office successes. French fantasy has had a particular national outlet: the bande dessinée. The heritage film often takes its subject or source from the 'culturally respectable classicisms of literature, painting, music'.

Generic and thematic mutations in horror film
Editors: and

From its earliest days, horror film has turned to examples of the horror genre in fiction, such as the Victorian Gothic, for source material. The horror film has continually responded to cultural pressures and ideological processes that resulted in new, mutated forms of the genre. Adaptation in horror cinema is a useful point of departure for articulating numerous socio-cultural trends. Adaptation for the purposes of survival proves the impetus for many horror movie monsters. This book engages generic and thematic adaptations in horror cinema from a wide range of aesthetic, cultural, political and theoretical perspectives. These diverse approaches further evidence the horror genre's obsession with corporeal transformation and narratological re-articulation. Many horror films such as Thomas Edison's Frankenstein, John S. Robertson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, David Cronenberg'sVideodrome, Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers, and Terence Fisher's The Gorgon are discussed in the book. The book sheds welcome light upon some of the more neglected horror films of cinema's first century, and interrogates the myriad alterations and re-envisionings filmmakers must negotiate as they transport tales of terror between very different modes of artistic expression. It extends the volume's examination of adaptation as both an aesthetic process and a thematic preoccupation by revealing the practice of self-reflexivity and addresses the remake as adaptation. The book analyses the visual anarchy of avant-garde works, deploys the psychoanalytic film theory to interpret how science and technology impact societal secularisation, and explores the experimental extremes of adaptation in horror film.

Jo George

Super8, video, and in its early days, digital, have rarely been used in feature filmmaking. They have, however, been widely used by avant-garde film-makers, who often identify more closely with amateurs than they do with their professional counterparts. As Maya Deren puts it: The very classification ‘amateur’ has an apologetic ring. But that very word – from the Latin ‘amateur’ – ‘lover’ means one who does something for the love of the thing rather than for economic reasons or necessity. And this is the meaning from which the amateur

in British art cinema
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Horror and the avant-garde in the cinema of Ken Jacobs
Marianne Shaneen

words, cinema enacts animal sacrifice to perpetuate the life of the image. Indeed, all film is horror film. American avant-garde filmmakers from Maya Deren to Harry Smith have followed this spectral path, illuminated by magic lanterns, Phantasmagoria spectacles and the magic of Georges Méliès. For Stan Brakhage, light, or lumen , held the status of a supernatural force. The

in Monstrous adaptations
UK artists’ film on television
A. L. Rees

Wilson had the experience to benefit from the Broadcasting Act of 1990 which gave 25 per cent of BBC commissions to independents. On the strength of these co-produced single documentaries, he initiated two new ‘crossover’ series, Dance for Camera (1991–2003) and Sound on Film (from 1995). The funding of artists’ films for television was equally complex, starting with a relatively conventional commission by Rod Stoneman for Profiles (tx. 1983, Channel 4) of avant-garde filmmakers, with David Curtis as series editor and Margaret Williams as director. Each programme

in Experimental British television
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Elizabeth Ezra

sense in which Mulvey intended it, in his repeated images of scantily-clad young women, he also promoted visual pleasure in a broader sense, but within a narrative context. Rather than a progression from recording (Lumière) to spectacle (Méliès) to narrative (nearly everyone who followed, with the exception of certain avant-garde filmmakers), film history is made up of different combinations of all three elements. Méliès

in Georges Méliès
Aesthetic integration and disintegration in Jean Epstein’s La Chute de la maison Usher
Guy Crucianelli

images. Epstein also employs rhythmically complex editing patterns that not only articulate the theories of the cinematic Impressionists, but can be related to Russian montage, as well as the more painterly films of other French avant-garde filmmakers of the 1920s, such as Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique (1924). While the latter film is concerned more with the non-linear, abstract possibilities of

in Monstrous adaptations
Liminality, identity and rural landscape in contemporary Scottish cinema
Duncan Petrie

is made between identity and fate, land and sea in Blue Black Permanent, the first and only feature directed by Margaret Tait, made when she was 71 and approaching the end of a 40-​year career, primarily as an experimental, avant-​garde filmmaker. The narrative of Blue Black Permanent interweaves the life of Barbara (Celia Imrie), a professional photographer living in Edinburgh, and that of her mother, Greta (Gerda Stevenson). Barbara is haunted by Greta’s death by drowning some 30 years previously, when the latter had apparently walked into the sea while

in British rural landscapes on film
K. J. Donnelly

Camera. American-born twin brothers Stephen and Timothy Quay, often known as ‘the Brothers Quay’, became notable British-based avant-garde filmmakers in the late 1970s and 1980s, making television advertisements and pop videos as well as more esoteric, personal films. They made part of Peter Gabriel’s acclaimed video for Sledgehammer (1986), other sections being 3049 Experimental British Tele 176 16/5/07 08:02 Page 176 Experimental British television made by Stephen R. Johnson, and Nick Park, who later went on to make animated films such as Creature Comforts

in Experimental British television
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Epstein at the crossroads
Christophe Wall-Romana

­crossroad. The epigraph above confirms that Epstein was explicitly rethinking fiction movie as a genre. According to him, dramatic movies ought not to be story driven, but built around a number of situations. What’s the difference? In a typical Hollywood movie every action, line of dialogue, scene, or episode serves the narrative arc clearly and efficiently. So efficiently that we can talk of absolute narrative dominance reinforced by viewer expectation to form a closed commercial bond whereby buyers ‘get’ what they paid for. Though other avant-garde filmmakers were quick

in Jean Epstein