name, though the wartime thrillers no doubt have melodramatic elements. There were six intervening films, justifying the journalist who described him in early 1943 as the ‘Busiest British film director … Within the last six months he’s made five films, and now he’s busy on a sixth [ Escape to Danger ] . And they haven’t all been the same kind of movie as well.’ 1 Indeed they were not. In order of release, 2 they were: the comedy-drama of
Mike Leigh may well be Britain's greatest living film director; his worldview has permeated our national consciousness. This book gives detailed readings of the nine feature films he has made for the cinema, as well as an overview of his work for television. Written with the co-operation of Leigh himself, it challenges the critical privileging of realism in histories of British cinema, placing the emphasis instead on the importance of comedy and humour: of jokes and their functions; of laughter as a survival mechanism; and of characterisations and situations that disrupt our preconceptions of ‘realism’. Striving for the all-important quality of truth in everything he does, Leigh has consistently shown how ordinary lives are too complex to fit snugly into the conventions of narrative art. From the bittersweet observation of Life is Sweet or Secrets and Lies, to the blistering satire of Naked and the manifest compassion of Vera Drake, he has demonstrated a matchless ability to perceive life's funny side as well as its tragedies.
The journey North is a recurrent motif throughout the Gothic literary tradition, often representing a journey back in time to a more primitive location where conventional rules do not apply. Within the context of contemporary Scottish Gothic this journey continues to involve a temporal regression. The North of Scotland, and specifically the Highlands, is still a Gothic location, allowing for an interrogation of the homogenising notion of ‘national identity’. In this article the journey North is explored in the work of contemporary writers and film directors including Iain Banks, Alan Warner, David Mackenzie, and Neil Marshall.
The new wave of Korean cinema has presented a series of distinct genre productions, which are influenced by contemporary Japanese horror cinema and traditions of the Gothic. Ahn Byeong-ki is one of Korea‘s most notable horror film directors, having made four Gothic horrors between 2000 and 2006. These transnational horrors, tales of possession and avenging forces, have repeatedly been drawn to issues of modernity, loneliness, identity, gender, and suicide. Focusing on the figure of the ghostly woman, and the horrors of modern city life in Korea, this essay considers the style of filmmaking employed by Ahn Byeong-ki in depicting, in particular, the Gothic revelation.
Lance Comfort began to work in films between the age of 17 and 19, more or less growing up with the cinema. When he came to make 'B' films in the 1950s and 1960s, his wide-ranging expertise enabled him to deal efficiently with the constraints of tight budgets and schedules. He was astute at juggling several concurrent plot strands, his prescient anticipation of postwar disaffection, the invoking of film noir techniques to articulate the dilemma of the tormented protagonist. Comfort's reputation as a features director seemed to be made when Hatter's Castle, made by Paramount's British operation, opened at the Plaza, Piccadilly Circus, after a well-publicised charity première attended by the Duchess of Kent and luminaries such as Noel Coward. He had been in the film business for twenty years when, in 1946, he directed Margaret Lockwood in Bedelia. Comfort is not the only director who enjoyed his greatest prestige in the 1940s and drifted into providing fodder for the bottom half of the double-bill in the ensuing decades. There were six intervening films, justifying the journalist who described him in early 1943 as the Busiest British film director. Great Day, Portrait of Clare, Temptation Harbour, Bedelia, Daughter of Darkness, and Silent Dust were his six melodramas. He was an unpretentious craftsman who was also at best an artist, and in exploring his career trajectory, the viewer is rewarded by the spectacle of one who responded resiliently to the challenges of a volatile industry.
Marguerite Duras embarked on a second career as a film director in the late 1960s; by then was already a well-known and highly acclaimed novelist and playwright. Bearing in mind this dual influence, this book presents an outline of Duras's early life and of her later political preoccupations, highlighting the relationship between these two dimensions and her films. Duras's aim was to transcend the limitations of both literature and cinema by creating an écriture filmique. Working within the 1970s French avant-garde, Marguerite Duras set out to dismantle the mechanisms of mainstream cinema, progressively undermining conventional representation and narrative and replacing them with her own innovative technique. The making of Nathalie Granger in 1972 coincided with the period of intense political activity and lively theoretical debates, which marked the early years of the post-1968 French feminist movement. India Song questions the categories of gender and sexuality constructed by the patriarchal Symbolic order by foregrounding the Imaginary. Agatha mirrors transgressive relationship and quasi-incestuous adolescent relationship, as the film resonates with the off-screen voices of Duras and Yann Andréa who also appears on the image-track where he represents Agatha's anonymous brother. Her work, both in literature and in film, distinguishes itself by its oblique, elusive quality which evokes her protagonists' inner landscape instead of dwelling on the appearances of the external world.
Álex de la Iglesia, initially championed by Pedro Almodóvar, and at one time the enfant terrible of Spanish film, still makes film critics nervous. The director of some of the most important films of the Post-Franco era – Acción mutante, El día de la bestia, Muertos de risa – de la Iglesia receives here a full-length study of his work. Breaking away from the pious tradition of acclaiming art-house auteurs, the book tackles a new sort of beast: the popular auteur, who brings the provocation of the avant-garde to popular genres such as horror and comedy. It brings together Anglo-American film theory, an exploration of the legal and economic history of Spanish audio-visual culture, and a comprehensive knowledge of Spanish cultural forms and traditions (esperpento, sainete costumbrista) with a detailed textual analysis of all of de la Iglesia's seven feature films.
The book begins with a consideration of the origins and influences that have shaped Mathieu Kassovitz's development as a director, but also the cultural context within which he emerges as a filmmaker. It argues new realism, the banlieue. The book examines the American influences evident in all of Kassovitz's films to date as a director and explores the continuity and difference between his films as actor and director. The first phase of Mathieu Kassovitz's career comprises his short films and feature films up to and including
This book presents a study on François Truffaut's films. It reviews the body of work which foregrounds the main themes and discusses Truffaut's working practices as a director, drawing on his own writing about his film-making. The book commences with an introduction on his first film, Les Mistons. The energy and resilience of children act as vital counters to a morbid preoccupation with death, visible here in the fatal ending to the couple's romantic idyll. By choosing as subject for his film an exploration of the young male's sexual awakening, by situating it in a French provincial town and by adopting the realist mode, Truffaut was making an important statement. The book seeks to situate Truffaut both historically and culturally and the second aiming to give a broad overview of his films and their critical reception. It then provides a closer analysis of one film, Jules et Jim (1961), both as a means to discuss more precisely Truffaut's style of film-making and to provide an example of how a film may be 'read'. The book discusses the 'auteur-genre' tension, the representation of gender, the relationship between paternity and authorship and, finally, the conflict at the heart of the films between the 'absolute' and the 'provisional'. Truffaut's films display mistrust of the institutions that impose social order: school (Les 400 Coups), army (Baisers volés), paternal authority (Adèle H.) and the written language.
‘essential’ and ‘inessential’ images. Unlike most film directors, he doesn’t use some images as weak links in a narrative chain leading to strong ones, but only images which, in addition to serving a narrative function, also have independent value. There is a play in the title of Histoire(s) du cinéma between the one and the many, the singular and the plural, the cinema and the other arts, film and cinema, the history of the cinema and the stories (histoires) narrated in films. These ideas are restated in the titles of four of the eight sections of the film: 1A Toutes les