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Medium 9780253016959

Part II. 1946–1951

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

PART II

1946–1951

31. La Bataille du rail

Battle of the Rail

Filmed late 1944–1945; released 27 February 1946 85 min, b&w

Dir René Clément; Prod Coopérative Générale du Cinéma Français; Scr Clément and Colette Audry; Cinematog Henri Alekan; Music Yves Baudrier; Sound Constantin Evangelou; Edit Lucien Desagneux; Act Jean Clarieux, Jean Durand, and Léon Pauléon (railway workers), Tony Laurent (Camargue), Lucien Desagneaux (Athos), and Robert Leray (stationmaster).

In the three years following the liberation, a large number of scripts were elaborated evoking heroic French participation in the Resistance. This was the first of them to be released, and one of the best. Among those that followed, the most watchable are Les Démons de l’aube, Le Père tranquille (#36), La Bataille de l’eau lourde, Le Silence de la mer (#56), and Jeux interdits (#74), while the most successful by far were this one, Mission spéciale, La Bataille de l’eau lourde, Jéricho, and Le Bataillon du ciel. Most of those made immediately after the war benefited from the respect accorded by the government and the public to men of the left, and particularly to the communists who had formed the bulk of the resistants, but once Cold War sentiment shifted to the right, there was a noticeable retreat in the number of such scripts, followed by a surprising resurgence in the years 1959–1960.

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Medium 9780253015976

5 African Cultural Studies: Of Travels, Accents, and Epistemologies

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Tejumola Olaniyan

IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICA, cultural creativity far outstrips cultural criticism, happily and sadly. Happily, because the continent is not, at least, losing out on both creative and critical production. Artists in all media, though many could do with more and better training to sharpen their native talents, are working prodigiously to shape form and meaning out of their demanding specific contexts and the intricate ways those contexts interact with the world. Sadly, because the conditions for the training of intellectuals and cultural critics are far less than adequate and because an overall healthy development of cultural creativity, the type that continually breaches accepted boundaries and invents new forms and suggests new meanings, depends on a robust interaction between talented artists and discerning critics, between the creative and the critical imagination. This is the large backdrop of my response to the challenge thrown to me, a challenge that noted, in perceivable and (understandably, I should add) wistful tones, “shifting paradigms” in the scholarly understanding of African cultural production and “a gulf between those living and working in Africa and those who live and work abroad, a gulf increasingly seen in their perspectives on the world and in the types of works they produce.”1

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Medium 9780253018441

Nothing But a Man

Edited by David C Wall and Michael T M Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas Cripps

IN RECENT YEARS, A SUBGENRE OF BLACK FILM HAS celebrated the heroism of the picaresque outlaw who, like Sir Gawain in mortal combat with the Green Knight, Lancelot in pursuit of the Holy Grail, or Amos Tutuola’s novel Palm Wine Drinkard (1952) in quest of the ultimate high, seeks himself in brave quest outside the benisons of society. The urban outlaw has especially appealed to a number of black writers. The hero of the best novel ever written by a black, Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man (1952), came from this picaresque tradition. In black genre film, this outlaw is a combative hero, who roves the city from one adventure to another, each one offering deeper rewards of both self-knowledge and gratitude from the black group in whose name he fought.

Indeed, the urban outlaw often seemed more appealing than the pastoral hero; though rural ambience provided an opportunity to sketch an anatomy of white racism, the urban scene lent itself to rich fantasies of black aggression and rebellion. John Shaft simply called forth more heartfelt response from black audiences because he scored more points against “the system” than did Br’er Rabbit.

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Medium 9780861966967

Chapter 10 ‘Under the Sign of the Cinematograph’: Urban Mobility and Cinema Location in Wilhelmine Berlin

Klaus Kreimeier John Libbey Publishing ePub

While urbanisation was one of the principal facets of modernisation, new means of transportation were prior to almost every other innovation, as Wilhelmine Berlin grew and expanded to become a modern metropolis. Sometimes called ‘Chicago on the Spree’ – and definitely the most modern European capital at the time – Berlin’s infrastructure of road and rail networks constituted the core of urban communication. In the year 1900, more than 80 million passengers used the city’s public transportation network.1 A similar infrastructural assumption serves as the guiding principle of this study on urban mobility and transportation, population density and cinema as a new media institution. This essay, in short, argues that transportation facilities and pedestrian traffic are the definitive factors to describe and understand the dispersion of the early Berlin Kintopps (the equivalent of the US nickelodeons).

Alan Trachtenberg once noted that historical knowledge seems to declare ‘its true value by its photographability’.2 Hence, besides conveying aesthetic ideals and media practices, photographs and films record ephemeral actions and events of everyday life (or at least give this impression). One of the more striking photographs of Berlin’s rapid urban development during the Wilhelmine era was taken by Waldemar Titzenthaler in the winter of 1907 (see Figure 1). It portrays an almost deserted Reichskanzlerplatz. Situated on the western brink of Charlottenburg – not yet a district of Berlin, but a city of its own – it was, indeed, remote at the time. In the 1900 Baedeker guide to Berlin and its environs, the Reichskanzlerplatz was regarded as too inaccessible to be included on the main map.3

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Medium 9780253014078

9. Memory of the World: Archive Fever

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Let’s imagine that there is a theater of thought we can stage to drum up energetic rhythms in the final movement of this book. I set myself a properly cinematic task (touched belatedly by Asian theatrical conventions and textiles), invoking proper names as intensive signs to think with. They form an invocation of sorts.

In Memory of Paul Willemen (1944–2012)

Returning to Australia recently from Bali, called the “Island of Demons” in a 1933 film Walter Spies worked on, I am reminded of Basil Wright’s The Song of Ceylon (1934), about that other island known as the “island of Dhamma, Sri Lanka,” where there have also been demonic manifestations.1 At the Agung Rai Museum of Art in Ubud, Bali, where the paintings of the Russian-born German Spies are exhibited, there is a sketchy account of the life of this “late romantic” European, who lived and worked there for nearly fifteen years (1927–42). In a glass box (a cabinet of marvels, Wunderkammer, really), amidst photographs, there is a brief account of Spies’s intimate friendship with the famous German film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. There is a photograph of Murnau in his study (decorated with motifs taken from Persian miniatures) by Spies and also one of Spies taken by the director, who as a bomber pilot during the First World War must surely have learned the power of dematerialization of the land and cities in a photographic flash by firepower, a power that he turned to a more creative use in cinema as one of its great luminists. The photograph sits beside a famous still from Murnau’s film Nosferatu (1922), the story of an aristocratic vampire, Count Dracula, from Transylvania (played by the music-hall actor Max Schreck, who reduced his body and movements to the two dimensions of a shadow puppet).2 He is pictured aboard the ghost ship Demeter (Mother Earth, which harbors the plague carrying vermin from “beyond the pale” to the bourgeois town of Wisborg on the Baltic sea), whose sails swell through the mysterious wind or breath of a monstrously grotesque creature with a stereotypically Semitic profile, part human, part rodent, part bird, and two-dimensional, like the Wayang shadow puppets of Indonesia. Prāna Films, the name of the short-lived production company of the film, means “breath” or “life” in Sanskrit (and also in my mother tongue, Sinhalese). This perennial silent film classic, gothic-horror-camp, by a great European director on whose films Paul Willemen wrote as a young curator at the Dutch Cinémathèque, sensitizes us to threshold moments between inhaling and exhaling, between night and daybreak, between twilight and darkness, between human and animal, and between different energies of the body itself through its work with materials, gestures, and artificial light, as well as nature shot through with its own beautiful and sublime artifice. As the cock crows, the vampire, with its long talons extended, turns away from the rays of the sun and simply vanishes in a puff of smoke, so lightly, almost imperceptibly, after his night of sucking blood from the throat of Mina who becomes Gothic Woman, who with terror and voluptuous intensity yields to it/him to save the town from the plague. She did this after having devoured, so to speak, the book of vampires, which her husband forbade her to read. She is a good wife who becomes Gothic Woman, by acting on her knowledge and learning by doing. One feels the ever-expanding threshold between life and death as the blood drains from the neck, as one sits with a loved one “taking” the last breath and letting it go, dying.

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Medium 9780253014078

1. To Arrive at the Station: Trains of Thought

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Ever since that fine day in 1895 when the Lumière brothers’ train arrived at the Salon Indien of the Grand Café in Paris and people got out and walked, walking hasn’t quite been the same.

Walking, our birthright as a species, frees our arms to swing in the air, relaxing the prehensile hand. Arms, freed from locomotion high up in trees, swing, creating a dynamic equilibrium as we raise one foot at a time to walk. The swinging arms harness kinetic energy in a cross-diagonal movement linking the latissimus dorsi muscle of the upper back with the pelvis. Banal movements, and yet we are astonished when we watch a child take her first steps (with arms held up for balance, as in an orant gesture of prayer). To the dear ones who scream in astonished delight, those first steps appear as nothing short of a miracle.1

As a film student, Kumar Shahani, with his guru, Ritwik Ghatak, would repeatedly screen the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at the Station at the Indian Film School in Pune. They would find themselves laughing each time in jubilation at the miraculous arrival of the train, signaling the mechanization of time, the regularization of movement, and the birth of an eye without an I; perception freed from the ego and hence from human prejudice, privilege, and social hierarchy. It would appear, then, that the arrival of the train at the station is also the greeting of one machine by another, the cinematograph greeting the train, recognizing their secret affinity in the creation of modern time. This rapport between these two machines of equalized movement and framed, mobile perception endows a strange visibility to spaces, objects, bodies, and rhythms without privileging the human. This nonanthropomorphic eye shows us the railway platform emptied of the people who have arrived and departed with as much care or indifference as it does the reflective surface of the train carriage on which the shadows of the people flicker as they walk past. An any-instant-whatever becomes perceptible and eventful, or not, making the spatiotemporal playing field level because of the mechanization of time, either at sixteen or twenty-four frames per second. Therefore, despite the effect of convergence built into the perspectival geometric bias of the optics of lensing, this mechanical nonorganic eye looks at the world in a manner foreign to our organic eye, attached to our body and its necessarily limited interests and prejudices. Shahani’s and Ghatak’s jubilation in the 1960s is remarkable in that the very first viewers of this pioneering film, scholars tell us, felt not only the thrill of the encounter (screaming in delightful terror) as the train came toward them but also the sinking feeling that it was “freighted with emptiness,” an instant enchantment and disenchantment, both in one long minute or so.2

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Medium 9780861967025

From the Past to the Future:

Edited by Martin Loiperdinger John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

Feminism is increasingly being declared outdated, a mere museum piece: there is, the argument runs, nothing more to fight for and the agenda of the 1970s is well and truly obsolete.1 It was against this apparently postfeminist backdrop that a film programme entitled Frühe Interventionen: Suffragetten – Extremistinnen der Sichtbarkeit (Early Interventions: Suffragettes – Extremists of Visibility) ran at the Zeughauskino, the cinema of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, and met with an overwhelming response.2 The project was based on the observation that the women’s suffrage movement became radicalised at almost exactly the same time as cinema, still in the process of self-invention, began to consolidate itself and to shrug off nineteenth-century forms of expression. This historical conjunction is revealed in numerous newsreels and comedies. My choice of title for the series was intended to show very clearly where my primary interest lay: in the portrayal of rebellion, activism and an often high-spirited intervention against the ruling order at a time when cinema was itself experiencing a radical upheaval. I also wanted to show not only that the films made between 1900 and 1914 generally satirise the movement for emancipation, but also that the movement itself strategically deployed public images. My contention was, finally, that the films of this period intervene into the audience’s space in a very special way. How to keep this last aspect in sight was a question that recurred again and again during the planning of the programme.

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Medium 9780253008343

Introduction: The Secret of the Art

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

 

FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT BELIEVED THAT FILMMAKERS FROM THE past were the guardians of a lost secret, a nostalgia which haunted him. His achievement, having studied the art of his predecessors, was to know how to replicate this secret in his films. Since the appearance of his first film, The 400 Blows, Truffaut’s work has moved audiences of all nationalities, ages, and cultures around the world. Thirty years after its creation, however, his oeuvre remains mysterious in terms of its dynamics, strategies, and aims. The qualities for which he is generally known (clarity, intelligence, sensitivity, humor), unremarkable in themselves, are not sufficient to explain fully the strange hold that his films have exercised over the imagination of spectators. The aim of this book, therefore, is to explore this phenomenon and respond to the three main questions that it prompts: What does Truffaut say in his films? How does he say it? Why do people everywhere listen to it?

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Medium 9780253007223

Chapter: 2. The Prior and Parallel Work

Michael Witt Indiana University Press ePub

The Common Tendency to Divide the Godardian corpus into successive discrete periods – the New Wave, the political work, the video years, and so on – emphasizes discontinuity over the sense of a single developing artistic project. It is clear that Godard’s œuvre to date is in fact characterized by a striking degree of continuity. The principle of recycling at the heart of Histoire(s) du cinéma, for instance, can be traced back to his earliest work. One of his first jobs in cinema, we recall, was as a professional editor working with preexisting material on documentary films for Jean-Pierre Braunberger, and on silent travel films for the Arthaud company.1 Similarly, one can trace a direct line from his irreverent remix of material shot and abandoned by François Truffaut, Une histoire d’eau (1958), to his late found-footage practice. The only really significant break, as we look back over his work as a whole, is the one resulting from the dislocation to his working practices provoked by his encounter with video. In this perspective, the œuvre falls into two major movements: from the postwar discovery of cinema and the early New Wave, via the neo-Brechtian critique of the society of the spectacle, to the political dead end of the early 1970s; and from the beginning of that decade – which marked the start of his sustained exploration of video technology, collaboration with Anne-Marie Miéville, development of a resolutely subjective project, and quest to resuscitate the simplicity and directness of early cinema – to the present. Godard’s output since this time constitutes a single integrated project, with Histoire(s) du cinéma at its core. This chapter examines key aspects of the organic relationship between the series and Godard’s prior and parallel output, especially some of the lesser-known and more experimental works, where the emergence of his concerns and techniques is often at its most visible. It begins with an examination of the genealogy of some of the series’ principal themes and stylistic characteristics, and goes on to explore the intertextual relationship between the series and the work he produced in parallel with it from the mid-1980s onward. It concludes with an analysis of a key metaphor in his project as a whole throughout this period, including in Histoire(s) du cinéma, that of “projection.”

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Medium 9780253010971

10 - Beyond the Boundary: Vernacular Mapping and the Sharing of Historical Authority

Edited by Julia Hallam and Les Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

KATE BOWLES

It's easy to lose the humanity when you start showcasing tech.

—CHRIS MILK, DIRECTOR, THE WILDERNESS DOWNTOWN

We are damned by the arrogance with which we ignore the immensity of the territories we presume to tame with our absurdly precise instruments of measure, and redeemed by a cunning, even courageous naiveté that persuades us to believe that they are approachable, knowable, chartable.

—STEPHEN S. HALL, “I, MERCATOR”

For the past ten years, a substantial international community of cinema historians has been drawing attention to factors that traditional cinema studies had a tendency to overlook: first, that wherever cinema attendance is a social habit, it is not exclusively or even strongly shaped by the content of films themselves, but by the attractions and distractions of public cultural participation; and second, that what is social is also inevitably spatial.1 Surviving evidence of the mass commercial orchestration of cinema as a cultural practice has offered digital historians a gold-edged invitation to count, to measure, to analyze, to aggregate, and above all to map.2 Several project teams internationally, some of which are featured in this book, have spent years developing large-scale digital collections of historical data related to cinemagoing and have been doing so in a way that increases the potential to share commonly managed data across collections. The potential of this kind of global collaboration in the humanities is dazzling; it tempts us to imagine an “histoire totale” of cinema attendance founded on rigorous analysis of statistically significant changes to the routines of commercial, political, and social regulation of cinema markets worldwide, over more than a century. The opportunity to build capacity for this kind of panoptic overview is surely equal to those in which we have treated the history of films and their production as matters of industrial scale or presumed wide cultural impact.3

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Medium 9780253002952

23 (Re)Examining the Latin Lover: Screening Chicano/ Latino Sexualities

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

DANIEL ENRIQUE PÉREZ

Marriage? Not for me.

RAMÓN NOVARRO

Chicano/Latino males have been caricatured, stereotyped, and eroticized on the screen throughout the history of US cinema and television. In Latino Images in Film, Charles Ramírez Berg highlights the most common stereotypes for these men: bandido, gang member, buffoon, and Latin lover.1 Although several Chicana/o and Latina/o artists have created images that challenge these stereotypes, they nonetheless persist. Here, I am interested in examining the Latin lover archetype in US popular culture to demonstrate how this image has evolved over the years and how the Latin lover has always had queer characteristics. I trace the trajectory of the Latin lover, beginning with Ramón Novarro and ending with Mario López, and highlight queer aspects of his identity while also underscoring the influence he has had on male aesthetics and on facilitating non-normative discourses on gender and sexuality.

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Medium 9780861967155

Introduction

Edited by David E James and Adam Hyman John Libbey Publishing ePub

David E. James

With the exception of two written specifically for this volume, these historical and critical essays have been developed from papers presented on the panels at the Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles 1945–1980 conference held at the School of Cinematic Arts, USC, 12–14 November 2010.

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Medium 9781864620542

Sore Society: The Dissolution of the Image and the Assimilation of the Trauma

John Libbey Publishing ePub

Why digital images? In the following discussion, the new media are regarded as a turning point in representation. The symbols and self-esteem in the public sphere show us a house divided in itself, and this plays a role in creating media and in constructing new images that are detached from referential and representational bonds. The public has difficulties in approaching the private with explanations and images. There is a tendency that expression goes in the reverse direction, from the private sphere to the public media. The point at which you live clearly expresses that you are made of flesh and blood, and is found in affect and trauma. Images coming from these private spaces now fill the public media. This is a tendency that can also be more generally seen in the aesthetics and theory of (moving) images. The characteristics of digital images and the use Orlan makes of them, as well as the crisis in representation that she and the media mark, are linked with the notion of ‘sore society’. Why is there a displacement from representation towards the presentation of the real and the trauma? Why is the place for physical and psychic affect and their present dissolution sought in visual aesthetics? In answering this question, my essay attaches importance to affect and the wound as essential critical features.

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Medium 9780253007223

Chapter: 3. Models and Guides

Michael Witt Indiana University Press ePub

Godard’s Histories are Subjective, imaginative, sensuous, anecdotal, digressive, discontinuous, lacunary, rhythmic, repetitious, humorous, dramatic, and frequently contentious. Brimming with emotion, intuitions, insights, and provocations, they are made up in large part of resonant fables, tall tales, shaggy dog stories, quasi-mathematical riddles, and – above all – poetic images. Their dense texture and serpentine forms are closer to those one more readily associates with poets and musicians rather than historians, and recall in particular the traditions of serial and fugal composition of modernist authors such as André Gide, William Faulkner, Ezra Pound, Hermann Broch, and Virginia Woolf – all of whom are prominently cited in the series.1 Moreover, Godard’s self-depiction in his histories works against the conventional image of the historian as detached observer, coolly gathering facts and weighing evidence. In 3B, for instance, he presents himself as a conductor in the manner of Georges Méliès in L’homme-orchestre (The One-Man Band, 1900), manipulating and channeling the mass of images and sounds he has selected. Elsewhere he adopts the posture of a chair-bound dreamer, surrounded by books, submerged in his thoughts and memories, and disappearing into imaginative reverie in the manner of the mathematician Jean-Victor Poncelet; or of Darrell Standing, the protagonist of Jack London’s The Star Rover, cited in 1A, who escaped the tedium and violence of prison by propelling himself on trance-like voyages into the world of the imagination. Contrary to the impression given by such imagery and references, Godard took the historical dimension of Histoire(s) du cinéma extremely seriously, and, despite the wave of enthusiastic reviews that met the release of the series in 1998, he frequently expressed regret that it was consistently categorized as an audiovisual poem, and that commentators failed to engage with it as a piece of (or reflection on) history or as a contribution to audiovisual historiography. For Godard, history and poetry are inseparable, and the only way of bringing the former fleetingly to life in the mind’s eye in the present is through art. This idea can be traced back to his early criticism. In his review of Léonard Keigel’s short film La vie et l’œuvre d’André Malraux (The life and work of André Malraux, 1957), for instance, he pointed to the power of art – notably, already, the art of filmic montage – to conjure up the past: “Art, in its own way, makes history come back to life.”2 The principle features of his late historiographic method – plurality, lyrical extravagance, and the poetic use of montage – are all traceable to a select set of antecedent practices. This chapter begins by examining Godard’s use in Histoire(s) du cinéma of a celebrated allegory of the creative process, the myth of Orpheus. It goes on to explore the affinities between the series and the work of the principal figures in the realms of history, the philosophy of history, art history, cinema history, and filmmaking respectively, whose example inspired and shaped his own approach, method and style.

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Medium 9780861966967

Chapter 17 ‘A Cinematograph of Feminine Thought’: The Dangerous Age, Cinema and Modern Women

Klaus Kreimeier John Libbey Publishing ePub

60,000 copies in five weeks! A literary event! Enthusiastic hymns of praise, bitter protests, sold-out talks, lecture tours, vehement discussions, salacious comments in the parlour, in the ballroom, on the ice skating rink, on the tram. The small book The Dangerous Age by the Danish author Karin Michaelis has caused a veritable uproar among those who are interested in modern literature or in the psychic life of women, but most of all, of course, among women themselves and, particularly, among the women – or rather, ‘ladies’ – upon whom, through the ‘courageous candour’ of this book, has suddenly dawned the tenderly observed mystery of their own souls and bodies, and who only now have become conscious of their interesting condition. But, no, I do not want to make fun of the book, because the affair really is serious and dangerous.1

Indeed, the Danish author Karin Michaëlis (1872–1959) can be counted among the ‘women who moved the world’.2 Her novel Den farlige Alder (The Dangerous Age)3 is not widely read today, but it was the literary sensation of 1910. It was translated into 12 languages and sold over 1 million copies (a high figure at the time). For several years, it afforded its author the status of an international celebrity: Michaëlis was frequently featured in the press and gave lectures in many big cities of several countries. ‘The dangerous age’ became a common term for the novel’s central topic: menopause. The novel was rediscovered several years ago within literary studies, particularly by feminist scholars,4 but, strangely, its filmic adaptations have received hardly any attention at all (even though copies are extant). Analysing the novel’s contemporary reception along with its filmic adaptations provides a unique opportunity for insight into connections between the contemporary media system (literature, press, cinema), several influential discourses (sexology, censorship, Kinodebatte) and public opinion (transnational as well as culturally specific), particularly regarding the challenge to gender norms that emerged with modernisation.5

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