858 Chapters
Medium 9780861966592

Chapter II The Cartoon Before Tex

Floriane Place-Verghnes John Libbey Publishing ePub

Even though the art of animation is often associated with innovation, it has to be said that it finds its roots as early as 1645, when Athanasius Kircher (1601–1690) invented his Magical Lantern (the method of which he described at length in a book entitled Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae). It consisted of a

mere box in which a mirror and a source of light had been placed ... The light rays – reflected by the mirror – would come out of the box through a small slit, and go through a pane of glass on which an image had been stuck. The image was then screened on a white wall through a magnifying lens.15

Etienne Gaspard Robert – working under the pseudonym Robertson – used the same device almost 150 years later, when he gave a fright to the whole of Paris by screening the heroes of the Revolution in his Fantasmagorie show (1794).

This ancestor of the animated movies was therefore to be one of the longer lasting ones, since what other creators did afterwards was only to improve the original method by implementing it with two major principles of animation: the persistence of vision and the need for gaps between images.

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Medium 9780253011046

2 Silents, Sound, and Modernism in Dmitry Shostakovich’s Score to The New Babylon

Edited by Lilya Kaganovsky and Masha Sal Indiana University Press ePub

Joan Titus

ALTHOUGH WIDELY REGARDED by scholars and general audiences as one of the greatest of the last “silent” films, Novyi Vavilon (New Babylon, dir. Kozintsev and Trauberg, 1929) was initially a surprising failure. Even with its original score by the celebrated composer Dmitry Shostakovich, the film failed to fully satisfy audiences and critics at the time of its premiere. Since then, the musical score has been blamed for this initial failure, even though it was intended to be a significant contribution to a work that was designed to be innovative, properly socialist, and entertaining. This narrative, still spun in recent writings about the score, rarely acknowledges that this failure involved intertwining cultural and political issues related to the restructuring of the Soviet film industry and the establishment of a new relationship between sound and image.1 The score to New Babylon was created to explore this new relationship, which signaled the reevaluation of the musician’s role in music for cinema. Since New Babylon was the first Soviet film to have a full original score written by a professional Russian composer, Shostakovich’s compositional process was closely observed and necessarily required a collaborative effort between the composer and the directors Grigory Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. The composer’s process was therefore a central issue during the film’s production.2 Examining this collaborative process, through the directors’ and composer’s writings about the music for New Babylon and the film’s reception, reveals much about perceptions of modernism and socialism in the whole work.

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Medium 9780253015976

7 Reading “Beur” Film Production Otherwise: The Poetics of the Human and the Transcultural

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

Safoi Babana-Hampton

IN HIS ANALYSIS of the cinema verité of the 1960s both in Europe and Quebec, especially as practiced by French filmmaker and ethnologist Jean Rouch, Italian filmmaker Paolo Pasolini, and Quebecois filmmaker Pierre Perrault, Gilles Deleuze proposes a new viewpoint from which to understand the distinction of fiction versus truth or subjective versus objective: “Objective and subjective images lose their distinction, but also their identification, in favor of a new circuit where they are wholly replaced, or contaminate each other, or are decomposed and recomposed” (149). As a consequence, Deleuze continues, “the cinema can call itself cinéma-vérité, all the more so because it will have destroyed every model of the true so as to become creator and producer of truth: this will not be a cinema of truth but the truth of cinema” (151, my emphasis). As Deleuze’s lines suggest, the conventional boundaries governing our understanding of the two notions of “truth” and “fiction” collapse and disappear in favor of a new notion of “truth” as being primarily a construct, or a situated act of formalizing human experience. This act characterizes the very essence and raison d’être of the cinematic enterprise, whose field of application Deleuze extends even to works traditionally defined as documentary reportages or ethnographic investigations, such as those produced by Rouch and Perrault (149). Deleuze thus develops a view of the cinematic work as a visual field within which the poetic, the lyrical, and the aesthetic as well as the documentary and ethnographic elements are intertwined and interdependent and cross-fertilize each other in order to depict a multilayered reality or lived experience. All these considerations of the cinematic work are deeply inscribed in his conception of the artist, of whom he offers the following definition: “What the artist is, is creator of truth, because truth is not to be achieved, formed, or reproduced; it has to be created. There is no other truth than the creation of the New” (146–47).

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Medium 9780253353801

8 Found Document: The Stranger’s Commentary and a Note on His Method

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas B. Byers

The origins of the document reproduced in the following pages is shrouded in mystery. I will only say with certainty that it first came to the attention of the author of this commentary fully formed. Its narrator is, of course, a fictional character, derived from the Stranger (Sam Elliott) in the Coen brothers’ Big Lebowski. The document makes no secret of the artifice of this act of homage. The brief setup provides a decisive allusion to the almost identical language used to introduce the character in the screenplay: “We are floating up a steep scrubby slope. We hear male voices gently singing ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and a deep, affable, Western-accented voice—Sam Elliot’s, perhaps.”1 The rest of the document is written in the sort of cowboy lingo that Joel and Ethan Coen employ.

Given that the author of the document seems himself to be agnostic regarding questions of reference, there is no reason for us to posit direct identity between this character and any other, including the character of the Stranger played by Sam Elliott. For purposes of convenience in this commentary, I only note a pronounced similarity between the two characters’ voices and refer to the “speaker” of this text as the Other Stranger. His antecedents, like those of the Coens’ Stranger, are to be found in the fictional genre of the Western, and particularly in that tradition’s Hollywood instantiations. Perhaps the text may provisionally be considered an example of that “blank” parody identified by Fredric Jameson in his well-known essay on postmodernism as “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (Postmodernism, 1). Jameson himself figures prominently in the mystery text, for there seems little doubt that he is the “fella from back east in Durham” referred to in the Other Stranger’s opening sentence. Jameson’s “blank parody” is ungrounded parody whose target is unspecified, or perhaps even non-existent. It is parody without a point, one in which whatever is parodied is appreciated as much as critiqued, and in which the primary end is the parodic performance itself. What we have here largely fits that description, but it may differ in certain interesting ways—ways consonant with the larger phenomenon of postmodernism that is Jameson’s subject. The Other Stranger’s discourse may be a form of what I would call “disseminated” parody, in which there is no single target, and the satiric and comic effects arise at any given moment from the juxtaposition of two equally appreciated and equally critiqued discourses. Thus, when the Other Stranger “does” a version of academic cultural studies in his Hollywood Western voice, the reader may smile both at the expense of and in appreciation of both discourses.

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Medium 9780861967049

Chapter 1 On Wooden Boys and Assistant Pig-Keepers

Amy M. Davis John Libbey Publishing ePub

In 2011, a huge “controversy” (in some people’s minds, anyway), arose in the United States. A e-mail-formatted mailer, sent out on 5 April of that year, featured a photograph of a mother (J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons) painting – with bright pink nail polish, no less – the toe nails of her cherubic, tousled-haired son, Beckett. Both are laughing and smiling, clearing enjoying both each other’s company and the pedicure. On the mailer, there are two small blurbs of text. To the left of the photo, it says, “Saturday With Jenna – See how she and son Beckett go off duty in style”. Below the photo (and to the right of a second photo, this time featuring young Beckett in a medium close up wearing what appears to be eyeglasses, with chunky, black plastic frames, which presumably belong to one of his parents), is the second caption: “quality time – ‘Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.’”38 Judging from the way some pundits responded to this, you might be forgiven for thinking she was doing something that would permanently harm her son. According to those who found the mailer shocking, that is exactly what she was doing. Some commentators even saw the mailer as “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children”, going on to claim that “Propaganda pushing the celebration of gender-confused boys wanting to dress and act like girls is a growing trend, seeping into mainstream culture”.39 Others, however, saw this reaction as springing from a very blatant double standard. In an article on these angst-ridden reactions, Dr. Peggy Drexler, the author of Raising Boys Without Men (2005) and Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family (2011) – and someone who also happens to know Jenna Lyons and her son – raised a very interesting set of questions in regards to the worries over the “harm” this pink nail polish was going to do to young Beckett:

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