Monthly Archives: March 2011

Passing Strange

SURREALISM AND FILM NOIR In his book More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts (2008), James Naremore discusses the comparative neglect accorded the influence of Surrealism in discussing the genesis of films noir: “The importance of existentialism to the … Continue reading

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Early Surrealist Films

UN CHIEN ANDALOU AND L’AGE D’OR This essay will examine the early films of Luis Buñuel as they relate to the Surrealist Movement active in Paris throughout the 1920s.  We will begin by giving a brief introduction to Surrealism as … Continue reading

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“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”

DREAM SEQUENCES IN THE COEN BROTHERS Dream sequences have a long history in the cinema, stemming from at least as early as Surrealist involvement in film, although of course previous instances may be adduced. Recourse to the inner life of … Continue reading

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“God Was Wrong!”

NICHOLAS RAY’S BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956) Based on a New Yorker article by Berton Roueché, Bigger Than Life appears on the surface to be a “social problem” film—an exposé of drug abuse and addiction—although generically the film incorporates elements of … Continue reading

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Authority and Transgression

THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY (1974) The transgression does not deny the taboo but transcends it and completes it. – Georges Bataille (63) Introduction Narrative Structure.  Luis Buñuel’s penultimate film The Phantom of Liberty (Le Fantôme de la liberté, 1974) shares … Continue reading

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Manning The Line

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1974) In his “video introduction” to the 25th anniversary edition of the DVD, director William Friedkin makes plain the intentions of screenwriter/author William Peter Blatty and himself: “[The film] strongly, and realistically, tries to make the … Continue reading

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Symbolic Exchange And Death

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) This essay will examine a complex series of interlocking metaphors, both verbal and visual, which recur throughout Hitchcock’s Psycho and which articulate a concept that Jean Baudrillard has labelled “symbolic exchange.”  This notion – arising from … Continue reading

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Voluptuous Immobility

The Cult of Death in The Brotherhood, The Leopard and The Godfather Trilogy Martin Ritt’s The Brotherhood (1968) can be situated as a middle term between Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1962) and Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Trilogy (1972, 1974, 1990).  … Continue reading

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“I Will Show You the Life of the Mind”: Barton Fink (1991)

After a credit sequence in which the camera slowly moves down sickly green Art Deco wallpaper, the first shot of the film continues this downward trajectory, moving along a system of ropes and pulleys. We hear the declamatory tones of … Continue reading

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Faking It: Five Easy Pieces (1970)

After the lysergic cut-up routine/sitcom deconstruction that was his directorial debut, Head (1968), Bob Rafelson executed an abrupt about-face: He produced, co-wrote and directed this slice-of-life character study in dissatisfaction and irresponsibility. Eschewing the rapid-fire editing and psychotronic tomfoolery of … Continue reading

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