Interview with Lúcia Nagib
I argue that the trope of the doll, recurrent throughout the films of Manoel de Oliveira, is a visual figure that beyond narrative becomes a discourse on modernity and modernism, stillness and movement, life and death. Accordingly, I propose an overview of occurences of dolls and of “dollness” throughout the work of Oliveira – from Aniki Bobó (1942) to The Strange Case of Angelica (2010) – with the aim of tracking the line of transformations of an emblematic object into an aesthetic principle, a central figure involving psychoanalytical concepts such as the Freudian “uncanny,” the fetish or the transitional object.
This article offers a case study in intermediality and explores relationships between tableaux vivants performances and early cinema around 1900. It locates processes of intermedial exchange not only at the level of form but also at the level of modes of address and reception. More specifically, the study is concerned with how bourgeois notions of beauty were transferred to the film image and reconciled with the attraction value of cinema. As a discussion of early film theory reveals, the concept of “beauty in film” depended on a taming of filmic motion, something that had already been realized in performance practices of tableaux vivants. In the subsequent analysis of the cultural context of tableaux vivants in European variety theatres, I outline a specific mode of address, which I term “beauty-as-attraction:” an overlap of the older aesthetics of the beautiful and the more modern aesthetics of attraction. Through concluding film analysis, I show how tableaux vivants became a model and source of inspiration for early cinema, thus bringing to fruition the two-fold address of beauty-as-attraction in a new media context.
This article examines how sensual aspects of the moving image, such as visual errors, blurring and technical disturbances are employed in found footage films dealing with Eastern European socialist past and the regime changing events. In the selected films Eastern European socialist visual culture is reworked with the cinematic practices of the post-media age in order to shape the spectators’ historical consciousness. By deliberate reframing and intensifying the medium-specific noises of the archival sources, or by an artificially created visual precariousness a new type of spectatorial awareness is created. The article delineates four different strategies through which the mediality of the recycled archival footage is brought to the fore and made operational (engaging the senses of its viewers).
The article examines three films by Roy Andersson, Songs from the Second Floor (Sånger från andra våningen, 2000), You, the Living (Du levande, 2007), and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron, 2014). The Swedish director depicts the human condition afflicted by the loss of its humanity through a personal style that he calls “the complex image,” a tableau aesthetic that instigates social criticism, and is dependent upon long shots, immobility, unchanging shot scale, and layered compositions. The author establishes a connection between artistic and social space and scrutinizes the challenges that this “complexity” poses for the film viewer from an intermedial perspective in which cinema enters into a dialogue with two other art forms: painting and theatre. Four specific issues are discussed: (1) the intertwining of reality and artificiality as a “hyperreality;” (2) the visual compositions which are simultaneously self-contained and entirely open, highlighting a tension between volume and surface; (3) the opposition between stasis and movement, conveying a meaningful social contrast and the characters’ angst; (4) the pictoriality of the image.
Given the present proliferation of profilmic electronic screens in narrative feature films, it is of some interest to examine their role apart from that of denoting objects pertaining to everyday reality. Electronic screens within the European-type filmic diegeses – characterized by adhering to conventions of (hyper)realism, non-hypermediation and character-centered storytelling – in a digital era are used not only as props, but as frames that re-order and aestheticize levels of reality (Odin 2016), while focusing, in a hypnotic manner, the viewers’ attention (Chateau 2016) on traumatic memories related to usually female characters, and consequently to the collectivities they represent in the respective diegetic worlds. These electronic screens force the viewer to constantly shift between the actual cinematic screen conventions and the mental screen (Odin 2016) of smaller formats, training the film viewers for experiences of expanded and fragmented cinema (Gaudreault and Marion 2015).
In this essay I analyse Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales (2015) within the perspective of embodied cognition. I consider film experience as an affective-conceptual phenomenon based on the viewer’s embodiment of the visual structures. Baruch Spinoza stands at the foundation of my analytical approach since his thought was based on the absolute parallelism between the body and the mind. This paradigm redefines anthropocentrism and rejects dualism; however, the criticism of the rationalist ideal is also one of the main characteristics of the film Tale of Tales: by staging baroque and excessive characters, it allows the viewer to embody a notion of subjectivity that is performative and relational. Therefore, by combining the cognitive analysis of the film with my theoretical framework I will present a radical criticism of abstract rationality and present an ecological idea of the human.
Interview with Lars Elleström
Although the intermediality of Jean-Luc Godard’s films of the 1980s has been extensively analysed, especially the tableaux vivants in Passion (1982), little has been said on the intermedial dimension of gesture in the director’s work of this period. The article investigates how the gestural flows in Godard’s First Name: Carmen (Prénom Carmen, 1983) interrelate heterogeneous forms, meanings, arts, and media. The interconnection between the gestures of the musicians who are rehearsing Beethoven’s late string quartets and the lovers’ gestures, inspired by Rodin’s sculptures, gives cohesion to the hybrid aesthetics of the film. Gesture is the element which incorporates, develops, and sets in motion the features of the other arts, not only by creating an in-between space that forges links between media, but especially by exhibiting the process of making itself. Indeed, the relationship between the performing, musical, and visual arts is made visible in the exhibition of the corporeal effort of making (whether it be making music, film, or love) that tends to open the boundaries separating the different arts. The aural and visual qualities of gestures communicate between themselves, generating rhythms and forms that circulate in the continuous flow of moving images. By fostering the analogy between the gesture of carving, of performing music, and of making film, Godard highlights what unites the arts in cinema, while feeding on their differences.