This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.
This book offers a startling re-evaluation of what has until now been seen as the most critically lacklustre period of the British film history. It includes fresh assessment of maverick directors; Pat Jackson, Robert Hamer and Joseph Losey, and even of a maverick critic Raymond Durgnat. The book features personal insights from those inidividually implicated in 1950s cinema; Corin Redgrave on Michael Redgrave, Isabel Quigly on film reviewing, and Bryony Dixon of the BFI on archiving and preservation. A classic image from 1950s British cinema would be Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea, the epitome of quiet English integrity. Raymond Durgnat's A Mirror for England: British Movies from Austerity to Affluence, which deals extensively with British films of the 1950s, was written in the mid-1960s and was published in 1970. In a 1947 article called 'Angles of Approach' Lindsay Anderson delivered a fierce attack on contemporary British film culture, outlining a model for a devoted politics of creation, well in line with what we would later understand as auteurism and art cinema aesthetics . The war films of the 1950s together constitute the assented-to record of the emotions and moral judgments called upon to set in order those disorderly events. The book also talks about the Festival of Britain, White Corridors, and four Hamer's post-Ealing films: The Spider and the Fly, The Long Memory, Father Brown and The Scapegoat. A number of factors have contributed to the relative neglect of the 1950s as a decade in British cinema history.
As originally conceived by Colin Young and subsequently worked out in practice by David and Judith MacDougall and various other film-makers, the praxis of Observational Cinema in its classical form involved very much more than observation: not only was it a particular ‘way of seeing’, it was also a particular ‘way of doing’ ethnographic film-making. Central to this praxis, as described in earlier chapters, was a collaborative relationship with the subjects, the adoption of an ‘unprivileged’ perspective in both shooting and editing, and a low
To counterbalance the rather tepid humanism of our
cinema, it might also be said that it is snobbish, anti-intelligent,
emotionally inhibited, willfully blind to the conditions and
problems of the present, dedicated to an out of date, exhausted
national idea. (Lindsay Anderson
This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.
Juvenile actors and humanitarian sentiment in the 1940s
Rehabilitation Administration, stated in his November 1943 acceptance
address: ‘We must be guided not alone by the compelling force of human
sentiments but also by dictates of sound common sense and
of mutual interest.’ 8
However, it is to those ‘human sentiments’ that Hollywood cinema’s
‘sorrowful spectacle’ of suffering children (sorrowful meaning both
showing and causing grief) is most likely (and
As this essay notes, James Baldwin, his words and metaphors, pervade public space at
countless numbers of intersections. Lines from his plays, novels, and essays have always
been an easy and handy reference for writers and artists seeking ways to ground their
intentions with deeper meaning and magic. Even in a minority opinion on 22 June 2016
written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she cited several authors, including
Baldwin, to underscore her point on the Court’s abrogation of the Fourth Amendment.
Moving images of the British monarchy, in fact and fiction, are almost as old as the moving image itself, dating back to an 1895 dramatic vignette, The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Led by Queen Victoria, British monarchs themselves appeared in the new 'animated photography' from 1896. Half a century later, the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II was a milestone in the adoption of television, watched by 20 million Britons and 100 million North Americans. At the century's end, Princess Diana's funeral was viewed by 2.5 billion worldwide. Seventeen essays by international commentators examine the portrayal of royalty in the 'actuality' picture, the early extended feature, amateur cinema, the movie melodrama, the Commonwealth documentary, New Queer Cinema, TV current affairs, the big screen ceremonial and the post-historical boxed set. These contributors include Ian Christie, Elisabeth Bronfen, Andrew Higson, Steven Fielding, Karen Lury, Glyn Davis, Ann Gray, Jane Landman, Victoria Duckett, Jude Cowan Montague, James Downs, Barbara Straumann, Deirdre Gilfedder, Jo Stephenson, Ruth Adams, Erin Bell, Basil Glynn and Nicola Rehling.
As a technology able to picture and embody the temporality of the past, cinema has become central to the mediation of memory in modern cultural life. The memory of film scenes and movies screens, cinema and cinema-going, has become integral to the placement and location of film within the cultural imagination of this century and the last. This book is a sustained, interdisciplinary perspective on memory and film from early cinema to the present. The first section examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The second section examines the politics of memory in a series of chapters that take as their focus three pivotal sites of national conflict in postwar America. This includes the war in Vietnam, American race relations and the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of marginality in the geographic and cultural borderlands of the US. The book explores the articulation of Vietnam. The final section concentrates on the issue of mediation; it explores how technological and semiotic shifts in the cultural terrain have influenced the coding and experience of memory in contemporary cinema. It considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory. The book also examines the stakes of cultural remembering in the United States and the means by which memory has been figured through Hollywood cinema.
Beyond Observation offers a historical analysis of ethnographic film from
the birth of cinema in 1895 until 2015. It covers a large number of films made
in a broad range of styles, in many different parts of the world, from the
Arctic to Africa, from urban China to rural Vermont. It is the first extensive
historical account of its kind and will be accessible to students and lecturers
in visual anthropology as well as to those previously unfamiliar with
ethnographic film. Among the early genres that Paul Henley discusses are
French reportage films, the Soviet kulturfilm, the US travelogue, the classic
documentaries of Robert Flaherty and Basil Wright, as well as the more academic
films of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Among the leading film-makers of the
post-war period, he discusses Jean Rouch, John Marshall and Robert Gardner, as
well as the emergence of Observational Cinema in the 1970s. He also considers
‘indigenous media’ projects of the 1980s, and the ethnographic films that
flourished on British television until the 1990s. In the final part, he
examines the recent films of David and Judith MacDougall, the Harvard Sensory
Media Lab, and a range of films authored in a participatory manner, as possible
models for the future.