The French film director Robert Bresson was one of the great artists of the twentieth century and among the most radical, original, and radiant stylists of any time. He worked with nonprofessional actors—models, as he called them—and deployed a starkly limited but hypnotic array of sounds and images to produce such classic works as A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Diary of a Country Priest, and Lancelot of the Lake. From the beginning to the end of his career, Bresson dedicated himself to making movies in which nothing is superfluous and everything is always at stake. Notes on the Cinematograph distills the essence of Bresson’s theory and practice as a filmmaker and artist. He discusses the fundamental differences between theater and film; parses the deep grammar of silence, music, and noise; and affirms the mysterious power of the image to unlock the human soul. This book, indispensable for admirers of this great director and for students of the cinema, will also prove an inspiration, much like Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, for anyone who responds to the claims of the imagination at its most searching and rigorous.
A low-budget breakout film that wowed critics and audiences on its initial release, Stranger Than Paradise would prove to be a seminal film in the new American independent cinema movement and establish its director, Jim Jarmusch, as a hip, cult auteur. Taking inspiration from 1960s underground filmmaking, international art cinema, genre cinema, and punk culture, Jarmusch’s film provides a bridge between midnight movie features and a new mode of quirky, offbeat independent filmmaking. This book probes the film's production history, initial reception, aesthetics, and legacy in order to understand its place within the cult film canon. In examining the film's cult pedigree, it explores a number of threads that fed into the film—including New York downtown culture of the early 1980s and Jarmusch’s involvement in music—as well as reflecting on how the film's status has developed alongside Jarmusch’s subsequent output and reputation.
Avant-garde filmmaker Bill Morrison has been making films that combine archival footage and contemporary music for decades, and he has recently begun to receive substantial recognition: he was the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and his 2002 film Decasia was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. This is the first book-length study of Morrison's work, covering the whole of his career. It gathers specialists throughout film studies to explore Morrison's "aesthetics of the archive"-his creative play with archival footage and his focus on the materiality of the medium of film.
Both Giorgio Agamben and Franz Kafka are best known for their gloomy political worldview. A cautious study of Agamben's references on Kafka, however, reveals another dimension right at the intersection of their works: a complex and unorthodox theory of freedom. The inspiration emerges from Agamben's claims that 'it is a very poor reading of Kafka's works that sees in them only a summation of the anguish of a guilty man before the inscrutable power'. Virtually all of Kafka's stories leave us puzzled about what really happened. Was Josef K., who is butchered like a dog, defeated? And what about the meaningless but in his own way complete creature Odradek? Agamben's work sheds new light on these questions and arrives, through Kafka, at different strategies for freedom at the point where this freedom is most blatantly violated.
The essays in this volume boldly map the historically resonant intersections between Jewishness and queerness, between homophobia and anti-Semitism, and between queer theory and theorizations of Jewishness. With important essays by such well-known figures in queer and gender studies as Judith Butler, Daniel Boyarin, Marjorie Garber, Michael Moon, and Eve Sedgwick, this book is not so much interested in revealing—outing—"queer Jews" as it is in exploring the complex social arrangements and processes through which modern Jewish and homosexual identities emerged as traces of each other during the last two hundred years.
Film Music: A History explains the development of film music by considering large-scale aesthetic trends and structural developments alongside socioeconomic, technological, cultural, and philosophical circumstances. The book’s four large parts are given over to Music and the "Silent" Film (1894--1927), Music and the Early Sound Film (1895--1933), Music in the "Classical-Style" Hollywood Film (1933--1960), and Film Music in the Post-Classic Period (1958--2008). Whereas most treatments of the subject are simply chronicles of "great film scores" and their composers, this book offers a genuine history of film music in terms of societal changes and technological and economic developments within the film industry. Instead of celebrating film-music masterpieces, it deals—logically and thoroughly—with the complex ‘machine’ whose smooth running allowed those occasional masterpieces to happen and whose periodic adjustments prompted the large-scale twists and turns in film music’s path.
At least three of director Jacques Tourneur’s films—Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man—are recognized as horror classics. Yet his contributions to these films are often minimized by scholars, with most of the credit going to the films’ producer, Val Lewton. A detailed examination of the director’s full body of work reveals that those elements most evident in the Tourneur-Lewton collaborations—the lack of monsters and the stylized use of suggested violence—are equally apparent in Tourneur’s films before and after his work with Lewton. Mystery and sensuality were hallmarks of his style, and he possessed a highly artistic visual and aural style. This insightful critical study examines each of Tourneur’s films, as well as his extensive work on MGM shorts (1936–1942) and in television. What emerges is evidence of a highly coherent directorial style that runs throughout Tourneur’s works.
The Celluloid Madonna is the first book to analyze the life of the Virgin Mary on screen from the silent era through to the present. For decades, Mary has caught the imagination of filmmakers from a range of religious backgrounds, whether Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Marxist, or atheist, and film's intersection of theology and secular culture has inspired some of the most singular and controversial visions of this icon in cinema history. Focusing on the challenge of adapting Scripture to the screen, this volume discusses Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927), Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Jean-Luc Godard's Hail Mary (1984), Jean Delannoy's Mary of Nazareth (1994), Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004), Catherine Hardwicke's The Nativity Story (2006), and Mark Dornford-May's Son of Man (2006).