It is currently Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:37 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 280 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:21 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
gordonovitch wrote:
The newly composed scores for City Girl and Lucky Star are not as good as they could be, but personally I find them less distracting than the Movietone scores

I haven't seen "Lucky Star" yet, but when I watched "City Girl" last night I found myself actually wishing for a Movietone score a la "7th" or "Street Angel". Whereas in those cases the over-emotionality of the score combined with Borzage's romanticism didn't always work well (much better in "Street Angel" though), that 'grand gesture' would have brought out some qualities in Murnau's film more than the new score does.

The problem with the new score for "City Girl" is not that it isn't well composed or something, but with its heavy leaning toward country/folk-music styles it stresses the 'particulars' of the film too much (a specific time and setting etc.), and the music added also a sense of crude humour to some scenes which I thought should have a much more reflective character, for instance the arrival of Lem and Kate at the farm, before the walk through the wheat fields. All this works a little against the 'universals' that in my view Murnau was going for. Like "Sunrise", the story of "City Girl" for me has a pretty archetypal/mythic character, thus obviously prefiguring "Tabu" as well, and the conflicts of father and daughter-and-law and the celebration of rural life/nature could be set anywhere. With this emphasis on the land and the mythicisation of the rural family I wonder whether for once the much-mentioned influence from Murnau on Ford might not have worked the other way round this time. I mean this exclusively in terms of the general 'meaning' of the film, the importance of the land's products for life etc., NOT of course in terms of visual style, which for the most part of the film is unmistakeably Murnau's.

I wonder whether the harvesting machine shots, if they had taken the length Murnau apparently intended them to have, would have looked even more Russian than they do now. Also, I don't know which parts were actually re-shot/re-edited by somebody else, but the city scenes in any case worked fabulously and the final sequence is a knock-out. Not exactly a film that reaches the lofty heights of Murnau's best works, but a wonderful addition to the canon (disregarding the Grapevine disc and other such sources for a moment).

It's funny how you can actually see which films in the set were big successes and which were not. Whereas the prints of "7th Heaven" and "Street Angel" looked terribly worn and much 'older' than you'd expect from films of the late 20s (they must have been used a lot!), "City Girl" looked surprisingly good, wonderfully sharp and clear with only insignificant damage.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:44 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:20 pm
Tommaso wrote:
Also, I don't know which parts were actually re-shot/re-edited by somebody else, but the city scenes in any case worked fabulously and the final sequence is a knock-out. Not exactly a film that reaches the lofty heights of Murnau's best works, but a wonderful addition to the canon (disregarding the Grapevine disc and other such sources for a moment).

I agree about the music, but what are exactly the "lofty heights"? CG has a solid plot structure with a final climax which weaves the major conflicts together, while Sunrise stops abruptly after a third and then adds a completely superfluos storm sequence out of the nowhere. CG carefully shows that life in the city isn't always fun, but that the land can be opressive, while Sunrise introduces a smoking woman of the city (evil!) who leads our poor nice country folk astray. CG shows a female heroine and her fight for happiness against patriarchal oppression which also emasculates the son, while Sunrise never progresses beyond the most reactionary whore/madonna duality. CG integrates it less spectacular visuals into the plot line like e.g. the lonesome geranium or the run through the wheat fields, while Sunrise permanently strives to impress with cinematic trickery like the walk of O'Brien to his lover.

I've seen roughly 600 silent features and I intensely dislike the strong tendencies in film scholarship to appreciate silents only via their visuals and especially via special visual scenes a la Potemkin's Odessa slaughter sequence or Gance's triptych. A similar example that comes to my mind is Siodmak's Killers vs. Criss Cross, the first being the more famous for certain shots or sequences like the beginning, while the second being less spectacular deals far more convinsingly and cohesively with the same story (more or less).
I think there should be once a debate about how some films are praised because they are easier to teach or write about or leave strong impressions in some points, but are aon the whole less convincing than more unspectacular works.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:04 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
lubitsch wrote:
I've seen roughly 600 silent features and I intensely dislike the strong tendencies in film scholarship to appreciate silents only via their visuals and especially via special visual scenes a la Potemkin's Odessa slaughter sequence or Gance's triptych.[...]
I think there should be once a debate about how some films are praised because they are easier to teach or write about or leave strong impressions in some points, but are aon the whole less convincing than more unspectacular works.

My admiration for Eisenstein (and there are parts in "Potemkin" that I find more impressive than the Odessa steps sequence) or "Sunrise" has little to do with individual sequences or scenes and next to nothing with the fact that they might be easier to teach or write about (even though this is true given the limited time in a film class). And in all fairness to a differing opinion, but in my view you tend to clearly over-estimate a sociological view of film over an artistic view. I have absolutely nothing against analyses that show how a film is 'true' to a perceived reality (your "City Girl" examples vs "Sunrise" are correct, of course), or how it tackles important social or other questions whereas other films evade them. But these things alone don't constitute a great film, even if it has a "solid plot structure".

lubitsch wrote:
I agree about the music, but what are exactly the "lofty heights"? CG has a solid plot structure with a final climax which weaves the major conflicts together, while Sunrise stops abruptly after a third and then adds a completely superfluos storm sequence out of the nowhere.

It may be superfluous from the plot's point-of-view, and I even agree about the whore/madonna-thing (which, however, is much more pronounced in "Street Angel"), but honestly: Who has ever laid down an unalterable law that films should be 'progressive', follow a realistic and believable storyline and alter the world for the better? "Sunrise" is so much more than its narrative and its social meaning; what you describe as 'cinematic trickery' is the perfect example of an artist using all the means he has at his command to utterly enrapture his audience, to touch them on a level that is far deeper and emotional than rational considerations, and the result is almost incomparable in its purely artistic/aesthetic effect.
However, the analytical assessment of these artistic/aesthetic impressions is far more difficult to do (or perhaps ultimately impossible) than an analysis of the 'politics' of a film, and currently it's unpopular in academic circles on top of it. But films are made not for scholars, but for an audience, and I suppose in Murnau's case, an intelligent audience. Murnau was far too elitist to simply cater to those who only want to drift away in a romantic dreamworld (while "7th Heaven" does exactly that, though in a great way). Again: there is something very basic and 'archetypal' - though I don't mean that in the Jungian sense - going on in "Sunrise", "Tabu", "Nosferatu" or even "Faust", and Murnau invents his own, totally personal language for the expression of it. And that's what makes his films so incredibly overwhelming and pleasing as works of art.

You need not agree with this kind of filmmaking, but why then watch Murnau at all? Why don't you equally object to the somewhat similar 'trickery' at the end of "City Girl" or in the walk through the wheat fields? These individual moments are, unsurprisingly, those that I got most out of when watching the film (and they also seem to be the most discussed, of course), but that is also because they are the most 'unusual' compared to other films, those in which Murnau's art shows itself most unfettered. Other parts of the film are much more 'conventional', and that's what I meant when I said that the film doesn't reach the "lofty heights" of Murnau's greatest and better known films. I didn't mean the technical tricks and visual sophistication in "Sunrise" as such, but how all the elements of the film (acting, cinematography, editing, mise en scene) coalesce together. As Walter Pater said: "All art aspires to the condition of music", and "Sunrise" is the best example for this (no wonder it's called "A Song of Two Humans"). Or you might see it as a sort of modern fairy-tale; but then it's a damn convincing and enchanting one.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:24 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
I'm not going to dip a toe yet into the strange film barometer of Progressive Female Politics viz Lube, but there's a stale collegiate trout that is repeatedly tossed out here by him that I have to probe:

Why, exactly, to you consider the storm sequence to be superflous and tacked-on? It ties directly into the narrative as it 1) echoes, pre-storm the psychological hell of the original boat ride and erases it's sense of emotional trauma with visceral romatic joy, and 2) provides a sense of narrative irony directly threaded in to what has gone down before-- the man gets what he asked for originally but now does not want ("Be careful what you ask for in life" etc), that is, the boat is overturned and his wife is deposited into the lake for drowning. Further narrative knitting and irony is provided towards the conclusion in that the bullrushes with which the man meant to use to save himself, have saved his wife.

The scene provides a threading to the proper denouement and it's click into the conclusion: as everything seems to have gone according to 'plan', the woman of the city makes ready for the arrival of her stooge to prepare her final triumph... until she realizes.

The storm is neither contrived nor tacked on-- it expertly provides the narrative impetus to bundle together all of the themes and plot threads that have been developed in the first half, reversed by the "wedding", and puts their reversal to the the test (if the man were bullshitting about his epihany viz his wife, he'd have it made w the vamp upon return... conversely fate seems to be teaching him that lesson 'be careful what you wish for') and thrusts the tale to it's perfect finale and crystalization, sending the woman from the city on her way, and-- thus proven-- returns the wife to her husband.

This notwithstanding the obvious symbol order (in this allegorical song) going on at other levels viz 'water' 'storms' 'boat journeys' etc.

It may feel in terms of causality tacked on because it is an event whose motivation is beyond the bounds of the three main protagonists (i e it just 'happens', and is not tied-- being from nature-- directly to a preceding action, it is a 'narrative act of god', and therefore feels too easy; yet in these terms the entire trip to the city is filled with 'happenstance encounters'), and so it is.. which is the point. When you stop manipulating life for subterfuge, fate steps in and takes a hand. It's very definitely part of the narrative and moral fabric of the film, and in strict physical terms echoes acts that preceded... and morally demonstrates Mayer & Murnaus ongoing belief in Fate. If you toss this storm out, then you must turn out Schrecks character in Nosferatu, must toss out the baroness in Phantom, must toss out Reri's fateful selection by the high priest in Tabu, the appearance of the Moderating Hand of Fate in just about all of Murnau. His films demonstrate-- almost all-- a belief in an outside force that kills corrupts and saves. It's a hand that's loaded with irony, and it's a hand that is indeed unpredictable. Indeed, in Murnau's personal life as well as in his films, this force is the potential father of all Paradises Lost.

You need to be more suspicious of what schools and status quos teach you about narrative flow and rhythm. They have about two structural setups which they deem psychologically acceptable to hook a viewer and keep them humming magnetically along, and all the rest are empty clams as far as they're concerned. It's for THIS reason-- not any reliance on the gleaming visual patina-- that the films you're dying to see, the books you want to read, the music you want to hear is not made ready for your senses and aren't trumpeted by the one-note auteurists you despise so much. It's this elementary belief that anything the least bit out of the ordinary along the highway of event-flow renders an artistic product indigestable by the masses. You're hyped on the junk promulgated by society's gatekeepers, who narrow our view of what is acceptable for the rest of society.. wash that crap right out of your hair.

A tacked on scene would classically be something along the lines-- BAM out of nowhere a highwayman with no place in the previous narrative suddenly appears in the last 15 minutes and waylays the couple on their way out of the city. Holds them hostage mistakenly thinking the man is a big wealthy farmer. During the abduction wifey is injured. Time goes by. Wifey is getting worse at thug's hideout in the city. Thug is demanding money and getting hotter because he thinks they're holding out. Hubby pleads to let him get medical attention for wifey, and gets a gun butt to the head & "Shut up!" After a two week standoff who comes walking into the highwayman's hideout? but the vamp, who is his sister... while the criminal is snoozing selflessly she saves the couples life and reedems herself. While running from the hideout and showing the couple towards the trolley the vamp is shot in the back by the criminal who has woken up... OBrien wants to save her-- she raises a hand "No.. my life is over.. your's is just beginning.. be.. happy." (Slump, with a single tear running down her cheek).

Obrien runs with his wife to paradise tears filling his eyes viz the holy whore. END*

Trust Carl Mayer and everyone else in the world: you're not discovering anything unknown about Sunrise. It's one of the most analyzed films on earth. I daresay getting political or progressive with it is about as hopeless as getting thusly over Aesop Grimm or Anderson. These are not real people-- they are supposed to be archtypes. City Girl on the other hand, is clearly about real people.

You've come a long way Lubitsch, compared to the poster of 2006. For that I commend you. But still, I'd love to see you direct your rage towards more productive ends. Instead of lamenting the films you feel no-one promotes sheerly by tearing down the ones they do, why not discuss those films you love and elucidate why you feel they are superior? Why not illustrate by example what you regard as a fine specimen of narrative? Proclaiming the critical world a homgenous zone of predictability is a bit predictable... but on the other hand, in terms of silent film, their sins are mostly those of omission. Most 'world classics' of silent film that are heaped with endless laurels-- Potemkin, Sunrise-- are justifiably thus. Why not reach back into your satchel of 600 silent films and discuss those which are undiscussed (and if you say Pandoras Box or The Wind again eggs are gonna fly!)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:40 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:20 pm
Tommaso wrote:
And in all fairness to a differing opinion, but in my view you tend to clearly over-estimate a sociological view of film over an artistic view. I have absolutely nothing against analyses that show how a film is 'true' to a perceived reality (your "City Girl" examples vs "Sunrise" are correct, of course), or how it tackles important social or other questions whereas other films evade them. But these things alone don't constitute a great film, even if it has a "solid plot structure".

I don't think that's the case. In fact one of the most horrifying film books written in German and still the only native international film history, Enno Patalas' and Ulrich Gregor's film history is a frightening example of 60s political film analysis and there are few film books that I despise more. However there's no need to send the pendulum back to the other end leave this points completely out of view.

Tommaso wrote:
Who has ever laid down an unalterable law that films should be 'progressive', follow a realistic and believable storyline and alter the world for the better.

Nobody, but they shouldn't promote 'regressive' ideals which caused much harm. Birth of a Nation played a crucial role in reviving the Ku-Klux-klan, October praised the illegal overthrow of a government by a bunch of murderers and Sunrise is guilty of supporting a whore/madonna duality which still turns out deadly for women in large parts of the world. I know this is all rather obvious and not very new, but I see no point in leaving it completely out.

Tommaso wrote:
"Sunrise" is so much more than its narrative and its social meaning; what you describe as 'cinematic trickery' is the perfect example of an artist using all the means he has at his command to utterly enrapture his audience, to touch them on a level that is far deeper and emotional than rational considerations, and the result is almost incomparable in its purely artistic/aesthetic effect.

However, the analytical assessment of these artistic/aesthetic impressions is far more difficult to do (or perhaps ultimately impossible) than an analysis of the 'politics' of a film, and currently it's unpopular in academic circles on top of it. But films are made not for scholars, but for an audience, and I suppose in Murnau's case, an intelligent audience. Murnau was far too elitist to simply cater to those who only want to drift away in a romantic dreamworld (while "7th Heaven" does exactly that, though in a great way). Again: there is something very basic and 'archetypal' - though I don't mean that in the Jungian sense - going on in "Sunrise", "Tabu", "Nosferatu" or even "Faust", and Murnau invents his own, totally personal language for the expression of it. And that's what makes his films so incredibly overwhelming and pleasing as works of art...

You need not agree with this kind of filmmaking, but why then watch Murnau at all?

I have marked some of your points bold because they are exactly the ones bothering me. they are mostly expressions of mysticism ending more or less in the wisdom: "Either you see the light or you don't." I don't think it's enough to label something as transcending experience or helpful to explain problems away as archetypes. After all we all have to thank the Age of Enlightenment and its free thinking that we can sit before a computer and happily disagree about some films, while the last mystic, archetypal years in German history are not exactly ones I'd like to see repeated.

Tommaso wrote:
Why don't you equally object to the somewhat similar 'trickery' at the end of "City Girl" or in the walk through the wheat fields? These individual moments are, unsurprisingly, those that I got most out of when watching the film (and they also seem to be the most discussed, of course), but that is also because they are the most 'unusual' compared to other films, those in which Murnau's art shows itself most unfettered. Other parts of the film are much more 'conventional', and that's what I meant when I said that the film doesn't reach the "lofty heights" of Murnau's greatest and better known films. I didn't mean the technical tricks and visual sophistication in "Sunrise" as such, but how all the elements of the film (acting, cinematography, editing, mise en scene) coalesce together.

I find this interesting because I have exactly the opposite perception. Sunrise unfolds in a series of artistic vignettes and shots and it always looks as if Murnau has sat down and thought how he can make this and that scene look special. Take e.g. O'Brien's walk to the swamp? His character is confused and led astray, it's dark and he slips away. is it really necessary to push the scene to the limit with an extra artificial studio setting and a walking route (with corresponding camera movement) which was planned just for the sake of showing how lost and desoriented he is (morally). The run through the wheat on the contrary grows out of the story and out of more conventional scenes and recedes back which gives it all the more power. we have two happy people, one of them searching for a new life on the land and the camera subtly and for a rather short moment underscores this in connecting them with this land. Sunrise on the other hand reminds me of Ford's The Fugitive, another oh so profound and serious artful movie.

HerrSchreck wrote:
Why, exactly, to you consider the storm sequence to be superflous and tacked-on? It ties directly into the narrative as it 1) echoes, pre-storm the psychological hell of the original boat ride and erases it's sense of emotional trauma with visceral romatic joy, and 2) provides a sense of narrative irony directly threaded in to what has gone down before-- the man gets what he asked for originally but now does not want ("Be careful what you ask for in life" etc), that is, the boat is overturned and his wife is deposited into the lake for drowning. Further narrative knitting and irony is provided towards the conclusion in that the bullrushes with which the man meant to use to save himself, have saved his wife.

The scene provides a threading to the proper denouement and it's click into the conclusion: as everything seems to have gone according to 'plan', the woman of the city makes ready for the arrival of her stooge to prepare her final triumph... until she realizes.

The storm is neither contrived nor tacked on-- it expertly provides the narrative impetus to bundle together all of the themes and plot threads that have been developed in the first half, reversed by the "wedding", and puts their reversal to the the test (if the man were bullshitting about his epihany viz his wife, he'd have it made w the vamp upon return... conversely fate seems to be teaching him that lesson 'be careful what you wish for') and thrusts the tale to it's perfect finale and crystalization, sending the woman from the city on her way, and-- thus proven-- returns the wife to her husband.

This notwithstanding the obvious symbol order (in this allegorical song) going on at other levels viz 'water' 'storms' 'boat journeys' etc.

It may feel in terms of causality tacked on because it is an event whose motivation is beyond the bounds of the three main protagonists (i e it just 'happens', and is not tied-- being from nature-- directly to a preceding action, it is a 'narrative act of god', and therefore feels too easy; yet in these terms the entire trip to the city is filled with 'happenstance encounters'), and so it is.. which is the point. When you stop manipulating life for subterfuge, fate steps in and takes a hand. It's very definitely part of the narrative and moral fabric of the film, and in strict physical terms echoes acts that preceded... and morally demonstrates Mayer & Murnaus ongoing belief in Fate. If you toss this storm out, then you must turn out Schrecks character in Nosferatu, must toss out the baroness in Phantom, must toss out Reri's fateful selection by the high priest in Tabu, the appearance of the Moderating Hand of Fate in just about all of Murnau. His films demonstrate-- almost all-- a belief in an outside force that kills corrupts and saves. It's a hand that's loaded with irony, and it's a hand that is indeed unpredictable. Indeed, in Murnau's personal life as well as in his films, this force is the potential father of all Paradises Lost.

I find your comments very interesting, some are new to me, but I have marked in bold the main problem for me. I may sound slightly cynical, but for me the hand of fate translates to the hand of the screenwriter runnning out of ideas how to let a story grow out of its characters. It seems simply a cheap way to wrap a story an dprovide all the ironies you've layed down so precisely.

HerrSchreck wrote:
A tacked on scene would classically be something along the lines-- BAM out of nowhere a highwayman with no place in the previous narrative suddenly appears in the last 15 minutes and waylays the couple on their way out of the city. Holds them hostage mistakenly thinking the man is a big wealthy farmer. During the abduction wifey is injured. Time goes by. Wifey is getting worse at thug's hideout in the city. Thug is demanding money and getting hotter because he thinks they're holding out. Hubby pleads to let him get medical attention for wifey, and gets a gun butt to the head & "Shut up!" After a two week standoff who comes walking into the highwayman's hideout? but the vamp, who is his sister... while the criminal is snoozing selflessly she saves the couples life and reedems herself. While running from the hideout and showing the couple towards the trolley the vamp is shot in the back by the criminal who has woken up... OBrien wants to save her-- she raises a hand "No.. my life is over.. your's is just beginning.. be.. happy." (Slump, with a single tear running down her cheek).

Obrien runs with his wife to paradise tears filling his eyes viz the holy whore. END*

Yep, seen my share of such films, too. But to be frank I don't think it differs that much from what we got. What you describe is a plot machinery running for its own sake, generating more and more plot until it ends. Sunrise is a picture and archetype machinery which seems intend on creating a magic moment every five minutes. the moments I like best about sunrise are the ones where Murnau doesn't run amok, but strives for simple solutions like the cake scene where O'Brien helpless tries to replace a lack of sufficient words with a gesture or his brooding persona being translated via his back shots.

HerrSchreck wrote:
Trust Carl Mayer and everyone else in the world: you're not discovering anything unknown about Sunrise. It's one of the most analyzed films on earth. I daresay getting political or progressive with it is about as hopeless as getting thusly over Aesop Grimm or Anderson. These are not real people-- they are supposed to be archtypes.

I trust Mayer's earlier films because he is one of the few masterin silent cinema who doesn't build monumental melodramatic trash stories and focuses on the sharp drawing of characters and lets them interact in a limited space. I love Scherben, Hintertreppe, Der letzte Mann and like and like Caligari, Vanina and Sylvester. Sunrise is not very different regarding characters, it's just that he taps into some cliches he mostly avoided, but quite different in regard to the story structure which moves away from the tight block like construction.

HerrSchreck wrote:
But still, I'd love to see you direct your rage towards more productive ends. Instead of lamenting the films you feel no-one promotes sheerly by tearing down the ones they do, why not discuss those films you love and elucidate why you feel they are superior? Why not illustrate by example what you regard as a fine specimen of narrative? Proclaiming the critical world a homgenous zone of predictability is a bit predictable... but on the other hand, in terms of silent film, their sins are mostly those of omission.

That's probably because I work at our video library and am therefore worried how students react to silents. If you're just beginning to watch them and have certain vague, not too flattering ideas in your head a la ridiculous acting, melodramatic stories, then you could do no worse then confront students with films which emphasize these traits. To put it simply and bluntly, I know that Gaynor's wig is an absolute killer.

I occasionally feed the people with films to counter their perceptions, gave e.g. away cottage on dartmoor and got the feedback that it's much more intersting than the usual silents like e.g. Die Nibelungen. I like Lang's film well, but it only serves to underscore my point that it might be wise to promote silent film history more via "normal" films like Miss Lulu bett, Lonesome, Visages d'enfants which offer essentially the picture of being modern films with only sound missing. But if you start in your first lesson with whites in blackface in BOAN, cintinue with Russian propaganda and then go to the acting madness in Metropolis, you will leave most students with a deadly impression.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
lubitsch wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:
It may feel in terms of causality tacked on because it is an event whose motivation is beyond the bounds of the three main protagonists (i e it just 'happens', and is not tied-- being from nature-- directly to a preceding action, it is a 'narrative act of god', and therefore feels too easy; yet in these terms the entire trip to the city is filled with 'happenstance encounters'), and so it is.. which is the point. When you stop manipulating life for subterfuge, fate steps in and takes a hand. It's very definitely part of the narrative and moral fabric of the film, and in strict physical terms echoes acts that preceded... and morally demonstrates Mayer & Murnaus ongoing belief in Fate. If you toss this storm out, then you must turn out Schrecks character in Nosferatu, must toss out the baroness in Phantom, must toss out Reri's fateful selection by the high priest in Tabu, the appearance of the Moderating Hand of Fate in just about all of Murnau. His films demonstrate-- almost all-- a belief in an outside force that kills corrupts and saves. It's a hand that's loaded with irony, and it's a hand that is indeed unpredictable. Indeed, in Murnau's personal life as well as in his films, this force is the potential father of all Paradises Lost.

I find your comments very interesting, some are new to me, but I have marked in bold the main problem for me. I may sound slightly cynical, but for me the hand of fate translates to the hand of the screenwriter runnning out of ideas how to let a story grow out of its characters. It seems simply a cheap way to wrap a story an dprovide all the ironies you've layed down so precisely.

Lubitsch, I mean this without any sense of audacity or schphluntz whatsoever when I say it is a matter of emergency that you rethink your sense of responsibility viz Traffic Cop of Library Titles. If you reject out of hand as "lazy"-- or poverty of imagination-- non-character driven causalities in tales of fiction then I have to say you bring to the medium such a strange sense of narrative-aesthetic activism that I'd say that the thing that's most important to your post-degree progress is a period of intense introspection to determine what is causing you to regard as frivolous all things not wrought by the hand of man. You've taken out of pocket a desire to disqualify some of the most meaningful forms of endeavor on the part of man-- to come to terms with that which is beyond their control; to reconcile the effect of meaningless suffering against all prior constructive & preventative action; the hand of fate crushing the better and worse promulgations of humankind without apparent rhyme or reason is the basis of our heavier philosophies, the motivating factor of our religions, a huge portions of our psychiatrics, and the mysterious better portion of our openended poetics. Without it all narrative would be ground down to the most literal melodrama with each action threaded back and traceable on a flow chart, motivated human act by motivated human act, without any sense of indeterminate grey. An aesthetic universe without a force of nature-- only men.

And we'd certainly have no film noir, which is fueled by a reflection on the cruel hand of fate, which ties each goodhearted protagonist in a mysterious, unexplainable, and malevolent gordian knot.

And really-- there's not much difference between the denouement-cultivating storm in Sunrise and the same in City Girl. In City Girl-- which you laud-- the most absurdly melodramatic ending (really, it's a flawless film right up to when girlie gets thwacked by the old bastard, which comes far too early in the film btw, whereby the film goes right off the rails into absurdity and unbalance) is prompted by a storm, sudden and unheralded... the 'crop is going to be lost because of (wtf were they harvesting throughout the film then?) a sudden and convenient storm which magically pulls everyone together, causes by a quick and convenient secondary effect (this feels far more contrived to me incidentally, they way everyone suddenly turns cherubic on a dime) the bunch of turdish leathery farmhands to turn aw-shucksy do-gooders with golden hearts, and one stray shot and the father becomes the wife-hugging Dr. Jekyll all of a sudden.

It's all just taste my friend.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:38 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
lubitsch wrote:
However there's no need to send the pendulum back to the other end leave this points completely out of view.

I don't disagree with this at all, and I never said that I wanted to leave the sociological questions a work of art may raise out of the view. To give you an example from literary studies: in the last 40 years or so, scholars have repeatedly pointed out the promotion of colonialist politics in Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and its subservience to a patriarchal ideology, and these scholars have successfully deconstructed the 'wise sage' Prospero in the process. This reassessment of the play has found its reflections for instance in Derek Jarman's film version. However, to the best of my knowledge none of these critics have argued that the play isn't any good because all of this (it won't surprise you that I actually think it's among Shakespeare's very best). In other words: the assessment of the play from postcolonialist or feminist theory has added a lot of new levels to our understanding of "The Tempest", made it more complex and even more intriguing. But it didn't take away anything from the sheer formal and lyrical perfection of the play. And this is where I have problems with what I perceive as your point-of-view. You dismiss "Sunrise" because it has a world-view which is not your own (and Schreck, as usual, has described this world-view in a far better way than I can), and you are not willing to concede that despite your disagreement with its world-view the film has more than remarkable artistic qualities. Or so it seems to me.

lubitsch wrote:
Tommaso wrote:
Who has ever laid down an unalterable law that films should be 'progressive', follow a realistic and believable storyline and alter the world for the better.

Nobody, but they shouldn't promote 'regressive' ideals which caused much harm. Birth of a Nation played a crucial role in reviving the Ku-Klux-klan, October praised the illegal overthrow of a government by a bunch of murderers and Sunrise is guilty of supporting a whore/madonna duality which still turns out deadly for women in large parts of the world. I know this is all rather obvious and not very new, but I see no point in leaving it completely out.

For once, let me highlight some keywords in your post. First of all, when Eisenstein made "October", the Bolsheviks were clearly NOT seen as doing something illegal, but rather on the contrary considered themselves as the most progressive group in Russia at the time. Nothing one must agree with, but it's a good reminder of how terms like 'progressive' or 'reactionary' aren't cemented forever, but are subject to who defines and uses them. But I far more object to the concept of 'guilt' that you apply to "Sunrise". First of all, you really seem to ascribe to film a lot of influence onto the audience, as if they were just a passive bunch of people who are unable to reflect for themselves on what they have just seen. Secondly, you make it appear as if the whole point of "Sunrise" was a conscious attempt to (re-)inforce a certain gender role model, whereas the film only uses the madonna/femme fatale motif to make points which are completely different. That's the difference (one of many) between "Sunrise" and "Jud Süß", for instance. Thirdly, you completely ignore that the madonna/femme fatale-duality is an age-old motif that has been used and re-used in literature and art history over the centuries, so much so that it could be used almost as a 'brick' in a new work for narratives concerned with quite different things. I hardly have to point you to the classic studies of Praz or Paglia, but just in case... In the same way you could argue that Wilde's "Salome" was only concerned with perpertuating such gender roles, which would miss the point completely.

lubitsch wrote:
I have marked some of your points bold because they are exactly the ones bothering me. they are mostly expressions of mysticism ending more or less in the wisdom: "Either you see the light or you don't." I don't think it's enough to label something as transcending experience or helpful to explain problems away as archetypes.

First about my use of the word 'archetype': although I expressedly said I didn't have Jung in mind, you seem to have misunderstood me. I used the term more in the sense in which Chaucer's pilgrims can be described as archetypes, i.e. they are personifications of a 'special sort' of people, i.e. THE knight or THE merchant; or with Murnau, THE vamp or THE ageing hotel porter. As to the other words you highlighted and which you take as an expression of mysticism, I gladly accept that label even though I don't fully agree with it. The deeper range of emotions I described need not be of the mystic/religious/spiritual sort, they might simply to refer to things like joy of nature or indeed, deep love. And why you include my mentioning of "Murnau's own, totally personal language" in it is somewhat beyond me.
And if I spoke of the goal of 'enrapturing' an audience for a filmmaker: this is as old as Meliès, or as 'entertainment' itself.

lubitsch wrote:
After all we all have to thank the Age of Enlightenment and its free thinking that we can sit before a computer and happily disagree about some films

I guess I'm not alone in wondering whether the 'free-thinking spirit of the Age of Enlightenment' isn't a myth itself. There has been many a free-thinker who has been crushed because his scientific findings did not concur with what was believed to be 'reasonable science' in his time (I think especially of the history of medicine, here). Do yourself a favour and read Pynchon's "Against the Day" for an up-to-date narrative assessment of the whole problem. And you never seem to question the ideology of Enlightenment as much as you question other ideologies.

lubitsch wrote:
while the last mystic, archetypal years in German history are not exactly ones I'd like to see repeated.

And here 'schüttest Du das Kind mit dem Bade aus', as we say in German. The immediate connection of mysticism (in most general terms) with the tenets of Nazi Germany is not only unfair, but also historically wrong. The alleged 'mysticism' of the Nazis (all the talk about the German 'race', the party rallies etc.) was nothing more than a clever trick they worked on the masses to conceal their imperialist, racist and capitalist goals, even though some of the Nazi elite admittedly had a vivid interest in occultism. But all this has nothing to do with the mysticism of people like Jakob Boehme or William Blake, or with the spiritual search in the works of Tarkovsky.

lubitsch wrote:
is it really necessary to push the scene to the limit with an extra artificial studio setting and a walking route (with corresponding camera movement) which was planned just for the sake of showing how lost and desoriented he is (morally).

Perhaps not necessary, but it greatly underscores his morally being lost, as you say yourself. Congruence of form and content, then.

lubitsch wrote:
The run through the wheat on the contrary grows out of the story and out of more conventional scenes and recedes back which gives it all the more power. we have two happy people, one of them searching for a new life on the land and the camera subtly and for a rather short moment underscores this in connecting them with this land.

Sure, but the tenets of both films are different. "Sunrise" centers more exclusively on the emotional states of the protagonists, this is its sole theme and thus the film constantly evokes these by its visuals; "City Girl" is indeed concerned with questions having more to do with social aspects and the outside world (surviving even though the price of wheat falls, the difference between rural and urban life and how its perceived by city and country dwellers etc.), thus it doesn't focus as exclusively on Lem and Kate's love affair. But the way "Sunrise" reaches its goals seems to me far more extraordinary and unique as a whole;which is why I rate "Sunrise" higher.

lubitsch wrote:
I may sound slightly cynical, but for me the hand of fate translates to the hand of the screenwriter runnning out of ideas how to let a story grow out of its characters.

Again, the hand of fate is a stock motif reaching back to Greek drama. Why not use it again, then, as a scriptwriter, especially if you're concerned with emotional states that are pretty universal? It's like saying "Why have a vampire in "Nosferatu" if you could make a realistic film about sexual obsession/perversion?" There is no need for hands of fate nor for vampires if you want to make a film, but I can't see why you deem it so terribly wrong to speak in symbols, images, metaphors.

lubitsch wrote:
But if you start in your first lesson with whites in blackface in BOAN, cintinue with Russian propaganda and then go to the acting madness in Metropolis, you will leave most students with a deadly impression.

Totally contrary to some of my own experiences. Not too long ago, I lent "Sunrise" to a friend of mine, an emancipated, modern woman who clearly isn't the one who lets her husband play the patriarchial game with her. She had a good interest in films, but had hardly seen any silents before. After she had watched the film, she said that "Sunrise" was the greatest film she had ever seen. Since then, she has amassed more books on Murnau than I have. I guess what attracts her about silents in general now is that they are NOT basically like "modern films with only sound missing". And as I assume you have a teaching job as well apart from your library work, why don't you try to emphasize that difference, the worth of these films despite the over-acting and the melodrama? Few students would read something like "Paradise Lost" of their own accord, but there are ways to convince them of it nevertheless. And sorry for so many examples from English literature, but that's where I basically come from.

EDIT: Schreck, I see you posted while I was busy responding (nice new thingy with the new forum software, btw), and notice that some of your points basically are the same as mine, though with different emphasis. I fully agree with your description of the end of "City Girl".


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
This has been a fascinating dialogue, even if a frustrating one.

I share Lubistch's total revulsion for Birth of a Nation and it's one of those things I will simply never watch again and about which I can probably be accused of being one eyed. But that's me. And the reasons for revulsion and loathing are I believe the same as hers, notably the revivalist impact it had on Klan sentiment in the 20th Century. It should never have been made.

But I simply cannot make LUbe's leap from this to the Virgin Whore debasement case I believe she's making in regard to Sunrise. Murnau's picture seems to me to be entirely based on dualities including the City Country, Virgin whore and darkness/ light. IN that sense I think he's brought a far broader European cultural attachment to the work and in fact I believe Sunrise is his first big break with Weimar cinema and the Max Reinhardt influence. It's a revolutionary film for him and for American cinema because it takes for one thing the virgin/whore trope from a centuries old visual arts and literary tradition., including Goethe and plants it into an American context. You might say he radicalized American cinema texturally with it by in fact deepening it with European cultural history.

I simply cannot make a link between virgin/whore trope and the blatant racism of Griffiths' respresentations of black Americans and slaves in BOAN. Like all cultural tropes the virgin whore duality expresse both an unrealistic (male) idealization and reduction in a form which can be traced back to Aeschylus. The point is surely that MUrnau presents the trope completely consciously a a cultural artefact which in itself is still a palpable psychological dynamo in Western culture, driving male power and dominance. Again surely the narrative rescue he provides from this is the attempted murder of Gaynor at which point the narrative surely dissolves from the Freudian dimension into one of recognition of reality and, in the hyper narrative sense, redemption. The fact Murnau can then turn around and make such a complete break with the tradition (probably most intensively and vulgarly I think expressed in Faust - an etremely problematic movie in terms of the way in which Renihardt overwhelms and even erases Murnau's own personal expression) with City Girl is surely the context you need to see how radical a break Murnau has made from his own film culture, if you like, and the incredibly radical break in terms of concentration of form and meaning he brings to American cinema.

I also don't undertand Lube's objections to the mise en scene of Sunrise in sequences like the walk into the marsh with the camera breaking to take its own journery to the woman - the overlay of subconscious compulsion (Farrell's walk) with the indepence of the camera's track which is both fatalistically expressive and ironically suggests also liberation of both point of view and of action. I just feel LUbe's made a committed reading of Sunrise which has simply locked her into a ivew of it ideologically that the actual text simply doesn't support.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:34 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
City Girl was a real eye-opener for me. I always assumed the leap from mobile camera in Sunrise to stationary camera in Tabu was necessitated by extreme remote location shooting, but City Girl shows Murnau already abandoning the dolly tracks. I can only recall two non-diegetic dollies: a brief one in the city and the extraordinary one in the run through the wheat field. Every other camera movement is associated with moving farming equipment. The result is a decoupage that is strikingly contemporary. It appears to me to be Murnau's first "sound" film. He could have recorded dialogue without changing a single shot, and it still would have worked.

Thematically, it's an interesting inversion of the City/Country dichotomy in Sunrise. The city brings morality to the country rather than treachery. And it's the country that supplies the lovers' playground instead of the city.

HerrSchreck wrote:
You need to be more suspicious of what schools and status quos teach you about narrative flow and rhythm.

Do schools even teach film narrative and rhythm anymore? They didn't when I was there. Everything was ideological interpretation. Which is why a brilliant theorist like Bordwell has become persona non grata in academic circles.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:44 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
GringoTex wrote:
Do schools even teach film narrative and rhythm anymore? They didn't when I was there. Everything was ideological interpretation.

Reminds me of teaching poetry without explaining what stanzas or rhyme-schemes are. Which is actually what happens more and more often.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:55 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Just to lower the tone for a minute:

Assuming, or hoping against hope, that Fox will continue with the annual lavish box set splurge, what's the best way of getting the message to them that they should spend a couple of extra dollars on their premium product in order to:
1) Provide secure, robust and user friendly disc housings
2) Deliver discs to customers unscratched
3) Eliminate flipper discs

It's ridiculous that such high-cost luxury sets from a major studio are plagued with these problems. I know we're a small, captive audience, but don't Fox consider this a bad look - and surely these products are, for them, primarily about corporate prestige?

So anyway, any suggestions for the best way of getting this message to somebody who counts in a vaguely constructive way?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:40 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Apart from bombarding them with e-mails, I see no reasonable way. However, I'm not sure whether this will change the situation. Had they read the numerous complaints about the Ford at Fox set here or at amazon, they would have surely come up with something different for the Murnau Borzage already. With the new set, they should at least notice that they get faulty sets returned from amazon or other sellers. So either they know already that something must change, or they simply don't care (which is what I suspect).

zedz wrote:
surely these products are, for them, primarily about corporate prestige?

They should be, but it seems enough that they LOOK lavish superficially, i.e. super-sized boxes and great promotional photos to sell the product. However, they don't seem to pay attention to the details. Take for instance the inclusion of the CC "Young Mr. Lincoln" with unaltered disc and menu design into the Ford set; it breaks up the whole look of the set. Same for the seemingly inexplicable choice of flipper discs in both sets, which equally ruins the 'corporate' look, as some discs now of course don't have label-designs anymore; all this quite apart from the playing problems and the fact that all the materials on the flippers would easily have fitted on normal double layered discs, with the sole exception of "Sunrise" perhaps (but here they could have simply put the European version out on an extra disc). Or the remarkable lack of audio-commentaries or other significant extras on most of the discs, despite the well-made documentary disc. The books are great, but are also far from being in-depth.All this gives me the feeling that they didn't want to produce a 'real artwork', only something which looks like one. Well, at least we have the films.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Tommaso wrote:
zedz wrote:
surely these products are, for them, primarily about corporate prestige?

They should be, but it seems enough that they LOOK lavish superficially, i.e. super-sized boxes and great promotional photos to sell the product.

Probably right. The people they're most eager to impress probably wouldn't actually watch any of these films in a million years.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:25 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
Location: New Avalon KY
GringoTex wrote:
Do schools even teach film narrative and rhythm anymore? They didn't when I was there. Everything was ideological interpretation. Which is why a brilliant theorist like Bordwell has become persona non grata in academic circles.

Dear lord that's depressing. Why not just make it a film historiography class if that's all they'll do to teach film. I'm curious how Bordwell has been excluded though. Didn't he write the book on film for these courses?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:42 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
As a graduate student in a film studies program, let me reassure you guys that yes, theory and narrative structures are still being taught alongside histories and general analytical approaches. Film Art and Film History show up in undergrad classes all the time and I'm actually in a class right now that uses Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson's Classical Hollywood Cinema as its sole textbook. There's always going to be film classes that pander to the masses, but it's thankfully not yet an epidemic.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:57 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
domino harvey wrote:
As a graduate student in a film studies program, let me reassure you guys that yes, theory and narrative structures are still being taught alongside histories and general analytical approaches. Film Art and Film History show up in undergrad classes all the time and I'm actually in a class right now that uses Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson's Classical Hollywood Cinema as its sole textbook. There's always going to be film classes that pander to the masses, but it's thankfully not yet an epidemic.

I was in grad school when Bordwell dropped his Post-Theory bomb in 1996. You would have thought every crit/cult professor in the nation has been bitchslapped personally by Bordwell. They were furious! This was a time when Classical Hollywood Cinema would have never been found in a graduate class- maybe in an sophomore Narrative Strategies class if you were lucky. It wasn't bout pandering to the masses- it was about ridding film studies of aesthetic evaluation in favor of ideological interpretation or reception studies. At all the big film academic conferences back then, I only remember a single session whose subject was a director- it was one on Kielsowski- and most of the participants openly boycotted it.

Anyway, for us "aesthetes," Bordwell was our Martin Luther. It sounds like things have gotten better.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:28 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
To go back to a discussion started some pages earlier, i.e. the strangeness of "Liliom". I'm pretty undecided whether the line delivery is intentional or not; its artificiality curiously reminded me of some moments in "M" and also a lot of Riefenstahl's first sound films (both with Fanck and also her own "Das blaue Licht"), the only similar instances of such deliveries I can recall at the moment; and there I always suspected that they are the result of inexperience with the medium. However, intentional or not, in "Liliom" they surely highlight the artificiality of the whole experience, and a sense of alienation that seems to me at the heart of the film. The outside world of the fairground is in itself 'artificial', and this outside world with its problems constantly creeps into the inner world of Liliom and Julie and causes danger to their love affair. I'm still amazed at those shots inside the house in which we can see the fairground looming through the window and those menacing 'Bauhaus' architecture that continues inside the house, just on the right-hand-side of that window. This window and what we see through it, as is finally made clear by the train coming through it, might thus represent 'death' both literally and figuratively, as the 'death'/menace to Liliom's and Julie's relationship. When Liliom lies on his deathbed in that room, he curiously seems to be far more 'alive' than anything else in there.

I haven't read the original play, but I found it interesting to compare this version to Lang's, only made three years later. A lot of it looks actually very similar, the scenes at the carousel or some of the more 'peaceful' night shots for instance, but in Borzage's version Liliom comes over as a much more likeable character who is only driven by circumstances into what he's doing, not so much by an inherent flaw in his character as in Lang. And much as I admire Lang's handling of the heaven scenes, I always had difficulties seeing them for what they are in itself and not like some proto-AMOLAD-version; Borzage's "celestial railroad" by contrast struck me as an invention of genius, with its surreal 'hell car' and indeed the complete subversion of our expectations, not just in the case of Gabriel Hornblower.

I am most amazed, though, at how Borzage relies far less on the effect of dialogue but basically continues the expressiveness of looks and gestures from his silent films. Take those two scenes where Julie tries to tell Liliom of her pregnancy: the set-up is exactly the same both times (he on the stairs, she looking up), even as far as camera angles are concerned. But in the second scene you already KNOW the development in Julie's attitude even before she says something, just by the expressiveness on Hobart's face. There are other such moments, and curiously Hobart even manages to save the ending for me (which I expected would be handled in another "7th Heaven"-style melodrama moment, but is wonderfully toned down here). There is a strange 'understatement', even an 'otherworldliness' to her which never feels forced and has enormous emotional impact, paradoxically. I fully understand why Cornell was so smitten with her.

The effect of all this to me is that I have to agree with Schreck when he says this looks like an avantgarde film, though I suspect this was not really Borzage's intention. In any case, I found "Liliom" completely striking; my favourite Borzage so far, and I doubt there will be anything in the set that I have yet to watch that will come close.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:05 pm 
not perpee
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm
GringoTex wrote:
This was a time when Classical Hollywood Cinema would have never been found in a graduate class- maybe in an sophomore Narrative Strategies class if you were lucky....

It sounds like things have gotten better.

In 94/95 in the UK, we were using primarily the Bordwell books Domino describes (FILM ART and CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA) + Tino Balio's AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY, Caughie's THEORIES OF AUTHORSHIP and Barthes' IMAGE-MUSIC-TEXT, during pretty intense Film Theory study. All our various courses were riddled with auteur-based study and we spent 2 years on John Ford! (it was really great).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:14 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:58 am
Location: UK
peerpee wrote:
In 94/95 in the UK, we were using primarily the Bordwell books Domino describes (FILM ART and CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA) + Tino Balio's AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY, Caughie's THEORIES OF AUTHORSHIP and Barthes' IMAGE-MUSIC-TEXT, during pretty intense Film Theory study. All our various courses were riddled with auteur-based study and we spent 2 years on John Ford! (it was really great).

My experience was/is very similar. However, it depends on who teaches and devises the course(s) - we have two film studies departments at my university, and although one is like the above, the other is pretty heavy on theory (feminist, gender, queer, star, transnational/diasporic/Third Cinema, etc) at the expense of the good stuff. The difference is down to both the inclinations of staff (heads of department) and institutional pressures...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:09 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:00 am
Location: England
foggy eyes wrote:
peerpee wrote:
In 94/95 in the UK, we were using primarily the Bordwell books Domino describes (FILM ART and CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA) + Tino Balio's AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY, Caughie's THEORIES OF AUTHORSHIP and Barthes' IMAGE-MUSIC-TEXT, during pretty intense Film Theory study. All our various courses were riddled with auteur-based study and we spent 2 years on John Ford! (it was really great).

My experience was/is very similar. However, it depends on who teaches and devises the course(s) - we have two film studies departments at my university, and although one is like the above, the other is pretty heavy on theory (feminist, gender, queer, star, transnational/diasporic/Third Cinema, etc) at the expense of the good stuff. The difference is down to both the inclinations of staff (heads of department) and institutional pressures...

As an even more recent student, I'll chime in too. Bordwell's Film Art was still very much the bible of film studies and he's still well respected. But I have to agree, that most professors were anti-auteur (often perversely so) and uniformly obsessed with genre and transnational theory in particular.

I only took a couple of modules, and whilst I did find the transnational really interesting, it was a bit depressing that aesthetics were seen as a non-issue and the question of a film's quality was moot. Sure, Notting Hill and Billy Elliot say a lot about the film industry that created them etc etc, but are these really films you want to be studying? Nah...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:23 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:01 am
Location: In the middle of an Elyssian Field
Well from the standpoint of the class of a decade earlier Bordwell was unheard of as we struggled with Lacan, Metz Althusser and the like. At that time and place (London) Film studies was in thrall to the editorial staff of Screen but thankfully comfort was found in Samizdat copies of Raymond Durgnat.

Regarding Billy Elliot's Weddings and funerals et al I think this has less to do with Film Studies per se than the creeping malaise of McKeeism. I remember in the mid 90's coming out of his dissection of Casablanca, leaving its mouldering corpse on the table, and being alarmed at the burning eyes of zealots surrounding me. (Some very well known personalities included).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:53 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
countdown to thread-splitoff...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
7th Heaven

I think Borzage goes down a lot better while drinking, which is what I just did while watching this. There are so many errors in judgment, taste, and mise-en-scene to glide over and reach those moments of sublime perfection. When Janet Gaynor removed her stockings, I audibly gasped- one of the sexiest things I've ever seen in film. And if I had to be someone's bitch ass punk cellmate, I'd want to be Charles Farrell's.

Borzage just doesn't know when to quit. If he were forced to cut all his films down to 60 minutes, they might all be masterpieces. I don't mean to be overly negative, because he does give moments of unprecedented beauty.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:00 pm
Location: Chicago
I posted this on the "Bargain" thread earlier today, and thought it worthy to mention here as well. This set has now been significantly reduced at both the DVD Planet and Deep Discount sites to around $115 + change (around a 52% discount).

For those that couldn't afford it at the outset (like myself), here's your chance!

Murnau, Borzage & Fox Box


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
Why is there such a disparity between these prices listed on amazon and the ones shown on the actual sites? DVD Planet's site currently shows this for $182 and DeepDiscount's for $265.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 280 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection