Chantal Akerman’s first series of features in the 1970s have one defining aspect in common: all are suffused with loneliness. In her first fiction feature, Je Tu Il Elle (1974), a character wanders between lovers old and new but is always confused as to what she really wants. In Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975), we follow a woman trapped in the monotony of … Continue reading All The Lonely People: Chantal Akerman’s Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978)
Even before the recent events that occurred in Charlottesville, a certain scene from Michael Haneke’s 2000 film, Code Unknown (Code Inconnu), had been repeatedly playing on a loop in my mind’s eye. I quietly admitted to myself recently that the scene in question is without a doubt the most telling and poignant dramatic escalation I have seen in twenty-first-century cinema and it seems to show … Continue reading Politics of Sequence in Code Unknown (2000, Michael Haneke)
Few films are as explicit in their depiction of character relationships that are at the mercy of the fluctuating landscape than Roman Polanski’s 1966 film, Cul-De-Sac. Polanski had been to both ends of the environmental spectrum within his previous two films – the open waters of Knife In The Water (1962) and the cramped, claustrophobic London of Repulsion (1965) – and Cul-De-Sac sees him returning … Continue reading Isolation And Madness In Cul-De-Sac (1966) – Roman Polanski.
One of the key criticisms of the Folk Horror Chain is its emphasis, both in argument and in evidence, upon the rural landscape and its various elements. While the key works of Folk Horror cinema seem to broadly use rural landscape aesthetics and practice to set and conjure their horror, by setting up such a parameter, it does indeed neglect some of the sub-genre’s most … Continue reading The “Urban Wyrd” In Folk Horror.
For a film about war, Ivan’s Childhood (1962) by Andrei Tarkovsky dwells quite unexpectedly upon the natural landscape of its narrative. At first, this might seem somewhat unsurprising; after all, most films set during war often make use of the battered terrain of the landscape, if only to show the fallout and power of the weaponry available. Ivan’s Childhood does more than this and contains … Continue reading The Forests Of Ivan’s Childhood (1962) – Andrei Tarkovsky.
Trying to establish small cycles of trends in cinema is a key discipline in understanding the medium. When a theme can be seen to traverse genre but be defined by era, it perhaps states more of a sociological argument than simply an aesthetic or a narrative one. A particular group of films recently began to collect together in my own memory but the reason as … Continue reading The Ravenous Poor in Heath Era British Cinema.
This article was originally a paper presented at Queens University Belfast at the first Folk Horror Conference on Friday the 19th of September 2014. Introduction/Thesis. Folk horror is a strange form of media. It has a craving for the need to be defined and canonised whilst also being a sub-genre which seems inherently intuitive, especially when becoming aware of its common likenesses in films, television, … Continue reading The Folk Horror Chain.
The geographical make-up of a film’s scenario is often a subtle root-cause of its dramatic effect. The sense of place, both its physical and psychological attributes, can be so overwhelming that whole narratives can follow the buckling of characters under pressure from this force; to the point where their own emotional identity and personal dynamics fluctuate, reflect, and occasionally attempt to rebel against an imposing … Continue reading The Unleashing of Repressed Eroticism in Black Narcissus (1947) and The Shining (1980).
In one of the first attempts I made at canonising the sub-genre of Folk Horror, I likened the majority of its films to be brilliant but mere fugues on the ideas presented in Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922). Outside of Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage (1921), it was the earliest and most explicit form of the sub-genre that seemed to be surviving … Continue reading The Uncanny in Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)- Benjamin Christensen.
A dialectic commentary of personal history is presented in Chantal Akerman’s News From Home (1976-77); a feature length cinematic experiment that seems born of cathartic necessity rather than simply creative ambition. Akerman had been working her way up throughout the 1970s and News From Home was made after her critical appreciation had grown, largely thanks to the impossible-to-ignore vigour of her 1975 film, Jeanne Dielman, … Continue reading News From Home (1976-77) And The Transience Of Family – Chantal Akerman.