On a rock, there sits a man lost in thought. Or perhaps he is not thinking at all and is instead letting the landscape around him fill his thoughts unconsciously. Werner Herzog's 1976 film, Heart of Glass (Herz aus Glas), has one of the director's strongest opening set of images as the main character of … Continue reading Heart Of Glass (1976) – Optimism in Destruction
Mike Hodges' debut feature film, Get Carter (1971), was one of the key shifts in British cinema of the period. With its total lack of hope, an earnest presence of violence and a hugely detailed topography, the film is one of the definitive shifts to the more gritty, unremitting cinema produced in the early Heath … Continue reading Interview: Mike Hodges on Get Carter (1971).
On watching all of Patrick Keiller's "Robinson" trilogy of films recently, it struck home how effectively stillness within a visual frame can traverse the geographical plain and recreate a journey that is both political and sociological. This, of course, goes to the heart filmmaking itself, the relationships with cuts especially and its portrayal of time, … Continue reading Stasis In London (1994) – Patrick Keiller.
Because of their tapestry-like nature, the films of Luis Buñuel lend themselves well to a more in-depth form analysis. Within their aesthetic ploys and their narrative spines lies a wealth of readings concerning Buñuel's attacks and treatises on politics and class especially. His 1972, Oscar-winning film, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie is a perfect … Continue reading The Nowhere Road in The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972) – Luis Buñuel.
Jean-Luc Godard has always had a quiet interest in the relationship between his politics and the space they inhabit. The topographies of modernity coinciding with his political questioning of capitalism occurs in films such as Tout Va Bien (1972), La Chinoise (1967), and Weekend (1967) - looking in particular at a factory, an inner-city flat/Maoist commune, … Continue reading Libidinal Circuits in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967) – Jean-Luc Godard.
British cinema is obsessed with the effect of location upon the individual. In fact, it wouldn't be so sweeping to suggest that large swaths of culture born on these isles stems from the idea that the individual can be deeply molded by their surroundings and any fictional drama from Albion will be bare the aesthetics … Continue reading Fear And Loathing In The Countryside – Withnail And I (1987).
Propaganda has morphed today and is now constant and lurking. It has performed the most astonishing vanishing act and become acknowledged as fact. The conglomeration of aesthetic impulses known predominantly as "the media" seems to have taken over its role as information and leaned its ideologies through a process of diffusion into the very being … Continue reading Foucault’s Heterotopia And The Dim Little Island (1948) – Humphrey Jennings.
British cinema in the early 1950s appears to have been fond of experimenting with other art forms. Powell and Pressburger were transplanting opera and dance into the form in their colour zoetrope Offenbach amalgamation, The Tales Of Hoffmann (1951) (and slightly earlier in The Red Shoes (1948)) whilst Laurence Olivier was continuing his melding of … Continue reading Murder In The Cathedral (1952) – George Hoellering (BFI).
In last month's issue of Sight & Sound (November, 2015) Nick James details his relationship with the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky in line with the season of films he's curated for the BFI. Though the article is chiefly surrounding Tarkovsky's (vast) legacy, one aspect in particular caught my attention whilst reading. He refers to a … Continue reading The Breeze In The Grass – Elemental Realisation in Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975).
The relationship between myth and ritual has been often debated within anthropology ever since its Victoriana days of enlightened scientific thinking through the prism of evolution and the birth of mechanisation and industrial blight. The idea of returning to the "primacy of ritual", where whole belief systems stem as a result from repeated actions or … Continue reading Ritual And Identity in Penda’s Fen (1974) – Alan Clarke.