Monday, 29 November 2010

Study of a Single Film: Forbidden Planet (in memory of Leslie Nielsen)

Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis star in Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956)
Film Studies For Free was sad to hear that the king of deadpan movie humour, actor Leslie Nielsen, has died at the age of 84. Of all the films he starred in, the one that has most often been the subject of scholarly studies was the hugely influential science fiction movie Forbidden Planet, a film in which Nielsen played a sincerely serious role.

In (metonymic) memory of Nielsen's wonderful career (the straight part standing for the mostly comic whole), FSFF has assembled a list of links to openly accessible academic studies of this 1956 film. With its groundbreaking electronic music score by Louis and Bebe Barron, its highly personable robot character, its loose adaptation of a high culture text (Shakespeare's The Tempest), and its well elaborated allusions to classical (and post-classical) mythology, as well as to Freud (the Id monster), Forbidden Planet will probably keep film academics in business for quite some time. But, FSFF hopes some will also turn their attention to Nielsen's comic performances, before too long.

Shirley, they merit that, at the very least.

Wide Screen Journal on Film Production Studies

Javier Casanova in Vainilla Chip (Erik Knudsen, 2009) Watch this film here (or here) and read Knudsen's article on his work

Set in the small Cuban town of San Antonio de los Baños, just outside Havana, Vainilla Chip tells the story of an ordinary day for an elderly ice cream maker, Javier Rodriguez Casanova. An ordinary day which, like all the other ordinary days, has become painfully pierced by an acute sense of longing for his deceased wife.
     This film is an intimate portrait of a hard working man in a contemporary Cuba far removed from clichés of The Revolution and romanticised memories of Cuban music. Vainilla Chip brings the musicality of one ordinary man’s life to the fore to reveal a universal struggle affecting many people across cultural and political divides. [Erik Knudsen]
We often hear that the power of films lays in their emotional impact. In recent years, some corners of film studies have been preoccupied with the investigation of the senses and the body, which could be related to the view of films in terms of emotions and affect. Much of the filmmaking process rests on creating and communicating this emotional power of the films. Instead of thinking, like Powdermaker did, that the film workers are collectively involved in story-telling, or like Bordwell, Thompson and Staiger, that they are preoccupied with the generation of a particular style of filmmaking, we would like to argue that films are collectively involved in generating, assembling and crafting the emotion of the film. [Graham Roberts and Dorota Ostrowska]

Film Studies For Free is very happy to pass on news that a special issue of the online, Open Access film journal Wide Screen has just been published on "Production Studies". The issue was edited by Graham Roberts and Dorota Ostrowska. The Table of Contents is given below.

  • 'Magic, Emotions And Film Producers: Unlocking The “Black-Box” Of Film Production' by Dorota Ostrowska Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'The Film Producer as a Creative Force' by Alejandro Pardo Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'Housekeeper of Hong Kong cinema: The role of producer in the system of Hong Kong film industry' by Cindy Chan Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'Close Encounters?: Contemporary Turkish Television And Cinema' by Melis Behlil Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'Anthology Film. The Future Is Now: Film Producer As Creative Director' by Shekhar Deshpande Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'Cinema Of Poverty: Independence And Simplicity In An Age Of Abundance And Complexity' by Erik Knudsen Abstract PDF HTML
  • 'Understanding Orlova: Youtube producers, Hot for Words, and some pitfalls of production studies' by Patrick Vonderau Abstract PDF HTML

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New Screening the Past

The Portraitist
Image from The Portraitist/Portrecista (Ireneusz Dobrowolski, 2005),  Read Frances Guerin's essay on this film.

The developments of new digital technologies and representational forms have revived interest between photography and cinema, an interest that is both creative and critical. Independent filmmakers are availing themselves of alternative exhibition formats and spaces for their work, and moving image experimentation is now commonplace in the fields of contemporary fine art, design, music, and theatre.
     For this Special Issue of Screening the Past, guest editors Des O’Rawe and Sam Rohdie bring together a collection of original articles on the aesthetic and institutional relations between film, photography, and the visual arts, in particular writing that is attentive to cinematic forms and their recon­figuration within the contemporary visual arts.
As always, Film Studies For Free's little beating heart almost leapt out of its digital body at the news that a new issue of the Screening the Past journal had hit the e-stands. It's a special issue, the theme of which is Cinema/Photography: Beyond Representation (Issue 29, 2010). Below is the table of contents:

First Release
Classics and Re-runs

Monday, 22 November 2010

Study of a Single Film: Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo

Roundtable discussion at the Philoctetes Center, New York, on November 6, 2010, with Richard Allen, John Belton, Joe McElhaney, Edward Neresessian, and Brigitte Peucker

Vertigo (1958) is the Hitchcock film in which the confusion of ontological registers—of reality with illusion—takes center stage. Indeed, it’s a case study of someone for whom this confusion is nearly pathological. The James Stewart character, Scottie, is duped by a performance with criminal intent, as he falls for a woman he believes to be Madeleine, but who in reality is a woman named Judy (played by Kim Novak) perpetrating a masquerade. Around this “false” Madeleine, a narrative is created that's designed to ensnare Scottie. The film concerns a mysterious case of “possession”—a staged fascination with death—played out in a series of silent tableaux, each of which aestheticizes and eroticizes the Madeleine figure. The film's narrative structure is circular and repetitive; it's been suggested that the film itself represents a distinct form of madness. "Vertigo is just a movie," writes Stanley Cavell in The World Viewed, "but no other movie I know so purely conveys the sealing of a mind within a scorching fantasy." What is the role of psychoanalysis in Hitchcock's work? Is psychoanalysis merely one "surface feature" of Hitchcock's work, as Richard Allen has suggested, subject to irony like all the others? What draws psychoanalytic critics to Hitchcock's work, and how, if at all, is this phenomenon related to its modernism? [Philoctetes Center]
Film Studies For Free brings you one of its regular link-fests pertaining to the study of a single film: today, it's the turn of Alfred Hitchcock's truly magical thriller Vertigo (1958)

The below list of openly-accessible resources was very much inspired by the recent posting of a hugely entertaining, and vertiginously brilliant, discussion on this film between some of the most able Film Studies academics and writers of their generation (see above). The discussion was hosted by the wonderful people at the Philoctetes Center in New York City. Thanks so much to them for making this video available for all to watch and learn from.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

On Jean-Luc Godard's Sauve qui peut (la vie)

Film Studies For Free is delighted to pass on word of an excellent new website dedicated to the study of Jean-Luc Godard's 1980 film Sauve qui peut (la vie)/ Every Man for Himself / Slow Motion (co-scripted by Godard with Jean-Claude Carrière and Anne-Marie Miéville). The website joins existing, brilliant, online Godard resources, like Glen W. Norton's Cinema = Godard = Cinema, first established in 1996.

The new site is the Every Man For Himself Resource Archive that gathers links to (almost) every online item of note pertaining to this film in one, elegant, supremely useful space. This is a must-visit recommendation, especially given that this film has just been re-released in some cinemas (in a new 35mm print) in the USA.

There is also a really interesting discussion by David Bordwell of studies of Godard's film online here:
There are also numerous references to Godard's film in the following online book (just search "Sauve" in your browser's "Find [on page]" facility: 
Below are all the excellent scholarly essays that EMFH links to so far. These links take you to the relevant page of their website where you will be referred on to the items themselves:

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Great e-Books on British and American cinema, and film theory and history

Image from Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998) [Read Paul Grainge's wonderful essay 'Colouring the past: Pleasantville and the textuality of media memory' linked to below]

Film Studies For Free today sings the praises of the very marvellous Manchester University Press. MUP has an excellent record in Open Access publishing, and especially in Film Studies OA journal publishing, as previously reported by FSFF. But it is also in the process of making some of its full-length film books freely accessible.

So far, there are two books available, one on British cinema and one on memory and popular cinema. Direct links to the PDF files of both books and full tables of their contents and contributors are given below. These links have also been added to FSFF's  permanent, and frequently updated, listing of Open Access film and moving image studies e-books, which now links to 90 free, scholarly tomes.

'Memory and popular film' uses memory as a specific framework for the cultural study of film. Taking Hollywood as its focus, this timely book provides a sustained, interdisciplinary perspective on memory and film from early cinema to the present. Considering the relationship between official and popular memory, the politics of memory, and the technological and representational shifts that have come to effect memory's contemporary mediation, the book contributes to the growing debate on the status and function of the past in cultural life and discourse. By gathering key critics from film studies, American studies and cultural studies, 'Memory and popular film' establishes a framework for discussing issues of memory IN film and of film AS memory. Together with essays on the remembered past in early film marketing, within popular reminiscence, and at film festivals, the book considers memory films such as Forrest Gump, Lone Star, Pleasantville, Rosewood and Jackie Brown. 'Memory and popular film' provides a wide-ranging analysis that will benefit both students and critics of popular culture, film studies and the past. [Rights:]
Table of Contents:

  • Notes on contributors
  • Acknowledgements
  • 'Introduction: memory and popular film' by Paul Grainge
Part 1: Public history, popular memory
  • 'A white man’s country: Yale’s Chronicles of America' by Roberta E. Pearson
  • 'Civic pageantry and public memory in the silent era commemorative film: The Pony Express at the Diamond Jubilee' by Heidi Kenaga
  • ‘Look behind you!’: memories of cinema-going in the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood' by Sarah Stubbings
  • 'Raiding the archive: film festivals and the revival of Classic Hollywood' by Julian Stringer
Part 2: The politics of memory
  • 'The articulation of memory and desire: from Vietnam to the war in the Persian Gulf' by John Storey
  • 'The movie-made Movement: civil rites of passage' by Sharon Monteith
  • 'Prosthetic memory: the ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture' by Alison Landsberg
  • ‘"Forget the Alamo": history, legend and memory in John Sayles’ Lone Star' by Neil Campbell    
Part 3: 'Mediating memory
  • '‘Mortgaged to music’: new retro movies in 1990s Hollywood cinema' by Philip Drake
  • 'Colouring the past: Pleasantville and the textuality of media memory' by Paul Grainge
  • 'Memory, history and digital imagery in contemporary film' by Robert Burgoyne
  • 'Postcinema/Postmemory' by Jeffrey Pence
Table of Contents:
  • Acknowledgements 
  • A 1950s timeline
  • 'Celebrating British cinema of the 1950s' by Ian MacKillop and Neil Sinyard
  • 'Raymond Durgnat and A Mirror for England' by Robert Murphy
  • 'Lindsay Anderson: Sequence and the rise of auteurism in 1950s Britain' by Erik Hedling
Mirroring England
  • 'National snapshots: fixing the past in English war films' by Fred Inglis
  • 'Film and the Festival of Britain' by Sarah Easen
  • 'The national health: Pat Jackson’s White Corridors' by Charles Barr
  • 'The long shadow: Robert Hamer after Ealing' by Philip Kemp
  • ‘"If they want culture, they pay": consumerism and alienation in 1950s comedies' by Dave Rolinson
  • 'Boys, ballet and begonias: The Spanish Gardener and its analogues' by Alison Platt
  • 'Intimate stranger: the early British films of Joseph Losey' by Neil Sinyard
Painfully squalid?
  • 'Women of Twilight' by Kerry Kidd
  • 'Yield to the Night' by Melanie Williams
  • 'From script to screen: Serious Charge and film censorship' by Tony Aldgate
  • 'Housewife’s choice: Woman in a Dressing Gown' by Melanie Williams
  • 'Too theatrical by half? The Admirable Crichton and Look Back in Anger' by Stephen Lacey
  • 'A Tale of Two Cities and the Cold War' by Robert Giddings
  • 'Value for money: Baker and Berman, and Tempean Films' by Brian McFarlane
  • 'Adaptable Terence Rattigan: Separate Tables, separate entities?' by Dominic Shellard
Personal views
  • 'Archiving the 1950s' by Bryony Dixon
  • 'Being a film reviewer in the 1950s' by Isabel Quigly
  • 'Michael Redgrave and The Mountebank’s Tale' by Corin Redgrave

Monday, 8 November 2010

Networking Knowledge on Michael Mann, Lindsay Anderson, Barbara Stanwyck and much more

Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in Ali (Michael Mann, 2001) [See Vincent M Gaine's article on this and other Mann films]
From time to time, Film Studies For Free can be ever so dim. It has referred on a number of occasions in previous posts to choice items published in the online periodical Networking Knowledge: Journal of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) Post-Graduate Network (PGN). But it omitted to mention the journal in its permanent listing of Online Film and Media Studies Journals. D'oh!

Not only has FSFF now rectified this unfortunate error, but it has decided to carry out proper penance in the form of the below complete listing of direct links to all items so far published in this excellent journal, including many articles of note on film and moving image studies. Enjoy!
Re-Mediated Mann:The Re-Mediation of Public Figures and Events in The Insider and Ali PDF
Vincent M Gaine
The Cinema Authorship of Lindsay Anderson: Anderson’s Directorial Practice PDF
Isabelle Gourdin-Sangouard
Publicising the News: Publicity and Australian Commercial Television News PDF
Michaela Jackson
Th’ Abstract of All Faults: Antony vs. the Hegemonic Man PDF
Rachael Kelly
Reporting Religion and Enemy Images in the Nigerian Press PDF
Odamah Musa
Journalistic Blogs in China: Political Dissent and the Formation of a Public Sphere PDF
Hai Tang
The Role of Media in Supporting Communication in Cultural Institutions. Case Study: Communicating Media Art PDF
Michela Negrini

Activism, Resistance and Online Presence

Digital vs Material: the Everyday Construction of Mediated Political Action Abstract PDF
Veronica Barassi
Igorots in the Blogosphere: Claiming Spaces, Re-constructing Identities Abstract PDF
Liezel C. Longboan
Blogging in China: Freedom of Expression vs Political Censorship in Sexual and Satirical Blogs Abstract PDF
Hai Thang

The Press and the Political Process

Scottish Press Coverage of UK General Elections after Devolution: the 2001 and 2005 Campaigns Abstract PDF
Marina Dekavalla

Women and the Media

“Focus on the Housewife”: the BBC and the Post-war Woman, 1945-1955 Abstract PDF
Kristin Skoog
The Representation of Motherhood in Post-socialist Chinese Cinema Abstract PDF
Huili Hao

Theorising Film

‘We’re on Flashdrive or CD-ROM’: Disassembly and Deletion in the Digital Noir of Collateral Abstract PDF
Vincent M. Gaine
Indeterminate Film-thinking and Interpretation Abstract PDF
Jimmy Billingham

Audiences and Fans

Underworld vs the World of Darkness: Players and Filmgoers Respond to a Legal Battle Abstract PDF
Rachel Mizsei Ward
Wots Not Queer: the Search for Sexual Representation in Audience Research Abstract PDF
Craig Haslop

Screen Icons

From Below to Above the Title: the Construction of the Star Image of Barbara Stanwyck, 1930-1935 Abstract PDF
Linda Berkvens
The Iconography of Mark Antony Abstract PDF
Rachael Kelly

Locating Media Productions

Representing National Culture, Values and Identity in the Brazilian Television Mini-series Abstract PDF
Niall Brennan
‘I Will Survive’: Forty Years of Amber Films and the Evolution of Regional Film Policy Abstract PDF
Paul O'Reilly

Place, Communication, Translation

Read My Voice: Expressing Silence and Sound in Text-messages Abstract PDF
Agnieszka Knaś
The Medium is Global, the Content is not: Translating Commercial Websites Abstract PDF
Yvonne Lee

Branding, Advertising and Corporate Cultures

Steve Jobs: the human logo Abstract PDF
Chloe Peacock
Interpersonal Communication Competence in SME Internationalization Abstract PDF
Pipsa Purhonen

Design for Screen

One Form, Many Letters: Fluid and transient letterforms in screen-based typographic artefacts Abstract PDF
Barbara Brownie

Fan Culture and Online Audiences

Dressing up as Vampires: Virtual vamps - negotiating female identity in cyberspace Abstract PDF
Maria Mellins

Film and Theatre

The Playwright as Filmmaker: History, Theory and Practice Abstract PDF
Othniel Smith

Imperialism and Globalisation

The evolution of Hollywood's representation of Arabs before 9/11: the relationship between political events and the notion of 'Otherness' Abstract PDF
Sulaiman Arti

Popular Culture

"Little Englander" : Fawlty Towers - A textual analysis of nationalistic ideology Abstract PDF
Matthew Bartley

Public Service Broadcasting and Radio

Reducing the difference between citizens and consumers: a critical discourse analysis of the Communications White Paper 2000 Abstract PDF
Simon Dawes

Reporting the Conflict

The Ideology of Objectivity: Constructs of Language in the Popular Press of Early Twentieth-Century Britain Abstract PDF
Claudia Heske
Explaining Media Frames of Contested Foreign Conflicts: Irish National ‘Opinion Leader’ Newspapers’ Frames of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 2000 to July 2004) Abstract PDF
Mary O'Regan

Sexual Representations in Cinema

The Killer Father and the Final Mother: Womb-Envy in The CellAbstract PDF
Shweta Sharma

Still Image

Photojournalism as a Creator of Values: otherness in Sámi representations Abstract PDF
Heli Lehtela

Uses of Music and Sound in Film

Music, identity, and oblivion Abstract PDF
Gerry Moorey

Sound and Image: Alternative Methods of Research and Presentation

Summary of Panel Presentations Abstract PDF
Dr Charlotte Crofts
'High Definitions': Articulating Media Practice As Research Abstract PDF
Dr Charlotte Crofts
Video Diary Making as a Research Method: Just Another Jargon of Authenticity? Abstract PDF
Tony Dowmunt

Bringing Work Back to School: Professional Experience in Media Research

Dilemmas of Ethnographic Research: The Practitioner/Academic’s Quandary Abstract PDF
Somnath Batabyal
A Return to the ‘Big’ Discourse : Interviewing History Documentary-Makers Abstract PDF
Dafydd Sills-Jones

Theoretical Models in Mass Media Practice: Perspectives from the West

Introduction Abstract PDF
Line Thomsen
Do Journalists know how to listen and should they be taught how to? Some thoughts on contemporary interviewing practices. Abstract PDF
Gavin Rees
‘Documents of Ordinariness – The BBC Video Nation Project’ Abstract PDF
Jo Henderson
Daily or Diary? Towards a New Profile in e-Journalism Abstract PDF
Cristina Perales, Mon Rodríguez
A Shield for Whom? First Amendment Implications of a Federal Shield Law Abstract PDF
Patrice Holderbach

Theoretical Models in Mass Media Practice: Perspectives from the Developing World

Introduction Abstract PDF
Venkata Vemuri
Journalism and Political Democracy in Brazil Abstract PDF
Dr Carolina Matos
‘Reporting Back’: Al Jazeera English Abstract PDF
Nina Bigalke
Grounds for Development: Media Development Practice and Theory in Post-Conflict Afghanistan Abstract PDF
Sarah Kamal
Understanding the Complexity of Journalistic Practices: the Case of Xinhua Abstract PDF
Dr Xin Xin

Double Vocations: Media Practice and Theory

Introduction Abstract PDF
Dafydd Sills-Jones
Media Corporatism: Whither Journalistic Values? Abstract PDF
George Nyabuga

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In the Hands of Fate: Existentialism in Film

Image from I’m a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932) [See Sam Mithani's thesis, The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s for reflections on the existentialism of this film's director]

Viewing (30:43): In the Hands of Fate: Existentialism in Film (October 18, 2010)

Cinema condenses actions and their consequences. It puts the viewer into someone else's shoes. Dilemmas tend to be urgent, up-close and personal: ergo, all films are existential. But several films in this year's [London Film Festival] programme specifically emphasise philosophical struggles with circumstance. Veiko Õunpuu's The Temptation of St Tony makes drama out of the very discourse of existential thought. Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men follows monks whose faith is shaken by fear of execution. Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte links a dying man's end, to the fate of a lost kid (as in goat) and a felled tree. Finally, the dying man in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives accepts his fate yet the past makes its own demands on him. It's more than just mortal thoughts that brings these films together; it's a heightened sensitivity to our sense of purpose. We are very excited that directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Michelangelo Frammartino [joined] Dr David Sorfa (Senior lecturer in Film Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and managing editor of the journal, Film-Philosophy) on a panel chaired by Ian Haydn Smith, Editor of International Film Guide.
Film Studies For Free wanted to alert its readers to the above linked-to, wonderful BFI video on the topic of  existentialism and cinema. In its usual good faith, and as a perfect accompaniment, FSFF also brings you a little list of links to great, openly accessible, scholarly reading, much of it book-length, on the very same theme.