Monday, 5 November 2012

Belén Vidal's book, Figuring the Past: Period Film and the Mannerist Aesthetic

Belén Vidal, Figuring the Past: Period Film and the Mannerist Aesthetic (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012). Vidal is lecturer in film studies at King’s College London, co-editor (with Dina Iordanova and David Martin-Jones) of Cinema at the Periphery (Wayne State University Press, 2010) and author of Heritage Film: Nation Genre and Representation (Wallflower/Columbia University Press, forthcoming).

This definitive work offers a new approach to the period film at the turn of the twenty-first century, examining the ways in which contemporary cinema recreates the historical past. This book explores the relation between visual motifs and cultural representation in a range of key films by James Ivory, Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion, among others. Looking at the mannerist taste for citation, detail and stylisation, the author argues for an aesthetic of fragments and figures central to the period film as an international genre. Three key figures - the house, the tableau and the letter - structure a critical journey through a selection of detailed case studies, in relation to changing notions of visual style, melodrama, and gender. This seeks to place this popular but often undervalued genre in a new light and to rethink its significance in the context of key debates in film studies.

Film Studies For Free had a very pleasant surprise, today, when it discovered that Belén Vidal's remarkable book is the latest Amsterdam University Press publication to be distributed as an Open Access ebook. The table of contents is given below.

This truly excellent volume has been added to FSFF's permanent listing of free Film Studies ebooks. Please support its generous publisher and author by ordering a copy for your university library!

Introduction – Period Film and the Mannerist Moment - Fragments and Figures - An International Genre - Mannerism: The Possibilities of a Conservative Aesthetic

Chapter 1 – A Poetics of Figuration - The Belated Moment of Mannerism - Pastiche and the Reality Effect - From the Figurative to the Figural - Classical/Post-classical: Adaptation, Film Writing and the Technological Narrative - Credits Roll: The Figure as Threshold

Chapter 2 – Present in the Past: The House - Nostalgia Interrupted: The House and its Ghosts - Home and (Dis)Inheritance: Howards End -The Collector and the House-Museum: The Golden Bowl and End of Period - Melodrama and the Descriptive Mode: The Age of Innocence -Fidelity to the Past and the Melancholic Imagination: Woman as Ghost - The House of Mirth or, Time and Woman

Chapter 3 – Time and the Image: The Tableau - Still Images/Moving Narratives: The Tableau Effect - The Shot-Tableau: From Pregnant Moment to Hieroglyph -The Portrait as Fetish - Portraits and Tableaux in the Feminist Imagination - Deframings: The Portrait of a Lady - Double-Framing the Mythologies of the Female Artist: Artemisia - Vision, Blindness and the Displacement of Trauma - The Governess or, the Woman in Camera

Chapter 4 – The Scene of Writing: The Letter - Textual Erotics: Reading the Letter as Object and Figure - The Letter that Arrives Too Late: Figuration and Melodramatic Temporality - Letters and Spatial Displacement - The Love Letter and the Queer Encounter: Onegin - Imaginary Landscapes of Loss: To Those Who Love - Truncated Narratives, Textual Possibilities: Atonement and the Interrupted Histories of the European Period Film.

Conclusion – Second Sight: Reviewing the Past, Figuring the Present - Notes - Bibliography - Index of Film Titles - Index of Names and Subjects

No comments: