Sunday, March 27, 2011

Glossary of Cinéarchitecture


This Pascal Schoning's glossary of architecture and film was originally published in a small book to accompany an exhibition held at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (February 2006). Pictures (click on them to see which films they are, if you already don't know), Videos (click on highlighted items) and Farsi translation is by me.

اين فرهنگ اصطلاحات سينما/معماري توسط پاسكال اسكونينگ نوشته و اولين بار در سال 2006 در كتابچه راهنماي نمايشگاه معماري و سينماي دانشگاه «اِي اِي» منتشر شده است. من آن را براي بچه هاي سينما و معماري مصور كرده ام. اگر روي اصطلاحات لاتين كليك كنيد ويدئوي انتخابي من را براي هركدام خواهيد ديد و اگر روي تصاوير كليك كنيد اسم و مشخصات فيلم ها ظاهر مي شود.


فرهنگ اصطلاحات سينمامعماري 
Glossary of Cinéarchitecture

Matter
energy before it releases by an agent
ماده
انرژي، قبل از رها شده توسط عنصر خارجي


released materiality
انرژي
مادۀ آزاد شده


measures space
زمان
اسباب پيمايش فضا


a causally defined continuity
فرآيند
تدوام مبتني بر رابطه علت و معلولي


appears in the constant relation of matter and process
جسميت
چيزي كه در رابطه مستقيم ماده و فرآيند ظاهر مي شود


 the disguise of materiality through energy
ناماديّت
استتار ماده در نقاب انرژي


provides us with the means of identifycation and defining the future
حافظه
ما را با مفهوم هويت پيوند مي دهد و آينده را تعريف مي كند


happens in the future while described in the present as a past event
آينده نقلي
فعلي كه در آينده رخ مي دهد، اما در آن حال به عنوان واقعه اي در گذشته بيان مي شود


 
Sensuality
perception of the world through our senses
حِسگرايي
دريافت جهان از طريق حواس



Transition
merging of one state into another
گذار
سير تبديل يك موقعيت به موقعيت ديگر



Temporality
  that which appears momentarily before it changes again
گذرا
در آني ظاهر مي شود، قبل از آن كه دوباره به صورت ديگري درآيد



Duration
defines the dimension of space through time
طول مدت
نسبت فضا به زمان



Knowledge
determines our consciousness of spatiality
معرفت
اسباب درك ما از فضا



Spatiality
memory experience of time-space
فضائيت
تجربه حافظه از زمان-فضا 


Logic
puts causality into a single functional line
منطق
آن چه كه رابطه علت و معلولي را فقط در يك كاركرد مصرف مي كند



Gravity
magnetic or sensual power which pulls or repels
گرانش
نيروي مغناطيسي كه باعث به وجود آمدن جاذبه و دافعه مي شود 


Light
a building material
نور
يكي از مصالح ساخت


to cover or spread over or add a projected layer to surfaces
همگذاري
پوشاندن يا گستردن لايه اي با تاباندن آن به روي يك سطح


project a physical and mental memory as narrative
سينما
تاباندن حافظه فيزيكي و رواني روي پرده به عنوان روايت


the projected motion force of overlaid time-space sequences
سينماتيك
 پروژكسيون (تاباندن) منظم نيروي محركي كه از لايه هاي روي هم انباشته زمان و فضا شكل گرفته اند


science of pure motion that admit the conceptions of time and velocity but excludes that of force
كينماتيك
علم مبتني بر حركت محض كه زمان و شتاب را قبول دارد، اما حسابِ نيرو را از آن جدا مي كند


houses us in a mental embedding through minimal energized physicality in a constantly changing appearance
معماري
سرپناهِ ما كه محيطي ذهني است كه توسط حداقل انرژي نمودي فيزيكي، اما همچنان بسيار متغير يافته 


transport of something onto something else
پروژكسيون
انتقال چيزي به چيز ديگر


uses logic in a single determination
كاربرد
وقتي منطق فقط در يك جهت گيري مشخص به كار گرفته شود 


that which is inconsistent with itself
تضاد
آنچه با خودش متناقض است


reaches the illiterate
تصوير
آنچه بي سواد هم مي فهمد


reaches the literate
متن
آنچه فقط باسواد مي فهمد

the meanest form of suppression
تملك
بدترين شكل سركوب


is perceived through love
فضاي رها
فضايي كه به واسطه عشق درك مي شود


one has to love to create enlightened pace
عشق
آدم بايد عاشق باشد كه بتواند فضاي رها خلق كند


gives meaning a multidimensional seductiveness
شعر
  فريبندگي چندبعدي

*

Friday, March 18, 2011

Against the Silence


The Birds Eye View Film Festival in London, which opened on International Women's Day (March 8th), and significantly on 100th anniversary of this auspicious day, is one of the most internationally acclaimed women’s film festivals. It is a collection of tastefully selected new films, short films, documentaries, classics, exhibitions, as well as live music performance. Their motto is “From Lois Weber to Lucy Walker”, thus acknowledging Weber (1881-1939), the first female director of feature length films and Walker, the documentary maker whose work Countdown to Zero, on the subject of nuclear race, has recently been screened.
Lillian Gish in The Wind
In its seventh year, the festival which in itself is as tasteful and tidy as an organized woman’s kitchen, introduces a category, “Bloody Women” which can be interpreted as the dark basement under the kitchen. It is a look at women’s contribution to horror, from gothic psychodrama to vampire chic. It includes films such as Victor Sjoström’s The Wind and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. Hard as it is to believe, some of the most delightful moments of this section are provided by silent movies, accompanied by live music, screened to young and old audiences in a packed theatre.
John Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
One of my most unforgettable movie experiences in the past few months was seeing John S. Robertson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) as a part of “Bloody Women” screenings. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was filmed at least nine times in the silent era alone, and this adaptation owes its entrance into this festival to its script-writer Ms. Clara Beranger (1886-1956), who acquired fame by working with director Cecil B. DeMille on 24 films. Later, she married DeMille’s older brother William, also a director. The fact that she was using the pseudonym of Charles S. Beranger, might give a new meaning to the theme of duality in Dr. Jekyll. Her part in this wonderful interpretation is more than meets the eye initially. Rather than opting for the more usual “mad scientists” of the genre (Dr. Frankenstein, Francois Delambre, etc.), Beranger, in her feminine presentation, prefers to show Dr. Jekyll as one whose social status does not permit frequenting a mere dancer, subsequently resorting to his alter ego. Barrymore’s portrayal of Jekyll/Hyde is simply the best, better than Spencer Tracey or even Fredrick March. When “the great profile” up on the screen, is transforming into one of the most disturbing icons in history of cinema, is the moment one can not forget easily. Barrymore’s metamorphosis even overwhelms those audiences familiar with slashing bodies with saws in the contemporary Hollywood films. It must have been widely seen at its time, because obviously Jekyll’s long nails, hair and deformed skull were to served as models for Murnau’s Nosferatu (made two years later). Barrymore, a Jekyll/Hyde type of man in life, believes "there are lots of methods in acting. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass, and some cracked ice." Later on, his Mr. Hyde side destroyed his Dr. Jekyll’s. By the 1930’s he was unable to remember his lines. “Lot of talent” vanished, and just remained “a glass, and some cracked ice.”
Laura Groves
Berangers feminine views in this screening were supplemented by the brilliant work of young musician Laura Groves and her trio, Blue Roses (she released a self-titled debut album in 2009). It was an imaginative, experimental and contemporary approach to the film, loaded with care and feminine sensibility. Despite my personal resistance upon unnecessary musical playfulness with silent movies, Groves’ music contributed very well to the pleasure and thrill of the film. Her instrumentation was a combination of keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, piano, violin and innovative percussions. She even sang in two scenes. Those scenes were involved with Jekyll’s fiancée, played by Martha Mansfield, and by Groves’ treatment of the mood and feeling of them, they transcended to the film’s some of best sequences. Thanks to her, it was hard to believe the film was made 91 years ago. The way she musically emphasizes on Mansfield character, brings her to the center of attention, and even makes her the tragic figure in the story. I’m sure Groves is very well aware of the importance of this film in the lost and forgotten career of Martha Mansfield: she was just starting to gain attention as a motion picture star when a tragedy took her life. Three years after Dr. Jekyll, when she was working on The Warrens of Virginia, somebody carelessly dropped a lighted match near her dress, which erupted into flames. After a week of pain and agony, she died from the severe burns that she suffered. This film, significantly, is her only surviving work. [picture at the top]
Lola Perrin
Music bonds spectators together in the three-dimensional space of the theatre. Thinking of a silent film without accompanied music is like watching a big canvas of painting. Nobody knows what part the other spectator is looking at, and what sound is heard in her or his mind. So in a way, music’s function is to direct all looks to a certain point. This task could have a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde effect. If it draws the attention to the wrong point, as Lola Perrin did in The Wind, it will take the audiences feeling to a detour, and since silent film is all about emotions and feelings, that would be the impairing of the whole cinematographic experience. (Perrin who has been called “the female Steven Reich” under the guise of minimalism, which actually was playing a few notes during the whole screening and without paying any attention to importance of silence, ruined the film – let’s not forget that “silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech,” as Susan Sontag puts it.)
Ladies performing for a silent film
Once again, women are reviewing their part in the world of cinema, and film history. They have many things to explore. They have their giants and masters, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, Ida Lupino, Shirley Clarke, numerous scriptwriters, best editors in the business, costume designers, and, fortunately, many more in all corners of contemporary cinema. We are to expect more Dr. Jekylls and Mrs. Hydes now. Hopefully a big wave is raising. -- Ehsan Khoshbakht





Many thanks to Linda Saxod.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remembering Lois Weber

Lois Weber, the first woman director of feature films in American cinema, had an active social agenda that she sought to promote through the medium of screen melodrama. During the first world war years, she achieved tremendous success by combining a canny commercial sense with a rare vision of cinema as a moral tool. For a time, Weber made a fortune trying to improve the human race through movies. For birth control and against abortion, against capital punishment and for child labor laws. This is a tribute to her, and also a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Lois Weber was a unique silent film director. She was the first woman to direct a full-length feature film with The Merchant of Venice in 1914. Not only was she a woman who was certainly the most important female director the American film industry had known in its early days, but unlike many of her colleagues up to the present, her work was regarded in its day as equal to, if not a little better than that of most male directors. Her films were making money for Universal in 1910s ("studio's most important director during the war years," Richard Koszarski said), though she was not afraid to make features with risqué subject matter such as Christian Science (Jewel and A Chapter in Her Life), birth control (Where Are My Children), and capital punishment (The People vs. John Doe). Among her films, according to Anthony Slide, Hypocrites (1915, clip below) was another indictment of hypocrisy and corruption in big business, politics, and religion. The Weber films, however, did run into censorship problems and the director was the subject of a vicious attack in a 1918 issue of Theatre Magazine over the "indecent and suggestive" nature of her titles.



She was an innovative director in many aspects. For instance, in Suspense (1913) she found a new solution for depicting a phone conversation by dividing the screen into three triangles, with a woman speaking on the telephone at the top right, a tramp at the top left who is outside the woman's house and trying to break in, and the husband at his office, at the other end of the phone, in the center. Of course, now all these incredible efforts seem insignificant, but from a historical point of view, they are more important that Avatar, and as far as narrative is concerned, it's more beneficial than many 1940s classic women pictures, paradoxically all made by men. In 1915, the camera movements she used for Sunshine Mollie, were much ahead of its time. Film starts with a very high-angle view of oil fields, full of countless derricks pushing upward as far as the eye can see, and a very slow, circular panorama that ends up with the small figure of Lois Weber standing in the road with her
suitcase.

She was an imaginative filmmaker, with a poetic touch, much quite close to masters of her age like Maurice Tourneur. It's more challenging if we consider that a woman contemporary of Griffith, and when everybody was mad about Griffith's discoveries, takes a slightly different route. Her cinema, again an argument based on accessible fragments of her oeuvre, had a European touch. It is full of attention to detail, and gestures that are crossing the theatrical presentation and getting close to a more cinematic experience. Yet she wasn't completely detached of the literary tradition, especially in her way of using titles as a direct narrative device. She was juxtaposing the text and image in some of her film, or even sometimes she quoted poets in them.

Weber in the middle


In the early 1920s she released a series of personal, intimate dramas  like Too Wise Wives and The Blot (watch a clip here), dealing with married life and the types of problems which beset ordinary people. None of these films were particularly well received by the critics, who unanimously declared them dull, while the public displayed an equal lack of enthusiasm. Nonetheless, these features  demonstrate Weber at her directorial best.

on the set of her last film, White Heat (1934)
In her last years as a director, she lost her company, obtained a divorce from her abusive, alcoholic husband (who had a close professional association with her), and had a nervous breakdown. She remarried in 1926, and divorced in 1935. Her position in studio descended to a script doctor. Finally she died at the age of 58, without children, and apparently penniless. Her funeral expenses were paid by friends who remembered her devotion to an impossibly high ideal of screen art. A sad ending. But whose ending is happy?

Sources:
  • Richard Koszarski, An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of The Silent Feature Picture 1915 - 1928, Macmillan, pp. 223-225.
  • Anthony Slide, International dictionary of films and filmmakers, Macmillan, pp. 1055-1057
  • Wikipedia

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Passages of a Letter from Berlin to London


This morning when I opened my mailbox, there was this extraordinary letter, from a German piano master in Berlin, to someone who's trying hard to start a brand new day in London. Needless to say, bold names are titles of British films. That's how the world is described by an artist: art does it all!

"Glad to hear from you again in your new surrounding between Piccadilly and Lord Nelson's (alias Sir Laurence Olivier's ) Trafalgar Square!
So you've become a strange Lodger now with Great Expectations in the supposedly impenetrable fog in London After Midnight, but hopefuly not an Odd Man Out who has become victim of a strange cultural Blackmail.

Though you've left your home country now for a while, please Don't Look Back (In Anger) but do enjoy the British working- class Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Sometimes , I guess, one feels Young and Innocent there, sometimes even Rich and Strange, and sometimes behind an anonymous camera there is a lurking Peeping Tom, and you realize that before your very eyes a Lady Vanishes in A Cottage In Dartmoor.

When there's darkness on the edge of town, don't forget to turn on the gloomy Gaslight and put on, no, not your blue Suede , but your fairy-tale Red Shoes to dance with the capitalist devil because it's simply A Matter Of Life and Death!

Always look The Way Ahead and take a good Room With A View!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kazan: Claustrophobia, Alienation, Desire

Eight shots from a life in exile

America, America

A tree grows in Brooklyn

East of Eden

Panic in the streets

On the waterfront

Wild River

East of Eden

Boomerang