Friday, October 28, 2011

Goodbye Gary Cooper!


Goodbye Gary Cooper!
Gary Cooper, Man of the West and the Post-Classical Western


Prologue

Whatever happened to Gary Cooper in the late 1950s? Of course, tragically cancer was eating his body away, but there was something more to it. Besides Cooper’s own physical appearance, something was changing in the movies and in the way people saw them. Cooper was one of the biggest box-office attractions of Hollywood from the mid 1930s to the end of World War II. In 1940 he appeared in The Westerner (William Wyler, 1940), one of the most profitable films of the Western genre after its revival in the late 1930s. It was a comedy/tragedy about changes in the West. Cooper was the hero who brought justice and order to a chaotic land. Anybody obstructing the will of people for civilization had to be removed, and Cooper, the traditional hero, did it for all of us. “But something happened,” as David Thomson puts it, “and in any retrospective of Gary Cooper’s films you cannot miss the sense of osteoporosis or nervousness that eventually overtakes a great American tree.” 1

Many years later, a similar plot was ready for him to embody another great hero of the Wild West. The Film was Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958), and it sounded like ‘just another western’, loaded with clichés and all too familiar elements of the genre. When the film reached the screens, it wasn’t like any other Western, and Cooper wasn’t like any other hero, or even any other Cooper. It was “a summation of the Western genre, as the title suggests.” 2

Jean-Luc Godard, at the height of the influence of French critics at Cahier du Cinema, wrote: “I have seen nothing so completely new since – why not? – Griffith. Just as the director of Birth of a Nation gave one the impression that he was inventing cinema with every shot; each shot of Man of the West gives one the impression that Anthony Mann is redefining the Western. It is, moreover, more than an impression. He does re-invent cinema!” 3

In this paper, I will not attempt to follow every change of the genre in a time span of 20 years; I will try to see the differences (and in some cases, similarities) between Cooper’s star image in the seminal Man of the West, by returning to an older film, like The Westerner. In the meantime, since the time, place, and directors of these two films are completely different, it could be argued that, or demonstrate how, studying a film star can turn into studying the history and aesthetic of the art form itself.

I’ll discuss certain thematic and stylistic aspects of Cooper’s image, both as an actor/performer, and as a star, in order to show how this image has contributed to the establishing of the Western genre’s classical hero. I will also attempt to provide answers for some questions, regarding a comparative look at the two films, as part of this ‘reading’. For instance, why should Cooper, in Westerner, protect the man who wants to hang him? Answering this question reveals some of the most neglected aspects of Western heroes, in terms of masculinity and society.

Among other things, I intend to show how after certain changes in Hollywood, through the late 1950s,  a director like Anthony Mann could take the very elements of traditional hero (partially stemming from Cooper’s cowboy roles) and twist them in a way that Godard calls it “re-inventing the cinema!”


1958 and the Post-Classical Hollywood

Hollywood was witness to massive changes during the last years of the 1950s. The early efforts to save the cinema from an economic crisis, caused by the growing number of TV sets in every American homes, wasn’t very successful. Technical innovations like Cinemascope and 3D films were attractions effectively for only a couple of years, and after that everything returned to the point it was back in the early 1950s. Major studios had tried every possible gimmick but were still in trouble, and the decline of the system was something that even Hollywood moguls couldn’t deny.

On the other hand, the rise of independent producers speeded up the fall of the studio system.  Most of these producers tried to avoid the traditional structure of producing a film, as regards both their approaches to themes and the style. Stories became more daring and many unexplored issues found their way to the big screen. Taboos were broken, and topical films became popular. Among the commercial hits of 1958 there were The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer) which dealt with racism, and also I Want to Live (Robert Wise), a powerful statement about the death penalty. But the alterations were not only in themes and ‘content’ of Hollywood films. They were evident in ‘form,’ as well. One of the most thrilling effects of these changes in Hollywood was the new ways in which film genres were applied, and of course, the new ways of portraying classic movie stars. Films with ground-breaking narrative techniques were arriving to Hollywood from Europe. New stars with a different style of acting, mostly from the Actors Studio, were emerging. One of the other key films of 1958 was Left-handed Gun.  Its director, Arthur Penn, was a close friend of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard – at the first year of La Nouvelle Vague’s taking off – and its rebel star, Paul Newman, was Hollywood’s alternative for the generation of Joel McCrea and Clark Gable. The film wasn’t like any other Western produced in Hollywood since the arrival of sound, and it wasn’t the only revisionist Western of the crucial year of 1958. Even in more standard westerns of that year, usually directed by old Hollywood pros, a shifting from traditional ways of portraying the hero was unavoidable. For instance, The Bravados (Henry King, 1958) was the story of a vengeance in which, at the end, the hero, Gregory Peck, discovers that he has killed the wrong guy – something you would never see in a classic Western, the way they made them back in the 1930s or 1940s.

Another much discussed aspect of the late 1950s, especially the year 1958, was the complexity of style in the works of some of the earlier masters of cinema. In that year, Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock) was made, Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) was introduced as Welles’ last Hollywood film, and in some views, as the last American film noir. 4  Trying to define these films, as far as stars and genre were concerned, was such a challenge that Peter Lev argued “some of the best films of the late 1950s do not fit comfortably into any one genre.” 5

Because of the experimentation and explorations in film narrative, as well as the shifting in the concept of stardom in Hollywood, those years are sometimes called ‘postclassical Hollywood.’ James Harvey described the ‘postclassical movie’ as one that “emphasized and aestheticized genre and using the familiarity not to reassure but to astonish and even discomfit us.” 6 And Lev summarizes it as “the beginning of an important shift away from a relatively stable system of film genres (reflecting the studios' sense of the audience) and toward more variety and experimentation (reflecting the range of interests of the independent producers interacting with a changing, fragmenting audience).” 7


Cooper and the Western

Cooper was a native of the West. Born in a ranch in Montana, to an English family and, although he grew up as a young cowboy, he was also raised in a “tradition of English order and gentility.” 8

He appeared in 39 westerns, in a span of 34 years; as a stunt or in bit roles in 12 of them, and as the star/hero in the rest. He was the first actor who won an Oscar for a Western film, High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952), and he was the star on the first and the last Westerns which won the Palm d’or at the Cannes Film Festival, with Friendly Persuasion (William Wyler, 1956). The only film he produced personally, throughout his career, was also a western, Along Comes Jones (Stuart Heisler, 1945).

The genre first took notice of Cooper in The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King, 1926), in a minor role, and later in Virginian (Victor Fleming, 1929). Cooper liked westerns, and after Virginian, he tried to stay as close to the genre as possible. Somehow, the genre became associated with Cooper, as well as other ‘westerners’ like Randolph Scott or John Wayne. According to Richard Schickel, it as Cooper in films such as High Noon who attracted even those who had no affection for Western films. 9


Two Men of the West
Something in those eyes tells you fantastic things. I’ve directed many stars, but never have I seen such eyes. They are at once electric, honest, devastating. And he knows how to look through them…No one can so graphically reveal his thoughts by the look on his face.” Anthony Mann 10   


The Westerner, directed by William Wyler, was one of Cooper’s most successful, and it is one of the most remembered westerns, in a year that that classical Western “had reached a definitive stage of perfection.” 11 Filmed a year after the seminal Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939), which itself was “an ideal example of the maturity of a style brought to classic perfection,” 12 it became an immediate hit after its initial release. It concerns the story of Cole Harden, a wandering cowboy being accused of stealing a horse. His judge is the killing judge, Roy Bean, who is ready to give away anything just to see or hear from the legendary actress, Lily Langtry. In the last minute, Cole, who’s condemned to death by hanging, pretends he’s a friend of Lily. Judge stops the execution and not long after that the real horse thief appears and gets executed by the judge. Now Harden is free, but the judge wants a lock of Lily’s hair that Harden had promised to give him. Harden meets Mathews’ family and gets involved in the farmers’ struggle against the cattle ranchers. Bean kills every farmer who builds a fence around the farm, or harms any cattle. Again, Harden, taking advantage of the judge’s weakness, convinces him to give a chance to the farmers, as long as “there is enough land for everyone.” The judge accepts it, but later on, while the farmers are celebrating the peace agreement, he sets their farms on fire. Harden goes back to Fort Davis and requests a warrant for the judge. He gets it and waits for Judge Bean to come to Fort Davis to see Lily Langtry in person. The judge, despite the warnings given to him, comes to the show. When the curtain goes up, Harden appears on the stage, with the gun in his hand. A shooting breaks out and Bean gets shot. Before he dies, Harden takes him to Langtry’s room to meet his goddess before he dies. Harden returns to the farm and marries the farmer’s daughter.

The main conflict in Westerner, between farmers and cattle owners, is one of the genre’s most used plots to refer to the idea of building a civilization out of the wilderness. Cooper’s position in the film, as a man who tries to balance the society’s inner conflicts by becoming a saviour for farmers, and at the same time, a companion to the most notorious man in the territory, is a clear, classical, straight position. [see figures 1 and 2]

He had appeared in similar roles, not only in westerns, but also in comedies with Frank Capra. The opportunity to play ‘the same role’ over and over again, was creating a strong image of the star. The conversation between the Judge and Cooper is not only typical of a western hero’s attitude, but the overall image of Cooper in that era. Judge asks:

- What are you doing in Vinegarroon?
- Oh, just passing through.
- Homesteader?
- Nope.
- Where do you hail from?
- No place in particular.
- Where are you heading for?
- No place special.
- Oh, saddle bum, huh?

Figures 1: Cooper, the dominant character in mise-en-scène of the Westerner.
Figures 2: Cooper, the dominant character in mise-en-scène of the Westerner.



While as a cowboy, he feels closer to the carefree lifestyle of Bean, the strong sense of morality and community in a classic Western hero pushes him towards helping the farmers in building their lives on the farms. Hence, this mise-en-scène gives him a fair chance to be accepted in both groups.

Eighteen years later Cooper returns at another “man of the west” film, Anthony Mann’s final statement in the genre. “Not only an allegorical film, it is a downright spook story. Through it, Mann translated the genre into an epic mythological tale.” 13 This one, unlike Westerner, wasn’t a commercial success, and in New York it ended up being screened off Broadway in second-rate theatres.

Here, Cooper plays the role of Link Jones. He rides into town to catch a train to Fort Worth to hire a school teacher. On board the train, Jones meets the saloon singer, Billie Ellis (Julie London), and the gambler Sam (Arthur O'Connell). While the train stops for log loading, a hold-up occurs, and the train guard orders the train to pull away, without Jones, Sam, and Billie, who are not on board. Abandoned and lost, Jones leads them to a farm and finds the train robbers hiding inside. The gang is led by Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb), Jones’ uncle and a father figure to him, whom Jones had left many years ago, before going straight. Dock proposes a new bank robbery to his nephew and former member of this wild bunch. Link agrees just to protect Billie. The following morning, they ride to the town of Lassoo to rob the bank, but they discover that it’s only a ghost town. Link kills every single man in Tobin’s gang and when he returns to the camp, where Billie and Dock are waiting for them, he finds out that Dock has raped Billie. Link goes to kill Dock, and he does it. At the end, Link and Billie leave the decaying place behind, with gold coins from the town in Link’s pocket, to hire a ‘school teacher’ for their children; Billie tells him that she loves him, and at the same time she knows and confesses that “there is no hope for us”.

We can argue – and further on, we’ll provide some evidence – that Man of the West is a follow-up to the story of Harden, years after he has set up a home of his own, and lived a married life. Once more, and for the last time, he finds his way to the ruins of the past, and faces the things he had buried there.
Jim Kitses points that, in Man of the West, the hero “has a strong sense of chivalry, society’s cloak for instinct and strong feeling, which vanishes when he is under stress. The tensions, extended in the structure of the films, make the Mann hero a microcosm of the community, where ideals, reason and humanity are always prominent, but below which lie self-interest, passion and violence.”14

Title Sequence

The title sequences in Man of the West and Westerner are like hundreds of other westerns that we know: a man, tall on the saddle, comes to the frame, and rides in front of the untamed landscape of the Wild West. [see figure 2 and 3] Interestingly, these sequences refer directly to Cooper, as the quintessential western hero. In both cases, the camera is placed not far from Cooper, and the choice of the lens gives an almost mythical aura/appearance to Cooper. In Westerner, his image against the big sky is a reminder of Frederic Remington’s paintings, but in Man of the West he seems even bigger and steadier than the rocky mountain in the background. These opening sequences establish Cooper’s image as the traditional, larger than life, and mythical western hero.

Figure 3

Figure 4


Costumes

When, in Westerner, we see Cooper for the first time, he is in shabby clothes, muddy boots, dusty cowboy pants, and a face barely shaved. He just comes from nowhere, on his way to California to see the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the film, he is at his home, and in a shot before we see a neatly dressed Cooper combing his hair, the camera captures a map of the state of Texas that evokes the notion that his settling down, marriage and new outfit are the key to  ‘establishing’ a country. [see figures 5 and 6]

Figures 5
Figures 6



When he re-enters the story in Man of the West, in colour and widescreen, he looks glamorous with his cowboy suit, and soon after, he changes to his new clothes (or disguise) that make him look like a banker or a politician [see figure 7]. “The audience learns that his costumes change is symbolic of Cooper’s character, a reformed outlaw”. 15  After he and Billie arrive to Dock’s hide-out, he gives his coat to Billie, as a sign of protection, but it can be said that it is also a symbol of his giving away the borrowed possessions of civilization. Later on, when one of the outlaws is forcing to undress Billie threatening her with a knife, again, Cooper puts the coat on the shoulder of half-naked Billie. At the end of this film, with Cooper in dust and blood, and as a reminder of his early outfit in Westerner, addressing the role of costumes becomes complete and shows the final status of the classical hero: he has returned to the wilderness for the very last time to clear up his past and remove whatever is on the way of civilization. But this time he has no share in it. It’s a sacrificial task, an unwritten code of honour that many Western heroes have. [see figure 8]

Figure 7

Figure 8


The Train

Early in Man of the West, there is a scene in which Cooper sees a train for the first time in his life, and gets frightened, like the first audiences in the history of cinema. This comic scene, his conversation with Sam about the train, and his utter uneasiness and nervousness inside the train, create a revealing contrast to the first major scene of Cooper in The Westerner, where he is surrounded by a bunch of brutes and drunkards, the judge is trying to hang him, and he is calm, witty and clever enough to save his neck. But Man of the West shows how the same man looks like an outcast and a drifter in a changing land. Cooper is the same hero, with the same manners and intentions, but the world around him – like Hollywood itself – is changing so fast that it makes him a stranger and a hero that cannot deal with his heroism anymore. In that sense, the fact that he is left behind from the train, and his return to wilderness are the most important anecdotes in Mann’s narrative [see figure 9]. “There is no way back to civilization except through destruction and violence”. 16 If we accept Jeanine Basinger’s interpretation of what makes Cooper confront Tobin’s gang, then the crucial role of the train becomes more than an ‘often-repeated cliché’ of this genre.

Figure 9


Marriage

A cowboy, or a Western hero, normally is a lonely man. He is a wanderer and drifter. In classical Western, the ultimate aim of the film is to make the hero a family man. So the dominant ideology in classic western tends to settle on marriage and ownership of land. Westerner is a very accurate example of this general tendency. When the girl, Jane, asks Cooper if he wants to have a home of his own, he answers with a sense of discomfort that his house is on wheels and he takes it where he wants, “my house is out there,” he says, “with sky as the roof”. Jane – the archetype of ‘good girls’ of the westerns – replies quickly that she wants a house that “nothing can move”.  This conversation is the basis of Cooper’s persona as a Western hero: someone who comes out of the western horizons, makes women fall in love with him, resists upon staying and making a home and family, solves grave problems of the land, which are created by villains and enemies of civilization, and during this process understands that he probably belongs more in the civilized side than with the lawless frontiers, where he’s originally coming from.

But this basic feature of Western genre is completely absent in Man of the West. While the emphasis on the family in 1950s America was a way to give a feeling of security to the people in the Cold War era, we never see Cooper’s family in the picture, although he says that he has one, not far from the doomed town he is involved with. We don’t see his wife, but at one point he talks about her with Billie, and this keeps him from starting a love relationship with the woman. Mann not only avoids the norm in his film, but even deconstructs the image of the hero, in relation to family. Susan Heyward argues that in westerns, a hero’s job is “to make the West safe for the virgins to come out and reproduce, but not with him, that is the job for the rest of the community.” 17 But here, Cooper not only is unable to protect his woman, but at the end she has been raped by the hero’s own father figure, a shadow of the past.


Masculinity

Western is usually identified with an undisputable depicting of masculinity and male heroism. In classical Westerns, the image of the unambiguous hero who clears up the town/land of vicious transgressors is an accepted form of narrative [See figure 10]. Edward Buscombe explains how this type of masculinity is shown as “the only source of stability in a frontier world where the clash of savagery and civilization threatens cultural and social order.” 18 In his study of gender issues in the genre, he argues that since this type of masculinity is associated with something “beyond question”, and leaves “least reason for doubt”, scholars face many difficulties in exploring what is really hidden inside. But, paradoxically, Westerns are a genre that represents many contradictions in its seemingly ‘normal’ and ‘balanced’ narrative. One of the widely discussed aspects of Mann’s Westerns is the way he puts the weight of the film on the central character, and, hence, the importance of the hero lies not only on the driving force of drama and the action, but also on his utterly ‘contradictory’ status.

In Man of the West, quite in opposition to the Westerner, “the traditional life of male independence is characterized as savage, neurotic, regressive. ‘Ideal Man’, a fantasy figure of supreme completeness, is transformed into a nightmare of psychological trauma, violence and hysteria. The fantasy of preserving male independence by moving is not only no longer available – it has almost become psychotic.”19

Figure 10: Westerner - Beating, torturing can be converted into opportunities for male exposure. 20
Figure 11: Man of the West - Fighting hand to hand to demonstrate male body. 21

When Link Jones reunites with Tobin, Tobin, frustrated over the unsuccessful hold up, complains that “there are no real men in this world anymore.” The irony is that his conception – or genre’s conception – of manhood and masculinity has a tight connection with brutality and violence; the ability to kill, and doing it fast. He simply points out that “we are not real men, because we can’t hold up a train, or rob a bank.” Jim Kitses calls these men “maladjusted victims of a distorting macho universe.” 22  And Cooper stands somewhere between this pure savagery and the idealism of the traditional hero. The day of departing for Lassoo, he confesses to the girl that “you know what I feel inside of me? I feel like killing. I want to kill every one of those Tobins, and that makes me just like them.” Here, the traditional hero is unveiling something that was masked during the whole classical period. How can one kill, even in self-defence, and remain the same? [See figure 11] Thus, he is questioning the myth that was build upon his character in more than thirty westerns. This deconstruction of the hero image continues in the following scene, when Cooper obviously enjoys watching a fist fight between a father and one of his sons, and shortly thereafter, he fights with the evil cousin in one of the most violent scenes in the history of the genre. Cooper takes the villain’s clothes off, as a dazed Dock Tobin says, we “have never seen anything like that.” This is not the Cooper that we used to know, not the calm peaceful, humorous westerner of the 1930s and 1940s. Kitses comments: “The hero, his sanity at stake, enters the world of ordinary mortals only through a kind of metaphysical suicide, destroying the mirror of his magic, the incarnation of his pride and ambition.” 23 [see figure 12]

Figure 12: The taboo of showing male nakedness in the Western is broken.


Father and Son

Westerner is a significant film because it presents the theme of father/son (or past/future), and the clash of two generations in Cooper’s films, which will later become the central theme of the Man of the West. [see figure 13]

Figure 13: Son who has shot the father, takes him to see Lily

Some scholars have suggested that this relationship can be read not as a father/son struggle, but as the hero’s conflicts with himself, his past, and tradition. The duality of Cooper’s character in these two westerns goes back to the ‘basic contradictions’ of the genre that we discussed earlier in this paper. Interestingly the outlawry of Cooper in both films is an inheritance from a father figure, a man from the past whom the son loves and hates. On the other hand, being a saviour always means that he needs to confront the father figure. If we accept this argument, then Pye’s statement on the motivations of the hero could clarify some aspects of masculinity in the genre: “The hero has to confront and destroy figures from his past, a process of both disavowal and, I think, self destruction. He has, in another word, to deny and disavow his kinship with the double by killing him, in order to assert his own difference, but in killing, the hero is forced to use his innate violence against a figure who is a version of himself.” 24  

The encounter between Cooper and Cobb encapsulates this problematic and decaying relationship. Before Cooper enters Cobb’s rotten cabin, we see him in a green landscape and the shot is taking as much sunlight as it can. [see figure 14] As soon as he enters the doomed place, light completely vanishes from the scene and when Cobb appears, it is he who’s the dominant character and powerful element of mise-en-scène. [see figures 15 and 16]

Figure 14

Figure 15

Figure 16

Unlike John Wayne, whose films are usually depictions of patriarchal values (see, for instance, Red River, Howard Hawks, 1948), Cooper represents a more unorthodox Western hero. He is an Oedipus in the Wild West, and Pye cleverly points out that “Doc’s rape of Billie is his final attempt to act out his patriarchal authority over his ‘son’, and it defines an essential component of the savage masculinity he embodies. Link has to kill his ‘father’, not for moral reasons alone, but also, in the logic of the relationship, both to reject and replace him. But in order to assert his independence of his past and his right to enter civilization, he has to kill, using skills which identify him with the man he kills, rather than with the society he wants to enter.” 25

Conclusion

Cooper was one of the first stars of the genre who took the risk of distorting his carefully built image, by appearing in Mann’s film. On the other hand, Mann, meticulously used the familiar plots, and themes of the Western, especially from Cooper’s rich heritage in the genre, and took them to the limit. He was so fascinated with the re-examining of masculinity in American cinema that according to Kitses, “blood brothers, Cain and Abel, Oedipus and himself” became the substitutes for masculine and feminine in his films. 26

Man of the West obliterates the traditional hero, but it still restores it in a new mature self-conscious way. 27 Richard Schickel regards this death and rebirth of Cooper, as the work of a professional who knew “how to guard his image”, someone who remains “enigmatic” and allows the audience to “gather, from the hints carefully supplied, its own ideas about who and what he is.” He calls this act “tapping the collective American unconscious” which creates “repositories and symbols of [audiences] longing for heroism in its various forms and settings.” 28

Jeanine Basinger summarizes the hero that Cooper portrays as follows:
“It incorporates the mythology of the western genre itself, and, ultimately, the mythology of the hero. As if he were the hero of a Greek myth, Cooper makes a symbolic journey into self. He leaves the real world he inhabits and enters the evil underworld to confront the forces which would destroy him, forces which are clearly of and within him. He makes a journey with ghosts back into things buried and dead in his past, from civilization to non-civilization and back to redemption.” 29

I believe this interpretation of Gary Cooper’s image in Western genre could be expanded to the shifting image of the genre’s other key stars, from pre-war days to the last years of studio system, in terms of father/son relationship, and loss of family. The changes from Westerner up to Man of the West, more or less, are traceable in these stars and films:

John Wayne: Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939) ==>  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

Randolph Scott: Frontier Marshal (Allan Dwan, 1939) ==>  Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959)

James Stewart: Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939) ==>  Two Rode Together (John Ford, 1961)

Joel McCrea: Union Pacific (Cecil B. DeMille, 1939) ==>  Ride the High Country (Sam Peckinpah, 1962)

After Man of the West, Cooper appeared in three other Westerns that shared some of the courageous themes of the Mann film, in confronting the patriarchal world and its values. But none of them reached the perfectness of themes and stardom in Mann’s masterpiece. It was after Cooper’s unexpected death in 1961 when a new wave of revisionist Westerns started redefining what was accepted as the norm in the genre, and among the new generation of film makers, Man of the West always remained a source of inspiration and an example of “re-inventing the cinema!”

West as a stage for confronting Father and Son


Bibliography
o Basinger, Jeanine, Anthony Mann, (Wesleyan, 2007).
o Bazin, André, “The Evolution of the Western”, What Is Cinema?, translated by Hugh Gray, (University of California Press, 2004).
o Buscombe, Edward, BFI Companion to the Western, (British Film Institute, 1993).
o Harvey, James, Movie Love in the Fifties (Knopf, 2001).
o Hayward, Susan, Key Concepts in Film Studies, (Routledge, 1996).
o Godard, Jean-Luc, “Cahier du Cinema, February 1959”, translated by Phil Hardy, Anthony Mann 1906-67 retrospective Season (British Film Institute, 1978).
o Kitses, Jim, Horizons West: Directing the Western from John Ford to Clint Eastwood, (British Film Institute, 2008).
o Lev, Peter, The Fifties: Transforming Screen 1950-59, (Thomson/Gale, 2003).
o Pye, Douglas, “The Collapse of the Fantasy: Masculinity in the Westerns of Anthony Mann”, Ian Cameron and Douglas Pye, The Movie Book of Western, (Cassell, 1996).
o Schickel, Richard, The Stars, (Dial Press, 1962).
o Schickel, Richard, Gary Cooper, (Random House Value Publishing, 1986).
o Thomson, David, Gary Cooper, (Faber and Faber, 2009).


West as a stage for confronting Father and Son
References
1  Thomson, David, Gary Cooper, (Faber and Faber, 2009) p.5.
2  Lev, Peter, The Fifties: Transforming Screen 1950-59, (Thomson/Gale, 2003), p. 234.
3 Godard, Jean-Luc, “Cahier du Cinema, February 1959”, translated by Phil Hardy, Anthony Mann 1906-67 retrospective Season (British Film Institute, 1978), no page number.
4  See Eddie Muller, James Ursini and Alain Silver.
5  Lev, 2003, p.217.
6 Harvey, James, Movie Love in the Fifties (Knopf, 2001), p. x.
7 Lev, 2003, p.217.
8 Thomson, 2009) p.6.
9 Schickel, Richard, Gary Cooper, (Random House Value Publishing, 1986), no page number
10 Schickel, Richard, The Stars, (Dial Press, 1962), p.185.
11 Bazin, André, “The Evolution of the Western”, What Is Cinema?, translated by Hugh Gray (University of California Press, 2005), p.174.
12 Bazin, 2005, p.149.
13 Basinger, Jeanine, Anthony Mann, (Wesleyan, 2007), p.129.
14 Kitses, Jim, Horizons West: Directing the Western from John Ford to Clint Eastwood, (British Film Institute, 2008), p.143.
15 Basinger , 2007, p.120.16 Basinger, 2007, pp.122-123.
17 Hayward, Susan, Key Concepts in Film Studies, (Routledge, 1996), p.503.
18 Buscombe, Edward, BFI Companion to the western, (British Film Institute, 1993), p.182.
19 Pye, Douglas, “The Collapse of the Fantasy: Masculinity in the Westerns of Anthony Mann”, Ian Cameron and Douglas Pye, The Movie Book of Western, (Cassell, 1996), p.170.
20 Buscombe, 1993, p.182
21 Ibid.
22 Kitses, 2008, p.171.
23 Ibid, p.156.
24 Pye, 1996, p.170.
25 Pye, 1996, p.172.
26 Kitses, 2008, p.171.
27 Douglas Pye believes “this may, however, connote not the end of the Western hero in a negative, regretful, elegiac sense, but – positively and remarkably – the collapse of fantasy.” Pye, 1996, p.173.
28 Schickel, 1962, p.183.
29 Basinger, 2007, p.119.


Thanks to Fernando Ortiz de Urbina, Linda Saxod and Dr. Karen McNally.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Waiting for Close-Up: On Samuel Beckett's TV Works


بِكِت، تلويزيون و هِي جو!
در انتظارِ كلوزآپ

يكي از كشف‌هاي زمستان بي‌رمقِ 1389 تماشاي كارهاي تلويزيوني ساموئل بكت بود. كارهاي او در مديومي كه امروز نه تنها ديگر به سختي مي‌توان به آن اعتماد كرد بلكه از نظر زيبايي‌شناسي چنان فقير است كه فقط چشم بيننده را مي‌زند (شخصاً هشت سال است كه تماشاي تلويزيون را ترك كرده‌ام. كم‌ترين نتيجه مقاومت اين بود كه وقت بيشتري براي تماشاي فيلم، گوش كردن به موسيقي و خواندن پيدا كردم.)
ساموئل بكت در آستانۀ شصت سالگي اشتياق براي نوشتن در مديومي را پيدا كرد كه تضادي عميق با شخصيت او داشت: بكت گوشه‌گير و مردِ زندگي در انزوا بود و تلويزيون، مديوم جنجال و هياهو و معمولاً جايي براي فرصت‌طلبان. او كه بعد از نوبل ادبي 1969 كم‌تر از گذشته مي‌توانست از مصائب شهرت بگريزد، در فاصله‌اي نزديك به دو دهه در تلويزيون‌هاي اروپايي و آمريكاي شمالي حدود هفت كار اجرا كرد. اما برخلاف انتظاري كه از يك نويسنده مي‌رود، به جاي تكيه بر كلام، بكت شيفتگي نسبت به دوربين و تبديل آن به وسيله‌اي براي نگاه را ابزار كارش قرار داد. او حتي براي نوشتن يا بازنويسي نمايش‌نامه‌هايش با فيلم‌بردارها مشورت مي‌كرد. دو فيلم او در سال 1965، يكي براي سينما (فيلم) و ديگري براي تلويزيون (هي جو)، از شيفتگي توأم با آگاهي نسبت به دوربين خبر مي‌دهند. جاناتان بينِل در مقاله كوتاهي به خصلت «مطالبه‌گر» اين آثار اشاره مي‌كند؛ دعوتِ تماشاگر به نوع ديگر، و تازه‌اي، از تماشاي تصاوير. اين آثار با آن كه هم چنان به خاطرِ «ديد از مقابل» دوربين وام‌دار تئاتر هستند اما به خاطر كنترل دروني ريتم از طريق تدوين و طول نما، استفاده از صدا و تكيه بر هندسۀ صحنه بكت را در مسيري تازه‌اي نشان مي‌دهندكه بيشتر سينمايي است تا ادبي.  
با باستر كيتن، پشت صحنۀ فيلم

اولين كار بكت براي تلويزيون، و كاري كه تا به حال بيشتر از همه در مقابل دوربين، يا به شكل زنده اجرا شده هي جو [Eh Joe] است. بكت هي جو را بين ماه مي و آوريل 1965 مخصوص اجرا براي تلويزيون نوشت. از ابتدا براي نقش جو بازيگر محبوبش جك مك‌گاورن را در نظر داشت و حتي در نسخه اوليه نام خود شخصيت هم جك بود. بازي مك‌گاورن، تماشاي صورت او در حال مچاله شدن، و آن نگاهي كه گويي با عزراييل مواجه شده، اوجي در هنر بازيگري است و وقتي رومن پولانسكي، كه در دهه 1960 بسيار وام‌دار بكت بود، قصد ساخت بن بست (1966) (عنواني صددرصد بكتي) را داشت، هيچ انتخابي بهتر از مك‌گاورن نمي‌توانست ارجاع به نويسندۀ ايرلندي را كامل كند. مك‌گاورن باورنكردني است. او فقط با نگاهش و لرزش خفيفي كه به گونه‌هايش مي‌دهد تماشاگر را وارد دنياي بكتي مي‌كند، دنيايي كه مثل دكورهاي خشك و خاليِ صحنه، عاري از تخيل، اميد يا معناست. نگاه مك‌گاورن خود مفهوم Void است و نمي‌دانم چند بازيگر ديگر از عهده اجراي اين نقش برمي‌آيند. ديگر همراه بكت در هي جو آلن گيبسون بود كه كارگرداني فني را به عهده گرفت، در حالي كه بكت در كنار او مك‌گاورن را هدايت مي‌كرد.
با آلن اشنايدر (كارگردان فني)، پشت صحنۀ فيلم
اساس اين نمايش تلويزيوني و اساس ديگر كارهاي بكت براي قاب كوچك، نگاهِ دوربين است. بكت خود يا قلمش را به جاي دوربين مي‌گذارد. اساس هي جو حركت بازيگر در صحنه كاملاً تئاتريِ فيلم، يا حتي آن‌چه به عنوان ديالوگ بيان مي‌شود نيست بلكه كليد تمام اين اجرا «كلوزآپ» و چگونگي نزديك شدن دوربين به مك‌گاورن و تبديل تدريجي مديوم شات‌ها به كلوزآپ‌هايي است كه در آن عرق صورت بازيگر و انعكاس نور صحنه در چشمانش ديده مي‌شود. بنابراين اين شاهكار تلويزيوني تشكيل شده از يك چهارديواري، يك بازيگر كه در بيشتر فيلم نشسته و به جاي نامعلومي خيره شده است و بلاخره گفتار روي تصوير. اگر لانگ‌شات توصيف فضايي جهان بيروني شخصيت/تماشاگر باشد، از آن سو كلوزآپ ابزار توصيف درون است. در هي جو سير تدريجي نماي باز، كه تمام فضاي اتاق را در بر مي‌گيرد به نماي بسته، كاركردي مثل فشردن فضا، درتله انداختن جو، شنيدن نداي درون و وحشت بي‌پايان او پيدا مي‌كند. هي جو از يك نگاه فيلمي دربارۀ معناي كلوزآپ در سينماست. اگر دوباره گدار (كه شايد نزديك‌ترين فيلم‌ساز به دنياي بكت باشد) نماي متحرك را نوعي قضاوت اخلاقي مي‌خواند، كلوزآپ نماي اعتراف و فرصت تماشاگر براي شنيدن است. اگر لانگ شات به نوعي صداي خود تماشاگر است كه روي پرده شنيده مي‌شود (او اجزاي مختلف نما را مي‌بيند، آن‌ها را مي‌خواند و تفسير مي‌كند) و قضاوت تماشاگر از نماست، كلوزآپ فرصتي است براي شنيدن مستقيمِ صداي مولف. كلوزآپ در فيلم بكت آن دموكراسي و چندلايگي نماهاي دور را ندارد (براي همين تاتي و آنتونيوني از آن پرهيز مي‌كنند)، اما داستاني كه بازگو مي‌كند فقط و فقط متعلق به همان نوع نماست، و مهم‌تر از همه فقط متعلق به هنر سينما. به همين خاطر حتي در اجراهاي تئاتري معاصري كه از هي جو انجام شده، مفهوم دوربين چنان پررنگ بوده كه آن‌ها مجبور شده‌اند با كار گذاشتن ال‌سي‌دي بزرگي در انتهاي صحنه كلوزآپ بازيگري كه دارد نقش را زنده اجرا مي‌كند، به شيوۀ بكت، نشان دهند، و البته اين كار كمي مضحك مي‌نمايد چون تماشاگر به هر حال دارد سينما را مي‌بيند و نه تئاتر.
جك مك گاورن در هي جو
در هي جو صدا (تنها تكيه‌گاهِ ادبي فيلم) از تصوير جدا شده است. صدا به صورت گفتار روي متن آمده، اما معلوم نيست كه آيا زمان و مكان آن با زمان و مكان تصوير يكي است يا بكت آن‌ها را بدون تطبيق فضايي و زماني روي هم گذاشته است. اين گفتار نداي دروني جو نيست، چون متعلق به يك زن است. اما شايد نداي دروني او باشد (اگر نيست چرا جو چنين منقلب مي‌شود؟) صدا (متن ادبي)، در هي جو، تصوير را به محاكمه مي‌كشد. درام واقعي بين صدا و تصوير جريان دارد. بكت بعدها متن ادبي را كاملاً كنار گذاشت و موسيقي را به عنوان صداي جايگزين وارد كارهايش كرد. در تنها اثر رنگي‌اش، كواد [چهارگوش](1982) كلام كاملاً حذف شده و به جاي آن بر فرم‌هاي هندسيِ رقص مانندي مه بازيگران مي‌سازند تكيه شده است. كلمات ديگر معنايي ندارند، اما هنوز به تصاوير، هندسه آن‌ها و زمان و فضايي كه به تماشاگر مي‌دهند مي‌توان اعتماد كرد.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Film Ads in Iran#23: Ad Odds from '62

For Whom the Bell Tolls (Sam Wood, 1943)
The ad says "it's a Super Panaromic film." Super Panaroma from 1943? It was a re-release and at that time the widescreen, stereophonic craze was the new fad in the country, and since there is no tax for lying to people (AKA advertisement) you'll see many of standard aspect ratio films presented as Widescreen, etc. in the ads of that period.


دروغ: زنگ ها براي كه به صدا در مي آيند به عنوان فيلم سوپر پاناروما معرفي شده كه دروغ است و اصلاً در 1943 سوپر پانارومايي در كار نبوده، اما در نمايش مجدد فيلم در سال 1962 ميلادي در ايران، چون همه تب وايداسكرين و صداي استريوفونيك برشان داشته بود تبليغات چي ها فيلم را «سوپرپاناروميك» معرفي كرده اند. اگر براي دروغ ماليات وضع مي شد ايران يكي از ثروتمندترين كشورهاي جهان بود.

Le soleil dans l'oeil, a forgotten film directed by Jacques Bourdon, and starring Anna Karina & Jacques Perrin. 1962
In Iran the grass is always greener, especially if that grass belongs to the west. In this ridiculous ad, they've compared the "understanding" and "sensibility" of Iranian moviegoers to those of western audience, and the innovative advertise agent has reached this very complex conclusion by pointing at the commercial success of Fanny, Parrish, Splendor in the Grass, and Phaedra!

عقدۀ حقارت: از سيزدهم خرداد هزار و سيصد و چهل و چهار شمسي، تبليغ فيلمي مهجور كه تبليغاتچي با اشاره به موفقيت چند فيلم ديگر در همان «نوع»، تماشاگر ايراني را داراي حساسيت و دركي برابر با تماشاگران غربي مي داند و اين افتخار را مي دهد تا به ارجاع به مغز و قلب غربي اعتباري به سينمادوست ايراني بدهد.
 
Samar (1962) directed (and starring) by George Montgomery
The interesting thing about this late run, from early 1965, is the inclusion of full color coverage of Winston Churchill's funeral in the program, exactly 10 days after PM's death.

فيلم خبري: اين فيلم در پانزدهم بهمن سال چهل و سه روي پرده رفته كه به فرنگي مي شود 4 فوريه 1965. وينستن چرچيل در 24 ژانويه از دنيا رفته و بسيار جالب توجه است كه حدود ده روز بعد مرگش فيلم كامل و رنگي تشيع جنازۀ او را در سينما كنار فيلمي حادثه اي نمايش داده اند.
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)

In Iran, everybody tries to overwhelm everybody, even in the film ads. Here they claim that for a re-run of Lean's film they've done "many correspondences with Columbia office", to get a permission for re-release.

منت: يكي از خاطرات فراموش نشدني من از تلويزيون ايران و پخش فيلم هاي سينمايي عصرجمعه، و زماني كه تلويزيون مجري داشت (من نه سال است كه پيچ اين قارقارك را باز نكرده ام) اين بود كه او قبل هر فيلم مي گفت «فيلم سينمايي كه براي امروز در نطر گرفته ايم...». كسي در آن موقع نمي توانست به او بگويد تو چه كاري كه براي من چيزي در نظر بگيري. فيلمي كه نه پدرت ساخته و نه مادرت در آن بازي كرده و تلويزيوني كه با پول ما، مردم، مي چرخد، غلط مي كند كه براي ما چيز در نظر بگيرد. اين سنت منت گذاشتن قديمي است و مثلاً اين جا ادعا مي شود كه براي نمايش دوباره لورنس عربستان خيلي نامه نگاري كرده اند.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bucking Broadway (John Ford, 1917)


گام‌هايِ مطمئنِ فوردِ بيست و سه ساله

بعد از اشاره به صف طويل خاكستري، در دو شماره پيش، اين شانس به من دست داد كه بتوانم يكي از اولين ساخته‌هاي جان فورد، فيلمي كه در 1917 با نام تاختن در برادوي [Bucking Broadway] ساخته را ببينم. اين تجربه به خاطر شباهت باورنكردني يكي از «اولين» آثار فورد با بهترين‌ وسترن‌هاي متأخرش، به تجربه‌اي غيرمنتظره بدل شد.
هري كري

در 1917 جان فورد، بازيگر نقش‌هاي كوچك و سياهي لشگر فيلم‌هاي دو حلقه‌اي را برای کارگردانی وسترن‌هایي با بازی هری کری، يكي از مشهورترين ستاره‌هاي زمان خود، اجیر کردند. اين كارل لِمِلي، مدير استوديوي يونيورسال، بود كه فورد را استخدام كرد و گفت «بگذاريد فيلم بسازد، چون خوب داد مي‌زند.» او نزديك به سي فيلم با هري كري ساخت كه امروز فقط دوتاي آن‌ها باقي مانده‌اند. تاختن در برادوي يكي از آن دو فيلم است كه بعد از هشتاد سال به تازگي در فرانسه پيدا شده و فرانسوي‌ها با همكاري موزۀ هنرهاي مدرنِ نيويورك، فيلم را به شكلي درخشان مرمت كرده‌اند. فيلم داستان هري كري، كابوي صاف و ساده و خوش قلبي است كه عاشق دختر رييسش مي‌شود و از او خواستگاري مي‌كند، اما قبل از ازدواج، دختر مخفيانه با يك خريدار گله به نيويورك مي‌رود و خيلي زود با پشيماني‌اش تنها مي‌ماند. كري پشت سر او عازم نيويورك مي‌شود تا دختر را به دشت‌هاي آزاد و به «خانه» بازگرداند، يك جويندگانِ سادۀ پنجاه دقيقه‌اي.
نماي مشهور قاب در، از 1917

اين مينياتور سينماي فورد تقريباً بيشتر نشانه‌هاي فوردي را دارد: كمدي، احساسات‌گرايي، آيين ازدواج، نگاه تمسخرآميز و حتي توأم با نفرت به يانكي‌ها و تمدن مدرن، موسيقي و آواز به منزله عنصر پيوند دهنده جمع، مِي‌خواري، كتك‌كاري، زن كافۀ خوش قلب و ايثار او در انتهاي داستان و از همه مهم‌تر پيش بردنِ روايت خانوادگي و تاريخي به شكلي درهم تنيده، با ارجاع به اين مفهوم كه هريك ديگري را مي‌سازند. حتي جزييات ساده‌اي مثل پاهاي درهم تاب خورده ايتن ادواردزِ جويندگان در سكانس خواستگاري اين فيلم ديده مي‌شود. 

يادآور پاهاي درهم تاب خورده ايتن ادواردز؟
مرد شهري با اتوموبيل وارد داستان مي‌شود و در اين زمان هر دوست‌دار فيلم‌هاي وسترن مي‌تواند مرثيه‌هاي سام پكين‌پا براي غرب قديم كه با ورود ماشين رقم خورده‌اند (به ‌خصوص حماسه كيبل هوگ) را به خاطر بياورد. فورد بازيگرانش را با همان مدل هميشگي، آرام و با نگاه‌هاي نافذ و حركات كند هدايت كرده، آن هم در روزهاي بازي‌هاي پر اغراق سينماي صامت. تقسيم‌بندي نماهاي فيلم بين لانگ‌شات‌هاي شبه حماسي و كلوزآپ‌هاي وسواسي و اندك فيلم، بسيار تأثيرگذارند و فيلم را چند سالي جلوتر از زمان خودش نشان مي‌دهد. وقتي دختر، كابوي را ترك مي‌كند، ميان‌نويسي بعد از كلوزآپِ كابوي كه قيافه گرفتۀ همه وسترنرهاي فورد را دارد، ظاهر مي‌شود كه فقط همين سه كلمه در آن آمده: «تنهايي، روياها، خاطرات» گويي فورد سينمايش را در سه كلمه جمع مي‌بندد. او از همان اول مي‌دانسته از سينما چه مي‌خواهد و اين فيلم نشان و سند معتبر اين آگاهي از وضعيت و سرنوشت خويشتن است.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Not Just Fred and Ginger

 NOT JUST FRED AND GINGER:
CAMARADERIE, COLLUSION AND COLLISIONS BETWEEN DANCE AND FILM
LONDON, RUDOLF STEINER HOUSE, 35 PARK RD, London NW1 6XT
14 -16 OCTOBER 2011

FRIDAY, 14th October 2011
  • Gay men, swans and (mis)representations of ballet on the silver screen by Dr Giannandrea Poesio, EADH Chairman

INTERACTIVE DISCOURSES/INTERACTIVE DEBATES

  • Sick and twisted: dance as pathology in fiction films by Sanjoy Roy
  • Finding Words for Moves: Collusion and collisions between dance and film criticism by James Walters
  • Transmodern dance practices: transgressing across genre boundaries, and revisionist (dis)placement in Romeo and Juliet (Bigonzetti, 2006) by Kathrina Farrugia
  • Cinéphilia and Danse Contemporaine in the French Musical by Jenny Oyallon-Koloski
  • e-Dance: Challenging the conventions of the screen by Professor Helen Bailey, University of Bedfordshire (UK)

SATURDAY, 15th October 2011

  • Trip the Light Fantastic: Mid-Century American Musicals Reimagine Vaudeville by Cara Rodway
  • Americans in Paris: the Post-war Redeployment of the Cancan in 1950s Film Musicals by Clare Parfitt-Brown
  • A New Way of Living: Street Dancing and Urban Renewal in West Side Story by Martha Shearer
  • Deconstruction In Motion: Interrogating National, Cultural, and Gendered Identity through Flamenco Dance and Film by Frances R. Hubbard

ISSUES OF AUTHORSHIP
  • The Power of Reproducibility: Leonide Massine in the Movies by Roberta Bignardi
  • Dance in the Films of Almodóvar by Nancy G. Heller
  • Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: New Hollywood’s Close Encounters with the Musical by Alan Taylor
  • Wiseman, the Paris Opéra Ballet and the spectre of Degas by Katerina Pantelides
  • Jittering Jitterbugs in Groovie Movies: Swing Dancing and Cross-Racial Identity Constructions in Shorts of the Early 1940s by Susie Trenka
  • “My, My, Ain’t That Somethin”: The Nicholas Brothers and Definitions of Class, Race and American Identity by Karen McNally
  • Ethnic and Racial Interventions: Trina Parks – from Dunham Dancer to ‘Bond Girl’ by Lisa Fusillo
  • Keynote address: The Manic Bodies of Danny Kaye by Professor Steven Cohan, Syracuse University (USA)

SUNDAY, 16th October 2011
  • Steps and Tap-Dancing: Broadway Melody (1929), 42nd Street (1933) vs Royal Wedding (1951) and The Band Wagon (1953) by Raphaelle Costa de Beauregard
  • ’S Wonderful: Euphoria Dances in the Film Musical by Beth Genné
  • Dancing All Alone: Fred Astaire and the Theatre of the Everyday by Kathleen Riley

  • The Dancing Body on Film: Embodiments in / of Space:
  • a) Rupture & Flow: The Hip-Hop Teen Dance Film's Fractured Body and Soundscape by Faye Woods
  • b) Camera and Dancer: Proximity, Pleasure and Performance by Lucy Fife Donaldson
  • c) Dancing on Film: Embodied Encounters by Katharina Lindner

  • The ‘disturbing’ body of professional female dancers in Tamil and Bollywood movies after the Indian Independence (1947): a political and cultural campaign of ‘redemption’ or ‘repression’? by Tiziana Leucci
  • Challenging the crippling stare: dancing with difference. Changing perceptions of disability in dance film performance by Eimir McGrath
  • What film did for dance - the mutual benefits for dance and film in the silent movie era by Jane Pritchard The Moment Musical: a rediscovered masterpiece by Sergey Konaev
  • The career of Vera Karalli and the role of ballet artists in the formation of acting style in pre-revolutionary Russian cinema by Jennifer Zale
  • Between art, science and attraction: looking back at early cinema’s serpentine dances by Laurent Guido 
  • From the “expressive body” to the “dance of images”: dance analogies in 1920s film theory between corporeality and abstraction by Kristina Köhler

Notes on the Story of Film

Mark Cousins
The Story of Film, the 15-hour long documentary about the history of innovation in the movies directed by Mark Cousins, is on telly now. It has caused some debates that Shadowplay blog encapsulates many of the main issues and concerns of debaters about SoF. Similar discussions (concerning accuracy and objectivity) aroused almost ten years ago, when JAZZ (Ken Burns), another ambitious and epic narration of history of an art form, was broadcast on PBS. Some experts were furious at the lack of any serious pause on modern jazz, when three hours (from 12) was dedicated to swing and big band of the 1930s. But nothing like JAZZ has happened since, and no new narrative has formed by any other filmmaker or scholar. So it is the sole visual history of jazz music, and I don't think anybody has the courage to break the silence, and fill the gap, and for instance, make a 10 hour long film about modern jazz. Now, as time is passed, many people are reconsidering the values and impacts of Burns' work. "In a classic example of how time can inevitably alter one’s prior impressions," one observes in his revisionist viewpoint of the Burns' work, "and this is not to say the series is without flaws...but taken as a whole for what it was, there has been no better pure television series on jazz music." [1]

All I'm trying to say is when we watch a project, as massive as this, reaching a balanced point in which our personal visions and desires, and limitations imposed by a very limiting format (public TV) could be very difficult. Criticism of a 15 hour long film, could be 8 times more than what a normal feature film can get. I believe Mark Cousins has done a very brave attempt, and like other acts of bravery in this medium (OUT 1?) I think taking this cinematic journey (and as Mark says, "a bumpy one") is more important than probably stopping the ride for the minor obstructions which happen during any long trip.

Buck Henry in the Story of Film (episode 8)
Even now, hardly reached the half of the series, I know that at least two universities in UK are using the Story of Film to teach film history and technique to bachelor students of film studies (one is Metropolitan University of London). So I think we must look at SoF as a good start for those youngsters who want to explore the world of cinema. I met a Japanese film study student who is watching the series and apparently so exited about it. Do you have any other suggestion for that young man to give him a broad view of an art form, show him nearly 1000 clips (films+interviews), and introduce him to Forough Farrokhzad, or the cinema of Noriaki Tsuchimoto, and at the same time keep the track of Scorsese and King Vidor?

I don't know any, so I'm happy for that Japanese student, and for myself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011