take 2 december 2013
C o n c o r d i a â€™ s
U n d e r g r a d u a t e
F i l m
M a g a z i n e
AFTER images Cover photo by Amelia Moses Graphic Designer: Hannah Materne Editor-in-Cheif: Nina Patterson Copy Editor (sort of): Max Oginz French Copy Editor: Marie-Ange St.Laurent
5 : Editor’s note 6 : Leviathan (LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR AND VÉRÉNA PARAVEL, 2012) by Jennifer Sin
8 : Film Feet by Rafael Morales-Espinosa
10 : Deconstructing heteronormativity in but i’m a Cheerleader by Miia Piironen
14 : World of Z by Jean-Sébastien Scraire
18 : Man and the Animal Other: Approximations of Hybridity in the science Films of Jean PainlevÉ and the Surrealism of luis bunuel by Katerina Korola
22 : The girl who... by Anna Somers
24 : Interview with BLACK BISCUIT director fabrizio federico by Julien Bouthillier
30 : Pink8 Manifesto 32 : Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles: A review by Miia Piironen
34 : Au-delà du mauvais: The room by Julien Bouthillier
36 : The concession stand 38 : A Comparison of king’s novel and kubrick’s adaptation of the shining by Emma Catalfamo
Afterimages is back! And we feel great, thanks for asking. For this issue, we decided to focus on films that push boundaries. Interpret that however you like: groundbreaking cinematic achievements or cult classics that are laughably awful, movies that we love or love to hate. Our second issue has gone further than our first; in fact, it has travelled all the way to the UK for an interview with the enigma that is Fabrizio Federico. Agree or disagree with his manifesto, but it is undeniably interesting to see the different ways filmmakers choose to make art. We have reviews of some classics along with lesser-known works. This year we also included two cinema focused photo projects. Before I go, let me leave you with a quote by Jean-Luc Godard: “A camera filming itself in a mirror would be the ultimate movie.” A film of our own lives reflected back to us, I like it. I also have no idea where that quote is originally from, aside from it being scrawled on the back of a bus ticket in a forgotten corner of my desk drawer. Anyways, stop reading this editor’s note and turn your focus to the talented writers and artists in the pages to follow! Thanks for reading friend. - N.P.
“The camera lingers on the blood of a metal structure containing t internal organs protrude grotes upside-down on its back with jagg fins should be.” Leviathan (LUCIEN CASTAINGTAYLOR AND VÉRÉNA PARAVEL, 2012) by Jennifer Sin “When we went out to sea, we lost all interest in the land.” – Lucien Castaing-Taylor
I hesitantly opened my eyes, relieved for a merciful moment of visual stillness, a static overhead shot of fishermen shuffling around the boat. “It’s so violently turbulent,” my friend whispered to me, and I nodded in response, acknowledging the waves of nausea that arose periodically throughout the film, stemming from the chaotic camera movement, arching my head uncomfortably from the second row of the theatre, and a bizarre combined odour of candy peach rings and shoeless feet. Although not quite the blood-soaked slaughterhouse presented in Georges Franju’s Le sang des bêtes (“Blood of the Beasts,” 1949), the disturbing images of Leviathan contribute to a mild “shock factor.” However, I found myself unsettled not by these images alone, but by the ways in which they were presented. Dead (or half-dead) fish are framed in an uncomfortable close-up as they wash back and forth on the deck at our eye level, occasionally flopping against the camera. Fisherman force metal hooks
through the cartilaginous pectoral fins of rays, then slice them off with unnatural ease and rehearsed efficiency. More importantly, both these scenes are prolonged. The camera lingers on the blood dripping slowly down the walls of a metal structure containing the catch of the day, a fish whose internal organs protrude grotesquely from its mouth and a ray upside-down on its back with jagged edges on the sides where its fins should be. In doing so, it seems as though Castaing-Taylor and Paravel are testing the limits of the audience – at no point did I feel forced to watch the violence unfold before me, yet as each of these scenes progressed, I wondered with increasing discomfort as to when they would end. Leviathan is a visceral cinematic experience in that it combines brutal imagery with equally aggressive sound, resulting in both a visual and aural assault on the audience. In the absence of dialogue, both scripted and unscripted, the film relies heavily on the amplification of diegetic sound.
d dripping slowly down the walls the catch of the day, a fish whose squely from its mouth and a ray ged edges on the sides where its
The crashing of waves against the ship, the sloshing of bodies of dead fish against one another, and the outpour of blood-tinged water over the sides of the ship into the ocean sound as though the audience is situated on the ship alongside the fishermen. Therefore, feelings that all too closely resemble seasickness are induced both by the highly unstable camera movement and this very prominent aural element. A notable scene presents itself as antithetical to this turbulent style that dominates the film, as a moment of visual silence â€“ the captain of ship sits immobile facing the audience, or rather a television left off-screen coincidentally airing an episode of Deadliest Catch, drifting gradually into a deep sleep after a dayâ€™s work. While the film does not proclaim itself to be a documentary that answers all preconceived questions about the fishing industry or even urge the audience to re-evaluate their dietary choices, Leviathan is inherently and deliberately, albeit subtly, political. Instead of overtly
arguing for improved fishing practices, the film portrays the processes involved as they truly are, without underplaying or exaggerating the brutality. In its avoidance of taking a demonising stance against a clearly problematic industry, Leviathan allows the audience to choose their own position, one that could potentially be different than its creators. This observational approach and lack of blatant persuasion on the parts of Castaing-Taylor and Paravel manifests itself in the painful lack of intervention as an injured seagull attempts time and time again to climb over a barrier, only to ultimately give up, and toss itself into the ocean, presumably to its death. Leviathan did not expose any secrets of the fishing industry that I was not already familiar with, but the film succeeds in presenting this information in a visually and aurally creative manner often associated with fictional films.
Film Feet by Rafael Morales-Espinosa
“The illustrations on the shoes started as an idea that started in college that became a fun project. ( a hobby later on) Robert Deniro is one of my favorite actors. I chose to draw DeNiro from his role in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, because they were compelling characters. (the same time I wanted to own a pair of “cool” shoes) The shoe color scheme really helps some what set the mood for viewer to understand the direction of the piece. Red representing fury/anger and the yellow, just playing around with the concept of a New York taxi cab.” - Ramoes
Rafael Morales-Espinosa a.k.a Ramoes is a montreal born illustrator/graphic designer currently residing in New York. Romoes enjoys to draw and leave his mark on anything that he can get his hands on.
Deconstructing heteronormativity in but i’m a Cheerleader by Miia Piironen Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) is tagged as “a comedy of sexual disorientation.” Indeed, this is the root of its satire. A part of the New Queer Cinema movement, the film works to challenge viewers’ reservations of homosexuality by depicting it, as well as its assailants, in some of their most exaggerated manifestations. With heteronormativity as her primary target, Babbit takes her tale to the microcosmic source of all stereotypes: high school. The machine of cursory categorizations that thrives in Middle America provides the origin for much of the heteronormative misconceptions the film explores, aided in part by religious zealots and a history of patriarchal rule. But I’m a Cheerleader seeks to transcend these stereotypes, and it does so in a curious way. The story centers on young cheerleader Megan’s winding journey to self-realization. Though met with generally negative reviews, But I’m a Cheerleader was not lost on female audiences. It was chosen by the public as Best Film at France’s Créteil International Women’s Film Festival, democratic proof of the valuable social insight within its frames.1 It is worthy of attention for it provides a rare example of lesbian subjectivity and rarer still, young lesbian subjectivity. This was the object of some controversy, notably among arbiters at the Motion Picture Association of America who initially viewed the film as unsuitable for youth audiences. Elseways, much of the reception centered on questions concerning the effectiveness of depicting heteronormativity the way the film does; at first glance, homosexuals appear to be caricature versions of themselves who refute their gender roles in contrarian protest. At least, this was a common thread among many unfavouring critics. What is gained from showcasing such cultural obliqueness? Is it counter-progressive to proliferate these stereotypes even for the sake of satire? These are the questions I would like to address herein – that it is the collision of these stereotypes that reveal the fallacy of their construction. Through its portrayal of a lesbian protagonist who otherwise epitomizes Western values, But I’m a Cheerleader is able to break new ground in defining the purported “Other.” Megan’s juxtaposition as both the feminine ideal and the sexual deviant subverts conventional ideas of heteronormativity. Reception studies are reflective of this response and will be a significant focus in this analysis. But I’m a Cheerleader begins by romancing the female body in voyeuristic slow motion. Cheerleaders are shown triumphantly shaking their hips and thrusting their pompoms as though they were shredded parking tickets: they are practicing for the play-
offs. This is Megan’s world, and based on the subsequent shots with her boyfriend Jared, it appears to be one she inhabits all of the time. She is visibly uninterested while kissing him and fetishistic images of the cheerleaders disrupt the scene. Following this we are introduced to Megan’s family, her friends, and her surroundings. All reveal subtle scents of her homosexuality – religious parents keen to her difference, friends who contrapose her, and a sizeable Melissa Etheridge poster on her wall. The stage is set for her Megan’s intervention. By deduction of evidence, the jury of her loved ones judge lesbianism to be the only viable conclusion and she is sent to a rehabilitation camp called “True Directions” run by a tyrannical woman named Mary and her son Rock. Mary’s approach – teach the men how to be men and women how to be women. Heterosexuality will follow. Everything about her camp has been sterilized of ambiguity. People are defined in unequivocal terms and all non-normative behaviour is treated as deviant and unacceptable. This said, Mary’s projects are a burdened bunch. Each person piquantly represents some familiar stereotype of the gay community (verbalized individually in a group therapy session). There are fairies, and butches, and so on and so forth. The only one who seems displaced in her orientation is Megan. Of course, she does not escape categorization because she so perfectly embodies the stereotypical persona of a cheerleader – innocent, sweet, and chronically naïve. Even her peers at True Directions identify this and swiftly peg her as the cheerleader. Megan’s traditional Christian upbringing is at odds with her newly realized homosexuality, and this troubles her. She fervently engages herself with the program, especially when her parents inform her that she will no longer have their support if she fails to graduate. In spite of her efforts, new feelings develop and subjectivity emerges from the ideological deadlock True Directions represents to her. She becomes critical and defiant, qualities extending beyond her shallow cheerleader stereotype. It is, as the film’s tagline suggests, profoundly disorienting. In her article “The Dis/Location of Heterosexuality” Michelle Chilcoat concludes this abject heteronormativity to be the convenient containment of the two-sex system; or “knowledge-arresting binarisms.” Of desire she writes, “to continue to frame, interpret or locate such research in terms of obligatory heterosexuality seems naively or even dangerously reductive.” Moreover, the heteronormative model makes the Freudian assumption that psychological health can only be defined in heterosexual terms, wherein But I’m a Cheerleader this proves to be quite the opposite.2 In a twist of irony, acutely paranoid Mary is the character who most represents psychological malaise and is more likely reinforcing the homosexuality of those at the camp than deprogramming it. As the film evinces, it is both profoundly reductive and ineffective to institutionalize something as malleable as gender. In her performative approach – making the boys chop wood and the girls scrub floors – Mary succeeds only in furthering
their resentment for the harmful social construct. Central to Megan’s growth in the narrative is Graham, a girl she meets at True Directions and begins a relationship with. Upon Mary’s discovery of one of their trysts, Megan is exiled both from the camp and from the life she occupied before it. However, amidst her distress Megan is never depicted as weak, or helpless, or even repentant; she has reached acceptance of her sexual identity. With a little help from fellow camp cast-offs Larry and Lloyd, she takes charge of her future and influences Graham to do the same. The role of outcast is one utterly foreign to Megan at the beginning of the film, but with new experience behind her she transcends it with strength and resourcefulness – qualities equally foreign to her at the beginning of the film. The final scene, rooted in comedic irony but significant nonetheless, shows Megan’s parents at a gay and lesbian support group. But I’m A Cheerleader is reminiscent of John Waters’ Female Trouble (1974), another social outcast tale. The purpose of both films is to reveal the farce of stereotypes by taking them to their extremities. This is how directors Babbit and Waters are able to oust them as patently absurd fabrications. Further, the sprightly style in both imparts the sadly political nature of their common theme – acceptance. It is worth noting that the woman behind But I’m a Cheerleader is herself a lesbian. Babbit holds a special responsibility in how homosexuality is portrayed.3 As satire, the film is intended for both the targeted (so to say homophobics), and the reinforced (so to say, those like Babbit who hold gender stereotypes to be faulty and worthy of ridicule). Not unlike Waters, she employs satire not to embarrass but to empower, and therefore discharging power from scapegoat institutions. The two attract common opposition as well. Babbit and Waters’ work have both been the unfortunate recipients of various censorship. Much of this is due to Megan’s sexual deviancy but also, I would like to propose, the idyllic image of Middle America. But I’m a Cheerleader exploits Americana ad nauseam. In the same way the film amplifies homosexuals and oppressors of homosexuality, Western ideals are portrayed as inflexible and absolute. The ideal of the popular cheerleader dating the captain of the football team in place, the first ten minutes of the film function to disturb this rudimentary American paradigm. Indeed, lesbianism would be devastating to the image. The conclusion can then be drawn that the stereotypes the film attempts to subvert are largely Western inventions cemented in popular culture and upheld by decades of reinforcement. (It ought to be remembered that while But I’m a Cheerleader was something of a disappointment back home, the film had a very smooth European run). Megan’s rebellious spirit paired with a narrative that includes many shots conveyed from her perspective encourage identification from the audience. This is rightfully threatening to the homogeneity of Americana not only in the context of her homosexuality, but as a fulcrum to many social issues Middle America would prefer to keep in binary terms. Actual sexual content in But I’m a Cheerleader is notably brief,
but raters at the MPAA objected to a scene in which Megan is shown masturbating for all of several seconds. The image of a sweet Christian girl doing something so shameful is interpreted as aberrational behaviour and deemed unfit for an audience of Megan’s own approximate age, highlighting a heteronormative attitude toward female sexuality. Babbit was forced to make cuts to appeal their decision.4 It is true there exists some reason for their fear of this sort of imagery, however misplaced. As Andrea Weiss writes in her article “A Queer Feeling When I Look At You,” lesbian spectators have been shown to appropriate these cinematic moments offering resistance to patriarchal ideology throughout history to define and empower themselves.5 Of course scenes such as this one in But I’m a Cheerleader extend beyond the lines of sexual orientation, espousing a feminist edict by virtue of its noncompliance with gender norms. It is another example of incongruent sexual dynamics; another strike against heteronormativity. Mise-en-scène is crucially deliberate in the film. In terms of set design, everything about the camp is insidiously fake, right down to the plants and plastic-coated upholstery. The irony that True Directions fixture Rock is himself gay and in denial serves to further the unnaturalness of the setting. Vivid hues of blue and pink designate people and activities as either male or female, rigid indicators of identity that allow no room for overlap. Everything is prim and proper. There is no ambiguity in design. The blatant artificiality of this environment then serves to reflect the erroneous construction of gender norms. This is why it is an effective strategy for advancing the message of the film. As Teresa de Lauretis discusses in her article “Aesthetic and Feminist Theory”, patriarchal discourse – close relative of heteronormativity – is heavily reliant on aesthetic symbols and formal tropes, leaving it vulnerable to subversion, which is in this case satire.6 The area allotted to the boys is strewn with phallic embellishments and allusions meant to evoke heterosexual feelings of power but appropriated as gay iconography. Those at the camp quickly realize the hollowness of these symbols, especially camp inductees Jan and Andre. It is arguable that they are the two who most represent the gay community’s polar extremes, despite the fact Jan is not actually a lesbian at all (and despite what her interests and appearance would suggest). The pairing of these characters with this forged environment serves to show how heteronormative stereotypes derived and enforced by social misgivings are ultimately unyielding and counter-productive in practice. According to Frank Palmeri who has written extensively of the subject, satire is freed of absolute norm requirements because it is fundamentally antihierarchical. This is the core of its subversive nature.7 When Jan contends her systematic lesbian typecast before camp supervisor Mike and the other campers, she is effectively undermining those who outrank her. To the audience, the object of the joke is returned to Mike – who
is a self-loathing homosexual – when he exasperatedly turns to the group and says, “Who does she think she’s trying to fool?” Though humour is present, the scene provokes serious reflection. It is reminiscent of the recurring exchanges between hairdresser Gator and his aunt Ida in Female Trouble. Ida believes Gator is a confused homosexual with hetero tendencies because of his occupation and being “too smart” for a straight man. In spite of Gator’s womanizing exploits and repeated rejections of lecherous men, Ida remains ideologically convinced. The satire in both situations is that though Jan and Gator may never change their accusers’ minds, they are very able of transcending them. But I’m a Cheerleader interests itself with performativity, a concept probed by Judith Butler in her analysis of gender development. Butler views gender as an act that is exhaustively rehearsed and performed into reality.8 When the girls at True Directions perform tasks like simulated child rearing to Mary’s strict specifications, the performance brought to life by women everyday is present but it is blatantly observable as an act. Everything about it is denaturalized; the props, the setting, and the actors themselves. This is also the case in Female Trouble. The film runs the gamut of deviant stereotypes – strippers, transvestites, and fashion photographers all play omega versions of their perceived identities. The performativity is parody. Satire in both of these films function on two differing belief systems – one is the subject of merciless ridicule and stigmatization while the other is object of profound fear and irrationality. Ultimately undermined by this device is the heteronormative discourse set forth by Mary and her asexualized accomplices. The overstatement of both components is necessary to the films’ satire.
Bibliography Sullivan, Moira. “MMI Movie Review: But I’m a Cheerleader - Jamie Babbit Wins Créteil Films de Femmes Prix du Public.” Shoestring Radio Theatre Corporation - Radio Dramas and Movie Reviews. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.shoestring.org/mmi_revs/but-ima-cheerleader.html>. Chilcoat, Michelle. “Brain Sex, Cyberpunk Cinema, Feminism, and the Dis/Location of Heterosexuality.” NWSA 16.2 (2004): 156-176. Duchovnay, Gerald. “Jamie Babbit.” Film Voices: Interviews from Post Script. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2004. 153-165. Taubin, Amy. “Erasure Police.” Village Voice [New York] 1999: 57. Weiss, Andrea. “A Queer Feeling When I Look at You: Hollywood Stars and Lesbian Spectatorship in the 1930s.” Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. 330-341. de Lauretis, Teresa. “Aesthetic and Feminist Theory: Rethinking Women’s Cinema.” Looking at Film and Television. London: Verso, 1988. 174-195. Ball, John. Satire and the Postcolonial Novel: Naipaul, Achebe, and Rushdie. New York City: Routledge, 2003. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.
When individuals are unjustly stereotyped as they are in But I’m a Cheerleader, they become forced to defend their unique identities, yielding subjectivity and the critical deconstruction of their typecast. Herein lies the difference between satire and farce: the comic stereotypes portrayed in the film are not conceived for mere entertainment but exist to shed light on issues of performativity, genderization, and intolerance. The film’s message is stated overtly by Lloyd when he says to Megan, “There is no one way to be a lesbian. You just have to continue being who you are.” Indeed, Megan is still fundamentally the same by film’s end. She is a cheerleader; her unique brand of normalcy is revered on a daily basis. What has changed of her is her realization that lesbianism and cheerleading are, contrary to popular belief, not mutually exclusive. Because ordinary people being homosexual is so problematic to the tenets of heteronormativity, it is a good place to begin the inquiry. Since the concept hinges on legitimizing heterosexuality and traditional gender roles, Megan’s character ultimately shuns a heteronormative reading of the film. What is the legitimacy of Megan’s tender gender role? When discovered that the answer is a bleak one, the perceptive viewer should ask the same question of her sexuality. If normalcy is only established by establishing deviancy, then where does this leave Megan? In a word: disoriented.
World of Z by Jean-SĂŠbastien Scraire
Lors d’une soirée, j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer Miss Anderson, une actrice et réalisatrice œuvrant dans le milieu du cinéma de série Z. Ainsi, elle m’introduisit à cet univers qui m’était déjà familier, car depuis mon adolescence, j’affectionne particulièrement ce milieu où la créativité est primordiale. Bien que cela puisse paraître comme un inconvénient de prime abord, l’absence totale de financement de ce type de cinéma comporte son lot d’avantages. Par exemple, les restrictions artistiques provenant généralement des producteurs et autres figures marketing sont inexistantes. Ainsi, chaque projet est empreint d’une liberté déconcertante où chacun est libre d’expérimenter au sein de l’équipe. Cette approche a donné naissance au cours de l’histoire du cinéma à ce que l’on pourrait considérer comme un « style » cinématographique. Bien sûr, ceci s’est formé de manière inconsciente puisque
le facteur important du cinéma de série Z est qu’il ne bénéficie d’aucune subvention, quelle qu’elle soit. Utilisant ma rencontre avec Miss Anderson comme point de départ, je documente ce milieu qu’est le cinéma de série Z. Pour mieux comprendre les différents enjeux qu’une telle pratique comporte, je photographie cette actrice dans son intimité, mais aussi sur son lieu de travail, afin de dresser un portrait de ses différentes pratiques ainsi que des lieux et des gens qu’elle côtoie. Ultimement, j’aimerais que le spectateur se questionne sur sa propre consommation cinématographique à savoir, est-il libre de regarder le type de cinéma qui lui convient ou est-ce qu’on le manipule grâce au différent outil marketing à regarder des productions particulières?
Man and the Animal Other: Approximations of Hybridity in the science Films of Jean PainlevÉ and the Surrealism of luis bunuel by Katerina Korola During the early twentieth-century the animal emerged as a nexus of fascination amongst natural scientists and the wider public alike, evidenced by the increasing presence of animal specimens in natural history museums, zoos and fairs, and as rhetorical figures in cultural production.1 This fascination cannot be separated from the thesis advanced in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1851), which undermined the privileged position of man outside the natural world. Even as new justifications for human exceptionalism emerged in the social sciences, the animal became definitively a mirror for man. As a professional discipline, ethology developed alongside ethnology and psychoanalysis during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the three sharing the common aim of investigating the other—whether animal, ethnic, or pathological. These three objects of study all share the status of aberration vis-à-vis the unmarked norm, the Western subject, and the aberration that the animal represents, although it is to date the most neglected, is perhaps the most severe. Situated as a foil to the Western subject, the animal other functioned as a vehicle through which to apprehend the presumptive “natural man” that Darwinian evolution located in the past, ethnology in the primitive, and psychoanalysis in the unconscious. In cinema, this tendency to position the animal as a proxy for man is evident in both scientific film and the most avant-garde of art films. In the persons of Jean Painlevé and Luis Buñuel, we see two filmmakers whose training and work bridge the boundaries of surrealism and science, and in whose films the animal other occupies a prominent position. By comparing the science films of Jean Painlevé to the surrealist film par excellence, Luis Buñuel’s L’Age d’or (1930), this paper will discuss the way both filmmakers situate the animal as a figure through which to investigate the darker instincts that underlie the social world. As a consequence, these films explore the hybridity latent between the categories of animal and human. What is tongue-in-cheek in Painlevé becomes explicitly subversive in Buñuel, whose film is nothing short of an attack on the
Western symbolic order, one which blurs the boundary between Nature and Society, the human and nonhuman. In the history of scientific cinema, Jean Painlevé occupies a contentious position: dismissed by much of the scientific community as too populist, Painlevé nonetheless received an enthusiastic reception amongst the surrealist group, with whom he would retain close ties (at least to some of its constituents) throughout his career.2 The friendship between a biologist-cum-filmmaker and the surrealists is not as surprising as it initially seems. Many of the surrealists exhibited as much enthusiasm for the animal as did practitioners of the growing discipline of zoology, inserting animal figures in their literature, canvases, and films. Painlevé in fact collaborated with many of them, supplying the starfish for Man Ray’s The Starfish (1928) and writing the script of George Franju’s The Blood of the Beasts (1949). 3 Painlevé’s own films contain a latent surrealism. These cinematic forays into various microscopic underwater universes reveal the strangeness that underlies our world. Seen together, the films are a collection of curiosities, curiosities which, in typical surrealist fashion, as James Clifford notes, deploy “unexpected juxtapositions to provoke the manifestation of extraordinary realities.”4 In Painlevé’s early films these juxtapositions appear more commonly in the visual, as in The Octopus (1928), which follows an octopus out of a window and into a tank where it is seen caressing a striking memento mori. In addition to demonstrating the extent to which the surrealist aesthetic influenced Painlevé, this early film announces two central themes that would occupy Painlevé throughout his career: Eros and Thanatos. Later films, however while retaining this emphasis, rely less on such blatant visual juxtapositions in favour of acoustic and narrative juxtapositions. It is in these juxtapositions that we find the basis of Painlevé’s anthropomorphism, which frames each creature as an unlikely mirror to that which is human in the viewer. The majority of Painlevé’s films are explorations of eroticism and violence in the natural world, but his films ensure that the audience never forgets the importance of both these forces in human society. The sex drive and the death drive, of course, were understood by the highly Freudian surrealist group as the forces underpinning human existence.5 These two drives are, accordingly, the link between the natural man and the animal; an unavoidable, primal commonality. Although Painlevé’s films are undeniably educational in purpose, his intense focus on the mating rituals and hunting habits of aquatic specimens (alongside often tongue-in-cheek narration) draws attention to these animals’ double role as allusions to human sexuality, aligning him neatly with the surrealist
project. Although a later film, The Love Life of an Octopus (1967) is in this way emblematic of his career, and the various devices through which animals figure as both objects of empiricist inquiry and extraordinary mirrors that allow the viewer to apprehend the human as animal. The film’s whimsical title hints at its anthropomorphism. This anthropomorphism, however, is predicated upon recognizing the human in that which is manifestly nothuman. Narrated by a menacing male voice, the film opens ominously, following a large octopus across the pebbles of a beach to the sound of an electronic score composed by Pierre Henry. The octopus, described as a monster by the narrator and framed as such by the music, nonetheless is soon revealed to bear its similarities to the human species. Painlevé’s script and camera focus on the creature’s single eye, which, like the human eye, has its lid. Likewise, the mating of the creature is presented in manner that begs comparison to human intercourse. Although bearing no physical resemblance to the human act, the narrator’s ironic asides make references to human sexuality that are impossible to ignore. As the male inserts his spermcarrying tube into the female’s respiratory cavity, the narrator remarks: “For that, there is no official position.” In this highly eroticized account of the physiognomy and mating rituals of the octopus, the human thus appears as the implicit subject. To explore the human through the animal while still granting the animal, in extremely precise detail, all its difference is Painlevé’s innovation not only within the domain of the science film, but within the broader domain of early twentieth century scientific discourse. In her study of the Natural History Museum of New York, Donna Haraway analyses the museum’s arrangement of animals into groups that mirror the ideal Western family, each included a male, female, and infant. Haraway criticizes this type of anthropomorphism for transforming animals into “actors in a morality play on the stage of nature.”6 Nature, in the museum dioramas, is turned into the justification for a set of social relations. In Painlevé’s films, the opposite is true. As much as the films prompts the viewer to consider the human through the octopus, the animal is never made to seem more human than it is (or isn’t). What is presented is a hybrid, a figure that challenges the boundary between the human and non-human, and calls upon the viewer to reconsider what may be nonhuman in him or herself. The Great Divide between the human and nonhuman is discussed in Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern (1991), which traces the roots of this schism to early modern empiricism. Latour defines the modern critical stance as a project of “purification” which relegates the natural world and social world to “two entirely distinct
ontological zones.”7 For Latour, all later divisions which have marked the Us/Other logic of Western exceptionalism are traceable to this initial schism.8 Latour’s project is a survey of Western thought, from British empiricism to post-modernism, all of which, he demonstrates, fail to rethink this foundational divide. The problem, he writes, are the very categories of Nature and Society, human and nonhuman, which flagrantly ignore the ongoing processes of hybridization that have always coexisted alongside this rhetoric of division.9 As a solution to this problem, Latour demands that these terms be done away with. In an early articulation of Actor-Network Theory, Latour posits a method that replaces this dichotomy with a network of “quasi-objects,” a hybrid that is both human and nonhuman, endowed with agency and acted upon.10 This hybrid is precisely that which Painlevé’s films reveal through their ironic instances of anthropomorphism. Although his films position the animal in opposition to the human, their focus is upon the odd instances of commonalities that problematize this oppositional relationship. The least human of animals (mollusks, sea urchins, insects) are nonetheless revealed to partake in aspects of the human. The animals themselves, however, are not the only hybrids postulated by Painlevé’s films. The encounter with the animal, in which, despite its fundamental strangeness, the viewer recognizes something of himself, exposes the human subject as itself inherently hybrid—a quasi-object in Latour’s formulation—comprised of elements that are both human and nonhuman. The surrealist with whom Painlevé shares perhaps the most affinities, in terms of professional background and in the deployment of animals, is Luis Buñuel. Like Painlevé, Buñuel had nurtured an interest in animals since childhood. Upon moving to Madrid, he briefly studied entomology before joining the ranks of a modernist literary movement that included Federico Garcia Lorca and Salvador Dali.11 This early enthusiasm for insects recurs in many of his films, but is most explicit L’Age d’or, where insects play a key narrative function. Whereas the science films of Painlevé uncover the human in the natural world, the films of Buñuel focus on the animal within the human, a tendency which has caused Vitor Reia-Baptista to call Buñuel’s project an entomology of the human world.12 The narrative structure of L’Age d’or frames the film as precisely that. The film is divided into five main episodes, in the juxtaposition of which the film’s critique lies: a nature documentary on scorpions, the bandit sequence, a short documentary sequence on Rome, the bourgeois party sequence, and a final quotation of One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom. Together, the film functions as both a celebration of l’amour fou and an elaborate indictment
of Western society, targeting simultaneously the Church, State, family, and morality. The film shares with Painlevé its concern with the commonalities between animal and man, but unlike Painlevé, Buñuel uses the animal other as a springboard to explore the animal in human society. Although the scorpion documentary was not originally part of the script, once it had been written in Buñuel was determined to keep it there, even going so far as to acquire archival footage when he was unable to shoot the scene itself.13 The importance of this sequence to the film as a whole is attested to by its privileged position at the start of the narrative. The scorpion sequence mediates the viewer’s entry to the text, indicating that the episodes which follow are to be considered as only further developments in natural history. The movement of the film, from insect to nomad to city, is telling in a filmmaker who cites Darwin as a formative influence.14 The human, in this context, is situated as only one permutation of the animal; and, the scorpion sequence suggests, ought to be analysed as such. The sequence, which places a heavy emphasis on narration via intertitles, begins with the announcement: “The scorpion is an arachnoid species, found in various parts of the ancient world.” The inclusion of the adjective ‘ancient’ in the text positions the scorpion as an ancestor, echoing the greater structure of the film. The sequence’s explanation of creature’s physiognomy, similar to Painlevé, relies on a combination of text and magnified images. Unlike Painlevé, however, this sequence focuses exclusively on the scorpion’s aggressive features, its pincers and barbed tail. The sequence’s concern is not so much the animal itself as the hostility that the animal signifies. These magnified views are juxtaposed against shots of scorpions embroiled in battle, always in motion, always on the attack. The text of the intertitles takes care to point out that the creature is “antisocial” by nature, positioning it as dialectically opposite to Society. At the same time, the term antisocial is subtly anthropomorphic. This meaning is expanded up when the sequence ends with the intertitle “Some hours later,” which fades unto the image of a man clinging to a rocky outcrop. This disorienting transition implies that there is no fundamental divide between the natural and human
world and directs the viewer to seek out the scorpion in man and so-called Society. The scorpion resurfaces most prominently in the character played by Gaston Modot, who embodies its aggression and antisociability. L’Age d’or unfolds as a thought experiment designed to discover what it is to be human without Society. The male protagonist, like Painlevé’s animals, exists in a world dominated by sex and death. In his pursuit of the former, he ignores all the moral imperatives of Western society and importantly, reveals the animal lurking beneath the social. The influence of Freud here is obvious, Modot is pure Id—and for this he is commended. In this respect, however, Buñuel fails to attain the hybridity achieved in Painlevé’s films. Drawing heavily on psychoanalysis, in the Modot character Buñuel merely replaces the division between human and animal to the division between the conscious and unconscious. Although Modot demonstrates the animal in the unconscious, he does not account for the animal in the conscious. Buñuel, however, includes this element throughout the film in the figure of domesticated animals, which he uses to undermine the privileged position Society occupies according the modern critical stances. The first sighting of a domestic animal is the dog, which yaps at Modot in rebuke when the character is first introduced. The dog, of course, had long symbolized fidelity in the history of Western iconography. By reviving this symbol, however, Buñuel repositions the conflict in his film, between Nature and Society, into a confrontation between two species of animal: the wild and domesticated. A commentary on the institution of marriage is made again in the placement of a cow on the female protagonist’s bed. This large heifer, positioned in the pose of a classical nude, is yet another example of anthropomorphosis via surrealist juxtaposition. The gag comments ironically on the institution of marriage, and also on the position of the female in society. The humans of the social world, therefore, differ only in kind and not in type from the scorpions in the natural world. If we return to the scorpion sequence, we can see this conclusion played out on a larger scale. Although
the scorpions on the one hand represent Modot, they also allude to Society itself. The world of scorpions is a world of cruelty, where the strong prey on the weak. A comparison of this sequence to the documentary sequence of Rome reveals several parallels. Rome is presented as a city wherein majestic monuments exist side by side with crumbling housing developments, where bourgeois decadences exists contingent upon the squalor of the poor, just as the scorpions survive by virtue of killing. Significantly, these sequences are set to the same musical score, reinforcing their equivalence. In this sequence, which is shot largely from a birds-eye view, the human inhabitants of the city figure as so many bustling ants. What is society, this juxtaposition seems to suggest, but a collective of animals, governed by the same laws of selection? That which is revealed by the image of Society in L’Age d’or is that human society is nothing but a hybrid state, one which cannot be defined as either wholly natural or wholly artificial. In this highly polemical text, however, Buñuel is not content with merely exposing the hybridity that the so much of the history of modern thought has committed itself to suppressing. Rather, Buñuel turns his attention to the role the very concept of Society plays in Western discourse. As a concept, Society is invoked against the expression of desires that deviate from its norms. It is a means of defining that which is acceptable and that which is not, in the interests of preserving an existing social order. The bourgeoisie of the party sequence are shocked when Modot slaps the matriarch, but unbothered by the death of a groundskeeper’s son. This hypocrisy, viewed in this light, is only another type of evolutionary strategy. Just as the scorpion sequence examines the weapons of the animal, L’Age d’or examines the weapons of the dominant class, revealing the way in which the concept of Society is deployed to maintain the relations of power. Like the scorpion’s pincers and poisonous barb, Society is only a new strategy of aggression, as animal as any other evolutionary strategy. The use of animals in both the films of Jean Painlevé and L’Age d’or function to dismantle pre-existing categories of self and other as they exist in Western discourse, scientific and social. As suggested by Bruno Latour, the divide between the human and nonhuman is at the basis of all other variations on the boundary between Us and Them. In the early twentieth century, the animal existed at the far extreme of the non-human. Equations to animals can be found in contemporaneous descriptions of other races, women, and the mad. Nonetheless, the recent contribution of Darwinism to the scientific field had the effect of undermining the human’s separation from
the animal. It is the position of the animal as both the fundamental other and as a mirror that gave rise to its fascination. As Donna Haraway notes, much of twentieth century natural science can be considered as a search for “the other—the natural self.”15 This search for the natural self in the animal, however, only intensified the division between Nature and Society by asymmetrically positioning the animal other as nothing more than a mirror. This tendency, which is seen in so much scientific representation, is upset by the work of Jean Painlevé, whose films manufacture a cinematic encounter between animal and human that exposes commonalities while painstakingly documenting differences. Painlevé’s animals are hybrids that are endowed with features that, while partaking in some aspects of what we call human, remain patently nonhuman. Luis Buñuel, adopting a similar but distinct strategy, approaches the social world from the perspective of a natural scientist, documenting humans as only another variation of the animal. In L’Age d’or, the juxtaposition of animals with human society draws attention to the commonalities that underlie the natural and social world, problematizing their separation. In this way, both filmmakers use animals as a means to interrogate the human, and conclude that both animal and human must be understood as hybrid beings. However while Painlevé is content with ironic critique, Buñuel actively attacks the very notion of Society, which he condemns as an instrument of aggression and cruelty, akin to the scorpion’s tail.
1 - For more on the history of the zoo in Europe see Kay Anderson, “Culture and Nature at the Adelaide Zoo: At the Frontiers of ‘Human’ Geography,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series 20, no. 3 (1995): 275-294.
2 -Brigitte Berg, “Contradictory Forces: Jean Painlevé,” in Science is Fiction, eds. Andy Masaki Bellows and Marina McDougall (Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 3.
3 - Lauren Fretz, “Surrealism sous-l’Eau: Science and Surrealism in the Early Films and Writings of Jean Painlevé,” Film and History 40, no. 2 (Fall 2010): 47.
4 - “Photograms,” in Science is Fiction, eds. Andy Masaki Bellows and Marina McDougall (Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 82.
5 - James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 118.
6 - Andre Breton, Mad Love, trans. Mary Ann Caws (Lincoln; London: Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 1987), 38. Breton explains his own unconscious desires by quoting Freud’s well-known dictum, “The two instincts, the sexual instinct and the death instinct, behave like preservation instincts, in the strictest sense of the word, because they tend, both of them, to re-establish a state which was troubled by the apparition of life.”
7 - Donna Haraway, “Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-36,” Social Text 11 (Winter 1985): 24
8 - Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Mass.; Harvard University Press, 1993), 10-11 9 - Ibid., 97. 10 - Ibid., 98. 11 - Ibid. 12 - John Baxter, Bunuel (London: Fourth Estate Limited, 1994), 20.
13 - Roman Gubern and Paul Hammond, Luis Bunuel: The Red Years 1929-1939 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), 26.
14 - Vitor Reia-Baptista, “The Heretical Pedagogy of Luis Bunuel,” (dissertation, Lund University, 1987). Accessed via Biblioteca on-line de ciencias da comunicacao. 15 - Baxter, 17. 16 - Harraway, 26.
The girl who... by Anna Somers
This series was inspired by B-level horror movies produced during the mid 20th century and explores the various visual tropes and kitsch elements found throughout. It also aims to critique the role of woman in these films, often playing with the role of femme fatal. Collaboration with theatre majors was done as a tool to generate authentic expressions as well as unify the performing arts with the visual. Anna Somers is a photography major at Concordia University. 23
Interview with BLACK BISCUIT director fabrizio federico by Julien Bouthillier For this edition of Afterimages, we were on the look-out for directors pushing boundaries and challenging the established order. Rebel-directors with(out) a cause, smashing the pieces of cinema and putting it back together their own way. And we may have found the biggest rebel of the decade. His name is Fabrizio Federico and he’s the director of the british-gutter-punk-experimental-DIY-underground epic Black Biscuit, his feature debut. Filmed entirely with cellphones and toy cameras, Black Biscuit tells the story of Chet, a young aspiring filmmaker (played by Federico himself) trying to find his way in a seedy underworld culture, selling himself as a live model (and eventually as a guinea pig for the formation of a BDSM mistress). Surrounded by a crowd of misfits, aging pimps, ex ping-pong champions and drug addicts, Chet is torn between his dreams and the comfort brought by the promise of easy money.
Black Biscuit is unlike any movie you’ve ever seen, a bold collections of vignettes going from the surrealist comedy to the social documentary. Federico directed the movie under the ‘Pink8 Manifesto’ (see below), a set of rules for the truly uncompromising filmmaker. Going even further than Lars von Trier and the Dogma 95, Federico made an authentic street artefact, a broken shard of reality, a movie that defies easy categorization or intellectual analysis. We contacted Fabrizio Federico (now in the process of shooting his second feature-film) and were lucky enough to have an e-mail interview with him.
How did the idea (or inspiration) for ‘Black Biscuit’ came to you? Was it a specific image, a story, something you heard, someone who inspired you? I wanted to go through a change, I get like that every couple of years, sort of have to shed my skin like a snake and start over. Cinema is the melting pot of altered lives in the arts. I based Black Biscuit around the idea that Dog spelled God backwards. There’s something to society’s misfits, it’s as if they have a special ‘be here now’ insight into existence and people behaviors. They can adapt very easily to situations and to different people, but their worst enemy is themselves and eventually they unravel, or do an Icarus and get burned at their brightest. They curiously explode. The film captures these beautiful people as they get ready to crash. ‘Black Biscuit’ is a very interesting title. What do these words mean to you? As if you’re finally relaxed in your skin, women can make you feel like that. Or a breakdown in your reality. You see all these different world-views. I can’t say exactly because titles like that evolve as you go on. The film is meant to be watched at night when you’re in the mood for self examination. It’s a cinematic acid trip. It tastes like a bright tropical Samoan frog. You made your movie under the rules of what you call the Pink8 manifesto. Can you tell us about it and what it stands for (or what it stands against)? It stands against institutions, politics, and for an uncompromising creative uprising, like a riot. There are no limits on how you can get things done. The manifesto is a springboard to get free. I couldn’t believe I’d finished the film and what I’d just gone through. Sometimes I felt like I was going to end up dead. I didn’t know what I was doing when I was filming and editing, I had no clue, only what I’d learnt from listening to DVD Commentaries. Directors like Paul Morrissey and Dennis Hopper made making a movie sound like a myth, a great adventure. Anyone could do it with a Punk attitude, don’t listen to sensible advice and push through all the bullshit. In ‘Black Biscuit’ you blur the line between facts and fiction, truth and lies. What do you have to say about the truth? Sometimes it’s like it never existed, you just put all the facts in a blender and it comes out looking like mincemeat, the surreal mixed with reality. The truth is both horrific and enlightening but I’m pleased with
“It’s a cinematic acid trip. It tastes like a bright tropical Samoan frog.”
accepting both like a pair of punches. I don’t want an easy ride, I want poetic mayhem when I’m creating. I just believe in my instinct, there’s too many different points of view, just focus on one because otherwise you’ll go insane. In this issue of Afterimages, we explore the concept of ‘pushing boundaries’. Do you consider the making of ‘Black Biscuit’ an act of rebellion? What can you tell us about pushing boundaries and not following the rules? It’s just uncompromising behavior, why should anyone listen to the rules. There are no rules in art, it’s illogical to study art, you have to feel it and no teacher cares enough to teach you that trick. Just find your confidence with what you want to do. I’m anti standards, you either like it or you don’t . It doesn’t matter if you make a film on a million dollar camera or a mobile phone just as long as you enjoy it. If someone gave me a million dollar camera I’d scratch the lens up first before using it. Just Interfere with the status quo and push a situation till it’s about to break. I really like bad reviews because great art is often misunderstood. The Rite of Spring and Citizen Kane bombed when they came out but now it’s like it never mattered. Just be cool, anything goes in cinema. Your casting is composed of ‘street-superstars’: homeless, prostitutes, pimps, eccentric. Some of them are quite striking, funny or even profound. How did you approach them and convince them to appear in the movie? I never told anyone in the film what it was all about. I didn’t want acting, I wanted either themselves or an interpretation of a past event which allowed them to reevaluate their actions. It’s like time travel. Everyone is a star, be proud to be damaged and alive to tell your story. A hard knock life surrounds the characters. I’d go up to a person and either introduce myself and set up a date to film, or I’d be so excited about meeting them that I’d film right there and then on the street. It was simple and straightforward without having to get permission, or study a script. If you do it for the love of it you’re allowed leeway to do anything. I guess we just liked each other. Without a formal scenario, how did you approach direction? How would Fabrizio Federico direct a scene? I’m looking for dreams and reality mixed as one. I show up and whatever happens, happens. Tomorrow I’m filming in Dungeness so I’m looking for disturbing
salvation. I haven’t even met the person who is going to be in the film yet, but I believe it will be alright. The location is everything to me, the situation not the dialogue. I want to expose peoples inner selves, even if it’s just for a few seconds. I’ll improvise the direction depending on the circumstances, or maybe the music that I’m listening to at the time of filming. What dance do I want to do. The only thing Im sure of is the mood of each scene, I understand very well the colors I’m after. In ‘Black Biscuit’, you fill many roles, main actor being one of them. You quite literally appear ‘naked’ for the audience. How was this experience of putting yourself in front of the camera? Being nude is the tip of the iceberg, you have to be comfortable with your body first. I enjoyed tasting all the aspects. It’s like primal scream therapy. I was interested in Timothy Leary’s teachings regarding alchemy, and the wear and tear of having all your engines running at full speed all the time. It was like a constant birthday or a shadowplay. I learnt as I went along and it morphed into something else. I got lost and enjoyed it. 2+2=5 An interesting thing about the movie is that it seamlessly goes from comedy to drama, and anything in between. How did you work to achieve this mix between the humor and the drama, the surreal and the realist? We experimented with different drugs, lies, memories, unpopular topics. The whole editing process took a year, the first version was lost because my computer crashed. The second version was me forgetting what was politically correct. Talking about not enjoying orgasms can be really funny, letting a baby wander off without any supervision in Scotland is going to lead you somewhere different. Having cult leaders giving you life advice is horrifying to a parent. Violence at a Limp Bizkit concert mixed with S&M with candles just seems like a winning formula to me. You deliberately shot the movie with ‘bad’ cameras: cellphones, toy camera, etc. What kind of experience did you have using them? Very good, you just press record and like magic it captures everything. Technical aspects can be boring when you’re looking for an alluring moment, audiences don’t care about the cameras White Balance. It was a problem for me getting all the footage onto the computer and editing it because I didn’t know where to start, eventually I got a copy of an editing program
and learnt from scratch by watching 5min tutorials on Youtube one step at a time. It also helped having these little cameras because people don’t get as self conscious in front of a mobile phone, other times they didn’t even know they were being filmed. Depending on the scene you can use them like a magic wand or a gun. Looking at the movie, one imagines there must be hours of footage left on the cutting room floor. How long did the shooting take, and how many hours of footage did you gather? A lot, at one point I wanted to make a 100 hour film but the computer burned out. A real casual epic. I was shooting constantly for a year, originally I wanted the film to be like the Anti-Bible and show the devil’s journey throughout a year on earth. What lost passionate people get up to hanging out at the crossroads with the devil, and see what stories they bring back. A lot of that footage is now lost, my girlfriend destroyed it because we had an argument about scum groupie vampires. But it was a positive thing because otherwise I wouldn’t have created any new footage. Tell us a bit about the editing process? Did you have any particular approach? I listened to exorcisms on loop to put my mind into a séance. The whole film was just an experiment on how to push cinema forward by making plot and concept into a ridiculous bastard. Certain scenes were edited while I was blindfolded, or hypnotized. It was like painting, some people think I’ve committed a felony by making a film like this, I don’t see what the big deal is with creating a lively freedom of expression. Sound has a very important place in the movie. Voiceover, recorded speech, music, etc. Tell us about the way you choose and integrate these elements in the movie. I wanted to create a labyrinth of sounds that related to the characters in the film. Like an introspective portal to fit each scene. The voice over’s are by different notorious cult leaders, and quotes that fit the film’s personality. I listened to a lot of The Doors, Chet Baker, Syd Barrett, the Libertines and Daniel Johnston throughout, I wanted a musical form of editing. I kept picturing Basquiat painting a movie and testing the limits of the eye by making fascinating sounds. I gathered that the movie was made for about 500£, without any grants, producers or any other help from
the ‘system’. According to the Pink8 manifesto, money was raised through a ‘job that challenged your ethics’. How was it to operate under these conditions? If you had the opportunity, would you participate in a more expensive production? It had its good and bad days. The good thing is you have no censorship and are free to do whatever you want. The bad thing is people come and go as they please but maybe that’s what keeps it from being stale. Making a movie shouldn’t be a democracy, someone has to be the leader and not rely on having meetings with everyone over each little decision. If I want that type of aggravation I’d get a 9 to 5 job. It would be interesting to do a bigger scale project but only if it’s experimental, otherwise forget about it. Your website and interview show a very eclectic range of cinematographic influences, from Fellini and Dennis Hopper to Jonathan Caouette and Harmony Korine. How did you become interested in cinema? My father has really good taste in movies and would show me all these cult films when I was very young, so it’s always been with me. I think the first film I ever watched was Gremlins, then I got into Pasolini, Bud Spencer & Terence Hill westerns, Fantozzi comedies, all these obscure Italian movies with wild directors. Then I discovered Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol films like Kitchen and Blow Job. Jonas Mekas is an idol, he taught Harmony Korine everything he knows. Donald Cammell and Dennis Hopper are probably my favourite directors but I also love a lot of silent films like L’Atalante, Greed, Pandoras Box, and horrors like Nosferatu and Dr Caligari. As long as it has a poetic integrity about it. Recently, another movie has been made following the rules of your Pink8 Manifest, Dimention Zero. Are we witnessing the birth of a movement? Maybe, DIY is very contagious with young people because it’s orgasmic. There’s a few others working on films based on the Pink8 manifesto, I don’t care if they follow the rules just as long as someone’s enjoying the experience. Dimention Zero is the first and I’m really proud how it got made, Andrew did a great job. It’s all an underground vision. There’s truth in doing things the wrong way. I remember seeing an interesting promotional photo for the movie, where you’re holding a sign saying ‘THE FUTURE OF CINEMA’. What do you think is the future of cinema?
I see it developing more of a stronger auteur theory now that people are able to promote their films online for free. It will become more extreme, eloquent and stranger. Hopefully taking chances and forgetting about demographics. Cult films always end up finding an audience no matter what, word of mouth is a very strong tool. There’s a lot of fantasies out there. What about the present? Do you see anything interesting going on? Sure there’s lots of great movies around, all sorts of different stuff. I loved Filth, that was a trip. Alps was excellent, Tony Manero, A Punk Prayer, To The Wonder, Young & Wild, Frances Ha. Can’t wait to see Don Jon. What advice, if any, would you give to someone wanting to pursue his dreams and make life his playground? Find your comfort zone and destroy it with energy. Lastly, when I first contacted you, you told me that you were in the middle of filming your new movie. Can we have some details? Yes I’m working on my second feature called Pregnant. It’s about technology addiction and it’s trappings, mixed with horror and murder in the sun. Mass madness. I’ve been filming at communes in Spain, nuclear waste sites, and following homicidal priests. I’m not working under any manifesto, it’s just a free-for-all.
“I listened to exorcisms on loop to put my mind into a séance.” 29
Pink8 Manifesto - FILM SCHOOL IS POISON. - LOOK FOR STREET SUPERSTARS TO BE YOUR CAST. - YOUR FILM MUST BE MADE ON NO BUDGET, JUST SPORADIC MONEY. - THE DIRECTOR MUST RAISE ”GET-BY” MONEY BY FINDING A JOB THAT CHALLENGES THEIR ETHICS. - THE DIRECTOR MUST HAVE A MAIN CHARACTER ROLE IN THE FILM. - SHORT FILMS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE, IT MUST BE A FEATURE. - THE CAST MUST NOT KNOW WHAT YOUR FILM IS ABOUT. - FILMING MUST BE DONE WITHOUT ANY PREPARATION OR A TRADITIONAL SCRIPT. - YOUR FILM MUST BE 95% IMPROVISED. - SPECIAL LIGHTING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. - NO HD CAMERAS. - NO 3D. - NO GREEN SCREEN. - THE DIRECTOR MUST EDIT THE FILM ALONE. - MISTAKES ARE BEAUTIFUL. - CONTINUITY IS WRONG. - BEWILDING, VAGUE, SELF-INDULGENT, PLOT-LESS, RISKY, EGOTISTICAL, LIMPID, RAW, UGLY, AND IMPERFECT ARE PERFECT. - TECHNICAL FILM EXPERIENCE IS INESSENTIAL. - ANSWER TO ONLY ONE PERSON - YOURSELF.
â€œThe event plays as listlessly as jeanne peeling potatoes.â€?
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles: A review by Miia Piironen Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman (1975) is not a film for the faint of heart. For a film that is largely about the faint of heart this is somewhat bizarre. The titular protagonist here does not represent the verbal, strong-willed woman germane to other feminist films of the era. Indeed, she more closely embodies the opposite. Jeanne, played by Delphine Seyrig, is a lonely widow raising her thankless teenage son, Sylvain, in working class Brussels. Her life is structured to the extreme. She is prim, tidy, and every hour of her week is meticulously accounted for. Jeanne is not, to borrow Kerouac’s phrase, “burning like a roman candle across the night.” But she isn’t soul-dead either. The film takes us through three days. As the narrative unfolds, the cumulative emptiness of Jeanne’s life eventually drives her to an act so desperate and out of character that, strangely, the audience cannot help but see coming. It is revealed sometime before dinner on the first day that Jeanne has been working part-time as a prostitute. She tends to her chores in the morning and leaves a portion of her afternoons for servicing clients, but absolutely nobody knows this except for her. At the film’s climax, if it can so be called, Jeanne fatally stabs one of her johns with a pair of scissors. The event plays as listlessly as Jeanne peeling potatoes. Is this because the audience has become too numb to what they are seeing, or too sympathetic? One thing is certain: Jeanne Dielman is an onerous march toward a deep end visible from all too far away. In typical Akerman style, duration is married to subject matter. We are shown exactly how long it takes to set the table, do the dishes, and so on and so forth. The scene is complete when the task is. As part of the structural film movement, Jeanne Dielman is made atomized. It cannot be fragmented because that would belie the point – Jeanne’s life has become a horrible slog, the magnitude of which we can only understand by experiencing it with her. It’s a slow
burn, no question about it. The film is at once captivating and insufferable. In another move taken to represent the image in its original form, there are no close-ups and no camera movement. Mise-en-scène is flagrantly ordinary. The dwelling at 23 Quai du Commerce is utterly sanitized. Jeanne sees to it that not a shred of evidence exists to suggest the illicit activity taking place within it. The apartment looks to be that of a woman’s twice her age; she even wears a muted blue cardigan that matches the walls of her bedroom. Framing in the film is highly inclusive, always emphasizing her space. In many ways, it is given priority over Jeanne herself. The film is completely free of the male gaze, yet still manages to feel strikingly intimate. Jeanne is like her china. She has an ostensibly hard exterior but she is also liable to fall apart at any time. Though she takes care, cracks appear in her routine and she occasionally finds times where she has nothing to do. These scenes in which she sits silently in her armchair (a replica chair, surely that of her dead husband’s, sits beside her) are the darkest to watch. The moments in which Jeanne is finally forced to reflect upon herself are brimming with unseen torture. These anxieties, however, begin to express themselves in outward displays of clumsiness, overcooking the potatoes for instance. ‘Subtle’ is the word. Seyrig truly gives the understated performance of a lifetime. Although its viewing experience might not suggest it, Jeanne Dielman takes no prisoners. It is ruthless in duration and extrinsically bold in structure. What Akerman achieves in her unorthodox creation is one of the most empathetic characters ever captured on film. Traversing feminist, structuralist, and minimalist labels, the cinematic success of Jeanne Dielman comes in the undeniable externalization of demons that didn’t seem possible.
Au-delà du mauvais: The room by Julien Bouthillier The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003) est possiblement l’un des pires films jamais réalisés. Incohérent dans son scénario, abyssal dans le jeu de ses acteurs et actrices, inepte dans son exécution technique, surréaliste dans sa réalisation. Par conséquent, vous devez absolument voir ce film. Si la plupart des mauvais films vous laissent dans un état de frustration et de déception, The Room vous fera passer par toute une gamme d’émotion. La stupeur initiale fait rapidement place à l’hilarité avant de se métamorphoser en inquiétude, qui redeviendra stupeur. Pendant l’heure et demie que dure cette expérience, vous vous répéterez : mais qu’est-ce qui a bien pu se passer? The Room, à la base, n’est pas (et n’est pas sensé être) un film compliqué : Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) est un saint homme, ensevelissant sa « future femme »¹ sous les cadeaux et les attentions, occupant un poste important dans une « banque », aimé par tous ses amis et même par sa pourtant insupportable belle-mère. Lisa (Juliette Daniels), sa dite « future femme », est une parfaite psychopathe, qui, non contente de ne plus aimer Johnny, décide de le tromper avec son meilleur ami, le perpétuellement confus Mark (Greg Sestero). Triangle amoureux classique. Mais à ce fil narratif, une demi-douzaine d’autres vient se greffer, disparaissant presque immédiatement après être apparus (parfois dans l’espace d’une même scène), sans qu’on fasse référence à eux pour le restant du film. The Room pourrait très bien être le premier film du monde à souffrir
d’Alzheimer. Un personnage mentionne au détour d’une conversation qu’elle a INDÉNIABLEMENT le cancer du sein, avant de passer à autre chose et ne plus jamais en parler, le sujet étant en tout état de cause mort et enterré. Un autre personnage trébuche, marmonne « That’s it, I’m done » et disparaît effectivement du film, sans plus d’explications². Oh, et beaucoup de gens se lancent un ballon de football en se tenant à 2 pieds l’un de l’autre. La direction photo et le montage ne sont pas en reste, entre les interminables stocks shot de San Francisco utilisé comme plan de coupe entre chaque scène et des raccords si ratés que des personnages sont très littéralement victimes de téléportation. À travers ses errances techniques et scénaristiques, le film atteint d’intéressants moments de pur délire. Dans un des sommets d’absurdité du film, un personnage, dont l’unique fonction jusqu’à ce point a été de fournir une scène pseudocomique dans laquelle ses sous-vêtements sont découverts et exposés (au nombre incroyable de 2 personnes), répète de façon détaillée et étendue cette « tragédie » à Johnny. Une confirmation de l’inutilité d’une scène par une autre scène inutile. Impassible, Johnny, dans un étrange moment de contemplation, pose sa main sur l’épaule de son camarade et déclare solennellement : « That’s life ». Pas que les déclarations « philosophiques » soient étrangère à Johnny : un peu plus tard dans le film, après avoir stoïquement accueilli la nouvelle que son jeune
protégé Denny (qui sera successivement universitaire, déficient intellectuel et toxicomane) est amoureux de sa future femme, il lui offre ces sages paroles : « If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live ». Dans ces exacts mots. Ce qui nous amène à parler un peu de l’homme derrière Johnny et The Room, Tommy Wiseau, le réalisateur, scénariste, producteur et acteur principal du film – rien de moins. Pour les non-initiés, on pourrait le décrire comme une sorte d’hybride de Borat et Ozzy Osbourne faisant une parodie de Christopher Walken. Son étrangeté n’ayant d’égale que la démesure de ses ambitions, Wiseau traverse le film comme une sorte d’extraterrestre plongé dans un perpétuel état de stupeur alcoolique, incapable de seulement comprendre et de prononcer les lignes qu’il a lui-même écrites, riant de bon cœur dans les situations les plus inappropriées (par exemple, après avoir entendu une anecdote sur une femme battue) et s’exprimant par catchphrases : « Oh hi! » ; « That’s the idea! » « Don’t worry about it! ». D’une scène à l’autre, Tommy Wiseau passe de la rage paranoïaque à la pure naïveté enfantine, tandis que tous les autres personnages (aussi sujets à d’étranges changements d’émotions et de motivations, soit dit en passant) agissent comme s’il n’y avait absolument rien d’étrange avec lui et chantent ses louanges : Johnny, le vrai Américain, généreux, protecteur, pourvoyeur, aimant, intelligent, riche et empreint de bonté. Cela peut sembler dur à concevoir, mais ce film a coûté plus ou moins 6 millions de dollars, sur lesquels Tommy Wiseau maintient un secret absolu³. Toutefois, il est sans doute encore plus dur de concevoir comment un film pareil a pu être seulement terminé – d’autant plus que Tommy Wiseau est passé à travers un nombre assez impressionnant d’acteurs et de techniciens. Suivant la popularité inattendue du film (désormais considéré comme culte), Tommy Wiseau a commencé à affirmer que The Room est (et a toujours été) une « comédie noire », où toutes les erreurs sont intentionnelles. À vous d’en juger. The Room n’est pas votre mauvais film ordinaire. On pourrait même débattre de sa nullité. On parle ici d’un film tellement surréaliste et dénué de sens qu’à une autre époque, on n’aurait pas été surpris de voir Luis Buñuel ou Salvador Dali se porter à sa défense. Dans 50 ans, The Room sera peut-être considéré comme un chef-d’œuvre du cinéma contemporain. Chef-d’œuvre ou pas, The Room vous réservera à chaque visionnement une surprise supplémentaire, que ce soit la découverte d’une nouvelle absurdité, d’une nouvelle erreur technique ou d’une nouvelle forme de prononciation douteuse de l’anglais par Tommy Wiseau. Qu’on s’en moque ou l’admire, ce film est
certainement dans une catégorie à part de cinéma, un ovni cinématographique inclassable. En conclusion, je ne peux que vous inviter à entrer dans The Room ; n’oubliez pas votre ballon de football.
* EN RAFALE : MEILLEURE RÉPLIQUE DE THE ROOM (en V.O) : « Hi babe! » (première réplique du film) « You’re tearing me apart, Lisa! »
« I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer. »
« Everybody betrayed me. I fed up with this world! » (prononcé « whirl »)
« Lisa, this is such a great party. You invited all my friends. Good thinking! »
« I did not hit her. It’s not true. It’s bullshit. I did not hit her. I did not! Oh hi Mark. » « I’m tired, I’m wasted… I love you darling! »
« I cannot tell you, it’s confidential. Anyway, how’s your sex life? »
« If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live »
« I’m so happy I have you as my best friend, and I love Lisa so much » « You point of view is so different from mine »
« I feel like I’m sitting on an atomic bomb waiting for it to go off »
« They betrayed me, they didn’t keep their promise, they tricked me, and I don’t care anymore »
1. On notera que le terme « fiancé(e) » est absent du film : les personnages préfèrent utiliser l’expression « future femme » et « futur mari ».
2. Ses répliques seront toutefois données à un nouveau personnage, qui ne sera jamais présenté ou introduit.
3. Les plus curieux se tourneront vers The Disaster Artist, un livre Co écrit par Greg Sestero (co-vedette et directeur de production du film et ami de Tommy Wiseau), qui jette un peu de lumière sur les mystères du film, de sa pré-production à sasou daine popularité.
Have you ever been in the middle of watching a movie in the cinema, in your own living room, or even in your bed curled up with your laptop - when you suddenly realize that this film would be significantly better if you had a snack? Thus begins the dilemma of deciding which snack is the most appropriate, and this venture usually ends with you holding up the line at the snack bar blankly staring at your overpriced and limited options, or rifling through your cupboards at home only to discover that you had put off buying groceries for the third day. In both situations, the result is an empty stomach (or regrets of adding pumps of hydrogenated oil to your popcorn) and no longer any desire to finish the movie you were initially watching . Well, fret no more! The Concessions Stand is here to help. Below you can find a list, compiled by the Afterimages team, of some excellent films paired with the perfect snack. So you can watch your movie without the distraction of hunger pangs, as it should be.
The concession stand Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
Japanese Snack Mix and Wasabi Peas
Nothing is more quintessential to Manhattan and a Woody Allen film set in his home city than a soft pretzel from a street vendor.
A traditional Japanese snack for a charming film by arguably Japan’s greatest animator.
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) Vanilla Milkshake The perfect moloko-based drink to sip on as Alex and his droogs commit some criminal acts of ultraviolence.
The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998) Munchies Self-explanatory. The Dude not only abides, but applauds, this choice.
The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999) Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Popcorn A classic snack for a classic film from Hollywood’s golden era.
Candy Hearts So sweet, cute, and innocent, but always leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Oldboy (Park Chan-Wook, 2003) Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) Hamburger Even a vegetarian will crave a “Royale with Cheese” by the end of this film.
Live Octopus By all means, swallow a live octopus whole like the protagonist does. A snack shouldn’t really be necessary though, since you might not exactly have an appetite by the end of this film.
Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) Pain au chocolat Like Amélie’s whimsical antics, a pain au chocolat from your local patisserie warms the heart. I’d like an order of espresso as well, s’il vous plaît!
A Comparison of king’s novel and kubrick’s adaptation of the shining by Emma Catalfamo “The sequence of such dying generations is the scandal reawakened by the ghost story for a bourgeois culture, which has triumphantly stamped out ancestor worship.” (Jameson, 119) “(This inhuman place makes human monsters.)” (King, 208) The Shining, written by Stephen King, is an engrossing piece of literature both in content and how was adapted into the filmic medium by late director Stanley Kubrick. Although both versions of The Shining use the horror genre auspiciously to facilitate the deterioration of the Torrance family, the focuses of the two versions of the story have different core focuses. While King uses the genre to support his focus on the history of violence and abuse throughout the generations in the Torrance family, Kubrick eliminates the focus on the Torrance’s family history in favor of exploring how the history of violence in America’s past is influencing contemporary American society. Through the expansion of his focus from the microcosm of the Torrance’s family history, Kubrick stretches his analysis to the macrocosm of the destructive nature of the “American Dream” and illuminates how America’s history of violence has influenced the present. Kubrick does this by linking the ghosts of America’s past to the mentality of the contemporary American man, showing how history repeats itself through the obsessive attempt to achieve the vapid “American Dream.” Primarily, the divergence in focus in Kubrick’s The Shining can be seen through his presentation of the character Jack Torrance in comparison to that in King’s novel. King establishes Jack’s demons as familial ones, with the Overlook acting as a conductor allowing these demons to take over Jack, by drawing explicit parallels between the beast Jack becomes and his own abusive father. For instance, King describes Jack’s father as a man with “his eyes set deeply into their fat eye sockets, glittering
with a kind of stupid, evil petulance”, who in outbursts of abuse frequently says, “Now. Now by Christ. I guess you’ll take your medicine now.” (King, 330); a phrase Jack repeats almost exactly word for word when he becomes monstrous. When Jack succumbs to his demons, he is described by Wendy and Danny in a manner that mirrors his own descriptions of his father, such as when Wendy describes him as “… Jack and yet not Jack. His eyes were lit with a vacant, murderous glow.” (King, 586-7). The mirroring of Jack’s father and the monster that overtakes Jack in the latter part of The Shining is incredibly important to the core theme of the novel, as it solidifies the concept of Jack succumbing to his familial and personal demons and figuratively becoming his father. Jack’s past demons repeat themselves in his future, showing the vicious cycle of abuse that causes victims to become victimizers and heroes to become monsters (Maaren, Not His Daddy, Module 4). Thus, King’s Jack Torrance in his novel The Shining proves to be a study in the effects of abuse and how they are repeated throughout the generations, as he is shown as a loving father who is plagued by his past and eventually morphs into the image of his own abusive father. Conversely, the Jack Torrance Kubrick presents in his filmic adaptation of The Shining is significantly more malicious than the one King depicts in his novel. Kubrick’s Jack Torrance is introduced as the typical “All-American father”, first shown to the audience at a job interview, trying desperately to impress Stewart Ullman the hotel manager and his interviewer. Jack’s amicable, kind and fake disposition is in sharp contrast to his behaviour with his family, whom he seems irritated with even while driving to the Overlook hotel, as he sarcastically quips during discussion of cannibalism “See it’s okay, he saw it on the television.” (Kubrick, The Shining). Kubrick makes Jack’s resentment toward his family and obsession with success very clear through his hyperbolic and rage fuelled
“Jack and yet not jack” 39
responses to Wendy’s suggestions that they should leave the Overlook and take Danny to a doctor, after he has been attacked by one of the Overlook’s ghosts. Jack’s denial that anything strange is going on and his furious response to Wendy’s pleas to leave, claiming she is trying to “fuck up his life” and cause him to “be a failure” (Kubrick), shows Jack’s selfish devotion to his own success and resentment toward his family, which he believes are holding him back from achieving success. Therefore, Kubrick essentially portrays Jack as a patriarchal monster, furthered by his growing stubble and deteriorating physical appearance throughout the course of the film, who becomes a figurative beast in his quest to achieve success or “the American Dream”. Secondly, King’s representation of the Overlook as malevolent in The Shining is similarly seen in Kubrick’s adaptation, although the hotel itself is symbolic of the different core themes in the two versions. In his novel, King links the Torrance’s family history, and the dark secrets of abuse hidden behind the facade of the nuclear family throughout the generations of Torrances, to the corrupt history of the Overlook hotel. Jack’s increasing obsession with the Overlook’s history facilitates his own moral corruption and “fall into decay”, essentially tying his past to that of the hotel. This is evident when Jack hears the voice of his father on the radio telling him to murder his family, while reading the scrapbook of the Overlook’s history in the basement. As Jack becomes increasingly obsessed with the Overlook and its corrupt past, he subconsciously begins to remember his own past and the abuse he endured, as well as enacted, causing him to slowly regress into a figurative beast, like his father. Jack’s regression into a figurative monster is communicated through his subconscious, or perhaps the voice of his father’s spirit, indicated by King in his prose through the use of italics and brackets (Maaren, King’s Id Monsters, Module 4). Whatever reading one prefers of what the bracketed and italicized voice is, the Overlook and its dark history links to Jack’s personal and familial history, in addition to serving as a catalyst to his fall from grace. Kubrick’s presentation of the Overlook in his adaptation of The Shining is likewise menacing, yet it serves to represent a focus different than the one in King’s novel. Kubrick ties the dark past of the Overlook, which is less detailed and slightly different than that described in King’s novel, to America’s foundational history, thus establishing the Overlook hotel as a symbol for American society’s mentality. Significantly, Kubrick does not go into the history of the Overlook hotel in detail as King does in his novel, aside from having Ullman casually tell the Torrance’s that the hotel was built on a Native American burial ground and
that “they even had to repel a few Indians while building it” (Kubrick). Evidently, the significance of the Overlook being built on a native burial ground, in addition to having the builders of the hotel “repel” natives to claim the land, is a direct allusion to the settler’s genocide of Native Americans and claim of their land to build the America they wanted. As explained by David Cook in his essay “American Horror: The Shining”, “Danny shines and sees the corridors of the Overlook- that land of plenty built on an Indian graveyard- heave tidal waves of innocent blood and are littered with the dismembered corpses of children murdered by their parents…” (Cook). Thus the Overlook’s own dark history serves as a symbol of America’s own violent past at the core of its foundation, which Kubrick further highlights with his “…‘frequent shots of photographs and [Indian] artifacts decorating the hotel’… [with] the brutal history of a still young nation.” (Nolan). Kubrick develops the visual metaphor of the “Can you see the Indians?” books mentioned in King’s novel (291) in his adaptation, to represent America’s violent foundation that its “American Dream” has been built on. A notable instance of a clear representation of America’s genocide is in a sequence where Jack, in a fit of writer’s block, violently bounces a ball on a wall, where hanging are black and white photos from the Overlook’s “golden days,” while directly above these photos is a mounted buffalo head. The buffalo head is no doubt symbolic of the American genocide of the natives, as settler’s slaughtered the buffalo, a sacred animal in the eyes of the natives, in massive quantities, just as they systematically wiped out the Native American’s themselves; a perfect visual metaphor for the ideology of the Manifest Destiny (Maaren, Can You See the Indians?, Module 3). Additionally, after Jack, ironically clad in dark blue, red and white, attacks Wendy, she runs into Jack’s study, now covered in cobwebs and skeletons, which looks as though it should be in a Gothic castle. This sequence serves as another visual metaphor for the Overlook’s hidden skeletons in the closet, and by extension the hidden skeletons in American history, further connecting the hidden evil and corruption inherent in both. Kubrick’s representation of the Overlook in his film The Shining plays an equally, if not more, menacing role than that in King’s novel, as it serves as a symbol for the evil at the heart of America’s foundation and the American Dream created upon it. Finally, the differences in focus evident in the two versions of The Shining are clear in the vastly disparate endings of King’s novel and Kubrick’s filmic adaptation. Whereas King ends his novel on a melancholy, but
ultimately positive note, as the Overlook hotel and thus the symbol of generational abuse in the Torrance family is destroyed alongside the monster Jack becomes in the boiler explosion, Kubrick’s adaptation has a significantly more cynical ending. The most significant change Kubrick makes in the ending of his adaptation of The Shining is allowing the Overlook to live on and have Jack freeze to death in its hedge maze, thus showing that the Overlook, and by extension the violent American history and vapid American Dream it embodies, lives on and consumes Jack Torrance. In a poignant final sequence, Kubrick shows the frozen corpse of Jack, who looks more like a beast than a human with his gritted teeth and frozen furrowed brow, and then cuts to the Overlook’s ballroom foyer where eerie jazz era music plays as the camera gradually zooms into a wall of black and white photos. As the camera zooms in on the wall of photos, it slowly reveals Jack Torrance, smiling in 1920’s formal dress at the center of one of the group photos of the Overlook’s past guests, with the caption on the photo stating “Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921.” Brilliantly, in this final sequence, Kubrick conveys that the Overlook has consumed Jack’s spirit, which is arguably symbolic of Jack being consumed by insanity due to his obsessive desire to achieve the “American Dream.” Jack’s willingness to murder his family when requested by the ghosts at the Overlook hotel, as in return they promise him success and a high position “on the ranks” (Kubrick) of the hotel, can ultimately be seen as a critique of American individualism. Jack’s utter devotion to the promise of success and feeling of importance the Overlook provides him can be seen as a metaphor for what people in contemporary American Society are willing to do to achieve the “American Dream.” Kubrick links the modern day ruthless, individualistic chase for the American Dream to the ideology of the Manifest Destiny in America’s past, which supported a mentality of superiority and persuaded settlers to commit genocide against an entire race for the sake of improving their own lives. Thus, Kubrick not only explores the concept of history repeating itself in his adaptation of The Shining, he also links the mentality that supported America’s genocide of the Native Americans to the ruthless individualism contemporary American society champions in the name of the “American Dream,” which he solidifies in his stunning ending.
violent and foundational history of genocide, as well as its Manifest Destiny ideology, is repeated through the ruthless individualism of the modern “American Dream,” as both promote animosity, callousness and are ultimately vapid ideals. Though not an adaptation entirely true to King’s novel, Kubrick’s The Shining is ultimately a filmic masterpiece that sheds light on America’s dark history, which most would likely want to forget, and critically calls into question the worth of the American Dream. Works Cited
Cook, David A. “American Horror: The Shining.” Literature/ Film Quarterly 12.1 (1984): 2-4. ProQuest. Web. 13 June 2013. Jameson, Fredric. “The Shining.” Social Text (1981): 119. JSTOR. Web. 13 June 2013. King, Stephen. The Shining. New York, NY: Anchor, 1977. Print.
Maaren, Kari. “Module 03 - Stephen King’s The Shining: The American Gothic.” CENG112: Zap, Pow, Bang! Pop Lit. The Chang School, Ryerson University, 2010. Web. 14 June 2013.
Maaren, Kari. “Module 04 - The Shining: History as Monstrous, Character as Horror.” CENG112: Zap, Pow, Bang! Pop Lit. The Chang School, Ryerson University, 2010. Web. 14 June 2013.
Nolan, Amy. “Seeing Is Digesting: Labyrinths of Historical Ruin in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.” Cultural Critique 77 (2011): 180+. University of Minnesota, 2011. Academic OneFile. Web. 13 June 2013.
The Shining. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Warner Bros., 1980. DVD.
In conclusion, King and Kubrick use the horror genre imaginatively to create very different commentaries on contemporary American society. While King uses literary elements to support a focus on the effects of familial violence and abuse throughout the generations, Kubrick uses the horror genre to illustrate how America’s
44 All images credits are availble upon inquiry.