Deathwatch: American Film, Technology, and the End of Life - download pdf or read online

By C. Scott Combs

Whereas cinema is a medium with a different skill to observe lifestyles and write flow, it truly is both singular in its portrayal of dying. the 1st learn to unpack American cinema's lengthy background of representing demise, this ebook considers motion picture sequences during which the method of demise turns into an workout in legibility and exploration for the digital camera and connects the gradual or static technique of demise to formal movie innovation during the 20th century.

C. Scott Combs analyzes motion pictures that extend from cinema's origins to the tip of the 20 th century, attractions-based cinema, narrative movies, early sound cinema, and flicks utilizing voiceover or photographs of scientific know-how. via motion pictures resembling Thomas Edison's Electrocuting an Elephant (1903), D. W. Griffith's the rustic health professional (1909), John Ford's How eco-friendly used to be My Valley (1941), Billy Wilder's sundown street (1950), Stanley Kubrick's 2001: an area Odyssey (1968), and Clint Eastwood's Million buck child (2004), Combs argues that the tip of demise happens greater than as soon as, in additional than one place.

Working opposed to the proposal that movie can't catch the top of lifestyles since it can't cease relocating ahead, that it can't result in the photographic fixity of the demise quick, this booklet argues that where of loss of life in cinema is over and over in flux, wedged among technological precision and embodied belief. alongside the best way, Combs consolidates and reconceptualizes outdated and new debates in movie conception.

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Extra info for Deathwatch: American Film, Technology, and the End of Life (Film and Culture)

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Cowboy boots alone are visible. indd 23 23 30/10/06 1:44:19 pm equally summarises Spielberg’s practice: ‘Accustom the public to divining the whole of which they are given only a part’ (‘Notes on Cinematography’, quoted in Kelly 1999: 137). What are comic-book framings to critics unsympathetic to Spielberg’s efficiently storyboarded narration (Baxter 1996: 79), within a different interpretive agenda become aesthetic rigour, pure cinematography. Pared-down simplicity, characters isolated in metaphorical cells, voice-over soliloquies, existential struggle in ordinary locations: these are Bressonian in a movie five years predating Taxi Driver (Schrader and Scorsese’s rightly celebrated 1976 homage to Bresson, Hitchcock and The Searchers, the financing and editing of which Spielberg assisted (Smith 2001: 25–6) and which he considered directing (Argent 2001: 50)).

Internal focalisation through this single character nevertheless permits shots from the truck – close to the ground or near wheels to enhance the sensation of speed – or away from the duellists. Edited seamlessly into Mann’s experiences, they emphasise, and confirm the objectivity of, his terrifying pursuit. Various state licences suggest the truck’s provenance is everywhere and nowhere in particular, part of a bigger picture than Mann’s circumscribed world of freeways and meetings. Diversion from his usual route has led him into a road movie, where truckers, personifications of Western individualism following their own rules, are redneck counterpoints to the countercultural anti-heroes of Easy Rider (1969), Two Lane Black Top (1971) and Vanishing Point (1971).

But equally interesting is the film’s experimentation, as with sound (which deservedly won an Emmy). Eisenstein predicted film’s subordination to theatricality with the arrival of talkies (see Donald et al. 1998) and, with a few exceptions, notably Hitchcock and Welles, was largely proven right in the Hollywood mainstream until Walter Murch’s pioneering work on sound design in the 1970s. Duel is remarkably sophisticated, given the constraints of a 16 day shoot and an imposed episodic structure to accommodate commercial breaks.

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