“How Motion Pictures Became the Movies”: A Video Lecture by David Bordwell


On ‘Acid Aesthetics’ and Contemporary Cinematic Stylistic ‘Excess’ – In Memory of Tony Scott (1944-2012)

Pandora’s Box? On Digital Conversions and Rebirths

Open Lecture and Workshop by FSFF‘s very own author

First of all, Film Studies For Free wanted to toot on its own trumpet today.

On Friday, its author will present at an event exploring the rapidly increasing take up in scholarly and online film studies of the distinct research methods of the digital humanities.

In the lecture that will open the event, she will explore whether and, if so, how these contexts and methods with their digital, multimedia tools and techniques (such as online film and film culture archiving, mining and metrics, digital video essays, digital publishing and networking) may be enabling productive moves away from the existing paradigms of purely text-based, or ‘traditional’ offline research, scholarship and pedagogy.  The focus in the main workshop part of the event will be on the film studies video essay form, that is, on the practice of using film as the medium of its own study and criticism.

A written version of the talk will be published online later this year as part of a wide ranging edited collection, with contributions by world-leading scholars and critics, on related aspects of the same important topics. This collection, commissioned, assembled and guest-edited by FSFF‘s supremo, will form the inaugural issue of a brand new, Open Access journal hosted by a certain Film Studies department in one of the UK’s oldest and most revered universities. FSFF will bring you more precise, less teasing, news of this in due course….

But, staying with the digital theme, today’s FSFF post also brings you rather more immediately phenomenal news of and links to David Bordwell‘s recent and hugely important online series of studies of the transition to digital cinematic projection at his and Kristin Thompson’s peerless film studies website Observations on Film Art.

Not only are these unmissable discussions in their own right but they make themselves even more indispensable by linking to numerous further essential resources on these questions.

Below the list of links to these entries, for your convenience, FSFF has re-embedded the great videoed discussion of digital conversion issues in the film distribution and exhibition contexts at the Vancouver International Film Festival to which Bordwell and other luminaries contribute brilliantly.

  1. Pandora’s digital box: In the multiplex December 1, 2011 
  2. Pandora’s digital box: The last 35 picture show December 15, 2011 
  3. Pandora’s digital box: At the festival January 5, 2012 
  4. Pandora’s digital box: From the periphery to the center, or the one of many centers January 11, 2012
  5. Pandora’s digital box: Art house, smart house January 30, 2012
  6. Pandora’s digital box: Pix and pixels February 13, 2012
  7. Pandora’s digital box: Notes on NOCs [Network Operations Centers] February 16, 2012
  8. Pandora’s digital box:from Films to Files February 28, 2012

Future of Cinema – Looking Forward After 30 Years
Event description:

The first few chapter headings in a film we did not program at this year’s [Vancouver International Film Festival] VIFF are: “Technology Is Great”, “The Industry Is Dead”, “Artists Have the Power”, and “The Craft Is Gone.” To which celluloid-loving film festival organizers might ask: Is it? Do they? Where on earth are we headed? And why?

VIFF has come a long way in its 30 years and never has the future of cinema–and VIFF‘s future–been more uncertain. Will it be bright and splendid and fair or will it move so quickly that a great deal of what is valuable will be lost before we know it? There are now dramatically more “film festivals” and “films” being made than ever, yet some fear that the industry may be dead. Filmmakers are acutely worried for funding, yet need to operate on a growing number of fronts. Given that the numbers of hours in a day and the numbers of days in a life remain fixed, what limits should we council for our own appetites? Why might we miss the Hollywood Theatre and Videomatica? Given that cultural agencies seemingly have shrinking resources but more new media and film festival applicants every year, will the centres hold or is babble ascendant? Will VIFF‘s function as an annual international universalist festival be superseded by myriad niche events?

Technology is indeed great in that it has put the means of creative motion picture production in almost everyone’s hands, but will the best artists be the ones to be recognized? The entrepreneurial spirit tends to favour change in hopes that it may profit from it, but will artists have the power? When entrepreneurs benefit, will consumers benefit? Will cultural institutions that have taken years to build remain viable? Will cinema, metrics of quality and craftsmanship and, ultimately, quality of life be improved or even be sustainable? What do you personally care about for the future of cinema to offer? What should VIFF 2020 aim to be?

Here to wrestle with these sorts of questions—and yours—will be a distinguished group of panellists including: David Bordwell, film critic, academic and author of numerous books on cinema; Simon Field, film producer and former Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam; Andréa Picard, film critic and programmer, formerly of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Cinémathèque Ontario; Tom Charity, film critic and Vancity Theatre program coordinator; and Alan Franey, director, Vancouver International Film Festival.

FSFF’s Favourite Online Film Studies Resources in 2011

Insightful interview (in English) with filmmaker and academic Clio Barnard about her experimental documentary The Arbor on the life and work of Andrea Dunbar, British writer of the 1986 film Rita, Sue and Bob, too. The Arbor was one of Film Studies For Free‘s author’s favourite films seen in 2011 (interview December 5, 2011)

Not since its December 2008 blog entry A-Z of Favourite Scholarly Film and Moving Image Blogs has the otherwise intrepid Film Studies For Free ventured into the rather crowded, online territory of end-of-year lists.

But, as it signs off on its seasonal break until the first few days of 2012, FSFF thought the time was right for a listing of links to its favourite, openly accessible, online Film Studies resources in 2011.

Thanks so much to all who worked hard to bring you these openly accessible treasures in the first place. And thanks also, dear readers, for being there to appreciate them.

FSFF very much looks forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

  1. Top seven film and moving image studies history resources online in 2011: 
    1. The Colonial Film Project archive plus two freely accessible chapters by those involved in the project: Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe (eds), Empire and Film (BFI/Palgrave, 2011) and 32 sample pages; and Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe (eds), Film and the End of Empire (BFI/Palgrave, 2011) and 25 sample pages
    2. Media History Digital Library
    3. The Turconi Project
    4. EU Screen
    5. European Film Gateway
    6. The Permanent Seminar on Histories of Film Theories
    7. The Kracauer Lectures website
  2. Top five, most consistently brilliant Film Studies bloggers:
    1. David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson for Observations on Film Art
    2. Luke McKernan for The Bioscope (also see McKernan’s two new ScoopIt! projects: The Bioscope and Screen Research)
    3. Roland-François Lack for The Cine-TouristThe Daily Map and The BlowUp Moment (also see The Autopsies Group website) and also on Twitter
    4. Dan North for Spectacular Attractions (also see The Cinema of Puppetry) and also on Twitter
    5. Tie between Michael J. Anderson and Lisa K. Broad for Tativille and Ten Best Films; and  Omar Ahmed for Ellipsis
  3. Best new Film Studies blog: Katherine Groo’s Half/Films
  4. Best ‘media studies approaches to film and moving image studies’ blog – tie between:
    1. Just TV by Jason Mittell (also on Twitter)
    2. Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style by Anne Helen Petersen (also on Twitter)
    3. The Chutry Experiment by Chuck Tryon (also on Twitter)
    4. The Negarponti Files by Negar Mottahedeh (also on Twitter and Facebook)
  5. Most consistently original, Film and Moving Image Studies writer active online – a tie between: 
    1. Adrian Martin (e.g. see all the links here)
    2. Nicholas Rombes (e.g. see here and here)
    3. Amanda Ann Klein (also see here)
    4. David Bordwell
    5. Kristin Thompson (also see here and here)
    6. Jeffrey Sconce (also see here)
  6. Best Film Studies informed, commercial film criticism website: Alternate Takes
  7. Best new online film journal in 2011 – a tie between:
    1. LOLA edited by Adrian Martin and Girish Shambu
    2. ALPHAVILLE edited by Laura Rascaroli and others at the University of Cork
    3. JOAN’S DIGEST edited by Miriam Bale
  8. Best recently established online academic Film Studies journal: MOVIE: A Journal of Film Criticism
  9. Top twelve established, online, (mostly) English language, Film Studies journals:
    1. Screening the Past
    2. Film-Philosophy
    3. SCOPE
    4. Jump Cut
    5. Senses of Cinema
    7. Participations
    8. Bright Lights Film Journal
    10. Offscreen
    11. La Furia Umana 
    12. World Picture Journal
    13. For links to one hundred more journals (including some brilliant, primarily non-English language journals, like Transit: Cine…, see here)
  10. Most generous, Open Access Film Studies author: Thomas Elsaesser for the below freely accessible e-books and for the hundreds of further resources linked to from his website:
    1. Elsaesser, Thomas (ed), A Second Life : German Cinema’s First Decades (Amsterdam University Press, 1996)
    2. Elsaesser, Thomas (ed), Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight-Lines (Amsterdam University Press, 2004)
    3. Elsaesser, Thomas,  Jan Simons, Lucette Bronk (eds), Writing for the Medium: Television in transition (Amsterdam University Press, 2004)
    4. Elsaesser, Thomas, European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (Amsterdam University Press, 2005)
    5. Elsaesser, Thomas, Fassbinder’s Germany: History, Identity, Subject (Amsterdam University Press, 1996)
    6. Elsaesser, Thomas, Noel King, Alexander Horwath (eds), The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood Cinema in the 1970s (Amsterdam University Press, 2004)
  11. Best online cinephile news and criticism site: MUBI Notebook (thanks so much to David Hudson and Daniel Kasman for their brilliant work)
  12. Best cinephile salon site – a tie between:
    1. Dave Kehr‘s place
    2. Girish Shambu‘s place
  13. Best seven multimedia/multiplatform/multichannel-style film and moving image studies websites:
    1. FlowTV
    2. In Media Res 
    3. Moving Image Source 
    4. Screen Machine 
    5. Screen Culture
    6. Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture 
    7. Critical Studies in Television
  14. Most impactful online Film Studies work in 2011 – a tie between:
    1. Tim Smith’s work on how movie viewers watch, showcased here as well as on his blog Continuity Boy and his research site.
    2. Matthias Stork’s video essays on Chaos Cinema (see FSFF’s original post on this)
    3. Aitor Gametxo’s video essay: Variation: THE SUNBEAM, David W. Griffith, 1912
    4. Steven Shaviro’s work on Post-Cinematic Affect: see here for lots of links
  15. FSFF‘s favourite Film Studies academic links on Twitter: @filmdrblog (also see the Film Doctor’s actual blog)
  16. FSFF‘s favourite non-academic, film studies-informed, online film critics – a tie between:
    1. Srikanth Srinivasan (also on Twitter)
    2. Matt Zoller Seitz (also on Twitter
    3. Kevin B Lee (also on Twitter here and here)
    4. Jim Emerson (also on Twitter)
    5. Jonathan Rosenbaum (also on Twitter)
    6. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (also on Twitter)
    7. Farran Smith Nehme (also on Twitter)
    8. Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath (also on Twitter here and here) and see Rod’s blog
    9. Anne Billson (also writing for the Guardian and on Twitter)
    10. David Cairns (also on Twitter)
  17. FSFF‘s ten favourite FSFF blogposts (and blogpost clusters) in 2011
    1. On ‘Affect’ and ‘Emotion’ in Film and Media Studies
    2. Double Vision: Links in Memory of Raúl Ruiz, a Filmmaking Legend and ¡Viva Raúl Ruiz!
    3. V.F. Perkins on FILM AS FILM and More Victor Perkins Video Interviews Online from Saarbruecken 
    4. The Future of Cinema: Discussion with David Bordwell, Simon Field, Andréa Picard and Alan Franey 
    5. The Tree of Links: Terrence Malick Studies 
    6. Ingmar Bergman Studies 
    7. Viewing Modes and Mise en Scene: 50 YEARS ON by Christian Keathley and The Obscurity of the Obvious: On the Films of Otto Preminger 
    8. On Figural Analysis in Film Studies 
    9. Liquid Atmospherics: On the cinema of Wong Kar-wai 
    10. Its own video essay posts: Framing Incandescence: Elizabeth Taylor in JANE EYRE (1944); Studies of Film Noirishness, with Love; Links on videographical film criticism, editing, ‘intensified continuity’, ‘chaos cinema’, ‘hapticity’ and (post) cinematic affect; and Audiovisualcy: Videographic Film Studies 
  18. FSFF‘s most read post in 2011 by some distance was “An incarnation of the modern”: In Memory of Miriam Bratu Hansen, 1949-2011
  19. Most popular resource at FSFF: Open Access Film E-books List
  20. Best search engine for Open Access Film Studies (and other Arts and Humanities resources): JURN (thanks, as ever, to the indefatigable David Haden)

Links on videographical film criticism, editing, ‘intensified continuity’, ‘chaos cinema’, ‘hapticity’ and (post) cinematic affect

A FILMANALYTICAL video collage, made by Catherine Grant

TOUCHING THE FILM OBJECT? offers a brief audiovisual exploration of issues of sensuous proximity, contiguity or contact in experiencing or studying films – what theorist Laura U. Marks called ‘hapticity’. It quotes from Marks’ essay ‘Haptic Visuality: Touching with the Eyes‘ [in FRAMEWORK: the Finnish Art Review, No. 2, 2004, pp. 79-82], as well as from Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film PERSONA (cinematography by Sven Nykvist). The music is excerpted from Robert Lippok and Beatrice Martini’s BRANCHES, available at the Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. You can read an accompanying written essay about this video and videographic film studies here.

A ragbag of links, today, at Film Studies For Free. But this blog wanted to flag up some recently published, and curiously related, audiovisual items of possible interest, together with some associated written resources.

First up, is the video above, the latest of FSFF‘s videographic film studies experiments. Compared with FSFF’s other videos, this film-theoretical one turned out to be a close kin of two earlier video ‘primers‘ (on Gilda, film noir, gender and performance and on Elizabeth Taylor, framing and child stardom/performance). As befits primers, rather than

aiming to generate completely new insights, [these ‘rich text objects’ attempt], within the time-space of the average YouTube fan clip, to assemble and combine quotations from existing film scholarship on [their topics] with sequences from the film in question in order to provide a meaningful, scholarly and affective, immersive experience. [FSFF, April 7, 2011]

If you are beginning to be invested in, or just mildly curious about, the possibilities of videographic film criticism and film theory, then do read ‘Touching the Film Object? Notes on the ‘Haptic’ in Videographical Film Studies‘ by Catherine Grant at FSFF‘s sister blog Filmanalytical, and also check out further links and thoughts here.

Next up, a pointer to an exciting, film-theory related, theme week at the great website In Media Res on Steven Shaviro’s Post-Cinematic Affect, running between August 29 – Sept. 2, 2011.

There are a couple of interesting entries up already, with very lively comments streams. Further links will be added below as the posts go live. In the meantime, you can read a lengthy excerpt from Shaviro’s book on Post-Cinematic Affect here. And do visit his blog where you will find lots more material from this work.

Finally, FSFF wanted to make sure that its own readers were alerted to a very lively debate on ‘intensified continuity’ and ‘chaos cinema’ in relation to the action film (broadly defined) that has sprung up online as a result of the publication of a two part video essay on those topics at the wonderful new (video-essay-rich) website PressPlay, curated by film critic and video essayist extraordinaire Matt Zoller Seitz. The ‘Chaos Cinema‘ essay, embedded below, is by a young film scholar Matthias Stork and is well worth a look.

Below the videos, FSFF has linked to related online, scholarly and journalistic items treating substantially similar issues as ‘Chaos Cinema’, published before his essay, as well as to ones produced directly in response to Stork’s work.


The video essay Chaos Cinema, administered by Indiewire’s journalistic blog PRESS PLAY, examines the extreme aesthetic principles of 21st century action films. These films operate on techniques that, while derived from classical cinema, threaten to shatter the established continuity formula. Chaos reigns in image and sound. Part 1 contrasts traditional action films with chaotic ones and takes a close look at the “sound” track, especially its use in car chases.
Part 2 takes a look at the chaotic style in dialogue scenes, musicals, “shaky-cam” extravaganzas and mourns the rich history of early cinema.

>Liquid Atmospherics: On the cinema of Wong Kar-wai


ENVOI (2011) from Elaine Castillo on Vimeo. The above video is a ficto-biographical essay-film taking two looped scenes from two Wong Kar-wai films (HAPPY TOGETHER and DAYS OF BEING WILD) as its point of departure, arrival (also: non-departure, non-arrival). On grief, migration, the romantic, hyper-specificity, sentimental time, queer space, Asian celebrity gossip, fantasies involving Maggie Cheung, covers and translations, the writing body, the filmmaking body, readability, speakability.

Almost devoid of irony, Wong’s films, like classic rock and roll, take seriously all the crushes, the posturing, and the stubborn capriciousness of young angst. They rejoice in manic expenditures of energy. They celebrate the momentary heartbreak of glimpsing a stranger who might be interesting to love. The best comparison is surely not with Godard, whose romantic streak has a bitter edge. In Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong may have its Truffaut, the director who in Tirez sur le pianiste and Jules et Jim concentrated on not-quite-grown- up characters brooding on eternally missed chances. In any case, Wong stands out from his peers by abandoning the kinetics of comedies and action movies in favor of more liquid atmospherics. He dissolves crisp emotions into vaporous moods. For all his sophistication, his unembarrassed effort to capture powerful, pleasantly adolescent feelings confirms his commitment to the Hong Kong popular tradition.
David Bordwell, ‘Avant-Pop Cinema Romance on Your Menu: Chungking Express’ in Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment (Second edition: e-book; Wisconsin: Irvington Way Institute Press Madison, 2011), pp. 178-179

Today, Film Studies For Free massively updates its existing entry on the cinema of Wong Kar-wai

There are two compelling reasons for this: the first is there are lots more scholarly resources available, or discoverable, now on this filmmaker’s work that are worth listing, including some great items on video. 

The second is that this is the first of two posts in celebration of the online publication, as a PDF, of a full colour, second edition of the peerless David Bordwell’s book Planet Hong Kong, an opus well worth its $15 pricetag, in FSFF‘s humble and, usually, frugal opinion.
FSFF doesn’t normally celebrate, or promote, pay-to-own resources. But, apart from the fact that this is a highly interesting development in online Film Studies publishing in its own right, no one has given so generously online, either of his already published work or of his ongoing scholarly work, as David Bordwell. 

What is more, Bordwell’s PHK chapter entitled ‘Avant-Pop Cinema’, with its lyrical and beautifully illustrated section on Wong’s work: ‘Romance on Your Menu: Chungking Express’, is worth the download price alone. If you need to save up to purchase Planet Hong Kong first, you can enjoy, in the meantime, several excellent posts at Observations on Film Art on Wong’s work, including ‘Ashes to Ashes (Redux)’ and ‘Years of being obscure’.

Video material:

Written material:

>Cognitive Film Studies


An empirical approach? Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby in Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)

Scholars often resist the cognitive approach to art because they’re reluctant to mount causal or functional explanations. Instead of asking how films work or how spectators understand films, many scholars prefer to offer interpretive commentary on films. Even what’s called film theory is largely a mixture of received doctrines, highly selective evidence, and more or less free association. Which is to say that many humanists treat doing film theory as a sort of abstract version of doing film criticism. They don’t embrace the practices of rational inquiry, which includes assessing a wide body of evidence, seeking out counterexamples, and showing how a line of argument is more adequate than its rivals.  [David Bordwell, introducing a free download of his article A Case for Cognitivism: Further Reflections‘, Iris no. 11 (Summer 1990): 107–112.]

Film Studies For Free has previously only touched on the burgeoning field of cognitivist film studies in passing. Today, however, it has decided to gather together links to some excellent online resources, above all from two journals — Film Studies and The Journal of Moving Image Studies — in order to provide a good introduction to this field, as well as to the related field of analytic (film) philosophy, two increasingly influential sets of approaches to our discipline.

As one of the most eloquent and persuasive champions of cognitivism is film scholar extraordinaire David Bordwell, one of the very best places to begin such an introduction is with a selection of openly accessible writings on this topic by that author. For instance, here, Bordwell summarises the history of cognitive film studies and discusses some recent work as a prelude to the second annual meeting of The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (note: link now updated).  Scroll down for lots more great work…

(Note: David Bordwell is probably the most generous of scholars in relation to making his invaluable work freely available online. As always, FSFF thanks him very sincerely for helping to make online film studies such a rewarding focus. This entry is dedicated to his work).

Introductions to Cognitivist Film Studies:

Film Studies
Volume 8, Summer 2006

The Journal of Moving Image Studies –
Note: Apologies but there’s currently a problem with the links set out below, which FSFF will fix as soon as it can. But in the meantime, all the below articles can be accessed via this page.

Vol. 1, 2002

Vol. 2, 203

Vol. 3, 2004

Vol. 4, 2005

Vol. 5, 2006

Vol. 6, 2007

>Film Critics of Tomorrow, Yesteryear and Today: Two Competitions


(If you’d like to help with Boone’s next venture, click here).

Film Studies For Free begins its rather atypical post with the following questions: does FSFF have any film fanatical/cinephile, teenage readers? Or, do any of its venerable, film-academic readers have any film fanatical/cinephile, teenage relatives? If so (and if they are UK based), please read/get them to read about the “Film Critic of Tomorrow” competition – all details given at the foot of this post. Do please fondly remember this potentially life-changing blog-post if any of you or yours win…

Secondly, FSFF would like to help whip up some timely interest in the work one of the more talented, cinema-inspired, video essayists working today, New-York based Steven Boone, in order to help him make some more films. So, it proudly presents its first ever competition (and there’s no age restriction, unlike the Film Critic of Tomorrow comp, as set out at the foot of this post)!

Here are the rules: write a piece of film criticism, in 200-400 words, about Boone’s video “Notes for a David Lynch adaptation of [Michael Jackon’s autobiography] Moonwalk embedded above. Submit your entry by email to this address by next Thursday, July 1st (deadline extended), 17.00 hours GMT.

The most interesting entries received (and hopefully there will be some…) will be published in a future FSFF post. And the author of the most insightful and well-crafted will be mailed the more pristine copy (of the two in FSFF‘s possession) of Scott Balcerzak and Jason Sperb’s important and fascinating 2009 collection of essays Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, Pleasure and Digital Culture, Vol. 1. . Let the competition commence! (And thank you for your kind indulgence).

Finally, today’s FSFF post exists to exhort you, were such exhortation really necessary, to read David Bordwell’s latest brilliant blogpost: “Glancing backward, mostly at critics“.

You may not believe it, but magical things will happen if you do. Indeed, it was while she was doing just that, that FSFF‘s author noticed for the first time an item in Bordwell and Kristin Thompson‘s wonderful list of freely accessible research items (in the upper left hand column of the site): a link to a PDF file of the introductory chapter to Bordwell’s magnificent opus The Way Hollywood Sees It: Story and Style in Modern Movies [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006]). If you haven’t read this before, you must. And now you easily can!

    Here’s looking at you kids……

    Virgin Media has joined forces with broadcaster, James King [a Film and Television Studies graduate from the University of Warwick’s brilliant degree programme], in searching the country for aspiring young film critics, to join the judging panel for the third annual Virgin Media Shorts competition.

    As one of the industry’s finest film critics, James has already secured his place on the Virgin Media Shorts judging panel and is now looking for one lucky teenager to join him, alongside follow judges:
              Award-winning British film actress, Thandie Newton
              Film director, Duncan Jones, best known for his directorial debut Moon
              Film director, Mike Newell, director of Four Weddings and a Funeral
              Executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, Cindy Rose
              Senior production executive at the UK Film Council, Chris Collins

    As part of the judging panel, the lucky teen will work with the expert panel to select the Grand Prize Winner from the short-listed films entered into this year’s competition. The winner will also get the Hollywood treatment, receiving an all expenses paid trip to London to attend the red carpet awards ceremony and mingle with the star-studded judging panel. Following in the footsteps of last year’s winner, 14-year old Jordan Campbell from Glasgow, who described the experience as feeling as popular as Susan Boyle!

    Speaking about the competition, James King said: “Virgin Media Shorts already offers a fantastic opportunity for British film-making talent – shining a light on new and established individuals. However, what I am most looking forward to is discovering the talent of tomorrow. The search for a young film critic to join me on the Virgin Media Shorts judging panel will open the door to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one aspiring youngster. And, I may even pick up some tips from them too!”

    Entry is open to film fanatics aged between 13-19 years old and who think they’ve got what it takes to impress James. To enter, young film fans should visit www.virginmediashorts.co.uk/vipjudge and fill out the simple entry form. Deadline for entries is 5pm on Wednesday 30th June when all entries will be reviewed and one teenager crowned the overall winner.

    For more information about Virgin Media Shorts and to view some of this year’s entries, visit www.virginmediashorts.co.uk

    ‘Classical Hollywood Cinema’: history, poetics, narratology, and beyond

    Maybe it’s that back-to-school feeling in the air, but Film Studies For Free‘s attentions turn today to one of the most important topics in its discipline: the film-historical and film-theoretical behemoth that is ‘Classical Hollywood Cinema‘.

    Below are direct links to online studies of Hollywood and other comparable cinematic classicisms — together with related explorations — ranging from the foundational (Bordwell, Thompson, Staiger, plus Hansen) through to the new and challenging (Cagle, Galt, Paneva, Thanouli). FSFF reckons you should also take in what one might call that most early-classical of relevant studies, online in its entirety: Aristotle’s Poetics, written 350 B.C.E, Translated by S. H. Butcher.

    >More Blog Magic


    A quickie from Film Studies For Free today just to shout out about two of the best film studies blogs out there which, coincidentally, have very high-quality and worthwhile recent posts on films about duelling magicians:

    It’s a way to understand films as wholes, dynamic constructions that shift their shapes across the time of their unfolding. Moreover, by examining things this closely, we can try to understand not only how this or that film works, but how this or that film relies on principles distinctive of a filmmaking tradition. Consider this another plug for poetics.

    this short film is my starting point, and it reveals to me the challenges that lie ahead. Often we have to look carefully at films to come to terms with their idiosyncrasies, but Švankmajer’s work is particularly daunting in its concentration of allegory and allusion. […] For eleven minutes [of this film], two magicians do battle, and their tricks require a montage of colliding images and a range of animation techniques: the two actors wear giant masks on their heads, probably papier-mâché, making them look like living, stringless marionettes, and Švankmajer manipulates them accordingly. The black backdrop allows a bunraku performance of sorts, with objects appearing to fly and float unaided through space; frame-by-frame animation moves the eyes of the masks; a shot of pixilation makes their bodies flit around the stage in a lightning fast chase. These are endlessly mutable bodies, but there is none of the joyous spectacle of Méliès’ filmed tricks here – the artifice is always signposted, never seamlessly suggestive, and the stolid expressions on the masked faces convey no fun, only procedure and routine. [links added by FSFF]

    In addition to this (like Bordwell‘s) beautifully illustrated post, Dan’s blog Spectacular Attractions has also taken up the challenge of Nicholas Rombes’ 10 /40 / 70 film criticism exercise (see FSFF‘s post on this back on March 5). 10/40/70 is, according to Rombes:

    [a]n experiment in writing about film: select three different, arbitrary time codes (in this case the 10 minute, 40 minute, and 70 minute mark), freeze the frames, and use that as the guide to writing about the film. No compromise: the film must be stopped at these time codes. What if, instead of freely choosing what parts of the film to address, one let the film determine this? Constraint as a form of freedom.

    In recent posts, North has souped up the engine of the original exercise,

    using a random number generator to choose three points from which to take my grabs, and then I have a limited amount of time to write a little about each frame. It’s a quick workout for the critical faculties, and hopefully a way of snapping a jaded blogger out of the comfortable routines of selecting only the most appropriate or illustrative images for a piece of writing

    The results are both insightful and highly entertaining, as always with North’s blog. Film Studies For Free urges you to check them out, as follows:

    One last thought, the following movies may not all be about duelling magicians, but does anyone want to write about The Magician (1926), a horror film directed by Rex Ingram, or The Magician (1958), directed by Ingmar Bergman, or The Illusionist (2006), directed by Neil Burger, and make the highly completist Film Studies For Free one very happy blog indeed? Oh and there’s the parody Magicians (2007), directed by Andrew O’Connor too. Any takers?