Celebrating Laura Mulvey: Or, Film Studies with Poetic License


"Dangerous" Cinematic Women Studies

The above is a short video primer by Catherine Grant. It offers an audiovisual introduction to issues of gender, sexuality and movement in relation to Rita Hayworth‘s performance as Gilda in Charles Vidor‘s 1946 film.
The femme fatale is a product of the male imaginary, which emerges in literature and the visual arts under contingent socio-political conditions as a challenge to coherent and stable identities. […]
     The emergence of the femme fatale motif in literature, art and cinema generally coincides with periods of social or political instability and is not specific to a culture, society or era, but exhibits countless masks as she may manifest herself in diverse historical or geo-political contexts, and through a variety of artistic and literary forms. She embodies traces of a myriad of powerful, as well as menacing, historical, biblical and mythical female figures, such as Cleopatra, Salome, or the Sirens; yet this wicked and barren creature is always imbued with an alluring beauty and rapacious sexuality that is potentially deadly to man. The femme fatale figure is a recurrent patriarchal construct, a projection of all that exists beyond that which is normal, familiar, or safe. As Rebecca Stott observes, she is a multiple sign, or ‘the Other around whom the qualities of all Other collect in the male imagination’ (1992: 39). As such, her appearances are always symptomatic of a society in crisis.
[Eva Bru-Domínguez, ‘The Body as a Conflation of Discourses: The femme fatale in Mercè Rodoreda’s Mirall trencat‘ (1974)’, Journal of Catalan Studies 2009]
[I]s it possible that the tangled webs of violence, sexuality, pathology, and intrigue at the core of certain film noir offer moments of reversal and exception which challenge women’s role as eternal victim? How is an anti-feminist backlash or male anxiety around women’s power projected into these paranoid film scenarios? To what extent can such disruptions be contained through conventional “happy family” closure – or through the violent death of the (anti-)heroine whose glittering image lingers as the credits rolls? Working against the inescapable grain of the “repressive rule” of female victimhood, I choose here to seize on the exceptional figure of the “fatale femme.” While the exception may help define the rule, she also keeps alive the possibility, the inevitability, of transformation in gendered relations of power. [Julianne Pidduck, The “fatal femme” in contemporary Hollywood film noir: reframing gender, violence, and power, Masters Thesis, Concordia University, 1993: 6-7]

Rather than promoting images of women that emphasize their spirit and unknowable power, and rather than promoting images of women that rely on their bodies, finally, we need to illustrate the contexts that inform women’s experience. I want to suggest some of the reasons why we’ve grown accustomed to identifying film noir’s “femme fatale” without examining these contexts that inform her presence in film noir, by doing just that: examining the settings—social, psychological, political, physical, and geographical—that define her experience, which is, I want strongly to suggest, a far better thing to define than “woman” herself.
     This study seeks to modify the tone of feminist discussions about film noir’s women by reorienting our attention to the narrative, social contexts, and mise-en-scene that show the relationship between women’s powers and the limits placed on them by social rules. Both the view of the “femme fatale” as misogynist projection and the view of the “femme fatale” as opaque yet transgressive female force emphasize her status as object or symbol (as object of scorn or as the mysterious and opaque “other” that threatens to destroy the male subject). My aim is to adjust our focus on film noir and gender so that we illuminate these women’s narratives rather than mystifying women as objects or images.
[Julie Grossman, Rethinking the Femme Fatale in Film Noir: Ready for Her Close-Up (London: Palgrave/BFI, 2009): 5. Book info.]

Film Studies For Free wishes its reader a very happy International Women’s Day with a varied curatorial selection of online scholarly work touching on possibly the most studied ‘object’ in all of feminist film theory: the ‘dangerous’ woman, sometimes fatal, sometimes a fatality…

If you are a film goer you know her kind. She is attractive, alluring, enigmatic, enticing, teasing, siren-like. Totally tautological. You might come across her dancing in a cinematic cabaret or show, smoking in a private detective’s office, gracing a film noir alleyway, or haunting a difficult to decipher flashback. Or turning up like a beautiful but bad penny, provoking your scopophilia (and/or your epistemophilia), just about anywhere in almost every period of international film history.

Just what is it about these cinematic women? There certainly isn’t one answer to that question, but the studies linked to below might very well help you to begin to tackle it.

If there are any important online resources that FSFF has missed, please do list them in the comments thread.

On ‘Affect’ and ‘Emotion’ in Film and Media Studies

Image from Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992), a film explored by Tim Groves in ‘Cinema/Affect/Writing’

Emotion is a phenomenon that, according to [Sergei] Eisenstein, “is completely identical with the primary phenomenon of cinema. [In cinema] movement is created out of two motionless cells. Here, a movement of the soul, i.e. emotion (from the Latin root motio = movement), is created out of the performance of a series of incidents.” ([Towards a Theory of Montage] 145, emphasis in original). Properly structured as a series of uncompleted incidents, montage calls on us to finish the actions mentally, and for Eisenstein this internal movement of filling in the gaps is emotion, a movement of the soul. [Greg M. Smith, Moving Explosions: Metaphors of Emotion in Sergei Eisenstein’s Writings’, Quarterly Review of Film and Video 21.4 (October-November 2004) 303-315 citing Eisenstein, Towards a Theory of Montage. Trans. Michael Glenny. Ed. Michael Glenny and Richard Taylor. London: BFI Publishing, 1991; hyperlinks added]

[H]ow to write about specific, personal affective experiences of the cinema? […]

It is difficult for me to articulate, but I was affected [in Unforgiven] by the conjunction of lighting, costuming, and the melancholy, homicidal figure of [Clint] Eastwood in the final shootout in Greely’s. The mise en scène of this confrontation repeats that of the night of Will’s beating at the hands of Sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman). The lack of contrast in lighting and the orange and brown colours of both the characters’ costumes and saloon setting cause the characters to merge into their surroundings. It is literally difficult to see what is happening. While William Munny and the Eastwood persona are constructed as unforgiven in this scene, somewhere in the gloom I found a metaphor for the ambivalence of their forgiveness across the entire film. As a result, I declined to judge this “notoriously vicious and intemperate” figure, as he is labelled in [the film]. Instead I forgave him. I saw his thinning hair and the wounds engraved on his face, and reached out to tend to them. Forgiveness was the punctum which I found in Unforgiven and which is already there in the text, if ambiguously. […]

But I cannot write your cinema/sadness . . . [Tim Groves, ‘Cinema/Affect/Writing’, Senses of Cinema, February 2003 hyperlinks added]

Film Structure and the Emotion System is concerned with this emotion system’s structure, rather than with particular emotions themselves. This is not a book about sadness or joy; instead it deals with the foundational structures that make such emotions possible. Culturally nuanced work on particular emotions certainly needs to be done, but we should make sure that we first understand the basic principles of how the emotion system is constructed. [Greg M. Smith, ‘An Invitation to Feel’, Film Structure and the Emotion System (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) hyperlinks added]

The elicitation of affect in the audience stands firmly at the core of the film-going experience, figuring into the poetics, aesthetics, rhetoric, and ideology of film viewing. If our goal is to understand how mainstream viewers experience films, if we want to explore the cultural role of movies, if we wish to expand our conception of the poetics of the cinema, then we cannot ignore the place of emotion elicitation and affective experience within film viewing. [Carl Plantinga, ‘Disgusted at the Movies’, Film Studies, Volume 8, Summer 2006 hyperlinks added]

In their work, [Torben] Grodal, [Greg M.] Smith, and [Carl] Plantinga all rely on a “downstream flow” of perception, cognition, emotional processing in narrative film. It is a uni-directional flow; the viewers see, they comprehend, they experience emotion. However, underlying all of their work are Silvan Tomkins’s foundational studies of affect from the 1960s. Tomkins’s analyses make possible a more complicated multi-directional understanding of affect […]. Tomkins explored affect as located in the voice, skin, autonomic nervous system, hand, body, and most extensively, the face. Rather than perceive affect and emotion as developing outward from the inner organs as Henri Bergson, William James, or Carl Lange had suggested, Tomkins and his colleagues Carrol Izard and Paul Ekman focused mostly on the face as “an organ for the maximal transmission of information, to the self and to others” and concluded that “the information it transmits is largely concerned with affects.” This is the point on which narrative film studies has focused. [Randall Halle, ‘Toward a Phenomenology of Emotion in Film: Michael Brynntrup and The Face of Gay Shame’, MLN, Vol. 124, No. 3, April 2009 (German Issue), pp. 683-707; hyperlinks added]

AFFECT/AFFECTION. Neither word denotes a personal feeling (sentiment in Deleuze and Guattari). L’affect (Spinoza’s affectus) is an ability to affect and be affected. It is a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’s capacity to act. L’affection (Spinoza’s affection) is each such state considered as an encounter between the affected body and a second, affecting, body …  [Brian Massumi, ‘Introduction’ to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, xvi, cited by Eric Shouse, ‘Feeling, Emotion, Affect’, M/C Journal, 8.6, 2005]

Films and music videos, like other media works, are machines for generating affect, and for capitalising upon, or extracting value from, this affect. As such, they are not ideological superstructures, as an older sort of Marxist criticism would have it. Rather, they lie at the very heart of social production, circulation and distribution. They generate subjectivity and they play a crucial role in the valorisation of capital. Just as the old Hollywood continuity editing system was an integral part of the Fordist mode of production, so the editing methods and formal devices of digital video and film belong directly to the computing-and-information-technology infrastructure of contemporary neoliberal finance. […]
     What does it mean to describe such processes in terms of affect? Here I follow Brian Massumi ([Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham: Duke University Press] 2002, 23-45) in differentiating between affect and emotion. For Massumi, affect is primary, non-conscious, asubjective or presubjective, asignifying, unqualified and intensive; while emotion is derivative, conscious, qualified and meaningful, a ‘content’ that can be attributed to an already-constituted subject. Emotion is affect captured by a subject, or tamed and reduced to the extent that it becomes commensurate with that subject. Subjects are overwhelmed and traversed by affect, but they have or possess their own emotions. [
Steven Shaviro, ‘Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales’, Film-Philosophy, 14.1, 2010]

There is not one ‘affect’, nor even one economy, ecosystem or ecology of affect(s); just as there is not one reading of one text. Post-cinematic effects, yes; Shaviro makes an important observation. But affects? I’m not so sure why or how they would be different from everything that postmodern theorists have long been saying about postmodernity. The ultimate question, to me, is whether approaching the world in terms of affect offers anything specific for cultural theory and the understanding of culture and politics. [Paul Bowman, ‘Post-Cinematic Effects’, In Media Res Theme Week on Steven Shaviro’s Post-Cinematic Affect (August 29 – Sept. 2, 2011)]

It is almost too easy to speak of affect—as if, by using this term, one had cleansed all the embarrassment and messiness from the experience. To use “affect” in the sense defined by Deleuze and Guattari, that is, as non-conscious and non-linguistic experience of intensity, appears not to be useful if one wants to explore the overlap of rationality and emotionality, as well as insist on the textual and self-reflexive—that is, self-augmenting and self-attenuating—character of emotionality. [Katrin Pahl, ‘Emotionality: A Brief Introduction‘, Modern Language Notes, Volume 124, Number 3, April 2009 (German Issue)]

Today, Film Studies For Free makes one of its regular, little, curatorial contributions to a particular Film Studies theoretical debate. This time, it’s the turn of an exploration of some much-fought-over keywords pertaining to film and media theories of feelings and related bodily and psychological experiences and behaviours – most notably, the terms ‘Affect’ and ‘Emotion’.

The ‘Affective Turn‘ is a rich, if at times rather complex or befuddling, vein of film studies thinking, with an array of approaches ranging from the historical-political (e.g. von Moltke’s article), to the cognitivist (for example, see Carl Plantinga and Greg M. Smith) through the psychoanalytic (for example, see Groves’ essay) and the (post-)Deleuzo-Guattarian (for a good, clear introduction, read Anna Powell’s article).

As always, in the below list of links to openly accessible online studies, the ever pluralist FSFF doesn’t come down on any one theoretical side. But this collection does go out especially to all those who have been curious about, or confused and dumbfounded by, the undoubted buzzword quality, particularly, of ‘affect’ in Film and Media Studies in the last ten to fifteen years.

        [Contents: Anu Koivunen, Preface: The Affective Turn?; Sara Ahmed, Communities that feel: Intensity, Difference and Attachment; Ana Paula Baltazar, Architecture as Interface: Forming and Informing Spaces and Subjects; Jennifer Lyon Bell, Character and Cognition in Modern Pornography; Rosemary Betterton, Spaces of Memory: Photographic Practices of Home and Exile; Joanna Bouldin, The Body, Animation and The Real: Race, Reality and the Rotoscope in Betty Boop; Hannu Eerikäinen, Love Your Prosthesis Like Yourself: ‘Sex’, Text and the Body in Cyber Discourse; Taru Elfving, The Girl in Space-time Encounters with and within Eija-liisa Ahtila’s Video Installations; Amy Herzog, Affectivity, Becoming, and the Cinematic Event: Gilles Deleuze and the Futures of Feminist Film Theory; Katarina Jungar and Elina Oinas, Inventing “African Solutions”, HIV Prevention and Medical Media; Sanna Karkulehto, Effects and Affects of Queer as Folk; Martta Kaukonen, ”I Must Reveal a Shocking Secret” Transvestites in American Talk Shows; Jane Kilby, Tracking Shock: Some Thoughts on TV, Trauma, Testimony; Emmy Kurjenpuu, Women’s Magazines Meet Feminist Philosophy; Minna Lahti, “I Thought I Would Become a Millionaire” – Desire and Disillusionment in Silicon Valley, California; Mari-Elina Laukkanen, Ladies for Sale. The Finnish Press as a Profiteer; Ilmari Leppihalme, Do Muscles Have a Gender? A Female Subject Building her Body in the Film Pumping Iron II: The Women; Justine Lloyd and Lesley Johnson, The Three Faces of Eve:the Post-war Housewife, Melodrama and Home; Tapio Mäkelä, Re-reading Digitality through Scientific Discourses of Cybernetics: Fantasies of Disembodied Users and Embodied Computers; Norie Neumark, E/motional Machines: Esprit de Corps; Kaarina Nikunen, Dangerous Emotions? Finnish Television Fans and Sensibilities of Fandom; Sanna Ojajärvi, Visual Acts – Choreography of Touches, Glances and Movements between Hosts and Assistants on Television; Susanna Paasonen, Best Wives are Artefacts? Popular Cybernetics and Robot Women in the 1970s; Megan D. Pincus, Must They Be Famous Vaginas? The Effect and Affect of Celebrity on The Vagina Monologues and V-Day 2001; Liina Puustinen, Gender for Sale, Advertising Design as Technologies of Gender; Leena-Maija Rossi, Why Do I Love and Hate the Sugarfolks in Syruptown? Studying the Visual Production of Heteronormativity in Television Commercials; Christine Ross, Depression and Video Art at the Turn of the Millennium: The Work Of Diana Thater; Janne Rovio, The Vintage Van Damme Look; Moira Sullivan, Lesbographic Pornography; Rebecca Sullivan, Biotechnological Embodiment: Gender and Scientific Anxiety in Horror Films; Heidi Tikka, Missing the Point – Situated User Experience and the Materiality of Interaction; Julia Turnock, A Cataclysm of Carnage, Nausea, and Death: Saving Private Ryan and Bodily Engagement; Pasi Väliaho, An Audiovisual Brain: Towards a Digital Image of Thought in Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma; Hans Wessels, The Positioning of Lou Reed from a Profeminist Perspective; Jennifer Willet, Imagining the Self]

                          New FILM-PHILOSOPHY on Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis (Herzog, Solondz, Cronenberg, Streitfeld, Eisenstein, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Zhang Yimou, Forgács)

                          Frame grab from Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979). Read Adrian Ivakhiv’s essay on this film in the latest issue of Film Philosophy

                          And the brilliant, online, film journal issues just keep on coming…

                          Film Studies For Free is delighted to bring you news of the latest offering from one of the highest quality e-journals of them all – Film-Philosophy.
                          FP, Vol 15, No 1 (2011) is a special issue on Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis, edited by David Sorfa. FSFF particularly liked Adrian Ivakhiv’s ‘ecocritical’ essay which explores Tarkovsky’s Stalker, along with Jacqueline Loeb’s fine ‘Foucauldian’ study of sound in Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern. But there are other excellent contributions, too. 

                          Readers should also note that it is now possible to donate to the journal. Film-Philosophy is an independent Open Access academic journal operating without recurring financial support. Donations of any amount to the journal are gratefully received and provide a means for the editors to continue to provide a journal of the highest quality to its readers. Just click on the “Donations” link on the FP website.

                          For those of you who are interested in phenomenological film studies, do take a look, if you haven’t already, at FSFF‘s previous gathering of links to online and openly accessible work on this topic.

                          Table of Contents 



                          • ‘Brecht Today: Interview with Alexander Kluge’ PDF by Angelos Koutsourakis

                          Film Festival Reports

                          • Venice Film Festival 2010: The Mad and the Bad and the Dangerous to Know PDF by John Bleasdale
                          • Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale 2011 PDF Alison Elizabeth Frank

                          Book Reviews

                          • Mark T. Conard, ed. (2009) The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers PDF by Taylor Benjamin Worley
                          • Frederick Wasser (2010) Steven Spielberg’s America PDF  by Steven Rybin
                          • Claire Molloy (2010) Memento; Geoff King (2010) Lost in Translation; Gary Needham (2010) Brokeback Mountain. American Indies Series PDF by John Bleasdale 
                          • Sidney Gottlieb and Richard Allen, eds. (2009) The Hitchcock Annual Anthology: Selected Essays from Volumes 10-15 PDF by Tifenn Brisset 
                          • Richard Abel, ed. (2010) Encyclopedia of Early Cinema PDF by Carrie Giunta 
                          • Jim Ellis (2009) Derek Jarman’s Angelic Conversations PDF by Jason Wakefield 
                          • Christopher Lindner, ed. (2009) The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader. 2nd Edition PDF by Lucy Bolton

                          >‘Daddy’s dead. Noooo!’: Quentin Tarantino and Psychoanalysis Beyond the Paternal principle


                           Image from Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
                          Today, Film Studies For Free brings you links to audio recordings from a symposium on Quentin Tarantino and psychoanalysis “beyond the paternal principle”, hosted by The London Graduate School and the London Society for the New Lacanian School. It took place on 4th April, at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London. The symposium engagingly described itself thus:

                          ‘Daddy’s dead. Noooo!’ (Tarantino, from Dusk Till Dawn)

                          Tarantino’s movies frequently turn on the abjection of a paternal figure (Marcellus Wallace, Jacob Fuller, Bill, Stuntman Mike), who loses his place and authority to become a redundant figure of consumption and expenditure. Tarantino’s movies themselves, in their restless play of reflexive images and references, are always seeking to produce the maximum in cinematic affect irrespective of the aesthetic unities of generic form, symbolic consistency, realism. This symposium explores the suggestion that Tarantino’s movies best symptomatise a tendency in Hollywood generally where cinema is no longer a vehicle of (anti)Oedipal desire, but a febrile, speculative generator of thrills, pleasures and anxieties swarming along an accelerating death drive which is itself death proof. In Tarantino’s film of the same name, for example, the impotence of itinerant ex-stuntman Mike is the condition of a romance between two iconic automobiles, vehicles not of male potency but an altogether Other jouissance.
                          • INTRODUCTION: Véronique Voruz (the London Society of the New Lacanian School)[AUDIO HERE] Right click to save
                          • TARANTINO’s GIRLS: Gérard Wajcman (writer, psychoanalyst, curator and art critic. He teaches at the Department of Psychoanalysis of Paris 8 University and is a member of the École de la Cause Freudienne and the World Association of Psychoanalysis) read by Scott Wilson [AUDIO HERE]
                          • POST-PHALLIC LIBIDINAL ECONOMIES: Hager Weslati (London Graduate School, Kingston University) [AUDIO HERE]
                          • SCREEN, DRIVE, ROMANCE: Fred Botting (London Graduate School, Kingston University, co- author of the Tarantinian Ethics (Sage, 2001)) [AUDIO HERE]
                          • PSYCHE, THAT INGLOURIOUS BASTERD: Scott Wilson (London Graduate School, Kingston University, co- author of the Tarantinian Ethics (Sage, 2001)) [AUDIO HERE]
                          • TOUGH LOVE: Marie-Hélène Brousse (practising psychoanalyst in Paris, a member of the École de la Cause freudienne and of the World Association of Psychoanalysis) [AUDIO HERE]

                          >Split Screen Studies


                          The above is a FILMANALYTICAL, REQUIEM // 102 and FILM STUDIES FOR FREE video essay by Catherine Grant. It explores the use of split screens in some early sequences in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (Darren Aronofsky, 2000).
                              The essay was made according to principles of Fair Use (or Fair Dealing), primarily with scholarly and critical aims, and was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License in November 2010.

                          Today, Film Studies For Free presents an entry of links to online studies of the cinematic split screen. Rather excitingly (for this blog, at least), the resources include the above video essay on this very topic … by FSFF‘s author. 

                          The essay is a contribution to the Requiem for a Dream // 102 Project, conceived by its inventor Nick Rombes, Associate Professor of English at the University of Detroit, Mercy, as a form of “collective, distributed film criticism”. Requiem // 102 is modelled loosely on Rombes’ ongoing 10/40/70 project, in which he “reads” three screen captures from a given film taken at the 10, 40, and 70 minute marks.

                          In this case, Nick has invited 102 contributors from across the film criticism spectrum to look at, or otherwise be inspired by, one frame from each minute of Darren Aronofsky’s 102 minute-long film Requiem for a Dream (2000), a movie that unsettled many audience members when it was first released in cinemas ten years ago.

                          To learn more about Requiem // 102, check out the 102 Project’s “About” page and/or follow it on Twitter. Chuck Tryon’s great first post on the film is here. For an accompanying written text for the above video essay on the frame capture from 02:09 of Requiem for a Dream, visit FSFF‘s little sister site, Filmanalytical.

                          >Mapping the Lost Highway: New Perspectives on David Lynch (TATE Modern Event)


                          Image from Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

                          Film Studies For Free has taken the trouble to gather together in one (hopefully) very easily navigable setting the twelve videos (embedded below) that recorded for posterity a really excellent symposium that took place last year on October 30 2009 at London’s Tate Modern. The symposium provided a space in which artists and film theorists insightfully discussed the work of filmmaker David Lynch in a range of theoretical and artistic contexts, including psychoanalysis, philosophy, prosthetics and photography.

                          One of cinema’s most compelling and innovative directors, David Lynch remains a major influence on contemporary art, film and culture. In this landmark event, Tate Modern [brought] together leading artists, academics and writers from around the world to offer a series of new perspectives on Lynch’s films.

                          […] Speakers [included] the visual artists Gregory Crewdson, Daria Martin, and Jane and Louise Wilson, and there [were also] contributions from the writers and academics Parveen Adams, Sarah Churchwell, Simon Critchley, Roger Luckhurst, Tom McCarthy, and Jamieson Webster. A specially commissioned video interview with Lynch himself [was] screened, and an accompanying film programme [took] place at Tate Modern and the Birkbeck Cinema. 


                          PART 1: Marko Daniel: Welcome; Richard Martin: Introduction


                          PART 2: The Body: Roger Luckhurst


                          PART 3: The Body: Tom McCarthy


                          PART 4: The Body: Q+A (chaired by Marko Daniel)


                          PART 5: The Eye 1: Gregory Crewdson


                          PART 6: The Eye 1: Q+A (chaired by Sarah Churchwell)


                          PART 7: The Eye 2: Daria Martin


                          PART 8: The Eye 2: Louise Wilson


                          PART 9: The Eye 2: Q+A (chaired by Stuart Comer)


                          PART 10: The Mind: Parveen Adams


                          PART 11: The Mind: Q+A (chaired by Richard Martin)


                          PART 12: The Ear: Chris Rodley responds to the day’s presentations in conversation with Sarah Churchwell. Followed by a Q+A with the symposium’s speakers and the public

                          >A monstrous talent: Blue Velvet Studies in Memory of Dennis Hopper


                          “Why are there people like Frank?”

                          “A truly Bad Bad Guy is not believable and impossible to connect with. That is unless your whole story world is twisted and strange in itself; Like Dennis Hopper’s truly Bad Bad Guy in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.” Sune Liltop, ‘Good Guy / Bad Guy’,  P.O.V. No.28, 2009

                          “…the conflict between smoothness and pent-up rage that defines Hopper’s roles in films like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet [1986]Adrian Danks, “Nice ‘N’ Easy: Speaking Frankly about The Night We Called it a Day’, Senses of Cinema, Issue 28, 2003

                          As Film Studies For Free is sure all of its readers will have learned by now, American movie actor, director and artist Dennis Hopper died yesterday. Some remarkable tributes to him have appeared in the last weeks, few if any better than those by filmmaker-critic Matt Zoller Seitz (see his video essay here; and a further written tribute here). Since the news of his death was made public, David Hudson has been collecting a full list of online tributes to Dennis Hopper here.

                          For FSFF‘s author, while she has a big soft spot for The Hot Spot (1990) as well as Easy Rider (1969), two films directed by Hopper, his most memorable contribution to the cinema was, in her view, his performance as the raging psychopath Frank Booth in David Lynch‘s 1986 film Blue Velvet. So this masterful film forms the (usually main) subject of each of the notable resources linked to in the scholarly webliography offered up today.  

                          Rest in peace, Mr Hopper.