Afghanistan in the Cinema
Mark Graham University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A35G73 2010 | Dewey Decimal 791.43658581
In this timely critical introduction to the representation of Afghanistan in film, Mark Graham examines the often surprising combination of propaganda and poetry in films made in Hollywood and the East. Through the lenses of postcolonial theory and historical reassessment, Graham analyzes what these films say about Afghanistan, Islam, and the West and argues that they are integral tools for forming discourse on Afghanistan, a means for understanding and avoiding past mistakes, and symbols of the country's shaky but promising future. Thoughtfully addressing many of the misperceptions about Afghanistan perpetuated in the West, Afghanistan in the Cinema incorporates incisive analysis of the market factors, funding sources, and political agendas that have shaped the films.
The book considers a range of films, beginning with the 1970s epics The Man Who Would Become King and The Horsemen and following the shifts in representation of the Muslim world during the Russian War in films such as The Beast and Rambo III. Graham then moves on to Taliban-era films such as Kandahar, Osama, and Ellipsis, the first Afghan film directed by a woman. Lastly, the book discusses imperialist nostalgia in films such as Charlie Wilson's War and destabilizing visions represented in contemporary works such as The Kite Runner.
Marking a return for Laura Mulvey to questions of film theory and feminism, as well as a reconsideration of new and old film technologies, this urgent and compelling collection of essays is essential reading for anyone interested in the power and pleasures of moving images.
Its title, Afterimages, alludes to the dislocation of time that runs through many of the films and works it discusses as well as to the way we view them. Beginning with a section on the theme of woman as spectacle, a shift in focus leads to films from across the globe, directed by women and about women, all adopting radical cinematic strategies. Mulvey goes on to consider moving image works made for art galleries, arguing that the aesthetics of cinema have persisted into this environment.
Structured in three main parts, Afterimages also features an appendix of ten frequently asked questions on her classic feminist essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in which Mulvey addresses questions of spectatorship, autonomy, and identity that are crucial to our era today.
Tobe Hooper's productions, which often trespassed upon the safety of the family unit, cast a critical eye toward an America in crisis. Often dismissed by scholars and critics as a one-hit wonder thanks to his 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Hooper nevertheless was instrumental in the development of a robust and deeply political horror genre from the 1960s until his death in 2017. In American Twilight, the authors assert that the director was an auteur whose works featured complex monsters and disrupted America’s sacrosanct perceptions of prosperity and domestic security.
American Twilight focuses on the skepticism toward American institutions and media and the articulation of uncanny spaces so integral to Hooper’s vast array of feature and documentary films, made-for-television movies, television episodes, and music videos. From Egg Shells (1969) to Poltergeist (1982), Djinn (2013), and even Billy Idol’s music video for “Dancing with Myself” (1985), Tobe Hooper provided a singular directorial vision that investigated masculine anxiety and subverted the idea of American exceptionalism.
Why do we find artificial people fascinating? Drawing from a rich fictional and cinematic tradition, Anatomy of a Robot explores the political and textual implications of our perennial projections of humanity onto figures such as robots, androids, cyborgs, and automata. In an engaging, sophisticated, and accessible presentation, Despina Kakoudaki argues that, in their narrative and cultural deployment, artificial people demarcate what it means to be human. They perform this function by offering us a non-human version of ourselves as a site of investigation. Artificial people teach us that being human, being a person or a self, is a constant process and often a matter of legal, philosophical, and political struggle.
By analyzing a wide range of literary texts and films (including episodes from Twilight Zone, the fiction of Philip K. Dick, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, Metropolis, The Golem, Frankenstein, The Terminator, Iron Man, Blade Runner, and I, Robot), and going back to alchemy and to Aristotle’s Physics and De Anima, she tracks four foundational narrative elements in this centuries-old discourse— the fantasy of the artificial birth, the fantasy of the mechanical body, the tendency to represent artificial people as slaves, and the interpretation of artificiality as an existential trope. What unifies these investigations is the return of all four elements to the question of what constitutes the human.
This focused approach to the topic of the artificial, constructed, or mechanical person allows us to reconsider the creation of artificial life. By focusing on their historical provenance and textual versatility, Kakoudaki elucidates artificial people’s main cultural function, which is the political and existential negotiation of what it means to be a person.
The masters of Russian arts and letters are a prestigious fraternity that includes such renowned artists as Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. But alongside these luminaries stands a lesser-known but equally revered figure, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Robert Bird offers in Andrei Tarkovsky an unprecedented investigation of Tarkovsky’s oeuvre and its far-reaching influence on world cinema.
Bird brings a novel approach to his dissection of Tarkovsky’s wholly original techniques and sensibilities, arranging the films into elemental categories of Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood, Mirror, Nostalgia, Andrei Rublev, and Sacrifice all get their due here; through them, Bird explores how the filmmaker probed the elusive correlation between cinematic representation and a more primeval perception of the world. Though the book also considers Tarkovsky’s work in radio, theatre, and opera—as well as his work as an actor, screenwriter, and film theorist—Bird throughout keeps his focus firmly on Tarkovsky as a consummate filmmaker.
Anchored by a wealth of film stills and photographs, Andrei Tarkovsky is a must-read for all film buffs and admirers of European cinema.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, something new made itself felt in European culture—a tone or style that came to be called the sentimental. The sentimental mode went on to shape not just literature, art, music, and cinema, but people’s very structures of feeling, their ways of doing and being.
In what is sure to become a critical classic, An Archaeology of Sympathy challenges Sergei Eisenstein’s influential account of Dickens and early American film by tracing the unexpected history and intricate strategies of the sentimental mode and showing how it has been reimagined over the past three centuries. James Chandler begins with a look at Frank Capra and the Capraesque in American public life, then digs back to the eighteenth century to examine the sentimental substratum underlying Dickens and early cinema alike. With this surprising move, he reveals how literary spectatorship in the eighteenth century anticipated classic Hollywood films such as Capra’s It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Chandler then moves forward to romanticism and modernism—two cultural movements often seen as defined by their rejection of the sentimental—examining how authors like Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf actually engaged with sentimental forms and themes in ways that left a mark on their work.
Reaching from Laurence Sterne to the Coen brothers, An Archaeology of Sympathy casts new light on the long eighteenth century and the novelistic forebears of cinema and our modern world.
“A filmmaker is a man like any other; and yet his life is not the same. . . . This is, I think, a special way of being in contact with reality.” Or so says Michelangelo Antonioni, the legendary filmmaker behind the stark landscapes and social alienation of Blow-Up and L’Avventura, who here reveals his idiosyncratic relationship with reality in The Architecture of Vision.
Through autobiographical sketches, theoretical essays, interviews, and conversations with such luminaries as Jean-Luc Godard and Alberto Moravia, this compelling volume explores the director’s unique brand of narrative-defying cinema as well as the motivations and anxieties of the man behind the camera.
“The Architecture of Vision provides a filmmaker’s absorbing reflections and insights on his career. . . . Antonioni’s comments . . . deepen and humanize a sometimes cerebral book.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Antonioni’s] erudition is astonishing . . . few of his peers can match his verbal articulateness.”—Film Quarterly
“This valuable resource offers entrée to material difficult to gain access to under other circumstances.”—Library Journal
From 1946 until 1954, the San Francisco-based film society Art in Cinema presented programs of independent film to audiences at the San Francisco Museum of Art and the University of California, Berkeley. Led by filmmaker Frank Stauffacher, Art in Cinema's programs pioneered the promotion of avant-garde cinema in America.
Scott MacDonald's Art in Cinema presents complete programs presented by the legendary society; dozens of previously unavailable letters between Stauffacher, his collaborators, and filmmakers including Maya Deren, Hans Richter, Vincent Minelli, and Man Ray; a reprint of the society's original catalog, which features essays by Henry Miller and others; and a wide range of other remarkable historical documents.
A companion to Cinema 16 (Temple), a documentary history of the first west coast film society, Art in Cinema provides cineastes, students, teachers, and scholars with extensive and fascinating documentation of one of the most important film societies in American history. Together or separately, the books provide an indispensable reference source for the beginning of this country's love affair with independent film.
The production, distribution, and perception of moving images are undergoing a radical transformation. Ever-faster computers, digital technology, and microelectronic are joining forces to produce advanced audiovision -the media vanishing point of the 20th century. Very little will remain unchanged.
The classic institutions for the mediation of film - cinema and television - are revealed to be no more than interludes in the broader history of the audiovisual media. This book interprets these changes not simply as a cultural loss but also as a challenge: the new audiovisions have to be confronted squarely to make strategic intervention possible.
Audiovisions provides a historical underpinning for this active approach. Spanning 100 years, from the end of the 19th to the end of the 20th century, it reconstructs the complex genesis of cinema and television as historically relative - and thus finite - cultural forms, focussing on the dynamics and tension in the interaction between the apparatus and its uses. The book is also a plea for "staying power" in studies of cultural technology and technological culture of film.
Essayistic in style, it dispenses with complicated cross references and, instead, is structured around distinct historical phases. Montages of images and text provide supplemental information, contrast, and comment.