Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Hollywood's hero deficit

An academic article on Hollywood's current inibility to present Americans as heroes. Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Hollywood's strong women - the representation of femininity in the early 1940s

Stars and women and film in the early to mid 1940s.

These were among the greatest roles by Hollywood's most powerful actresses of the 1940s:

"Now, Voyager"- Bette Davis in 1942 (See the image above)

"Double Indemnity" - Barbara Stanwyck 1944

"Mildred Pierce" - Joan Crawford 1945

These great actresses characterised a male view of women in the early to mid 1940s.

What was Hollywood openly and covertly stating in its representation of these female roles in this era?

In a comparative manner how are men represented in these films?

How did the context of the war affect the representation of femininity and masculinity in these films?

These are just a few starter questions for what could be a study on the representation of strong women played by actresses at their peak across these great films. Depending on how it is focussed this study could either fit the genre, stars/performers category or the social, historical and political category of FS4.

This is it for FS4 and for other areas of film this summer as I'm away for a few weeks in Turkey and Scotland. There may be the odd post or two over the next few weeks - if I get bored!

Film Reference - an encyclopedia of stars, directors, national cinema, etc.

This is a very useful starting point for studies on a director, star, national cinema, fandom, etc.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Cahiers du Cinéma and the French New Wave (essay)

Dave Kehr's commemorative essay from 2001 on the 50th anniversary of the magazine, Cahiers du Cinéma, explains how the French New Wave Cinema ( La Nouvelle Vague ) emerged from the young men who wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma: François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard, etc. These "young turks" attempted to sift what they considered to be the wheat from the chaff as they re-appraised Hollywood and its directors such as Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock whom they considered to be "auteurs". Kehr's essay reveals how Truffaut et. al. preferred some directors others because the directors appeared a-political. For instance, Wyler, Huston and Wilder fell out of favour because they were seen as "left-leaning". These last mentioned directors were championed by the French leftist cinema magazine, "Positif". Although "Cahiers . . ." itself later turned left in the late 60s and early 70s when its articles were written by theorists who focussed on post modernist philosophy and ideology. Kehr's discussion of "the young turks" ideas about mise- en-scene is worth reading just on its own. All in all, this is a must-read for students who are studying French New Wave Cinema and who need a contextual understanding of how this movement began and how it went on to shape modern film criticism.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Interviews with european film directors with rare film clips

Interviews with film directors - over the last few decades

The image is of Robert Altman, receiving an oscar.

There's an interesting mix here of film directors ranging from Hitchcock to Speilberg. A great resource for auteur studies and for anyone who wants to know more about the hows and whys well-known film directors crafted their films.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Charlton Heston - FS4 Star Study Resource

I am aware of one student focusing on Charlton Heston for his small scale research project. It would be worth considering the various elements of Heston's performance in epics and why he seemed to be the star of choice for such films. Epic films were very popular between 1956-66 and Heston was invariably in many of them. What did he bring to epic films that other stars could not? Why did directors cast him and what did audiences expect from him in these films? What was the nature of his "screen presence"? Which performance from his films defined him as an actor for epics? Heston's link with the epic did not end on screen - he was also the president of the actors' union between 1966-71 and also of the pro-gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, in the US. The link at the top of this post is a good one for posing the above question and there is a brief summary of several of Heston's films.

For more on Charlton Heston as an epic actor see:,9171,1729693,00.html

There are some excellent resources for FS4 case study auteurs here

Auteur Theory in Film Criticism - by the BBC

This is the BBC's explanation of the term "auteur". There are references to Tim Burton and his films.
Auteur Theory in Film Criticism

An exemplar for studying an auteur -Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem"

Here is another link for an example of how to study an "auteur". This example is from German renaissance cinema.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

What is meant by "auteur" and the context of this term

This is a useful Powerpoint presentation about the use of the term "auteur" and how the term originated. Using the US director, Robert Altman, as an example there is also advice on what to look for when researching and producing your own studies on auteurs.
Uploaded on authorSTREAM by Estelle
Click on the white box to enlarge.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Objective film criticism: an impossible task? by Ronald Bergan

If you liked the previous article - and it caused some debate - how about this one? I know from taking my students to see a films that had talks by critics that they've gradually become intrigued by critics and their place in the cinema.

For related film articles written by Ronald Bergan that are must-reads for various modules in AS and A2 Film Studies follow this link:

What Every Film Critic Should Know - an article about the skills of film criticism

An interesting discussion on the skills necessary to be a film critic. Too many reviews today lack analysis and are just subjective and evaluative.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Representation and Ideology - a concept map for analysing representation

This concept map should prove useful for students analysing any type of media text including films and film posters. Remember that meaning in film and media texts is created in a social context and not individual one.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Quinton Tarantino's Debt to French New Wave Cinema

A must-read for anyone doing a small scale research project (FS4) on Tarantino as an auteur. The article examines his little known debt to French New Wave auteurs and how films by Truffaut and Godard influenced "Pulp Fiction".

You may need to press a couple of time s on the red arrow at the bottom of the link's page to get to the beginning of the article.

French New Wave And The Face - an article by Images Journal

Another useful, academic article by this great online journal. This this and other articles try out the links on their website.

Thirty Great Westerns - by Images Journal

A superb article and links for articles and information on these westerns and the genre itself.

Fascinating Billy Wilder Interview on Film Noir From 1975

The interview is with Robert Porfirio and it was made in 1975; it focuses on three of Billy Wilders' films: "Double Indemnity", "Ace In The Hole", and "Sunset Boulevard". It's a remarkable treasure!

More Intelligent Life's Guide To The Best Film Critics