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The Philosophy of Michael Mann

edited by Steven Sanders, Aeon J. Skoble, and R. Barton Palmer

Publication Year: 2014

Known for restoring vitality and superior craftsmanship to the crime thriller, American filmmaker Michael Mann has long been regarded as a talented triple threat capable of moving effortlessly between television and feature films as a writer, director, and executive producer. His unique visual sense and thematic approach are evident in the Emmy Award-winning The Jericho Mile (1979), the cult favorite The Keep (1983), the American epic The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and the Academy Award-nominated The Insider (1999) as well as his most recent works -- Ali (2001), Miami Vice (2006), and Public Enemies (2009).

The Philosophy of Michael Mann provides an up-to-date and comprehensive account of the work of this highly accomplished filmmaker, exploring the director's recognizable visual style and the various on-screen and philosophical elements he has tested in his thirty-five-year career. The essays in this wide-ranging book will appeal to fans of the revolutionary filmmaker and to philosophical scholars interested in the themes and conflicts that drive his movies.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: The Philosophy of Popular Culture

Title Page, Copyright Page

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Michael Mann

Steven Sanders

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pp. 1-13

Michael Mann’s personal involvement as a writer, director, and producer has given him the reputation of being an unusually talented triple threat in Hollywood. He has been called “one of the most breathtaking cinematic stylists of his era” and “Hollywood’s foremost urbanist.”1 His ability to recreate...

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Michael Mann and Nonplace

Robert Arnett

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pp. 14-30

Early in Collateral (2004), Vincent (Tom Cruise), a hit man beginning a job, describes Los Angeles as “too sprawled out. Disconnected. . . . Seventeen million people . . . but nobody knows each other. Too impersonal. I read about this guy. Gets on the MTA, here, and dies. Six hours he’s riding the subway...

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"Awakened to Chaos"

R. Barton Palmer

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pp. 31-50

Recently released movies were an indispensable staple of prime-time broadcasting in the late 1960s. But once the networks discovered it was cheaper to produce their own features rather than pay increasingly expensive rentals, telefilms became an even more forceful and enduring presence on the...

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Existential Mann

Steven Sanders

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pp. 51-65

Michael Mann is widely known as a cinematic stylist and visual artist of high accomplishment. This should not lead one to overlook the fact that the action, music, and conflict so prominent in his films are typically put in the service of ideas, as one can see by noting the prevalence of existential...

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"Do You See?"

Aeon J. Skoble

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pp. 66-73

Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, based on the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon,1 was one of the earliest cinematic explorations of the “profiling” approach to tracking serial killers. Profiling differs from traditional cluebased detective work in its focus on trying to understand the psyche of the...

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Mann and Ubermensch

David Sterritt

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pp. 74-89

Manhunter, the 1986 film adapted by writer-director Michael Mann from Thomas Harris’s 1981 novel Red Dragon, introduced Hannibal Lecktor to the movies.1 The cannibalistic psychiatrist—whose last name is spelled “Lecter” in other films and in the Harris novels, a detail to which we shall return—...

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"Blood in the Moonlight"

Ivo Ritzerv

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pp. 90-103

An auteur of visionary urban crime thrillers, beyond doubt. With movies such as Thief (1981), Heat (1995), The Insider (1999), Collateral (2004), Miami Vice (2006), and Public Enemies (2009), Michael Mann is widely known quite rightly as a masterful creator of elegiac gangster and cop...

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Style, Meaning, and Myth in Public Enemies

Steven Rybin

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pp. 104-118

Michael Mann’s films combine authentic realism with distinctive cinematic stylization. Mann emotionally immerses audiences in fully realized fictional worlds, including the historical worlds of The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Ali (2001), and Depression-era Chicago in Public Enemies (2009). At the...

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Interiorization in Public Enemies

Murray Pomerance

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pp. 119-140

In Richard Fleischer’s remarkable 1966 sci-fi/spy thriller Fantastic Voyage, a team of American scientists nestled in a submarine is reduced by special technology to atomic size, then injected into a defected Czech scientist in order that they might travel through his body, organ system by organ...

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Tom Paulus and Vito Adriaensens

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pp. 141-159

In The Cinema Effect, Sean Cubitt discusses what he calls the “neoclassical film” of the postwar period as being characterized by the “spatialization of time.” This spatialization is achieved through cinematic techniques such as the freeze frame, slow motion, and camera movement. The latter, especially...

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The Ethics of Contracts, Conscience, and Courage in The Insider

David LaRocca

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pp. 160-180

Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) takes his wife, Liane (Diane Venora), to dinner with Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) at an elegant Manhattan restaurant. It is the eve of Jeffrey’s taped interview with Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes, but she doesn’t know that; she...

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The Commodification of Justice

Mark Wildermuth

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pp. 181-199

The significance of the postmodern milieu for Michael Mann has been established by such studies as Steven Sanders’s “Sunshine Noir: Postmodernism and Miami Vice,” Steven Rybin’s The Cinema of Michael Mann, and my book Blood in the Moonlight: Michael Mann and Information Age Cinema.1 Mann’s...

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Subjectivity and the Ethics of Duty in Michael Mann's Cinema

Aga Skrodzka

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pp. 200-214

With the release of Drive in 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn (the young Danish director whose Pusher trilogy, portraying the criminal underworld in Copenhagen, has earned him a worldwide cult following) paid tribute to the cinema of Michael Mann. Well received both in Europe, where Drive was...

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Natural Man, Natural Rights, and Eros

Alan Woolfolk

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pp. 215-226

Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans (1992, DVD release 1999) opens with a well-known sequence in the lush forests of upstate New York in which the last members of the Mohican Native American tribe—Chingachgook (Russell Means), his son Uncas (Eric Schweig), and his adopted Caucasian...

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Emotion, Truth, and Space in Heat

Jonah Corne

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pp. 227-243

Returning home in the late, bright Los Angeles morning from the police detective work with which he has been consumed all night, Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) discovers his wife, Justine (Diane Venora), engaged in a serene domestic moment with another man, what appears to be a kind of replacement...

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Mann's Biopics and the Methodology of Philosophy

David Rodríguez-Ruiz

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pp. 244-256

What is it to be a people’s champion? Are there irresolvable conflicts between being a people’s champion and being an individual committed to critical thinking? What is the nature of patriotism, freedom, and brotherhood? In Ali (2001), Michael Mann not only explores these decidedly philosophical...

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pp. 257-258

We are grateful to Michael Mann for creating a body of work so deserving of the appreciation, analysis, evaluation, and exploration found in this book. We also want to thank our contributors for both the hard work that went into their chapters and their patience as the volume slowly took form...


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pp. 259-264


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pp. 265-275

Series Page

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813144733
E-ISBN-10: 0813144736
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813144719

Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: The Philosophy of Popular Culture