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Influence, Imitation, and Intertextuality
Alfred Hitchcock is arguably the most famous director to have ever made a film. Almost single-handedly he turned the suspense thriller into one of the most popular film genres of all time, while his Psycho updated the horror film and inspired two generations of directors to imitate and adapt this most Hitchcockian of movies. Yet while much scholarly and popular attention has focused on the director’s oeuvre, until now there has been no extensive study of how Alfred Hitchcock’s films and methods have affected and transformed the history of the film medium. In this book, thirteen original essays by leading film scholars reveal the richness and variety of Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy as they trace his shaping influence on particular films, filmmakers, genres, and even on film criticism. Some essays concentrate on films that imitate Hitchcock in diverse ways, including the movies of Brian de Palma and thrillers such as True Lies, The Silence of the Lambs, and Dead Again. Other essays look at genres that have been influenced by Hitchcock’s work, including the 1970s paranoid thriller, the Italian giallo film, and the post-Psycho horror film. The remaining essays investigate developments within film culture and academic film study, including the enthusiasm of French New Wave filmmakers for Hitchcock’s work, his influence on the filmic representation of violence in the post-studio Hollywood era, and the ways in which his films have become central texts for film theorists.
The Legacy of Krzysztof Kieślowski
Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kie?lowski died unexpectedly in March 1996 at precisely the moment he had reached the height of his career and gained a global audience for his work with the Three Colors trilogy (1993–94). Since his death he has been hailed as one of the greatest and most influential directors of all time, elevated to the elite of world cinema alongside Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson, Federico Fellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Max Ophüls, and Andrei Tarkovsky. In After Kie?lowski, leading contributors diverge from the typical analysis of Kie?lowski’s work to focus on his legacy in films made after his death, including those based on his scripts and ideas and those made entirely by other filmmakers. Kie?lowski’s rich legacy is rooted in not only a very significant body of early work made before his breakthrough films but another trilogy of films that he had been working on prior to his death, several of which have gone on to be produced. Furthermore, actors and assistant directors involved with Kie?lowski also made films that develop his earlier, incomplete projects or that derive thematically and stylistically from his work. After Kie?lowski considers Kie?lowski’s legacy from three broad perspectives—the Polish, the European, and the global. Contributors trace his direct influence on filmmakers in Poland and Europe, including Jerzy Stuhr, Krzysztof Zanussi, Emmanel Finkiel, Julie Bertucelli, and Tom Tykwer, as well as points of thematic coincidence between his work and that of Jean-Luc Godard, P. T. Anderson, David Lynch, Michael Haneke, Abbas Kiarostami, and Paul Haggis. This collection also traces the reemergence of Kie?lowski’s unique visual signature in films by Ridley Scott, Santosh Sivan, John Sayles, and Julian Schnabel, and his highly original use of television serial-narrative form that is echoed in at least two major American television series, HBO’s Six Feet Under and ABC’s Lost. Examining Kie?lowski’s legacy is a way of thinking both about the unique features of Kie?lowski’s work and about issues that are now at the heart of contemporary filmmaking. Film scholars and students will appreciate this groundbreaking volume.
Photography against History in Indigenous Siberia
Following the socialist revolution, a colossal shift in everyday realities began in the 1920s and ’30s in the former Russian empire. Faced with the Siberian North, a vast territory considered culturally and technologically backward by the revolutionary government, the Soviets confidently undertook the project of reshaping the ordinary lives of the indigenous peoples in order to fold them into the Soviet state. In Agitating Images, Craig Campbell draws a rich and unsettling cultural portrait of the encounter between indigenous Siberians and Russian communists and reveals how photographs from this period complicate our understanding of this history.
Agitating Images provides a glimpse into the first moments of cultural engineering in remote areas of Soviet Siberia. The territories were perceived by outsiders to be on the margins of civilization, replete with shamanic rituals and inhabited by exiles, criminals, and “primitive” indigenous peoples. The Soviets hoped to permanently transform the mythologized landscape by establishing socialist utopian developments designed to incorporate minority cultures into the communist state. This book delves deep into photographic archives from these Soviet programs, but rather than using the photographs to complement an official history, Campbell presents them as anti-illustrations, or intrusions, that confound simple narratives of Soviet bureaucracy and power. Meant to agitate, these images offer critiques that cannot be explained in text alone and, in turn, put into question the nature of photographs as historical artifacts.
An innovative approach to challenging historical interpretation, Agitating Images demonstrates how photographs go against accepted premises of Soviet Siberia. All photographs, Campbell argues, communicate in unique ways that present new and even contrary possibilities to the text they illustrate. Ultimately, Agitating Images dissects our very understanding of the production of historical knowledge.
Over nearly sixty years, Agnès Varda (b. 1928) has given interviews that are revealing not only of her work, but of her remarkably ambiguous status. She has been called the "Mother of the New Wave" but suffered for many years for never having been completely accepted by the cinematic establishment in France. Varda's first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), displayed many of the characteristics of the two later films that launched the New Wave, Truffaut's 400 Blows and Godard's Breathless. In a low-budget film, using (as yet) unknown actors and working entirely outside the prevailing studio system, Varda completely abandoned the "tradition of quality" that Truffaut was at that very time condemning in the pages of Cahiers du cinema. Her work, however, was not "discovered" until after Truffaut and Godard had broken onto the scene in 1959. Varda's next film, Cleo from 5 to 7, attracted considerably more attention and was selected as France's official entry for the Festival in Cannes. Ultimately, however, this film and her work for the next fifty years continued to be overshadowed by her more famous male friends, many of whom she mentored and advised.
Her films have finally earned recognition as deeply probing and fundamental to the growing awareness in France of women's issues and the role of women in the cinema. "I'm not philosophical," she says, "not metaphysical. Feelings are the ground on which people can be led to think about things. I try to show everything that happens in such a way and ask questions so as to leave the viewers free to make their own judgments." The panoply of interviews here emphasize her core belief that "we never stop learning" and reveal the wealth of ways to answer her questions.
Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century
There was a time when rural comedians drew most of their humor from tales of farmers' daughters, hogs, hens, and hill country high jinks. Lum and Abner and Ma and Pa Kettle might not have toured happily under the "Redneck" marquee, but they were its precursors. In Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century, author Tim Hollis traces the evolution of this classic American form of humor in the mass media, beginning with the golden age of radio, when such comedians as Bob Burns, Judy Canova, and Lum and Abner kept listeners laughing. The book then moves into the motion pictures of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, when the established radio stars enjoyed second careers on the silver screen and were joined by live-action renditions of the comic strip characters Li'l Abner and Snuffy Smith, along with the much-loved Ma and Pa Kettle series of films. Hollis explores such rural sitcoms as The Real McCoys in the late 1950s and from the 1960s, The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Hee Haw, and many others. Along the way, readers are taken on side trips into the world of animated cartoons and television commercials that succeeded through a distinctly rural sense of fun. While rural comedy fell out of vogue and networks sacked shows in the early 1970s, the emergence of such hits as The Dukes of Hazzard brought the genre whooping back to the mainstream. Hollis concludes with a brief look at the current state of rural humor, which manifests itself in a more suburban, redneck brand of standup comedy. Tim Hollis is the author of numerous books, including Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs and (with Greg Ehrbar) Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records.
WSM and the Making of Music City
Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker "Music City USA" as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and '50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM's launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother's Best Flour. _x000B__x000B_Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station's profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station's history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture._x000B_
Alan Ball: Conversations features interviews that span Alan Ball's entire career and include detailed observations and insights into his Academy Award-winning film American Beauty and Emmy Award-winning television shows Six Feet Under and True Blood. Ball began his career as a playwright in New York, and his work soon caught the attention of Hollywood television producers. After writing for the sitcoms Grace Under Fire and Cybill, Ball turned his attention to the screenplay that would become American Beauty. The critical success of this film opened up exciting possibilities for him in the realm of television. He created the critically acclaimed show Six Feet Under, and after the series finale, he decided to explore the issue of American bigotry toward the Middle East in his 2007 play All That I Will Ever Be and the film Towelhead, which he adapted and directed in the same year. Ball returned to television once again with the series True Blood--an adaptation of the humorous, entertaining, and erotic world of Charlaine Harris's vampire novels. In 2012 Ball announced that he would step down as executive producer of True Blood, in part, to produce both a new television series and his latest screenplay, What's the Matter with Margie?
The Vision of a Native Filmmaker