David Bordwell's website on cinema   click for CV




On the History of Film Style pdf online

Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling

Film Art: An Introduction

Christopher Nolan: A Labyrinth of Linkages pdf online

Pandora’s Digital Box: Films, Files, and the Future of Movies pdf online

Planet Hong Kong, second edition pdf online

The Way Hollywood Tells It pdf online

Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Figures Traced In Light

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Exporting Entertainment: America in the World Film Market 1907–1934 pdf online


Hou Hsiao-hsien: A new video lecture!

CinemaScope: The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses

How Motion Pictures Became the Movies

Constructive editing in Pickpocket: A video essay


Rex Stout: Logomachizing

Lessons with Bazin: Six Paths to a Poetics

A Celestial Cinémathèque? or, Film Archives and Me: A Semi-Personal History

Shklovsky and His “Monument to a Scientific Error”

Murder Culture: Adventures in 1940s Suspense

The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film

Common Sense + Film Theory = Common-Sense Film Theory?

Mad Detective: Doubling Down

The Classical Hollywood Cinema Twenty-Five Years Along

Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic

William Cameron Menzies: One Forceful, Impressive Idea

Another Shaw Production: Anamorphic Adventures in Hong Kong

Paolo Gioli’s Vertical Cinema

(Re)Discovering Charles Dekeukeleire

Doing Film History

The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema

Anatomy of the Action Picture

Hearing Voices

Preface, Croatian edition, On the History of Film Style

Slavoj Žižek: Say Anything

Film and the Historical Return

Studying Cinema


Book Reports

Observations on film art

This, that, and the other

Wednesday | October 18, 2006   open printable version open printable version

1) People who know Kristin primarily as a film scholar probably don’t know that she’s also the librarian/curator of the P. G. Wodehouse papers. Every couple of years she goes to England to organize and preserve the papers that the family has acquired since her last visit. She first worked with the papers when she wrote her book on Wodehouse, Bertie Proposes, Jeeves Disposes; or, Le Mot Juste, an appreciation of the inimitable Wooster novels. For the last few days Kristin has been there working on the collection, and out of the range of the Internet; so no new entries from her. When she returns, expect a followup on her “How to read the box-office figures” post.

2) During her absence I’ve been busy with research projects. One involves scene transitions in Hollywood movies. When Kristin, Janet Staiger, and I were working on the book, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, I got interested in how movies moved the viewer smoothly from one scene to the next. Often, we found, a line of dialogue, a sound, or an image at the very end of Scene A somehow linked to Scene B. We called these “hooks,” and talked a little about them in the book.

Recently I got curious about the problem again and as I was thinking about it, I saw a piece by Karl Iglesias, called “8 Ways to Hook the Reader,” Creative Screenwriting 13, 4 (2006), 48-49. (It doesn’t seem to be available online.) Igelesias spells out various ways in which screenwriters tie scenes together. Interestingly, our term hook seems to have entered screenwriters’ parlance a little bit.

I gave a rather sketchy talk on the question here at Madison last Thursday, and got helpful feedback from faculty and grads. Seems like everybody had a good example, from Jerry Lewis movies to The Family Guy. So I hope to develop this talk into a lecture I can give elsewhere. Eventually I expect it will end as an online essay elsewhere on this site.

Les Belles
Les Belles
Les Belles
Les Belles

3) My other current research project is looking into the development of anamorphic widescreen filmmaking in Hong Kong. In the early 1960s Shaw Bros. introduced ShawScope, a system similar to CinemaScope’s sprawling format. I’m interested in how directors used this new technology, and whether they followed the same paths as Americans did in working with CinemaScope. Did ShawScope slow up their cutting or staging? Did they find alternative ways to compose for this wide format?

Despite the rather tedious plots, I’m enjoying watching the films because they’re so striking at the level of lighting and color design. If you’re curious, have a look at Les Belles (1961) or The Love Eterne (1963). Really stunning color coordination, with both saturated tones and pastels popping off the screen–so different from the murky monochrome we like now. To get such brilliant, almost shadowless imagery in a period of slow film (ASA 50!), you have to drench your sets in light. How can actors remain so chipper when they’re blasted by so much light and heat? The crew had to wear sunglasses when working on these movies. This article is for a collection of essays called Widescreen Worldwide, edited by John Belton and Sheldon Hall.

4) My old friend Brian Rose writes to tip me off to Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article on Epagogix, the software program that purports to predict what films will be commercial hits. This program has been flashing into view in the trade papers over the last few years, but Gladwell (aka Mr Blink) is the first to give it long and detailed discussion. I hope to assimilate it over the next few days and maybe Kristin or I will blog about it.

5.) As a new blogger, I’m still learning a lot. (Okay, you already can tell that.) But as I scan our Statistics counter for this site, I’m impressed all over again by the sheer weirdness of the Web.

Take the keywords that bring people to our site. I expect to see our names, Film Art, Scorsese, and so on. But I have to admire any search engine that can fling onto our site someone typing the following strings:

jack vermee
lingua film di toto’
Christian film
zizek mao
Chinatown first act

and my current favorite:

where can I find photos of jerry van dyke

Of course now that I’ve listed these topics, I expect a lot of repeat business for them.

Comments are closed.

David Bordwell
top of page

have comments about the state of this website? go here