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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

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CinemaScope: The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses

How Motion Pictures Became the Movies

Constructive editing in Pickpocket: A video essay

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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

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Observations on film art

The Mona mysteries: Varda’s VAGABOND on the Criterion Channel

Monday | July 29, 2019   open printable version open printable version

DB here:

The Criterion Channel has just posted the latest in our Observations on Film Art series. In this installment I try to analyze Vagabond‘s shrewd and unsettling use of some traditional plot patterns: the road movie, the mystery investigation, and the network narrative. I argue that the orchestration of these patterns encourages us to think about our life choices.

You can watch the film here, and watch the video essay here.

Vagabond is a film I’ve admired since it came out in 1985, and by now it’s something of a classic. Its the original title, Sans toit ni loi (roughly, “Homeless and Lawless”) follows Varda’s habit of rhyming or punning titles: L’Opéra-mouffe, Daguerreotypes, Mur murs , Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse, Visages et villages. The mixture of playfulness and serious themes (homelessness, women’s rights, the struggles of the poor, the importance of ordinary people) makes her work unique. She respects both the problems of our lives and the possibility of finding something to affirm–if only our efforts to help one another. I was reminded of all these qualities by her last film, Varda par Agnès; seeing Vagabond again reminds me how much we miss her.

 

Several of our entries have been devoted to Varda; see the set here. In my view, Vagabond is her masterpiece, but she’s made many fine films, and a lot of them are available for streaming from Criterion.


Our entire Observations series is here. Thanks as ever to the Criterion team, especially Peter Becker, Kim Hendrickson, Grant Delin, and John Magary, who did a bang-up editing job. Thanks as well to Erik Gunneson here at UW–Madison. And thanks to colleague Kelley Conway for help with my scenario for this installment.

I discuss Vagabond as an example of ambivalent narration in the Afterword to “The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice,” in Poetics of Cinema, 166-169.

Vagabond (1985).

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