David Bordwell's website on cinema   click for CV




Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder

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

One more on THE DEPARTED

Wednesday | October 11, 2006   open printable version open printable version

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s entry that the same issue of American Cinematographer (October 2006) reports that Scorsese and Michael Ballhaus worked a cross motif into the architecture, lighting, and set design of The Departed. “These crosses, which the crew dubbed the ‘X motif,’ appear whenever a character is in mortal danger,” explains the article’s author Stephen Pizzello. He quotes gaffer Andy Day: “We even had grips and electricians saying, ‘Hey, we could put an X here!’ Michael was always very excited if someone found another place to put an X. He and Marty did it partly as a homage to the great noir films, and also to create a sense of imminent doom” (p. 47).

Two comments: (a) I noticed it a couple of times; I wonder if viewers catch it explicitly or sense it intuitively? (b) Ballhaus says that it refers to a motif in T-Men, which I confess I never noticed. But the same motif was used in Howard Hawks’ Scarface (1932), as Hawks himself explained in interviews. It’s quite heavily stressed in that film, most memorably during a sequence in a bowling alley, when a pencilled X records a strike just before a crook is gunned down on the lane!


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