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

13 days without movies? Not desirable, but possible

Thursday | September 25, 2008   open printable version open printable version

DB yet again:

Our road trip started back on the twelfth of September. We drove to Iowa City and ate at our grad school hangout, Hamburg Inn no. 2. (We even remember Hamburg Inn no. 1, long since vanished.) We pressed on through Nebraska to Denver, for a meeting of the Amarna Research Foundation, which helps support the Egyptian expedition on which Kristin works. She gave a presentation about the unique composite statuary of the Amarna era containing a new hypothesis that Barry Kemp, head of the expedition, found promising. After enjoying the hospitality of ARF president Bill Petty and his wife Nancy, we visited the Rocky Mountain National Park.

After a long day’s drive west, we overnighted in Elko, Nevada, where we learned that Barack Obama was scheduled to give a stump speech the next morning. We hung around and joined an enthusiastic group from all over northern Nevada to hear what he had to say.

After shaking hands with Barack, we moved on, rolling through Utah and into Oregon and Crater Lake National Park. Then up the coast highway to Seattle, where our nephew Sanjeev works for Microsoft and lives with his wife Maggie. We did some nifty touristic things in Seattle, and then with Sanjeev and Maggie we pressed on to Vancouver for its annual film festival.

During our westward passage through Grand Island (neither grand nor apparently an island), Craig, Elko, Klamath Falls, Coos Bay, Tillamook, and Tumwater, we saw many intriguing things. There was, for instance, the perfect rainbow in the bleakly beautiful northwestern Nevada desert.

In a little Colorado town, we found the toilet seat with fishing lures embalmed within.

In Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, while we downed burgers and malts at the Candy Factory & Café, four red-hot mamas came in and spontaneously started singing 1940s swing, Andrews-sisters style.

Yet such roadside attractions can’t compensate for our trip’s biggest drawback. We didn’t see a single complete film, not even on the free HBO available in motels. We used our late evenings to wolf down Subway subs and scan the Internets for news of lipstick, pigs, and less important things like the free fall of the U. S. economy.

Still, even without watching movies we did run across many traces of cinema. So don’t worry: This isn’t a travel entry, but rather an offhand effort to note the ways film keeps crossing our path, sometimes in surprising ways.

Movies everywhere

For instance, Bill Petty, an ardent Egyptomane, has created a home theatre unlike any other. The Pharaohs surely look with envy on this screening room.

In this venue, Bill showed us his home-made mashup of the Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera with the Andrew Lloyd Webber score. That was the closest we got to movie viewing on the trip.

Also in Denver, we ate breakfast with Diane Waldman, old friend and film prof at University of Denver, and her husband Neil. We of course wound up in a restaurant with movie posters.

Passing through Vernal, Colorado, we spotted the most austere multiplex we’d ever seen.

Then there was Donna Kupp’s Books in Reedsport, Oregon. Donna has an excellent collection of classic paperbacks and magazines.

The high points of our purchases were an original souvenir program for The Covered Wagon and a pretty issue of Photoplay from 1932, which featured a gossipy story about the making of Grand Hotel.

The ladies’ big-band quartet wasn’t our reason for stopping in Snoqualmie, of course. You know why. The town was the shooting location of Twin Peaks. Hence this inevitable snapshot.

In Seattle, we discovered Stephanie Ogle’s outstanding Cinema Books on Roosevelt Way, N. E. This store is stuffed to the rafters with film items old and new–books, magazines, posters, and stills. Kristin even autographed some copies of her books.

We picked up several items there. Earlier that day, we visited Paul Allen’s lively Science-Fiction Museum. Sumptuous exhibits, but we weren’t allowed to photograph them. We did, however, get a chance to study a clone of the alien from The Day the Earth Stood Still.

As usual, a trip to an art museum provokes me to think of cinema. You don’t need much nudging to see this Rubens prototype for a Last Supper ceiling as a steep low-angle Welles or Hitchcock shot.

Less obviously, Abraham JanssensOrigin of the Cornucopia (c. 1619) suggests a wide-angle lens at work. The three dryads stuffing the cornucopia are monumental, and monumentally skewed.

The stretched arm of the dryad on the left and the tipped knee of the one on the right seem to bulge right out of the picture plane. Check the hands, which thrust out of the picture and loom larger than the ladies’ heads. In particular, though you can’t see this in reproduction, the thumbnail of the figure on the right is a little blob of paint sitting on the painting’s surface, accentuating the sense that this hand is pointing right at us. Such images remind us that 2-D and 3-D are not so easy to keep distinct.

Our road trip confirms that movies are everywhere, waiting in the corners of our lives, ready to be activated with barely any prompting. Nonetheless, these are all merely teases, snacks making us eager for the banquet to come in Vancouver.

For Jim Emerson: Barbara Stanwyck, from Photoplay (Oct 1932).

Comments are closed.

David Bordwell
top of page

have comments about the state of this website? go here