Flâneur, Poe, and Christopher Nolan’s “Following”

 

Flâneur comes from a French noun and it means “stroller”, “lounger” or “sauntered”. The word Flâneur proceeds from Flânerie which is the act of strolling. The meaning of this word was drawn by rich associations or men that for take the causal leisure. The concept of Flâneur was exerted in the 19th century when urbanization and industrialization were in the making. This kind of concept was explored in a literary and artistic sense by Charles Baudelaire in his essay “The Painter of Modern Life”. In this essay, he explores the processes of modernism and how the world is constantly changing. He tells about the shifting conditions of modernity and how it changes the people and their surroundings. Through the essay, Baudelaire dives into the concept of Flâneur in a more philosophical and literary rather than the concrete act of Flâneur; the author assimilates it with strolling by but in a more complex tone. The act of strolling by and relate to the reality of the changes. Baudelaire describes that act happens when you’re around the cities and the crowd; when you hold still and spectate your surroundings, embracing each person’s individuality. By also watching other people, you enter into a state of self-reflection

Throughout this decade many writers were inspired by the literary phenomenon that is flâneur. Strangely enough one of them was the gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. Baudelaire being the translator for Edgars works, it wasn’t a coincidence that he too was influenced by flâneur and you could find it in his short story “The Man in the Crowd”.

After being named of an unknown illness, the main character sits in a coffee shop and stares into the window, fascinated by the crowd outside. The narrator takes his time into describing us the reader’s small details about each person or group he sees “a decrepit old man, some sixty-five or seventy years of age man” ( Edgar Allan Poe, A Man in the Crowd) peaks his interest and starts following him around the city.

Me being a movie buff I can’t help but think how the literary concept that is flâneur and Poe’s thrilling story that is “A man in the crowd” has a lot of similarities with Christopher Nolan’s first film “Following”.  The “Following” starts an unemployed young writer and he takes pleasure in following strangers in the streets of London. One day following a stranger, the man takes notice that’s he’s being followed and introduces himself as Cobb. He tells the young writer about his hobby that is breaking into people’s houses and enjoys robbing or misplacing other people’s items.

Baudelaire says that to reach a certain enlightenment and ideas you have to experience flâneur. We can say that the main character for takes this literary phenomenon in an extreme way; by following people until he has reached an idea has he trying to be an inspiring writer (which in the film he failed). The main character also has similarities with the main narrator of “A man in the crown”. Plot-wise from being in the coffee shop and admiring people to both get fixated in the same person and start to follow them between the crowds.

An interesting similarity “A man in the Crowd” and the “Following” have is how the plot is just a big cycle. The film starts with a scene from the future and ends with us finding out how everything was part of the plan and how the main character was the one being followed this whole time. In “A Man in the crown” it’s more ambiguous, its starts with us seeing the narrator fixated with one person and end with them still being obsessed with the old man but not telling us the readers more about him just left on midair.

From characters to plot and settings; the following and “A man in the crown” have a lot in common. Characters obsessed with peculiar people to reach a certain idea. The plot in a sense of they both enjoyed following people has their hobby lastly, the setting where they took place in large cities with big crowds.

The concept of flâneur created by Charles Baudelaire has influenced big writers such as Poe and picked up and reinforced by Walter Benjamin who has open discussions with scholars. Till this day poetry about flâneur is being discussed and related because the theme of modernization and urbanization is always going to be in the table because the world is constantly changing and modernizing themselves through the years to come.

 

 

Bibliography

[ image by : https://headlikeanorange.tumblr.com/post/38173461154/mindrelic ]

Christopher Nolan “Following”

“A Man in the Crowd.” Complete Tales and Poems, Web Books.

Aimée Boutin (2012) Rethinking the Flâneur: Flânerie and the Senses, Dix-Neuf

Walter Benjamin, “the Flâneur, and Redemption.”

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Women in Horror Films: Commentary

When it comes to horror; many women have taken iconic roles within the movies. This can be seen in movies such as: “Carrie” where the title character takes her revenge, Ripley fighting “Aliens“, and Laurie being brave enough to fight Michael Myers on “Halloween“. In a gruesome genre such as Horror, people tend to forget those iconic characters and remember the victims, the screamers, the beggars for their life. Now just like women within the film, the industry also tends to forget the women that make them.

On the latest interview with Polygon, Jason Blum, an American director and CEO of Blumhouse production was caught off guard when they asked him about the lack of female directors in his production house he said, and I quote, “There are not a lot of female directors period and even less who are inclined to do horror”. Trying to save what he just said, he tried to justify it with how he wanted to work with female director Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) but she turned him down. Making things worse; he proceeded to ask his assistant names of directors which just caused to make a mockery out of himself. This comment coming from a well-known person in the horror industry came out as a shocker. Even after he posted an apology in his official Twitter, it sparked a conversation within the community.

Being a female in an industry full of raging men is a tough thing to live by. The thing is that Hollywood portrays that there are not enough women interested in the industry, but they’re wrong. It’s the lack of opportunities that they can give to them that makes it hard. If you’re sitting down in a room full of people, ready to present your idea and it could be a great one, but they will give a go to the guy next to you because you never had the chance to make a project in the first place.  It’s the job of production houses, such as Blumhouse, to scout and give the opportunity of making a film to anyone, regardless of gender. There’s plenty of female directors but they haven’t been given the platform to do it. There are talented women all around, you just have to give them a chance.

One of the biggest bias that horror movies have is that women can’t enjoy or create horror. It is a genre that has a mindset of only being full of men. On this day and age, it’s time to break that mold, but the fact remains that if this is how he thinks; this could be the same mindset of many people within the industry. Statements, just like the one Blum said, represent the lack of knowledge and the open mindset that some people in Hollywood have. Comments like this overshadow many creative women that have done horror films throughout the years, and even recently there’s been a big wave of women making great films from this kind of genre.

Rather than shutting them down let’s embrace and support our fellow female horror filmmakers and give them the opportunity to create and feed us fear that we sometimes crave when we are watching a horror film. Let them not be the victims that we see within the movie, but the iconic heroes of it.

Here’s a link to a list of female horror directors: enjoy!

 

{ picture by Brian de Palma . }

 

 

The Witch : Movie Review

The film  The Witch directed and written by Robert Eggers follows the story of a Puritan family in the 1630s New England. Different believes and interpretations from the New Testament leaves William, a devout Yorkshireman being banished from the puritan plantation. Now he, his wife Katherine, their daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, and fraternal twins, Mercy and Jonas; take their leave and build their own little farm in a secluded wood. One day their daughter Thomasin is in charge of babysitting their new baby brother, Samuel and suddenly he disappears. This leads to the downfall of the family.

The director took everything that is folktales, fairy tales, and witchcraft; threw it all together and wrote the story of this movie. It’s a period piece film that wasn’t afraid to touch the subject of religion. We have to applaud the actors for really pushing themselves into the fullest to deliver the lines in full blown old English; something that’s really hard to convey.

The ambiance of the movie went perfectly with the film. The location of the movie , which was in the woods , helped an create uneasiness feel to it . To accompany the mood of the film was eerie sounds to make the scenes unsettling; having a very haunting score. The color palettes of the film went really well , creating a very depressing mood. The only negative thing about this film is that the first act is a total slow burner but at the same time you slowly immerse yourself within the story.

Now, don’t let the trailer of the film fool you because this is not your everyday horror movie. If you’re looking for a good scare, this movie is not for you. There’s no jump scares at all; they only use creepy sounds and imagery that some people will find unsettling. The main focus of the movie is the story itself. How this traditional family breakdown from the loss of the child and starts to blame one another. How they rely on faith but it’s not enough to bring everything back to normal.

Not everything in horror has to be gore and monsters. Sometimes subtleness can be terrifying and that’s what this film is.

I give this film 3 / 5 goats heads.

Trailer for the movie The Witch : 

 

{video by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQXmlf3Sefg }

{ picture by https://giphy.com/thewitchmovie/ }

 

 

 

 

Nanook of the North: a change in the narrative

Resultado de imagen para nanook of the north

Throughout his exploration in Canada, the director Robert J. Flaherty started to develop a fascination towards the Inuit tribe. Flaherty, with his crank camera, began to film the daily life of this tribe and, with just a couple of months, he had a huge amount of film. But, unfortunately, the editing room was set on fire caused by a cigarette lit. Thanks to this event, Robert J. Flaherty took action and began filming once again and, in 1922, he released what is considered the first documentary film, “Nanook of the North”.

This film shows us the life of Nanook and his family in the struggle within a complicated environment to live. There is no doubt that this film was revolutionary. The production of this documentary shows us scenes from remote places; introducing a diverse and exotic culture to the audience. In addition, they play with the aesthetics of scenery surrounded by nature and balance it with the narrative of the documentary. Although this film is important for the history of cinema, at the time it received many criticisms.Imagen relacionada

The director has been criticized for portraying events staged as reality. The name of the main character is not Nanook but Allakariallak. Nala was not his wife in real life, but a person chosen for the role. In the igloo scene, the director had to intervene, since he needed to build it in a way that the camera could fit and that natural light would come in to be able to record. There were also several scenes that were staged such as the seal hunt or how the main character didn’t know what a rifle was; giving the film a more primitive touch.

Flaherty, by organizing images and stories, builds a narrative for this documentary film. We can see how he and his crew members integrate themselves in a completely different environment to provide a cinematic experience that had never occurred at that time. Although most of these scenes were altered and edified by the director, it does not detract from the importance of the film. This documentary manages to project a whole new world and culture to the audience.

 

 

 

[ title: Nanook of the North, picture by konterz, Licence CC ]

Surrealism in film

Stemmed from Dadaism and the rejection of orthodox art, Surrealism was born. This movement started in Paris in the roaring 1920’s and was founded by Andre Breton. The Surrealist prime objective was freedom from the restrictions of rationality and a bourgeois society. They also followed inspirations from the father of the psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. He believed that when the mind was semi-conscious or in a dream state, it’s when the mind could be liberated. That’s why most of the work is represented in a dreamlike state.

From paintings to literature, Surrealism was being manifested in many ways and through time it moved his ways to film. One of the prime examples of surrealist cinema is the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In 1929 he released his film Un Chien Andalou. Co-written by the Painter, Salvador Dali, this film captures the essence of surrealism. By dispensing linear narrative, they are freeing the viewers from normal storytelling; showing them scenes that looked dreamed like and questioning the rationality of the plot. In the film, they also showed shocking and violent imagery to disrupt reality. The perfect scene that represented jolting imagery was when the man cut an eye with a razor blade. Where in that time it must have been unsettling for the viewers.

Surrealism is also the rejection of traditional institutions in society and religion. Showed in 1930’s Luis Buñuel film l’age d’Or, this film uses Christian imagery and use it as a form of mockery. By combining the theme of sexual oppression and Christianity, it was an attack on the bourgeois and the traditional rationality that the viewers had in that time.

Surrealist filmmakers aimed to attack rationality through their films. They intended to derange meaning, to upset and disorient the audience by using shocking imagery. Expressing the illogicality of the narration and plot by depicting in the dreamlike scenery. This movement truly took film and revolutionize it by talk about social commentary and questioning the morality of the people.

[ image by: https://imnotmorrissey.tumblr.com/post/7848258557 ]

 

Scenography in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Prior to the War, Germany was in shambles and left people in a state of fear and confusion. During that time period, society needed to convey their feelings one way or another. From paintings, architecture, and sculptures; German expressionism was born. This genre broadly influenced many fields but it stands out in German Cinema. One of the prime examples of German Cinema is the 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Directed by Robert Weine, this film tells the story of a small German Town and the arrival of Dr. Caligari. Here he shows up at a carnival presenting his show, the somnambulist Cesare who can predict the future. Throughout the film, it shows the characters slowly lose the rationality and how their emotions start to waver all over the place. Being a silent film they relied on makeup, costume and over exaggerated movements to convey the message to the audience. However, one of the things that stood out was on the film was the scenography.

The production design of the scenography emitted the aesthetic of the German expressionism. The set consisted of extreme distortion in the design such as twisted branches, roads that lead to nowhere, uneven houses, inaccurate shapes, and angles. It is dominated with sharp forms, oblique and curved lines creating a certain mysterious and nightmarish feel in the film. The set designer played with the black and white colors to created shadows to create an environment and set the dark atmosphere of the characters.

Expressionism is about experimenting with the emotions and the perception of people. This film used hand-painted backdrops, obscure architecture, and inaccurate angles to create a narrative where they disconnect the audience from reality. The style of the film reflects the uneasiness and the state of mind that the characters portrayed. Truly, this film is a prime example of German Expressionism.

[Source: https://creepy-gifs.tumblr.com/post/41379012470 ]