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.




[ 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.”


The Narrative of Citizen Kane

After his success in the radio with the sci-fi drama “The War of the Worlds”, Orson Welles won a contract with RKO pictures; giving him complete creativity on the project  In 1941, he created what is considered by filmmakers as one of the best films in history, “Citizen Kane”. This film presented and developed many innovations in the world of cinema. From technical contributions, the game with lights and special effects. But we must emphasize the narrative aspect of this film.

This movie has a simple story. A reporter is assigned to decipher the last words of Charles Foster Kanes; “Rosebud.” Throughout other characters, the life of the main character is narrated. The film may have a simple plot but it is the way that Orson Welles builds the story that highlights it.

Welles explored different and new methods to create his story. He avoids linear and chronic narrative, using flashbacks to tell the story of Charles Foster Kane. He also uses the voice of multiple narrators to reconstruct the life of this individual; demonstrating it in the for interviews.This concept in literature is called an unreliable narrator since the author uses other characters to tell the life of Charles Foster Kane. Welles was able to understand this literary concept and put it into action on the big screen. In addition, through the editing, in an impressive way, he was able to tell the story of the deterioration of Kane’s first marriage in less than 3 minutes.

Orson Welles used storytelling techniques in a creative way. The uses of flashback and how the plot has a non-linear structure; leaving the traditional narrative. They use the technique of montage to give jumps of time and space in the film. “Citizen Kane” is a film that shines in all cinematographic aspects and will continue to influence the world of cinema.

Example how Orson Welles used editing to tell the story of the deterioration of a marriage in less than 3 minutes : 

[ author of the video: davidsmorgan ]

[ Picture by https://giphy.com/channel/maudit ]

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 ]

Experimentando con la Web

En el curso de Informática inf103 de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón estamos produciendo contenido Web por primera vez.

{Autor : Antonio Vantaggiato}

{ fuente:rebloggy.com/post/movie-gifs-silly-goofy-tap-dance-gene-kelly-singing-in-the-rain-classic-movies-k/79260928260 }