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Performing Arts Visual Arts Film Studies Cultural & Media Studies intellect books & journals
Issue Fifteen. July/August 2011
06 | Spotlight
Food Glorious Food: Scenes of Fabulous Feasting on the Big Screen
publishers of original thinking | www.intellectbooks.com
Tech-Noir Film A Theory of the Development of Popular Genres
14 | Widescreen
The Last Picture Show: Kendall Messick's photographs of Gordon Brinckle's Picture Palace
28 | 1000 Words
Spaghetti Junction: The Dollars Trilogy and the Birth of The Spaghetti Western
0 4 | Reel World
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
2 2 | One Sheet
Beauty and The Feast
By Emily E. Auger
ISBN 9781841504247 Hardback UK £60 | US $95
2 6 | Four Frames
From the post-apocalyptic Blade Runner to the James Cameron mega-hit Terminator, tech-noir has emerged as a distinct genre, with roots in both the Promethean myth and the earlier popular traditions of gothic, detective and science fiction. In this new volume, well-known film and literary works – including The Matrix, RoboCop and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – are discussed with reference to their relationship to tech-noir and one another. Featuring an extensive filmography, Tech-Noir Film will be of interest to anyone wishing to learn more about the development of this new and highly innovative genre.
‘The Emperor will come to hear you, and so will the modest seamstress. You have enough talent to distract the rich and to comfort the poor.' Achille Papin
3 2 | On Location
New York, USA
3 8 | Screengem
The Wafer Thin Mint in The Meaning of Life
4 2 | Parting Shot
The Dinner Party in Luis Buñuel's Viridiana
4 6 | Listings
A roundup of this issue's featured films
The Big Picture ISSN 1759-0922 © 2011 intellect Ltd. Published by Intellect Ltd. The Mill, Parnall Road. Bristol BS16 3JG / www.intellectbooks.com Editorial office Tel. 0117 9589910 / E: email@example.com Publisher Masoud Yazdani Editor-In-Chief & Art Direction Gabriel Solomons Editor Scott Jordan Harris Design Assistant Holly Rose Contributors Scott Jordan Harris, Jez Conolly, Sam Price, Nicola Balkind, Neil Mitchell, Daniel Steadman, Kendall Messick, Gabriel Solomons Please send all email enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.thebigpicturemagazine.com l The Big Picture magazine is published six times a year
Intellect is an independent academic publisher of books and journals, to view our catalogue or order our titles visit www.intellectbooks.com or E-mail: email@example.com. Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, UK, BS16 3JG. | Telephone: +44 (0) 117 9589910
f i l m b e yo n d t h e b o r d e r s o f t h e s c r e e n
‘There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew…’ and fans of Forrest Gump can find it all at their local Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant. Neil Mitchell samples the menu.
Forrest Gump’s richly interwoven strands of fantasy and reality were fittingly added to by the establishment of a real Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Left tom Hanks and mYkeLtI WILLIamson, foRRest GUmP beLoW bUbba GUmP sHRImP RestaURant at santa monIca PIeR
Image Courtesy Ryan M Steele
Academy Award-laden adaptation of Winston Groom’s 1986 novel Forrest Gump drew on many aspects of 20th Century American cultural, political and social history and left a mark on popular culture worldwide. As well as teaching Elvis to dance; witnessing desegregation and the Watergate robbery; meeting three presidents; and inspiring John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, Tom Hanks’s Forrest also becomes an unassuming Vietnam War hero. During a surprise attack, he singlehandedly saves the lives of many of his comrades but loses his best friend, the shrimp-loving Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue (Mykelti Williamson) to a fatal injury. In honour of his fallen friend, Forrest buys a shrimping boat and – with his former superior, Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), as first mate – sets up the Bubba
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Comapany
Gump Shrimp Company. After Hurricane Carmen wipes out every boat but Forrest’s, the company cleans up, expands and becomes a household name. Forrest Gump’s richly interwoven strands of fantasy and reality were fittingly added to by the establishment of a real Bubba Gump Shrimp Company by Viacom Consumer Products, Rusty Pelican’s CEO, Scott Barnet, and his partner, Gordon Miles. The company’s first Forrest Gump- themed restaurant opened in Monterey, California in 1996, specialising in seafood and offering a Southern and Cajun menu, as well as selling licensed merchandise relating to the film. With 33 outlets in the US and other countries, Bubba Gump’s is now a well-established and popular franchise chain as familiar to many as its fictional counterpart. [tbp]
cover feature Y
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
Food, Glorious Food
AnnA KAreninA (1935) Dir. Clarence Brown
Scenes of food and feasting have often defined films. Here are six such filmic feasts, on which J e z c o N o l ly and Ni c o l a B a l k i N d stuff themselves silly.
The opening scene of this lavish David O. Selznick production of the Tolstoy classic is set in the officer’s club in St. Petersburg, where an opulent Russian feast is underway. The very first shot of the film, starting with a close-up of a large bowl of caviar on ice and expanding to show a room full of uniformed diners greedily eating and drinking, is an early signifier of the elegant brutality of Tzarist Russia. What follows is one of the most famous and brilliantly executed tracking shots in cinema history. The camera pulls backwards at a very low level along the centre of a banqueting table heaving under the weight of food, drink and candelabra. The shot goes on for metre after metre, as the camera passes over the feast the officers line up along the table’s length to sing a patriotic rendition of a Russian folk song. [Jez Conolly]
Left GReta GaRbo
what follows is one of the most famous and brilliantly executed tracking shots in cinema history.
spotlight food, glorious food
The CoLor PurPLe (1985) dir. Steven Spielberg
Alice Walker’s acclaimed and controversial novel The Color Purple was masterfully adapted to screen by Steven Spielberg: the film earned 11 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg as Celie. Food features infrequently in the film, but when it does, it is a sign of Celie’s secret power – and, eventually, empowerment – over oppressive husband Albert (Danny Glover). When he attempts a romantic breakfast for his mistress, his burned mush of unidentifiable breakfast foods represents his ham-fisted marital and emotional treatment of Celie. Burned and abused by Albert, Celie learns to keep quiet, keep out of his way, and keep busy, though there’s an anger simmering beneath her calm facade. She brings a replacement plate of perfectly formed fried eggs, fluffy white biscuits and salty pork, and we see that Celie has learned to present her cooking in the same way she presents herself: modest, maternal, and wholesome. [Nicola Balkind]
food features infrequently in the film, but when it does, it is a sign of celie’s secret power – and, eventually, empowerment – over oppressive husband albert.
As they study the glutinous culinary arts of face-stuffing and pleasure-seeking, the film becomes a feast of fancy foods and pleasures of the flesh.
LA GrAnde BouFFe (1973) Dir. Marco Ferreri
Hedonism runs rampant in La Grande Bouffe (or Blow Out). Led by Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni), four life-long friends take a weekend sojourn for a ‘gastronomic seminar’ – or so they tell their wives. As they study the glutinous culinary arts of face-stuffing and pleasureseeking, the film becomes a feast of fancy foods and pleasures of the flesh. Employing risqué slides and tarts (of the feminine variety) to beef up their appetites, this vulgar visual fest is a buffet of dinner table gorge-fests where the men are, at every moment, eyeing up their next breast. Their extravagance is not without its consequences, however, and soon their fête goes from ravenous to ravaged, when it is disrupted by its arch nemesis and the purveyor of a fatal twist: flatulence. Chronicled in lip-smacking detail, it’s not one for the faint of heart or hunger. [Nicola Balkind]
above Left andRea feRReoL and PHILIPPe noIRet oPPosIte Rae daWn cHonG and WHooPI GoLdbeRG
spotlight food, glorious food
BABeTTe’S FeAST (1987) Dir. Gabriel Axel
Unlike other ‘food films’ Axel’s adaptation of the Isak Dinesen story is a model of ascetic restraint. Despite emerging at the height of 1980s yuppie overindulgence, its climactic feast does not descend into epicurean pornography. Babette (Stéphane Audran), a refugee pauper from counter-revolutionary Paris, goes to work for two Danish sisters, whose father raised them in a strict religious sect that forbade acts of pleasure. She serves them dutifully for fourteen years until the day her French lottery number comes up, winning her 100 000 Francs. Rather than returning home in style, Babette elects to spend her entire winnings on a gesture of gratitude. The ‘real French dinner’ she prepares – turtle soup, quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce, and rum sponge cake with figs and glacéed fruits featuring among the delights – becomes an act of selfless grace and provides a colourful visual feast to contrast with the film’s otherwise wintry palate. [Jez Conolly]
The CooK, The ThieF, hiS WiFe And her Lover (1989) Dir. Peter Greenaway
In the richly adorned dining room of La Hollandais restaurant, named after the famous Franz Hals painting, its new owner, Albert Spica (Michael Gambon), the vile and self-serving entrepreneur and embodiment of fin de siècle Thatcherite greed, sits among his miserable acolytes espousing his nouveau riche philosophy on the art of gastronomy. Spica regards dining as a means of gaining social respectability, despite displaying little real appreciation for the food that he is served. As each day passes the menu grows evermore haute cuisine – avocado in vinaigrette sauce with shrimps; a salad of pike fillets with oysters; a rich potage a la Monglas (a creamy soup made with foie gras, truffles, and mushrooms and flavoured with Madeira) – to the extent that one feels the handiwork of the cook (Richard Bohringer) is deliberately pushing Spica and his associates to the limits of their digestive capability. [Jez Conolly]
despite emerging at the height of 1980s yuppie overindulgence, its climactic feast does not descend into epicurean pornography.
above PeteR GReenaWaY and RIcHaRd boHRInGeR above Left bIRGItte fedeRsPIeL, stePHane aUdRan and Hanne stensGaaRd
Spica regards dining as a means of gaining social respectability, despite displaying little real appreciation for the food that he is served.
c i n e m a ' s t h e m at i c s t r a n d s
hooK (1991) Dir. Steven Spielberg
every memorable meal requires fresh ingredients, a creative recipe, and a little imagination.
Every memorable meal requires fresh ingredients, a creative recipe, and a little imagination – and, in the Lost Boys’ feast in Hook, imagination is the key ingredient. Returning to Neverland after a 30-year absence, a grown-up Peter Pan (Robin Williams) sits down to break bread with his old chums Tinks, Rufio, and the Lost Boys. As the boys tuck in something is amiss: the food. The outraged Peter’s complains are met with the insistence that this used to be his favourite game, leading to an argument between Peter and Rufio. In a last ditch attempt to win the fight, Peter conjures a little imagination, splatting Rufio in the face with a catapulted piece of fruit. Suddenly, a grand buffet of culinary delights are at the boys’ (literal) disposal as all manner of meats and every colour of frosting imaginable fill the dinner table just in time for a good old fashioned food fight. [Nicola Balkind]
Left JULIa RobeRts
seeing film in a wider context
The man who built a movie palace in his own basement and the photographer who told his touching story. Interview by Sa M P r i c e Photographs by k eN da ll M eSS i c k
Pa u l i n e k a e l s a i d o f f i l m in her famous 1969 essay “Trash, Art and the Movies” that it was a medium made for “displaced persons”, “a tawdry corrupt art” that suited this “tawdry corrupt world”. And even though we may sometimes find our waking lives dissatisfactory and impermanent, conclude that our collective destinies are forever out of our control whilst looking for a “home” that “no longer exists”, Kael assures us that, even when we are at our lowest ebb, there is one constant, one variable humankind can bend to its will in order to take some solace away from the drudgery of day-to-day living. Kael summed it up in five words: “But there are movie houses”. Think of a suicidal Woody Allen grabbing a screening of Duck Soup in Hannah and Her Sisters to stop himself from blowing his brains out, or a shell-shocked Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo losing herself in a matinee showing of Top Hat before she must confront the real world of Depression-era poverty. Think of Bruce Willis hiding out from the end of the world in a repertory cinema showing Vertigo at a “24 Hour Hitchcock Fest” in Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, remarking of its constancy, “The movie never changes – it can’t change – but every time you see it, it seems different because you’re different.” Think of the elegiac, mournful screening of Red River at the climax of The Last Picture Show, where the shuttering of the town nickelodeon is framed by director Peter Bogdonavich as the loss of a generation’s innocence on the eve of the Korean War, the cinema’s owner balefully announcing, “Nobody wants to come to shows
above WoRkInG and ReWoRkInG Left act I backGRoUnd GoRdon bRInckLe c.1941
Left GoRdon bRInckLe as a YoUnG man PHoto taken In HIs fIRst tHeatRe constRUctIon In HIs PaRents PHILadeLPHIa, Pa basement (c.1941)
Left 110 east HoffeckeR stReet beLoW WatcHInG teLevIsIon
no more”. Think of even the “cineautistic” protagonist of Steve Erickson’s novel Zeroville, Ike Jerome, who’d be a classic literary loner wandering about the City of Angels, if it weren’t for the tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun inked on the side of his head. Think of Sunset Boulevard and Gloria Swanson driven mad, forever taunted by “those wonderful people out there in the dark” who once littered the movie houses to see her silent pictures. Even in this epoch of soulless corporate multiplexes films, movie stars, and the cinemas that bring them to life, are still sanctuaries, safe havens; spaces where Kael’s “displaced persons” can go to feel alone, and yet still be surrounded by people. No doubt it was this same impulse – to vanish from the world by inhabiting several new, fictional ones – that drew an otherwise retiring “loner” from Delaware called Gordon Brinckle to construct a shockpink 1950s-style movie palace in his own basement which he dubbed “The Shalimar”. Built in 1959 and maintained until his death in 2007, Brickle’s cinema was a personalised, almost otherworldly dreamscape localised entirely under his floorboards. According to the artist, photographer and filmmaker who spent his formative years across the street from Brinckle’s home, Kendall Messick, Gordon was at the heart of an “improbable tale” about “a man who despite numerous obstacles pursued his dream by quietly building it in his basement seems to be at the
Central, too, to Messick’s work was capturing “the dichotomy of Gordon’s upstairs and downstairs worlds”; the difference between his everyday ordinariness and the magical transgressions possible in his cinema.
core of people’s feelings of inspiration”. Gordon’s humdrum life in small-town America, in Messick’s words “a mundane 1950s suburban home”, was enlivened by an idealised private bolthole with “four working curtains, an auditorium, a box office, a marquee, an organ alcove and a projection room”. Messick’s commitment to preserving Gordon’s story began in 2001 and he has continued the work for over a decade, first in photographic form and then later, with his creative partner Lida Burris Gibson as a documentary in late 2003. A tall, stooping, raggedlooking man by the time of his death that would keep good company with any of the oddballs captured on film by Albert and David Maysles, Gordon built his theatre, according to Messick, as “a memorial to the movie palaces of the early twentieth century”. A paean to a cultural space lost, seemingly forever, Gordon states in the
documentary he constructed the theatre in his own home, “Because it’s something beautiful, something I was able to create, God gave me that power and I’ve tried to use it. He told me you can’t have that big picture house. You’ll lose it. But you can build it in your home if you want to.” Central, too, to Messick’s work was capturing “the dichotomy of Gordon’s upstairs and downstairs worlds”; the difference between his everyday ordinariness and the magical transgressions possible in his cinema. In his book, dubbed The Projectionist after the profession Gordon held down for thirty-three years before being turfed out with the coming of the multiplexes, Messick contrasts the black-and-white normality of Gordon’s home-life against the wild, pungent Techincolor delights of The Shalimar. The cinema itself appears not a
thousand miles removed from David Lynch’s ethereal “Club Silencio” in Mulholland Drive (ironically a performance space that Lynch is in the process of building for real in Paris), and declares itself to be “Delaware’s Last Movie House”, either an apocryphal or an apt moniker, depending on which way you look at it, particularly since Delaware was never a state known for its palatial movie houses. Shortly before his death in 2007, Messick stripped The Shalimar from its natural habitat and reassembled it brick-by-brick. It now tours the length and breadth of the US. It’s a fitting tribute to Gordon’s legacy, given that at the heat of what Messick calls the “human
narrative” burbling beneath the surface, was Gordon’s dream first to own a movie palace – something now eminently possible with this travelling exhibition. When I ask Messick about Gordon’s unique paradoxical preoccupation for a furiously private man not particularly concerned with films themselves, but the paraphernalia surrounding them, he cites the projectionist’s perfectionism to a “constructed vision” as what marks him out as “a true artist”, relaying Gordon’s own words that cinemas today are “cheap looking affairs”, the “beauty and graciousness of the past” now lost in the rash of anonymous, utilitarian cinemas designed to run the latest Michael Bay pictures over and over.
“not unlike a painter that paints over what many would consider to be a finished canvas, he was constantly working and re-working his constructed vision of what the theatre should be throughout his life.”
above tIcket takeR
cLockWIse fRom toP Left sHaLImaR exIt maRYann exIt tReatment c.1941 fULL PRoscenIUm dRaPeRY tReatment c.1938 LIttLe kImbaLL (aLL dRaWInGs © GoRdon bRInckLe)
Left tHe vIeWInG WIndoW above fInaL InsPectIon beLoW tHe PRoJectIonIst bYkendaLL messIck avaILabLe fRom WWW.amazon.com
It’s easy, perhaps to roll over and accept the tide of gimmicks of the multiplex and become part of the undisciplined, popcorn-munching morass, but there’s a universalism about what Messick is capturing in a project like The Projectionist that speaks to cinema’s abilities to yoke people together. What historian E.P Thompson sought to do by chronicling the lives of the English working poor in prose (recapturing them from “the enormous condescension of posterity”) Messick is realising through pictures, the moving image and the act of physically hauling Gordon’s
Shalimar across the country for others to enjoy. There’s a quote attributed to Francois Truffaut that goes, “For me, cinema is not a sad imitation of life. It is an improvement on life.” For a man like Gordon Brinckle, it was perhaps the literal truth. But as Kael reminds us, no matter what form we choose to construct them – in our homes, in our repertory cinemas, our own private Shalimars, even our quiet nooks in the multiplex there are still, and shall always be, movie houses for those wonderful people out there in the dark. [tbp]
An exhibition, book and film by Kendall Messick: www.theprojectionist.net
deconstructing film posters
Beauty and the
Women and lust, lust and sex, sex and food. A somewhat tenuous and dubious link we know but one that was a cornerstone of the horror exploitation genre's poster art in the 1970s. Here are just a few wonderfully grotesque examples.
The Food of The Gods (1976) Original US One Sheet Art by Chantrell
The Food of The Gods (1976) Original US One Sheet Art by Unknown
one sheet beauty and the feast Cannibal Girls (1973) Original US One Sheet Art by Unknown
Slave of the Cannibal God (1978) Original US One Sheet Art by Unknown
This iconic poster for Michael Ritchie’s 1969 film Downhill Racer is one of a number by successful designer, art director and advertising mogul Stephen Frankfurt. At just 25 Frankfurt was noticed and hired by producer Alan J. Pakula to design the title sequence for Robert Mulligan’s 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. What Frankfurt came up with changed the art of title design, and led to the realisation that movies could – and perhaps should – be packaged and sold in their totality. For Frankfurt, simplicity and directness (note the use of the tagline here) was a must, and this can be seen not only in this but also the remarkably similar poster he designed for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby the year before.
What Frankfurt came up with changed the art of title design, and led to the realisation that movies could – and perhaps should – be packaged and sold in their totality.
Exploitation Posters feature on www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
t h e a r t o f a b b r e v i at e d s t o r y t e l l i n g
Tom Jones, Dir. Tony Richardson, 1963
Music can be the food of love – but so can food. Jez c o N o l ly examines one of the most sexualised of eating in cinema.
t h e R i P e , P R e - c o i t a l pleasures of the dining table enjoyed by the rakish hero of Henry Fielding’s novel provide one of cinema’s most enduring, enjoyable and oft-parodied double-entendres. Tom (Albert Finney) sits facing the saucy Mrs. Waters (Joyce Redman), who leads him in a feast of foodie foreplay; the soft bodies of oysters slide into their mouths, the juice from pears drips from their chins, the flesh is stripped from the bones of chicken legs. Throughout the feeding frenzy the couple maintain amorous eye contact. With their mouths otherwise occupied they use the gaze to signal their intentions beyond this prandial prelude, namely, to ‘leave room for “pudding”’. The scene was improvised over a shoot lasting three hours and Finney and Redman suffered the consequences of overeating for several days. The wishbone that they snap midway through their gorging was actually made out of matchsticks put together by the props department, the real thing proving to be too soft.
Read More f o u R f R a m e s online at www.thebigpicturemagazine.com
The Dollars Trilogy and the Birth of The Spaghetti Western.
m o m e n t s t h at c h a n g e d c i n e m a f o r e v e r
When Italian director Sergio Leone turned the young star of Rawhide into the mysterious ‘Man With No Name’, his success caused an explosion in so-called ‘spaghetti Westerns’. da N i el S t ea dM a N pulls on his poncho.
Left eLI WaLLacH
i n t h e f i n a l , three-way showdown between Clint Eastwood’s Blondie, Eli Wallach’s Tuco and Lee Van Cleef ’s Angel Eyes in The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, it takes four minutes and 36 seconds for a shot to be fired. That’s 6624 frames. Let’s not think about what a director without Sergio Leone’s cinematic composure would have done in that time. It’s hard to imagine Bay, Emmerich or Cameron lingering on a single event for longer than four frames, let alone focussing on their film’s three protagonists, eyeballing each other, using nothing more than their contrasting expressions, increasingly claustrophobic facial close-ups and a crescendo-ing score to paint a picture of intense, still and heroic menace. Leone’s Dollars trilogy, made up of A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, is a loosely connected series following Clint Eastwood’s lone gunslinger, a variously amoral, ruthless
and compassionate antihero. Part of a movement termed the ‘Spaghetti Western’ (initially derogatorily), there are many imprecise factors that make these films so continually strange, compulsive and remarkable. Chief among them is the sheer audacity of taking the Western – the cornerstone of pre- and post-war popular cinema – and transforming its setting, mood and, most importantly, values. Released in the mid-1960s, the films represent the moment when American cinema’s most important source of cultural iconography was no longer the sole preserve of the country that invented it. Before Leone and the European directors, there had, of course, been weird Westerns: films in which the morality of central characters was murky and that didn’t tread the same familiar floors of the saloon, the canyon and the homestead. However, where these films represented isolated exceptions, Leone’s work had opposition at its heart. Shooting various locales
1000 words spaghetti Junction
in his native Italy to look like Mexican border towns and Texan valleys; casting awkward, shifty character actors; and minimising dialogue to the functional or the offbeat all contributed to a feeling that this was something new: a challenge to the accepted truths about the Western. During the year of the release of the first film in the trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), John Wayne was stricken by illness, John Ford directed his last Western (Cheyenne Autumn) and Anthony Mann swapped saddles for sandals in his classical epic The Fall of the Roman Empire. The great men who had evolved the genre from irreverent entertainment into a serious consideration of their country’s political history and legacy were aging or else abandoning the increasingly tired world of cowboys and desperadoes. Sergio Leone, a 35-year-old Italian with a single directorial credit (The Colossus of Rhodes, 1961) and Clint Eastwood, a 34-year-old TV actor, proved to be the odd couple that would find a complex new context for the genre. While Leone’s eccentric, visceral vision undoubtedly powered the films’ break from convention, the web of morality spun by Eastwood’s Joe / Blondie / Man with No Name helps weave their unique narrative. From spying the potential
the dollars trilogy gave a wholesome hollywood archetype an unsettling, indefinably european outlandishness.
for mercenary cash-grabbing in gang-ridden San Miguel (‘The Baxters on one side and the Rojos on the other and me in the middle. A man could get rich in a town like this’) to the uneasy alliance with Colonel Mortimer, the shifting allegiances and motives of the central character – and that he speaks in brief, gnomic asides, revealing little – generate a restless fascination. When the films are considered as a trilogy, the viewer’s uncertainty over whether Eastwood’s three characters are, in fact, the same man deepens. His spectral wandering through slightly differing eras and geographical locations (the films are set variously on the Mexican border or in ‘Western territories’ and during the late 19th Century and during the Ameri-
The great men who had evolved the genre from irreverent entertainment into a serious consideration of their country’s political history and legacy were aging or else abandoning the increasingly tired world of cowboys and desperadoes.
above cLInt eastWood
can Civil War) suggests the characters are different parts of the same symbolic whole. Ennio Morricone’s scores also lend the films – particularly For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – an eerie, otherworldly magnificence. Again, though exceptions existed, Morricone’s screeching mariachi horns, brooding orchestral flourishes and jarring sound effects simply did not fit the template of the traditional Western score. While the seminal Western soundtracks of the 1950s – the works of Max Steiner, Walter Scharf, Dimitri Tiomkin, etc. – relied on familiar ‘Where the Buffalo Roam’-style pseudomusical scores, Morricone’s was a completely different audio aesthetic. In addition to the characteristic sounds of non-
above kLaUs kInskI and Lee van cLeef In foR a feW doLLaRs moRe
musical instruments (including cracking whips and actual gunshots – mostly used because of budgetary constraints), Morricone used the dissonant howl of the electric guitar, a hugely alien sound among the conventionally rustic acoustics of the singing cowboy. Perhaps, though, what will continue to amaze new generations about the Dollars trilogy is their boldness in giving a wholesome Hollywood archetype an unsettling, indefinably European outlandishness. This was multicultural, genre-defying cinema at its earliest and remains one its bravest examples. While the power of clearly definable categories of movies still holds a significant populist sway, global avant garde cinema delights in the visual thrill of taking the templates of suc-
cessful genres and layering new meanings, associations and possibilities onto them. Although it is tempting to imagine that younger viewers are so used to this borderless interplay of cinema and culture that it ceases to impress, one need only consider the number of current film-makers who have adapted Leone’s model successfully. The gritty, unsettling thrillers of Park ChanWook; the vibrant, day-glo melodramas of Pedro Almodovar; and the surreal, animated fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki all send Leone’s message to Hollywood: whether it be classic films noir, screwball comedies or Disney adventures, we’ll take what you started and make it our own. Such is the legacy of this arresting and mesmerizing trilogy. [tbp]
[BooK] '10,000 Ways to Die: A Director's Take on the Spaghetti Western' by Alex Cox
[MAgAzINE] Screengem: 'The Cheroot as used by The Man With No Name' in Issue 10 of The Big Picture
xNew York x
t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
a caP i tal of culture, finance, politics and business, an entry point for immigrants, an empire for crime lords and, subsequently, the setting for a multitude of movies, New York is a uniquely cinematic city. Our aim in World Film Locations: New York is to capture some of its appeal on the page via the work of those who have captured it on film – and to create what is, we hope, a fitting celebration of the Big Apple on the big screen. The following four films are featured in the book; they are also four of the finest films ever set in the city that never sleeps.
Dir: Ted Wilde USA, 85 minutes Starring: Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff
KinG KonG (1933)
Dir: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack USA, 105 minutes Starring: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong
It is ironic that cinema’s most iconic image of New York was not filmed on location, but in a studio using models and mock-ups, and that it is such a strong indictment of a city so often unquestioningly adored by filmmakers. As King Kong’s eponymous ape stands atop the Empire State Building, he is beset on all sides by attacking aeroplanes. Supreme ruler of his natural habitat, Kong cannot survive the savagery of New York’s concrete jungle, and dies in an ending as famous as any on film. Still superior to every remake, sequel and spin-off, the original King Kong remains a powerful parable and one of America’s most monumental movies.
Perhaps no city is as storied, photographed and filmed as New York. S cot t J o r da N ha r r i S, editor of the new book World Film Locations: New York, takes us on a cinematic tour.
Always one of the great New York movies, Speedy’s significance only increases with age. Once, it was simply a wonderful film showcasing a brilliant comedian at the peak of his powers; now it is an artefact, preserving the image and character of a New York long since lost. Harold Lloyd – a contemporary and, often, equal of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton – plays the eponymous Harold ‘Speedy’ Swift, who bounces between jobs in a city caught between its slow-paced past and its rapidly approaching future as the world’s busiest metropolis. His hilarious attempts to save New York’s last horse car facilitate some first class silent comedy – and some stunning shots of the city.
t h e p l a c e s t h at m a k e t h e m o v i e s
Left man on WIRe beLoW manHattan
Dir: Woody Allen USA, 96 minutes Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep
There was only one picture we wanted on the cover of World Film Locations: New York: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, seen in silhouette, seated on a bench beneath the elegant expanse of the Queensboro Bridge. The image, shot by Gordon Willis, sums up the majesty and sophistication of the city with which Allen is synonymous, with a brevity and beauty worthy of one of his witticisms. It is an indication of Manhattan’s quality that this perfect shot does not overshadow the rest of the film but simply enhances it, helping Manhattan endure as cinema’s cleverest, and most melancholy, examination of what it is to be a certain kind of New Yorker.
it is an indication of Manhattan’s quality that this perfect shot does not overshadow the rest of the film but simply enhances it.
MAn on Wire (2002)
Dir: James Marsh UK, 90 minutes Starring: Philippe Petit
Perhaps the most affecting photographs in World Film Locations: New York are those of the incomparable highwire walker Philippe Petit suspended above the city on a tightrope stretched between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. They would have been unforgettable images if the attacks of September 11 had never taken place and the Towers still stood; knowing what we know about the Towers’ fate, they are almost unbearable. Although for very different reasons, Man on Wire is, like Speedy, both simply an exceptional film and, beyond that, a record of New York as we will never see it again.
[BooK ] Buy World Film Locations: New York edited by Scott Jordan Harris from Amazon.co.uk
world film locations exploring the city onscreen
A new film book series from Intellect. www.intellectbooks.com
edited by scott jordan harris
ISBN 9781841504827 Paperback / £9.95
Be they period films, cult classics, or elaborate directorial love letters, New York City has played – and continues to play – a central role in the imaginations of film-makers and movie-goers worldwide. The stomping ground of King Kong, it is also the place where young Jakie Rabinowitz of The Jazz Singer realizes his Broadway dream. Later, it is the backdrop against which taxi driver Travis Bickle exacts a grisly revenge. The inaugural volume in an exciting new series from Intellect, World Film Locations: New York pairs incisive profiles of quintessential New York film-makers – among them Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, and Spike Lee – with essays on key features of the city’s landscape that have appeared on the big screen. “An elegant tribute to the films and locations that have given New York its private real estate in our minds. The contributors are so immediately readable and movie-savvy.” – Roger Ebert
edited by neil mitchell
city essays Y
"I knew the joy of New York long before I ever visited the city. The Godfather, The Apartment and Breakfast at Tiffany's all introduced me to the cinematic scope of one of the world's most vibrant cities. This book reminds me of that joy." Hardeep Singh Kohli
"Insightful, entertaining essays about classic films and the role their real-life... locations play in them." Don Payne (Consulting producer, The Simpsons)
An exciting and visually focused tour of the diverse range of films shot on location in London, World Film Locations: London presents contributions spanning the Victorian era, the swinging 1960s, and the politically charged atmosphere following the 2007 underground bombings. Essays exploring key directors, themes, and historical periods are complemented by reviews of important scenes that offer particular insight into London’s relationship to cinema. From Terror on the Underground to Thames Tales to Richard Curtis’s affectionate portrayal of the city in Love Actually, this user-friendly guide explores the diversity and distinctiveness of films shot on location in London.
ISBN 9781841504841 Paperback / £9.95
“Handsome and intriguing, like a ghosthunter’s companion to a world that is – and isn’t – there,” – Francine Stock
Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967)
also available tokyo los angeles paris dublin
book series launch event and party
with special guest speakers
friday september 30th, 2011 at the bfi, southbank
for further information visit www.intellectbooks.com
e vo c at i v e o b j e c t s o n s c r e e n
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
The sweet treat that metaphorically broke the camel's back. J ez co N o l ly takes a bite and tries to keep his dinner down.
foR many, it is one of the most disgusting scenes in cinema. For others, it is one of the funniest. When the absurdly obese Mr Creosote (Terry Jones) waddles into a luxurious French restaurant, he is already about to vomit – and soon surpasses the girl in The Exorcist for unforgettable on-screen spewing. Even so, he orders practically everything on the menu, most of it mixed together in a bucket, and after eating it all seems, quite literally, about to explode. Which is when John Cleese’s maître d' – as memorable and merciless a torturer as Laurence Olivier’s deranged dentist in Marathon Man – insists the meal be completed with a wafer-thin mint. Placing it in Mr Creosote’s
mouth, he dives for cover like a bomb disposal expert fleeing a botched defusal. Mr Creosote expands and then explodes, showering the restaurant with his innards and creating an image that stains the eyes of every cinemagoer who sees it. Although it appears for only seconds, and although it lacks the artistic significance of many of the items we celebrate as Screengems, the sweet that burst the glutton’s gut is nevertheless one of the most evocative objects in film. Those who cannot recall it without feeling queasy should perhaps avoid buying a box of ‘Mr Creosote’s Wafer-Thin Mints’, which are bestsellers among official Monty Python merchandise. [tbp]
Wafer-Thin Mints from deadparrotshop.com
Directory of World Cinema: Italy offers a wide film and cultural context for Italian cinema’s key aspects, from political radicalism to opera, from the art house to popular cinema. Essays by leading academics about prominent genres, directors and themes provide insight into the cinema of Italy and are bolstered by reviews of significant titles. From silent spectacle to the giallo, the spaghetti western to the masterworks of neorealism, this book offers a comprehensive historical sweep of Italian cinema. Containing fifty full colour images, this volume will appeal to film scholars and cinephiles alike.
ISBN 9781841504001 | Paperback | £15.95
experience global culture through the magic of film
The Directory of World Cinema aims to play a part in moving intelligent, scholarly criticism beyond the academy. Each volume of the Directory provides a culturally representative insight into a national or regional cinema through a collection of reviews, essays, resources, and film stills highlighting significant films and players. Over time, new editions will be published for each volume, gradually building a comprehensive guide to the cinema of each region. To contribute to the project or purchase copies please visit the website.
To view our catalogue or order our books and journals visit www.intellectbooks.com. Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 3JG.
i m i tat i o n i s t h e s i n c e r e s t f o r m o f f l at t e r y
beLoW vIRIdIana (1961)
When master Surrealist Luis Buñuel re-staged the Last Supper, he offended both Francisco Franco and the Pope. Sco t t JordaN h arriS pulls up a chair.
The iMPACT oF The iMAGe iS ASToniShinG, And ShoWS juST hoW indeLiBLy iMPrinTed dA vinCi’S PAinTinG iS on our iMAGinATionS.
the dinneR PaRt y in Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961) is one of the most iconic – and iconoclastic – acts of imitation in film. When the saintly, titular Viridiana leaves the house she has inherited from her uncle unoccupied, the rough and dirty paupers she has allowed to live in an outbuilding break in and throw an uproarious banquet. After gorging, brawling, singing and swearing, they pose for a ‘picture’ taken by one of the women (who redefines ‘flash photography’) and, as they do so, they exactly recreate the positions of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The impact of the image is astonishing, and shows just how indelibly imprinted da Vinci’s painting is on our imaginations. There cannot have been a single viewer of Viridiana who did not spot the reference, but there have been a great number who did not appreciate it. The scene was surely one of the (admittedly many) moments in the film that drove some – including l’Osservatore Romano, the official publication of the Vatican – to denounce Viridiana as blasphemous; in Spain, under President Franco, it was banned. But it is not the image that offends so much as its message. As Derek Malcolm wrote, ‘This, suggests Buñuel, is what happens to saints – their virtue is thrown back in their faces. People, and the world, cannot be changed, and acceptance of things as they are is the only course.’ One of cinema’s greatest depictions of dining force-feeds us one of its most unpalatable ideas. [tbp]
Read ‘Derek Malcolm’s Century of Film: Viridiana’ on guardian.co.uk/film
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Forrest gump (1994) Dir. Robert zemeckis
g see page 4/5
Plublishers of this here magazine...
The Film International Website
So you’ve read about the films, now go watch them!
A Fistful of Dollars (1965) Dir. Sergio Leone
g see page 30
Each issue of The Big Picture is produced by Bristol based publisher, intellect.
Come experience the miracle
Resurrected – Redesigned – Reanimated
Anna Karenina (1935) Dir. Clarence Brown
g see page 6/7
For a Few Dollars More (1965) Dir. Sergio Leone
g see page 31
La grande Bouffe (1973) Dir. Tom Hooper
g see page 8
Speedy (1928) Dir. Ted Wilde
g see page 32/33
The Colour Purple (1985) Dir. gary Ross
g see page 8/9
King Kong (1933) Dir. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsac
g see page 33
Babette's Feast (1987) Dir. gabriel Axel
g see page 10
Manhattan (1979) Dir. Woody Allen
g see page 34/35
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) Dir. Peter greenaway
g see page 10/11
Man on Wire (2002) Dir. James Marsh
g see page 34
Hook (1991) Dir. Steven Spielberg
g see page 12/13
The Meaning of Life (1983) Dir. Terry Jones
g see page 38/39
Tom Jones (1963) Dir. Tony Richardson
g see page 26/27
Viridiana (1961) Dir. Luis Buñuel
g see page 41
Intellect is an independent academic publisher in the fields of creative practice and popular culture, publishing scholarly books and journals that exemplify their mission as publishers of original thinking. Theyaim to provide a vital space for widening critical debate in new and emerging subjects, and in this way they differ from other publishers by campaigning for the author rather than producing a book or journal to fill a gap in the market. Intellect publish in four distinct subject areas: visual arts, film studies, cultural and media studies, and performing arts. These categories host Intellect’s ever-expanding topics of enquiry, which include photography, drawing, curation, community music, gaming and scenography. Intellect titles are often multidisciplinary, presenting scholarly work at the cross section of arts, media and creative practice.
For further information about the company and to browse their catalogue of titles simply visit: www.intellectbooks.co.uk
The good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) Dir. Sergio Leone
g see page 28/29
the big picture issue 16 available 15 september 2011
coming of age
The views and opinions of all texts, including editorial and regular columns, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the editors or publishers.
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