Cinematic Journeys: Film and Movement

Cinematic Journeys: Film and Movement

Cinematic Journeys: Film and Movement

Cinematic Journeys: Film and Movement

Synopsis

Cinematic Journeys explores the interconnected histories, theories, and aesthetics of mobile vision and cinematic movement, investigating how movements of exploration, discovery, and revelation are activated within narratives of travel and displacement. Case studies focus on the films of Jules Dassin, tracing thematic and aesthetic trends to his status as an exilic director; on films as traveling commodities, such as the popularity of 1950s and 1960s Indian films in Greece; and on the category of the foreign spectator. The volume links specific types of movement to Western sensibilities and analyzes movement and emotive registers in marginalized films, including Sunrise, Death in Venice, The Motorcycle Diaries, Jap n, Blackboards, and Ulysses' Gaze.

Excerpt

Cinematic Journeys was borne out of mundane everyday observations. a couple of years ago my daughter got a dvd camera as a Christmas present. Months later I discover on the computer’s hard drive a series of minimovies. One of them is a long shaky moving shot obviously taken from the back window of our car. I recognise the journey as one of our holiday trips. I become fascinated by the continuous tracking shot of the cloudy and moody (it was a Scottish holiday…) landscape, it reminds me of the journey yet it is different, familiar but also alien. There is sound in the movie, a cd must have been playing in the car. It can be mistaken for a sequence from a road movie but it doesn’t feel like it; the music and the movement are amateurish versions of generic clichés but there is no story to give it shape, no detached pleasure in the views, just a nostalgic rekindling of memories. We visit friends and they show us their holiday video. Shots of villages, towns, beaches, sunsets, the view from their veranda, the sea… I get so bored that I begin to notice a pattern, a stylistic consistency. They are all long panning shots that eventually zoom into a feature in the landscape; or the exact opposite: zooming out from a detail a panning shot unfolds.

There is a thematic similarity in these two instances of travel films, the same fascination with a type of movement that provides a continuous exploration and revelation of space. Paradoxically, the same frame mobility surfaces in ‘proper’ travel films: tracking, panning and zooming, views on the road and of the landscape, constitute the trade stock of the genre. Cinematic Journeys sets out to understand and investigate the reasons that this particular set of movements of the frame becomes such an attractive and pervasive aesthetic in cinema in general and in travel films in particular. What is the genealogy of these incremental, gradual and linear explorations of space that have such a strong hold on the creative imagination of amateur and professional film-makers?

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