23 November, 2005

The Premature Old Age of the Cinema

By Antonin Artaud

People have tried to make a fundamental distinction, a kind of division of qualities between two or three kinds of cinema.

On the one hand, there is dramatic cinema, in which chance, that is, the unforeseen, that is, poetry, is in principle suppressed. Not a single detail which does not originate from an absolutely conscious choice of the mind, which is not established with a view to a specific and certain result. The poetry, if poetry there be, is of an intellectual order; only secondarily does it draw on the particular resonance of the objects of perception at the moment they enter into contact with the cinema.

On the other hand, there is documentary cinema, the last refuge of the partisans of cinema at any cost. Here, a preponderant role is assigned to the machine and to the spontaneous and direct development of the aspects of reality. The poetry of things considered in their most innocent aspect, and as they relate to the external, is given full play.

I want, for once, to talk about cinema in itself, to study it in its organic functioning, and to see how it behaves at the moment it enters into contact with the real.

The lens which pierces to the center of objects creates its own world and it may be that the cinema takes the place of the human eye, that it thinks for the eye, that it screens the world for the eye, and that by this work of concerted and mechanical elimination it allows only the best to remain. The best - that is, that which is worth retaining, those shreds of appearance which float on the surface of memory and whose residue seems to be automatically filtered by the lens. The lens classifies and digests life, it offers the sensibility, the soul, a nourishment that is ready-made, and presents us with a world that is finished and sterile. Moreover, it is not certain that, of what is worth recording, it really lets through only the most significant and the best. For it must be noted that its vision of the world is fragmentary, that however valuable the melody it manages to create among objects may be, this melody is, as it were, a two-edged sword.

On the one hand, it is subject to the arbitrariness, the internal laws of the machine with the fixed eye; on the other, it is the result of a particular human will, a precise will which has an arbitrariness of its own.

What can be said under these conditions is that insofar as the cinema is left alone in the presence of objects it imposes an order on them, an order which the eye recognizes as valid and which corresponds to certain external habits of the memory and the mind. The question that arises here is whether or not this order would continue to be valid if the cinema tried to carry the experiment further and offer us not only certain rhythms of habitual life as the eye or ear recognizes them, but those darker, slow-motion encounters with all that is concealed beneath things, the images - crushed, trampled, slackened, or dense - of all that swarms in the lower depths of the mind.

Although the cinema does not need a language, some kind of convention in order to connect us with objects, it nevertheless does not take the place of life; these are broken pieces of objects, cutouts of views, unfinished puzzles of things which it binds together forever. And this, whatever anyone thinks, is very important, for we must realize that it is an incomplete world which the cinema presents, and from a single remote point; and it is very fortunate that this world is forever fixed in its incompleteness; for if by some miracle the objects this photographed, this stratified on the screen, could move, one dares not think of the figure of nothingness, the gap in the world of appearances which they would manage to create. I mean that the form of a film is final and without appeal, and although it allows a sifting and a choice of images before it presents them, it forbids the action of those images to change or to transcend itself. This is incontestable. And no one can claim that a human gesture is ever perfect, that there exists no possible improvement in its action, in its influence, in its communication. The world of the cinema is a world that is dead, illusory, and fragmented. Apart from the fact that it does not contain things, that it does not enter the center of life, that it retains only the epidermis of forms and then only what can be included in a very limited visual angle, it rules out all repetition, which is one of the major conditions of magical power, of the rending of sensibility. Life cannot be remade. Living waves, inscribed in a number of vibrations that is forever fixed, are waves that are henceforth dead. The world of the cinema is a closed world, without relation to existence. Its poetry exists not on the other side but on this side of images. By the time it collides with the mind, its dissociative force has been broken. There has been poetry, to be sure, around the lens, but before the filtering by the lens, the recording on film.

Besides, since the talking film, the elucidations of speech arrest the unconscious and spontaneous poetry of images; the illustration and completion of the meaning of an image by speech show the limitations of the cinema. The so-called mechanical magic of a constant drone of images has not survived the onslaught of speech, which has made this mechanical magic appear as the result of a purely physiological surprise attack on the senses. We have quickly tired of the accidental beauties of the cinema. To have one's nerves more or less pleasantly massaged by abrupt and unusual cavalcades of images whose sequence and whose mechanical appearance eluded the laws and even the structure of thought may have delighted a few aesthetes of the obscure and the unexpressed who were seeking these sensations systematically but without ever being sure that they would appear. These elements of chance and of the unexpressed were part of the dark and subtle enchantment which the cinema exerted over certain minds. All this, in addition to a few other, more precise qualities which we all went there to find.

We knew that the most characteristic and the most striking virtues of the cinema were always, or almost always, the result of chance, that is, a kind of mystery whose fatality we never managed to explain.

In this fatality there was a kind of organic emotion in which the objective and steady buzz of the projector blended, even as it contrasted, with the amusing appearance of images as precise as they were unexpected. I am not talking about alterations in rhythm imposed on the appearance of objects from the real world, but life passing at its own rhythm. I believe that the humor of the cinema arises partly from this security regarding a background rhythm on which are superimposed (in comic films) all the fantasies of a movement that is more or less irregular and vehement. For the rest, apart from that sort of rationalization of life, whose waves and patterns, such as they are, have been emptied of their fullness, their density, their range, their interior frequency, by the arbitrariness of the machine, the cinema remains a fragmentary and, as I have said, stratified and frozen, conquest of reality. All fantasies concerning the use of slow motion or speeded-up are applied only to a world of vibrations which is closed and which does not have the faculty of enriching or nourishing itself from its own resources; the idiot world of images trapped as if in birdlime in a myriad of retinas will never live up to the image that some persons have managed to form of it.

Therefore, the poetry which can be distilled from all this is only a poetry of contingency, the poetry of what might be, and it is not to the cinema that we must look to restore the Myths of man and of the life of today.


© Copyright 2005 Synthome Productions

03 September, 2005

28 August, 2005

In his role as a musician, Carpenter formed a band The Coupe de Villes in the mid 1970s. Over the years, John Carpenter's career as a director has been a rollercoaster encompassing critical and financial successes, acclaim and failures, alternating between periods of working for Hollywood studios and smaller independent companies. A phenomenon that leads to the question: to what extent have production circumstances generated Carpenter’s career in the form of both his finished product and critical and public reactions to it? Characteristically of Carpenter, the action for The Thing, is located in an environment of intrigue and forced change framed by an expansive isolated, hostile wilderness of isolated frigidity, suspicion, mutual distrust and fear, haunted by the encroaching, enigmatic presence of the border crossing, transmuting, alien Thing. Such themes recurs through his work evidenced from his earliest 1974 film, Dark Star, to his more recent, the 2001 sci-fi film Ghosts of Mars.

26 August, 2005

Carpenter's Films

John Carpenter began making short films in 1962 and won an academy award for Best Live-Action Short Subject in 1970, for The Resurrection of Bronco Billy (1970). A keen student of the book Hitchcock/Truffaut, who openly admits to his veneration of Howard Hawks, Carpenter was, determined to find a style of his own. Some of his films operate like Hawks imitations or homage with diversions, but in his first big success, Halloween, Carpenter established his own prowling, Panaglide (or SteadiCam) look. Carpenter often, cleverly used camera movement, lighting, design, choreography of action and editing to compensate for lack of financial resources. John Carpenter’s films before The Thing include, ark Star (1974), the archetypal slasher film Halloween (1978), the ghost story The Fog (1980), the action film, Escape from New York, (1981), and a the Stephen King killer car adaptation, Christine (1983). After The Thing came the romantic alien visitor, Starman (1984), a Hong Kong-styled martial arts fantasy, Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), another alien takeover film They Live (1988), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and the H.P. Lovecraft homage, In the Mouth of Madness (1995). These were followed by a remake of Village of the Damned (1995); Escape from L.A. (1996); a vampire hunter film, Vampires (1998); and the sci fi film Ghosts of Mars (2001). Carpenter wrote the screenplays for The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Black Moon Rising (1985) and was executive producer for The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) wrote and directed such TV movies as Someone's Watching Me! (1978) and Elvis (1979), and produced the cable-TV series John Carpenter's Body Bags.

16 August, 2005

Just a little aside today as I have decided to post one of my dragon drawings...

04 August, 2005

Transforming Larry

The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney, Jr. that is the most recognised of the early werewolf films. This film was to establish a Hollywood werewolf mythology, along with its own set of rules. The sympathetic monster, death by a silver bullet, aversion to wolfsbane, even the hint at the sexual connotations of the beast within were established with The Wolf Man. So thoroughly has the public accepted this cinematic version of were-folklore, you will often find the following quoted as an “Ancient Gypsy Rhyme,” even though it was screenwriter Curt Siodmak who composed the lines that Maria Ouspenskaya intones in the movie:
Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
And the moon is full and bright

26 July, 2005

Chaney Monster Link

Werewolves and Vampires - Cinematic Transformations.

George Waggner’s is among the most recognised of the early werewolf films, the 1941 film The Wolf Man and Tod Browning’s equally famous, 1931 Dracula established many of the supernatural and mythic “laws” of their respective sub- genres that remain prevalent in popular cinematic experience. The myths themselves “shifting” reflecting the era and the cinematic experience, as can be seen by Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal of the not quite sympathetic hero, who becomes the slightly more sympathetic monster. Other modern were creature lores, such as death by silver, aversion to wolfsbane, even the hint of the sexual and Freudian nature of the werewolf, were initiated with The Wolf Man.

06 July, 2005

Quick & Dirty IQ Test

Your IQ Is 125

Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average
Your General Knowledge is Above Average

Melies, Trip
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05 July, 2005

''Making movies is an illusion...people fall for'' (Steven Speilberg)

Director Steven Spielberg has said. ''My job is to take that technique and hide it so well that never once are you taken out of your chair and reminded where you are."

What are Cinematic Special Effects?

Definitions of special effects on the Web:

Visual effects applied to clips and sequences such as motion effects, layering, and filters.

A general term for various photographic manipulations that create fictitious spatial relations in the shot, such as superimposition, matte shots, and rear projection.

Artistic effects added to a video production in order to enhance the production by creating drama, enhancing the mood or furthering the story. Special effects may vary from the limited addition of patterns or the mixing of several video images together, to sophisticated digital effects such as picture compression, page flipping and three-dimensional effects. Special effects are usually created using SEGs.

A term used to describe special theatrical make-up effects, as well as other theatrical and film effects. Often abbreviated as SPFX or F/X.

Sound or video used in the editing process to heighten drama or suggest a time, place or story element. Often used as a transition.

Artificial effect used to create an illusion in a movie.

Awkward term often given to sound effects. "Special sound effects" is a useful description, though, for out-of-the-ordinary effects that have to be created.

Use for person(s) involved in the creation of action sequences and/or of apparent action or sound using photographic, mechanical, electric, optical, or electronic devices. Effects range from simple optical effects to elaborate explosions, miniatures, computer- produced action, sets, or props. The term also includes stunt arranging, fight arranging, flying sequences, stunt men, etc. For special sound effects, use "Sound." For animated effects, use "Animation."

Special effects are tricks of sight and sound mostly achieved by combining technology, ingenuity and creativity and employed in films to facilitate suspension of audience disbelief.

Special effects (abbreviated SPFX or SFX) are used in the film, television, and entertainment industry to create effects that cannot be achieved by normal means, such as depicting travel to other star systems. They are also used when creating the effect by normal means is prohibitively expensive, such as an enormous explosion. They are also used to enhance previously filmed elements, by adding, removing or enhancing objects within the scene.

03 July, 2005

The Thing
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Rob Bottin
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30 June, 2005

Posted by Hello

14 April, 2005

The Thing SB

John W. Campbell

“John W. Campbell
Born: 6/8/1910 Newark New Jersey USADied: 7/11/1971 Mountainside New Jersey USA

John W. Campbell attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from Duke in the early l930's, at a time, he said, when there was absolutely no work for a young scientist but apparently income for a new science fiction writer. His short stories and novels published in AMAZING and the then-leading science fiction magazine, ASTOUNDING were at once successful and marked him as perhaps the best science fiction writer of his time: his writing career essentially concluded with WHO GOES THERE? which was written before but published in ASTOUNDING after he had become its editor. As editor of that magazine, he insisted upon rigorous scientific background, humanized characters and values and a standard of writing comparable to that in the leading consumer magazines of the time. In pursuit, Campbell found a generation of new writers - Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, A.E. Van Vogt, Henry Kuttner, Lester del Rey among them - who collectively (and individually!) produced an extraordinary body of work. Almost all of the early science fiction masterpieces were published in ASTOUNDING in the l940's. The last quarter century of his editorship was not as revolutionary as his first ten years but Campbell continued to bring new writers and a high standard of writing through his tenure. He was regarded in his lifetime and with little dispute as the greatest science fiction editor and one of the great magazine editors of the century. He died suddenly, while watching television, on the evening of July 11, l971 at his home in New Jersey.”

07 April, 2005

The Thing Explodes

01 April, 2005

Betty Boop

29 March, 2005



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Carpenter’s interpretation of the creature called the Thing

Carpenter’s interpretation of the creature called Thing is as alien malevolence disguised in many forms, an amorphous essence that makes it into the kind of thing it is, an essence that makes it different from any other. The Thing is bit like an abhorrent version of the smile of Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat in that it is everywhere and nowhere, and will pop up most unexpectedly with an ability to exist as so many disjointed parts, a mere smile with the ability to imitate other organisms at the cellular level. Like a mutant or early version of the Star Trek Borg, this Thing is not only in a constant flux, it is an interconnected, communal creature whose nature or essence is absorption, assimilation and change, this is what the Thing seems to be, the essence of changing adaptation and evolution. What you see is certainly NOT, what you get with this transforming Thing. When the Thing is metamorphosing, it is reactivity and mimicry of what it is absorbing implying that it does not have its own discrete creativity only imitation or forgery.

25 March, 2005

So what is the THING?

When discussing his film John Carpenter’s The Thing in The Terror Escapes the documentary on the making of the film, John Carpenter states, “This is an apocalyptic movie. This is the end of the world; it doesn't come from bombs dropping, it comes from within... and of course, the Thing is a metaphor for whatever you want to say; it could be disease, could be A.I.D.S., whatever, but it comes from within you. It’s also basically the lack of trust that’s in the world now, we see it all over; countries, people, we don’t trust each other anymore, we don’t know who to trust. We’re with someone who we may think they are our loved ones, and they attack us. And that’s what The Thing is; it has a lot of truth kind of dressed up as a monster movie.” (Matessino, M., John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror takes Shape, in The Thing: Bonus Material. 2003, Universal Studios: U.S.A.)

19 March, 2005

John Carpenter's The Thing

The shapeshifting Thing created by director, John Carpenter, and special makeup effects wizard, Rob Bottin as not quite a “remake” of the Howard Hawks' 1951 version, of The Thing From Another World is not only a metaphor for the numerous things like viruses, such as AIDS, advancing technologies or human paranoia. But also for humanities or the universal changing nature of given realities, which also encapsulates the reality of the creative force. Along with The Howling, and American Werewolf in London, The Thing is one of the climactic animatronic films before the CGI revolution. The Thing evolved from a movie and a book and will more than likely eventually be adapted into the recent CGI frenzy of movie (re)making. Carpenter reverted to the chameleon shapeshifter idea of the original John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There?” This gutsy film features visualizations of the unspeakable portraying the abjection of things being displaced and appearing where they should not be. Insides are on the outside, bodies that are torn apart, absorbed into the Thing, replicated and redesigned from oozing, KY jellied messes of blood and entrails along with assorted parts of people and animals that the mutating Thing has devoured or absorbed. Such effects excess grip the spectator by pulling the viewer into a visceral spectatorship. This excess often passes through its own physical limitations, and points to the incongruous nature of cinema enhancing the paradoxical emotional viewer response created by the film itself. These transformations are often said to rupture the narrative, appearing to work in a “natural,” non-linear fashion, ignoring rigid rules, following their own dictates creating a spectacular vision both heroic and strangely romantic physicality. But often these moments are intrinsic to plot rhythm, meaning and even characterisation. It is important to recognise that more and more theorists like Sobchack and Gunning are acknowledging that effects contribute to the construction of the narrative sense. Many theorists situate the turning point in the effects rebirth of contemporary cinema around 1977, the year that Close Encounters and Star Wars IV were released. The success of these two films revived a fascination with the use of spectacle of special effects as narrative tools. In the process, special effects technology was also revitalized and homage paid to Kubrick. Gunning sees “a medium like film where the ‘auteur’ rarely speaks through ‘his own voice,’ but rather indirectly through sounds and images assembled, performed and in some ways produced by collaborators,”(Gunning 2000) Films like The Thing are exemplary of such thinking.